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Time To Shelve The Title Dreams?

Time To Shelve The Title Dreams?

Following Sunday's result at The Bodge, can we put our title aspirations back in the box marked 'open next year'?

For the first six months of this season, I think it's fair to say that most of us Gooners have been in dreamland. Having been told by the sages in both Fleet Street and television studios prior to the season's start that the coming campaign would see the Gunners struggle to hold on to their place in the top four, we started brightly and consolidated our fine start to the league tussle to see ourselves fighting tooth an nail with the Mancs at the Premier League summit. The pundits said 'If Arsenal are still in contention come January, we can consider them serious contenders'. January came and went, and there we were, still heading the pile.

All this despite having played the majority of the season without the player we considered our finest goalgetter, with Robin van Persie remaining seemingly permanently injured (your writer is wondering how close the Gunners' medical staff came to getting a named plaque dedicated to the dutchman and put on one of the treatment tables, so much time he had spent there).

Since February came about, the goals have dried up, and several faltering displays (save for the imperious performance in Mee-lan) have seen our lead at the top of the table whittled away, and a total of just four possible points from fifteen now sees us occupying third place.

How much of this is actually down to the events at Birmingham has been speculated on many-a-time already, and only those inside the club can truly know that. What can definitely be said is that that day robbed us of a player who had looked ready to play an important part in the title run-in. But that does not explain the somewhat sloppy defensive displays that seem to have crept back into our play. We coped fine without Kolo Toure, Senderos deputising more than adequately in his ACN-enforced absence. Something seems to have slipped out of gear with the mentality existing inside the club.

It's all very well and good having a fighting spirit that can see us come back if we fall behind, and these boys have displayed that, but it's in closing out games that we seem to have been found lacking. We seem to have rediscovered some of the more frustrating characteristics that we thought had been jettisoned last season - I think of teams scoring one shot against us, then us hammering them for the rest of the game without any joy, only to scrape a last-gasp equaliser.

A common train of thought was that this season would be one season too early for this Arsenal team, and that they were not quite ready for a sustained title tilt. I thought we had it in our locker. I'm one of those football fans who wants to believe. But maybe my belief was a little clouded by my rose-tinted spectacles (or more accurately, red-and-white-tinted).

Rocky has been saying pretty much all season that he thought the title would prove a bridge too far and that a more realistic and likely aspiration was 2nd place. I can only hope that the boys cans rediscover their play, confidence and fight that saw us shoot to the summit, or we may also end up passing up on 2nd spot.

So, have we blown it? It's a tricky one. As much as I had confidence in the lads, I always knew it would be a tough ask. And it looks a heck of a lot tougher now. We are coming to the business end of the season, where fates are decided and made, and whilst we are blessed to still be in the hunt for the Champions League, that (for me) cannot be the focus of the season. For me, the Prem was where we had to prove ourselves this season - it was always about re-establishing ourselves as a force to be reckoned with. This we have surely done, but that's no reason to stop there. Don't prove you have the capacity to do it. Prove you WILL do it. We've got the mancs away, and 'pool at home. Two mouthwatering encounters (amongst a series of fixtures which should ALL be mouth-watering, as they stand between the players and title glory). Sadly, it's no longer in our own hands now, we have to hope that the chavs and the mancs will slip up somewhere along the line, and we seemingly have the hardest run-in of the top three.

Yet there is still hope - sunday was but our second loss of the season, less than the aforementioned teams. They've proved themselves fallible before this season, let's hope they succumb again before this campaign is done with (in the mancs case, in addition to the defeat I hope we will inflict upon them). I have a feeling there may be a couple more twists and turns left yet - well, i say a feeling, it's more of a hope.

My head says we will come up just short, my heart tells me we can still sneak it at the death. I hope you all won't mind if I follow my heart on this one.


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Date:Tuesday March 25 2008
Time: 9:01PM


********* to all that for now. I don't likethe way the players are still talking about having to play United etc etc. Bolton is the only thing they should be thinking about, we've been overthinking the ramifications of everything, putting all our eggs into separate baskets.Bolton Wanderers should be the only thing the team are thinking about right now. Win that one, ********* to everything else. ***** forever, it's all about Saturday.
Little Dutch
25/03/2008 21:11:00
Little Dutch too true.Our gaffer has been talking about the significance of our game against Chelski and hasn't mentioned how tough it's going to be against Villa on Sat. Before we go to the Bridge we still have to play ye at home and we face away games against 'Boro and Blackburn.One game at a's far from over.It also baffles me how every newspaper has claimed Chelsea are back in the title race and the Gooners are out of it.Isn't there only one point between ye? Am I missing something????????
25/03/2008 21:25:00
The only thing you can come to expect from this mad old game of ours is the unexpected. We can still win it, and I truly beleive that! From here on in, all the weight of expectency sits firmly on the shoulders of the top 2 and that's just the way I like it.
25/03/2008 21:28:00
Although I do think we'll have to wait another year for the title, it does ***** me off how Chelsea are right back in the hunt, but being the huge gap that is one point behind them we don't stand a chance? Hmm...
25/03/2008 21:35:00
I just don't want Man Utd or Chelsea to win, and we seem the only team who can take it away from them. If they win, it's just more proof that you need to spend 100s of millions to get something, the pundits were right, it was predicted, it's just another normal season where nothing out of the ordinary happened. Who was expected to win, won, who was expected to lose, lost. We had a chance to turn this MU/Chelsea dominance on its head, to change the natural order of English football, to stop a 'Big two' sprouting out from the 'Big Four', but in the end we fell short. No one will remember those 20-odd weeks where the underdogs sat on the top of the table, they'll only remember how it all stands in May, and to be honest, that's all that matters. The team is admirable for trying, but in the end, no one wins awards for effort, only for achievement. However, I have not given my hopes up yet. I know we can win it, and I have no doubt in my mind about that. Forget, 'next year', we have this season to play for!
25/03/2008 21:42:00
Agreed LD, we should stay focussed on playing against Bolton this weekend and getting the three points.
25/03/2008 21:46:00
Don't know how you'd feel about the paper talk Java and SG, but if I were written off every morning, the same way that our players are written off by the media, then I wouldn't be happy until the day that I rammed it all back down their throats, with added interest. In all honesty, this paper talk is probably what Avram Grant pinned on the dressing room wall before every match and it's certainly just what we need right now. I want to see some angry players take to field against Bolton, because that extra adrenaline is what will re-ignite our season as far as I'm concerned, and I'm sure we're going to get just that.
25/03/2008 21:51:00
WTF do you lot always try to write best selling novells to get your point over. Just summerise FFS, it's almost as boring as your football. That comming from the home of exciting football. 101 goals, (one for every dalmation) shame they wern't all in one direction though.
25/03/2008 21:57:00
Not forgetting your three games in a row against ther red half of scousland. They'll be rather p155ed off about the mauling they took at the red half of gunchester, and no doubt, looking to get the fans back on their side. HHmmm.
25/03/2008 22:01:00
Yeah I guess your right, the underdog thing does seem to fire us up (Madrid, Milan, Barca, although we lost it was an unbelievable performance). Hopefully we'll bounce back this weekend, and just in time for the big 'Liverpool week'
25/03/2008 22:02:00
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