There’s a Swansea match report coming up below, but first things first: I really think that in this strangest of all Premier League seasons, Arsenal are going to end up as champions.
If you’re now reaching for your keyboard to trot out some truly original responses like “I want some of what you’re on” or “keep taking the tablets” you can save yourself the bother.
I know that after that pile of poo performance at Old Toilet and the gut-wrenching defeat last night it seems like utter madness to predict an Arsenal title.
We have not played well for what seems like months, some of our best players are so out of form that they would disgrace a kick-about on Hackney Marshes and we carry as much attacking threat as a tortoise.
But in what looks to be the ashes of a season that promised so much I can see a feeble ember burning. It may wither to lifeless black, but if it can be fanned by the wind of hope it could yet turn into a flame that burns all before it.
And it all comes down to one battlefield. One place where the passions, hopes and fears of a season will be distilled into 90+ minutes of football.
The place, of course, is the N17 Lavatory and the time is 12.45pm on Saturday.
Understandably, many of you reading this will feel we are heading to our uppity neighbours to face a humiliating, season-ending defeat. A defeat that will be a double dagger to the heart: killing our chances and enhancing theirs.
But, just for a second, let’s play a mind game: step outside of the pessimism that so understandably shrouds you. Now, imagine that as the whistle blows for full time on Saturday, Arsenal have won. It doesn’t matter how we did it – a thumping 5-0 victory or a 95th minute winner scrambled off Mertesacker’s arse. But just close your eyes and soak up that feeling.
In a stroke we will be level on points with Totteringham and they will have suffered two consecutive defeats. Deep in their hearts they will know that they have been reminded of where they stand in relation to the Mighty Arsenal.
It will be the win that fires life back into our season, that reinvigorates tired and out-of-form players and that pushes us on to the title.
I realise I am writing as much from hope as from expectation, but there is something deep in my bones that says this will be so.
And so to the Swansea game.
In a nutshell we lost through either bad or unlucky finishing (for further information please see metaphysical discussion on the nature of luck in yesterday’s post game comments).
We hit the woodwork three times and, having taken the lead, were pegged back by a goal that started with a Swansea player rugby tackling Mesut Ozil. Nine times out of 10 we get free kick. The potato-faced referee in yesterday’s game chose to look the other way.
We played pretty well in the first half and laboured in the second. Swansea’s second goal, I feel, can be put down to one of those events that comes along with blue moons and flying pigs: a Petr Cech mistake. It was a wicked cross but Cech came for it and missed. Along with our bad finishing, it cost us the game.
Joel Campbell was our best player and scored a fine goal. When he was inexplicably subbed off (I can only assume the manager feels he is not fully match fit) the crowd vented their anger. I would have taken off Alexis (in fact I would have started him on the bench, so out-of-form is he).
There are big questions of confidence about this team and that showed in some of the options taken by individual players today – an unwillingness to shoot at times, a shirking of responsibility, too many hasty or overambitious passes. We were bold when we needed to be conservative and cautious when we needed to be brave.
But these are good players and they are prideful. If we fans are hurting, so are they. They have only one forum in which to redeem themselves and I have a feeling that they will do so.
In the situation in which we find ourselves there is no room for self pity, self doubt or introversion. There is only one acceptable response: attack, attack and attack again.
Not for the first time on this blog I will quote the words of the First World War French general, Marshal Foch. When his troops were having a rough time at the battle of the Marne in 1914 he sent the following dispatch to headquarters: “My centre is giving way. My right is in retreat. Situation excellent. I shall attack.” And he did, and he stopped a major German advance.
Our centre is giving way (come back soon Santi!); our right is in retreat (bloody Theo); our situation is excellent – we shall attack.
Watch out Spuds. We’re coming and we have something to prove. You should be worried. Very worried.