I don’t know about you but I was thoroughly sick and tired of hearing that incessant refrain right up until 17th May 2014. (We’ll ignore the part where it’s not even factually correct, since the previous win of 21st May 2005 meant that the nine year anniversary of Patrick Vieira’s last kick for Arsenal was never actually reached.)
One particularly irksome acquaintance or mine used the phrase as a riposte each and every time I tried to contribute to a footballing conversation.
“I think John Terry is more than a bit past it really. He’s now slower than a toddler on a tricycle towing a double decker bus filled with bags of cement…”
“Frank Lampard made a career out of fluky deflected goals, but for some reason he couldn’t even do that when he pulled on an England shirt…”
It was effectively used as a linguistic equivalent of “shut up” and needless to say the proponent was a Chelsea fan. He’s now six feet under the Thames with his own bag of cement attached to his feet.*
*not really. Daily Cannon does not endorse violence of any sort, even towards insolent Chelsea fans.
But yes, it was bloody annoying.
And then, of course, we won something. Arsenal being Arsenal, we couldn’t do it the easy way, going 2-0 down after eight minutes, forcing extra time and finally taking the lead for the first time as the clock ticked towards penalties. The important part, though, was that we had our noses in front when the final whistle sounded, and Arsenal were once again FA Cup Winners. The wait was over, and (nearly) nine years of hurt vanquished.
And having won it in 2014, we went on to repeat the feat the following year and remain on course to do so again this season. I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest that the 2015 victory was achieved in a bit more style, with the biggest margin of victory since 1993 (and only bettered twice in the history of the cup) and barely a heart attack in sight. Was this Arsenal we were watching?
And yet, will the record books care that we were a tiny bit lucky in one final but unarguably deserving winners in the other? Of course not.
Ray Parlour was on TalkSPITE earlier this week, discussing how he remembers winning the league in 1998, 2002 and 2004 vividly, yet although he knows he must have been a runner up a few times, he can’t tell you when, how or why. This year, it doesn’t matter in the slightest *how* we win the league. What matters is that we win it.
If that means that on May 15th, as we’re all sweating buckets as we somewhat ironically face the defeated cup finalists of last year, it it takes an own goal from Alan Hutton allied to a 40 yard screamer from Lukasz Fabianksi at the Liberty against City, in the very last second of the very last minute? It doesn’t matter a jot, as long as we win the title as a result.
People can call us lucky and undeserving and all those bitter things that come from bad losers and jealous mugs, but at the end of the day it won’t make a blind bit of difference if we’re the ones who’ve been most consistent over the 38 games, if we’re the ones with the open top bus parade.
We need to remember that were only five points off top, and only two off everyone except Leicester, and with the Foxes hosting City this weekend it could be all change again by the time we roll up for kick off down on the south coast on Sunday.
There’ll be plenty of seasons where we can get our reputation for playing the best football back, win the league with ten games to spare and by 30 points, or keep a clean sheet in or score in or win every single match. There’ll be plenty of seasons to prove that we really are ‘by far the greatest team the world has ever seen’ but that’s not this season.
This season we simply need to get that league monkey off our back, whatever it takes. So give the chimp a banana or something.