It’s been a tough season so far, enough to test the patience of a Southampton fan (think about it).
We probably all have our own personal lowlights of a campaign that has had more ups and downs than a Super Mario Brothers game (just when we’re about to reach 100 coins, we always manage to fall in a pit or get zapped by Bowser).
But there have been highlights too (5-2 anyone?), even though some supporters seem to remember only the bad stuff.
And now we are entering the most crucial part of the campaign, at least as far as on-field matters go.
There are 11 games left, from which we must accumulate enough points to finish in the top four of the Premier League.
We have expertly ensured that there will be no fixture congestion by removing ourselves from all the cup competitions (you will deduce from this that I am not expecting any miracles in Munich).
So it’s all about Premiership points from here on in – and every Gunner should get behind the team to help them over the line.
Don’t fall for the media campaign against our club: there is no crisis except one of confidence among some of the fans, which, on occasion, affects the players. If you doubt me, think about these FACTS:
- We are fifth in the league, just two points behind the Chavs and four behind the Spuds with everything to play for.
- We are the EPL’s form team, with four wins and a draw out of our last five league games. Only ManUre can equal that.
- We have scored more goals than every other team apart from ManUre and the Chavs.
- We have conceded fewer than everyone except Man City (although – with 30 against- we’re level with the Chavs and Spuds).
- Our goal difference is considerably better than the Spuds’ (+22 compared with their +15).
If this is a crisis it’s one that most teams would like to have.
And before the pessimisti among you start shouting at me, that does not mean I think things could not be better and that I’m happy to settle for fourth place every year – no more than Arsene Wenger is.
But given that things didn’t gel as well as we would have hoped this season, we have to deal with the here and now.
Which is why it astonishes me when I take a rare excursion through some of the highways and byways of the Arsenal blog world and see people who call themselves supporters demanding that season ticket holders boycott home games; or giving up hours of their time to compiling lists of all the “donkeys” Mr Wenger has signed in recent years; or taking greater delight in our setbacks than our successes.
I’m not saying there aren’t legitimate questions to be asked, but not here, not now.
Now is the time for one thing only: unquestioning support until the end of the season.
If you think we need to change our manager, or that some of our players are not good enough, or that our ownership situation leaves something to be desired then voice those opinions once the campaign is done.
Because nothing of structural significance is going to change between now and the end of May: Stan Kroenke will not sell his stake; Arsene Wenger will not quit or be fired; no new players will come in.
We have who we have and we need to get on with it and support those players and coaches. Apparently Gervinho’s name was booed by some people at the ground when he was announced as one of the substitutes on Saturday. Way to go! That’s really going to help his confidence, not to mention his willingness to fight for the club.
Whatever you think of Gerv, he will certainly have a part to play for us between now and the end of the season. Do you really want to see him mess up again just so you can say “I told you he was cr*p”? Or do you want him to score goals and provide assists, maybe the goals and assists that secure Champions League football next year? I know which I would prefer.
Likewise those who are already writing off Nacho Monreal (yes, seriously, some people are) need to take a look at his personal stats from the Villa game. I won’t go through them here, but they make very pleasant reading.
And if you are a season ticket holder who has stopped going either for financial reasons or because of disillusionment, please try to make sure someone else takes your place.
It’s time for a late season charge – and a charge only works when everyone is united.
Let’s do it!