Of all the seasons in the past 5 years, the current season resembles that of 2010-11 where there was two teams who were neck to neck at this point in time and there was a strong 3rd whose breath was alarmingly uncomfortable over reborn ManCity’s nape. Manchester United was up top having played a game less, precarious, adjusting to the departure of Tevez to their arch rivals City who had played a game more and still contemplating the purpose of the smoking Bulgarian they had acquired a few seasons back.
Manchester city had recently sacked Hughes and had a squad swelled with a summer spending of 100Mn including clown in town Mario. Arsenal had found a new born Robin partly injury free, a Cesc Fabregas who had given Barca the finger to have his last swipe at the Premier League, harbored ambitions of sliding over the muck that oil money had created up top the table
At the end of Week 22, ManU had 45 points, City was at 44 and Arsenal was breathing down the neck of the two at 43 points. Arsenal had gone past Chelsea who was paying out manager after manager to get back the mojo of ugly footballing wins which Mourinho had brought. The outrage ended up in Chelsea throwing bank notes worth 50 Mn for Fernando-once-up-on-a-time-Torres. Liverpool who grabbed that money in a garbage bag promptly dumped it to where it belonged by buying Andy Carrol and Stewart Downing. There was may hem. In the last 5 years or since then League title has never been so hard fought at this stage.
In 2010, 2012, 2013 seasons, by this stage there was already champions elect. A few weeks into 2010-11 season after the winter transfer window closed, Arsenal raked up 10 points in 4 matches and moved within a point to Champions Manchester United. Also in the second leg of semifinals of league cup 3 goals were hit past without reply against Ipswich town who were leading 1-0 from first leg for the Gunners to set up a Wembley Cup final with premier league relegation fodder Birmingham. The hysteria surrounding the club reached its zenith when Arsenal grabbed by the scruff of the neck and nailed down the mighty Barcelona at home to a 2-1 tiki-take-that-up-your-taka to set up an exciting second leg at Nou Camp.
There was hope, against all hope and an alternate history written in the minds of the fans who were overwhelmingly happy that Arsenal has found their soul back.
A few days later Obafemi Martins, a once upon a time striker who was brought in at Birmingham for just the final, took a late game howler in his favor and won the Carling Cup for Birmingham. In the same match Arsenal lost their top scorer Robin Van Persie to a knee ligament injury, which kept him out for the run up to the title. On his return game, Barcelona scrurried past Arsenal despite trailing by an away goal, thanks to dodgy refreeing which saw Robin van persie sent off on a second yellow for a non-existant time wasting. The league didn’t wait for Arsenal to recover the shock at Wembley, and they were pegged to three consecutive draws by lower league opponents (SUN, BLB, WBA). Liverpool game had to be saved by a last minute penalty. Rival Tottenham then nailed the final one into Arsenal’s Title race with a late equalizer in a 6 goal thriller. When Arsenal won against the eventual champions Manchester united (1-0) later in May, it was just another game of no consequence.
This season we are at a similar place, but with a lot of roles reversed. Arsenal is up top the league (51 points). Manchester City is still at second (50 points). Chelsea breathing down the neck of either of them at 49 points. City has a League cup final against a relegation fodder. Manchester Untied are the new Liverpool, contemplating setting up a club record bid for Juan Mata. Liverpool are the Spurs of 2010 trying to derail parties.
For the Arsenal fans, the ray of hope is augumented by the following
- The JÖY from seamless integration of the Europe’s Best Midfielder in the squad
- A strong striker upfront, who can assist and score goals, Best in France.
- The zeal of the reverse aging Rosicky.
- The imminent return of sensation of the season Aaron Ramsey.
- The coming of age of England’s Jack.
- The return to form of last season’s fan’s goose-bumps-in-charge Santi Cazorla.
With the best defence in the whole of England and a man with a purpose Flamini in the ranks, there is strong reason that Arsenal fans across the globe believes that this season justice will be restored. The Arsenal bench now holds Mikel Arteta and Thomas Vermaelen, unlike the dreaded D’s of Diaby, Denilson and Djorou in 2010.
It is a well accepted fact among Gooners that all the ill-luck of that season that had fallen upon Arsenal has to be bestowed in equal share to their rivals. The signs of it are shown as Manchester United lost on penalties to Sunderland. A game they would have won just in any other season by sheer amount of gum chewed by their manager and the fear of Old-trafford. A knocking out of Manchester city in cup final like last season has to be there. Chelsea are heading to a run, against there are opponents which could do them serious harm. Liverpool is just a bite away from another derailment. Spurs are getting back in shape, but their hope rests on someone whom everyone has given up on – Emmanuel Adebayor-an individual who has a “special” place in Arsenal fan’s hatelist.
It high time some of the people who scorned at Arsenal got their delivery of humble pie.
As an Arsenal fan, this is one only hope. Hoping against hope that the world is fair after all. It is too early to hope because we are very far from the end. There is nothing that is largely different from that time, considering that Bayern is Arsenal’s next CL opponents and there is a doldrum of March’s congested tough fixtures coming up. But that is where the irony of hope is at its best.
(Source: BBC football)
Arsenal might not win anything this year, but this year will be remembered as the year when hope and goodluck tried their best to restore themselves in the heart of Gooners.
Or may be there is still hope that they might win so…well…. Let me not jinx it.
– Suvid Velayudhan is a Sports Analyst with the Football Galaxy at Sportz Cosmos. You can reach him at gmail id: sportzcosmos