Before I get going on today’s post, words of sympathy and best wishes to Sir Alex Ferguson and his family following yesterday’s surgery. I hope he enjoys a full recovery; years of sporting enmity never alters the begrudging admiration for a man who was able to build and rebuild without missing a beat when it came to remaining at the top.
How different it might have been had the Arsenal board been patient back in 1986. Would I swap him taking over for George? Nah.
Every time I think of Burnley, it pops into my head in a broad Lancashire accent. A geographical earworm. Or just bloody weird, if I’m honest. In time, Sean Dyche may voice the town’s name; which sounds like sandpaper rubbing against a rusty drainpipe.
Dyche deserves plaudits for Burnley’s season, they’ve certainly caused upsets across football predictions for the weekend. They deserve a place in next season’s Europa League, particularly with their results at the top five so far this season.
Their only defeat came at Manchester City (0 – 3) while they won on an opening day at Chelsea (3 – 2) and drew at Tottenham and Liverpool (both 1 – 1), as well as Manchester United (2 – 2). Three points cannot be taken for granted.
Before that, it’s #MerciArsène. A chance for those who feel inclined to leave early to do so while others who wish to stay afterwards can do so. No-one has a right or wrong answer to that one. Nor does your view of it carry any more weight than those who don’t agree with it.
Or you just could look at it another way. While everyone is saying goodbye and showing respect for a long-serving employee, you can make sure that he’s actually going and that Enos isn’t having a big laugh at the punters expense. “Here’s the new manager of Arsenal Football Club: Arsènio Wengar…”
I’ll be looking at Le Boss’ time at the club when the season’s over and his reign is over. Doing so now feels a bit like writing an obituary when the patient is in hospital for an appendectomy.
And Now, The End is Near
Not forgetting either, that it is a time when others are leaving. It isn’t all about him, even if for most it will be.
Vic Akers, a stalwart of 33 years service at the club. He is the most successful Arsenal manager in the club’s history, solving many arguments in one trophy haul. 11 titles, a European Cup, 9 FA Cups, 10 League Cups and since everyone counts it as a trophy these days, 5 Community Shields.
After a decade with the Arsenal in the Community team, he became the first-team kit man in ’97. He’s been flashing his knobbly knees on the bench ever since. If memory serves, he was there at close to when it all started.
Alex Scott, the Ladies captain, is also retiring, along with Per Mertesacker as well.
Not forgetting that the knuckle-dragging, slavering Orcs are gone. Masters of their own destruction, the dreariest people on the planet are consigned to the Football League, who are already trying to find a way to lock them in the basement and never let them out again.
Their relegation is the ‘I love the smell of napalm in the morning’ moment, and poor ickle Ryan’s Grade A, monumental cock-up made it all the more enjoyable. It takes some balls to say afterwards that “some people need to take a long, hard look at themselves” when you’re the drongo who confirmed the club’s relegation.
It’s an iconic Premier League moment. Is it worse than costing your team the title with a (un)timely slip as the last defender? I think so; your mistake condemned your team. And you were captain…
And So I Face the Final Curtain
What of the team today? After Thursday night, they ‘owe’ it to the manager to end his home career in style. How often have we said that down the years? And usually, they fail to deliver on such occasions.
No Koscielny in defence; two games for Chambers to gain more experience; I wonder will Per make an appearance at some point? Sentimentality can’t over-rule the fact we need to win to be sure of sixth. Let that sink in for the moment if you’re struggling to make sense of where we are today.
At home, we have few concerns about form overall, even if we’ve made hard work of the some of the results recently. The 4 – 1 win over West Ham was flattering but in this, the business end of the season, points mean more. Even though we’re not fighting for anything special, finishing higher than mid-table is a bit of a result given our away record.
The line-up I’d expect to see is:
Cech; Bellerin, Mustafi, Chambers, Monreal; Xhaka, Ramsey; Mkhitaryan, Özil, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Let’s hope the new manager has a better system to fit the two strikers into than sticking one out on the flanks. That is a question for another day, however. Today is about three points and saying ‘bon voyage’ to Arsène, wherever his footballing journey takes him next.
And even he’s not so much of a curmudgeon to enjoy the moment, but I’m sure Arsène would swap all the t-shirts, programmes, etc., for three points.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.