The Missing Weekend

Good morning and welcome to a strangely Arsenal-less weekend. With it being the FA Cup quarter-finals there are only a smattering of Premier League games taking place this weekend and I assume that we were supposed to be playing one of the quarter finalists thus leaving us to twiddle our thumbs and hum annoyingly to ourselves in the corner in the vague hope someone might give us something to do.

All four quarter finals are quite horrendously dull looking fixtures as well, so we can’t even sit here and speculate on the outcome of exciting cup ties. And one thing that strikes me is that although everyone tends to look at Manchester City as the nefarious wielders of an unlimited wallet in football these days, when it comes to cup draws the Chelsea coin very rarely lets them down.

Maybe it’s pure chance but somehow I find that a bit far fetched. It seems that when it comes to the FA Cup particularly they draw Championship teams at home like there’s no tomorrow. Their somewhat generous Champions League draw also stands as testament to the infallibility of the Abramovich Rouble. I note a few concerns around Arsenal fans on the net that this might be the year Chelsea manage to win the Champions League and should the league positions finish as they are that would of course mean Chelsea would replace us in the Champions League due to their status as the holders. Personally, I don’t think there’s any way that Chelsea are getting past Barcelona in the semi-final but I’m quite content from them to have that little dream if it means that they take their eye off the ball in the league. In the meantime we can use it as one more inspiration to usurp Spurs and get ourselves into third/

Trivial concerns like that aside its fair to say that the mood inside the Arsenal camp at the moment is quite positive. Although as Tim Stillman pointed out this week, the close nature of the scrap for Champions League places – us being a point from Spurs and being only three points ahead of Chelsea – means,

“…we’re one dodgy result away from the sky falling in, everything being shit and everyone being a cunt again.”

True words indeed. A bad result at Everton in only a few days could reverse every last trace of positivity that some fans have found in the light of our efforts against Spurs, Liverpool, AC Milan and Newcastle. Such is the nature of football these days I guess. I wish fans could have a little more patience at times but equally we’re now at a point in the season where the pressure is really on.

Inside the camp, morale appears to be high. Arseblog News reports on comments from Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson who both have a lot of praise for the solidarity of the club at the present time. Jenkinson said,

“Everyone gets on, which is quite rare in football. Often you have cliques of people or people who argue all the time, but we all get on well here.

“That is a big thing and it boosts the morale of the team. We are all friends, which helps on the pitch because you have that faith and trust in one another.”

It’s certainly been the case with Arsenal under Arsene Wenger that our players haven’t always been the best of mates. At the end of the day everyone is a professional and those players found a way to make it work which is fine but at the end of the day in any job it’s so much easier to go in and get stuff done when your colleagues are also your mates. We get a glimpse from time to time through the magic of twitter that this is a squad of players who enjoy having a laugh with each other, and it just naturally makes a team more willing to fight hard for each other on the pitch. Don’t get me wrong, the best players can do that anyway, but the bottom line is that a good atmosphere in the dressing room is a good thing.

Gibbs talks a little about the atmosphere in the stands which has obviously been a lot better these last few weeks. He said,

“You can see how much it means to the fans and we need to continue that now to keep the atmosphere going,”

“When the Emirates is like that, other teams can’t play because it is too difficult. We feel like we have a lot more power when the atmosphere is kicking like that.

“It’s just been a great turnaround. We took a lot of stick a few weeks back, especially after the defeats in Milan and the FA Cup, but everyone has come together and shown a real [resolve] to turn the season around.”]

It’s fair to say that the Grove has not been noted for its intimidating atmosphere in its short history, but occasionally, when the crowd are right behind the team it’s quite an incredible stadium to be in. We don’t really get enough of that unfortunately and you do sense that when you do its all a bit fragile – once again one bad result and once again the world is coming to an end. Still, I would hope our fans will stay as they are until the end of the season, our team needs all the support it can get as it seeks to achieve this Champions League place.

And beyond that, I have to say there’s not a lot happening so I will leave it there. A happy Saturday to you, and I’ll return soon.

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  • Anonymous  On 17/03/2012 at 10:42 am

    I hope that the fans (lucky enough to attend) realise how important it is to get behind the team.

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