So,it's all come down to the last game, and it could even be the last minute or last second; after all, we are the Arsenal!
It’s been one hell of a strange season. For the first time in a while,Arsenal have not been competitive in the League or any of the cup competitions - during the last seven years, we've usually been more competitive in the title race or progressed through to the latter stages of a cup competition. But this season, with one game to go, third is the best we can hope for.
I think Arsenal have achieved some significantly positive things this season. Mikel Arteta has been fantastic. Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen have complimented each other well, with the latter signing a new long term contract. Tomas Rosicky has paid back a lot of the faith shown by the club and manager by putting in some brilliant performances and winning the player of the month award in consecutive months.
Of course, we cannot forgot our horrendous start to the season and the disaster of a summer that preceded it. Indeed even the manager admitted to it. But to come back so strongly after our abysmal start shows the team has developed the sort of steely backbone and determination that our critics have openly attacked us about in the past. And even the club seems to have learnt from thetransfer sagas last Summer, with the early signing of Podolski andthe moves towards Rennes' midfield stalwart Yann M’Vila signallingArsene's positive intent from the outset.
M’Vila in my opinion would be a massive signing. He's a proper defensive midfielder which we just don't have at the moment. Alex Song is a top player and his assist record demonstrates his attacking instinct. M'Vila will help solidify our formation, and allow Song the freedom to attack, and be able to be rested more often. M'Vila can allow Alex Song to provide more cover for the centre backs and can come in when they need a rest. His signing will help the transition from a 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 when needed, and with Podolski in, it is something we may need at the Emirates in particular.
It goes without saying that our success next season will depend on keeping our prized asset Robin Van Persie and his good mate Theo Walcott. We all know about Robin but I think Theo is just as important. In simple terms, when Robin Van Persie and Leo Messi say publicly that you’re a good player then you have to start to believe them. Theo has had a good season; he has a game based around speed and in certain games, he just won’t be as effective, and the job for Theo is to have a plan B for these games. At the age of 22/23he has time on his hands to find this plan B and I think he will get there. I have sat in stands with people slating him. I remember one incident at QPR away in particular, when the lady behind me was hurling a torrent of abuse at him, only for him to score, and for her to start cheering him on like there was no tomorrow. With all the talk on Robin, I hope the club are working hard to secure Theo’s future because I believe he will be a vital part of our club for years to come.
Another man who has come out and said he feels he has played his part is Yossi Benayoun, and I think he has done much more then that! He has really put in a shift since that Spurs game and since the start of April he has put in some stellar performances. I would love for him to stay but cannot see Chelsea agreeing another year-long loan. And in any case Yossi wants something more permanent, so I expect Sunday will be Yossi’s last game in an Arsenal shirt (I hope he stays though). He has shown heart,commitment and no shortage of skill at the business end of the season.
WBA away on Sunday is bigger than a cup final for us. Any Liverpool supporter will tell you how difficult it is to re-enter the Champions League positions after you drop out for a season, and Arsenal's entire fabric would be damaged were we to finish fifth. When I was walking back from the Emirates to the Tollington Pub last Saturday, my world was going to end because I thought we had blown it and we would finish behind Spurs and not having our Champions League fate in our own hands. The thought of watching a Champions League final that was going to decide our fate that we were not even playing in was soul-destroying... that was until Aston Villa came to the party and got a result! We have another chance now and we MUST take it.
Patrice, retiring after devoting his life to this club, deserves so much credit. He has given everything to our club as player and then as coach and assistant. Thank you Mr Pat Rice.
It may have been a testing season on the pitch, but it has been an amazing experience off the pitch. I would like to thank all my Twitter followers, many of whom have become real-life friends I meet at home and away games. The power of Twitter has heightened the pre-and post- match atmosphere at grounds, pubs, trains, service stations and even the streets of North London and the rest of England.
So let's get the party started and end the season on a high, and get quality new players in and the current lot signed up, and get prepared to DO SOME DAMAGE NEXT SEASON!