Arsenal 4 – 0 Aston Villa
1 – 0 Giroud (5)
2 – 0 Giroud (78)
3 – 0 Giroud (80)
4 – 0 Arteta (90)
Jonathan Pearce pondered which “meanies in an office” would chalk off Mikel Arteta’s final goal in an Arsenal shirt and hand it to the unfortunate Bunn. The answer had already come by the time the question passed over the nation’s airwaves:
Yes, it was Arsenal. Not even waiting to find out what the ‘Dubious Goals’ committee decided, the club chalked it down as an own goal. It’s a small, almost insignificant thing but sums up how soulless and graceless football has become. They couldn’t even record for posterity in their own records that Mikel Arteta had scored.
As you would expect, Arsène was more gracious, not just about Arteta but Tomas Rosicky also.
Tomas Rosicky was first an exceptional football player and highly respected in our dressing room. It was a very sad day for me yesterday not being able to pick him to be in the squad today because there was something at stake. We lose him.
We lose Arteta – two exceptional football players but also two leaders in the dressing room. I am convinced that in the bad periods they were a positive influence on the squad and we will miss them next season.
So I would like to thank them for what they have done and wish them the best of luck.
Fot much of the match, there was an end of season air which given it was the end of the season should come as little surprise to anyone. Aston Villa lined up their punk credentials with Lyden and Westwood but offered nothing as startling, new or eye-catching. They were deservedly beaten and the scoreline didn’t flatter Arsenal.
In yesterday’s brief preview, I wrote that second place was a “pipe dream”. Yes, that very phrase. Perhaps I should try reverse psychology or reverse tempting of fates, whichever you want to call it, more often. I genuinely couldn’t see Tottenham losing at Newcastle by either their own failings or even more unlikely, a spirited Geordie performance.
5 – 1; 5 bloody 1.
I wish I knew some Tottenham supporters to laugh at. I’d prepared for them finishing second by being more concerned by Arsenal’s problems. I still am but there’s no need for a defence mechanism any more; they cocked it up big time and in a manner none of us could have imagined.
It still brings a tear to the eye this morning. I had written off the season a long time ago and even finishing second doesn’t change my view that it’s been a glorious opportunity wasted. Or an opportunity gloriously wasted, I’m not sure which to be honest.
As it was, events at St James Park kept the Arsenal match interesting. It got off to a promising start with Olivier Giroud finding his scoring boots just in time for Euro2016 by netting in the fifth minute, a quick follow-up to last weekend’s goal at City and the first of a well-taken hat-trick.
There followed seventy-three minutes of typical Arsenal fare. Lots of passing – no, seriously, lots of passing – into a densely packed Villa defence. Space was at a premium and chances the same. When the openings arrived, the finishing was typically below par. I can’t immediately recall acts of wanton defiance by Bunn but he must have made some saves.
That period of the game typified our season.
And all the while there was a single-goal lead, the chance of a later equaliser loomed. It would be typically Arsenal; Spurs capitulate and we then give them bragging rights through our own failings. Two goals in as many minutes from Giroud and the prospect of Arsenal doing an ‘Arsenal’ receded.
And then the fairytale moment arrived. Mikel Arteta scoring topped off the afternoon. Only Tomas Rosicky finding the net would have bettered it. It was an emotional moment for the Spaniard and he received the warmest of receptions on the Lap of Appreciation, a similar affection to that afforded the Czech. The mood for the players stroll was a lot happier and lighter than it might have been, all the while keeping the focus on events on the pitch for twenty-four hours at least.
Not even the very welcome return of Santi Cazorla could inject energy or invention when it was most needed. His inclusion in the XI nudged Jack Wilshere to the right, a decision which indicated Arsène indulged the players need to prove themselves before Euro2016 squads are named. It worked in the end but the likelihood of see Jack in the right again is surely minimal.
The same could be said of Joel Campbell, a miniature Mr T on the touchline whose own international aspirations will be at the forefront of his mind. As he looks along the bench, he must count how many people are ahead of him in queue for places in the XI and wonder. What his wondering will bring is the answer.
All the while, gnawing away at the back of your mind, is the question, “Why didn’t Wenger mention Flamini. He’s going to renew his contract, isn’t he?” You can’t shake that or the thought of Arsène going into next season with Giroud and Walcott as his first choice strikers until Danny Welbeck returns.
But those are thoughts for another day. I’m still laughing at Tottenham.
5 bloody 1.