As apathetic as I’ve become towards Arsenal during the latter stages of this season, let it be known that I am devastated with how we’ve ended up.
Usually one of the more optimistic Gooners on Twitter, I also consider myself a realist and even if we do, by some bizarre twist of fate, manage to finish second at the weekend, I will by no means consider this season a success.
We were out of the Capital One Cup in the blink of an eye but, at the time, when we lost 3-0 away to Sheffield Wednesday and lost both Theo and the Ox to injury, we thought we still had the League in our hands.
At some point, however, it became a little too obvious that we’d fluffed this season up. Just like we have so many times before. This time there was something different though. Something very final and sad. A little bit like when you realise you only have one Rollo left and you thought you had two.
When thinking over the season and what I was going to write for my column, I actually realised I could pinpoint me the exact stages of me grieving for the title that never was.
Denial was Boxing Day. I was spending time with family and – thankfully – didn’t get to experience the wonderful ‘gift’ bestowed upon us by the Saints but even when I heard we lost 4-0, it didn’t bother me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t crinch a little as my Manchester United supporting family smirked when the score was read out over the radio but, ultimately, I didn’t care. We were still top of the table.
It didn’t matter that Southampton had exposed an entire plethora of frailties all over the pitch. Not at all. Because we were still top. Besides, we’d just beaten Manchester City 2-1 at home – we were going to win the League (at least that’s what I slurred into my pint glass later that evening).
After Boxing Day, we came back with a couple of rather unconvincing performances. We beat Bournemouth 2-0 and then Newcastle 1-0. Despite our dwindling goals, lack of creavity and the fact that our midfield had pretty much decided to take a mid-season holiday, I remained in the denial stage for a while.
This was until Manchester United at Old Trafford and Swansea at home. The disappointment I felt over our 3-2 loss away to the Red Devils was something I hadn’t felt so far this season. Our first chance to beat one of the worse United teams at Old Trafford in the League and we couldn’t even do that?
My anger reached it’s peak when we lost 2-1 to the Swans. ‘Livid’ doesn’t even comes close. This was it, we’d screwed up the title good and proper and we were a laughing stock.
Even though the League was drifting further and further out of our hands, we were still in the FA Cup. Even the players started to big up the trophy that we’d won two seasons in a row after our win over Burnley. No one had won it for a third time, let’s do it! We all yodelled.
Watford at home? Easy, we chortled. This trophy is as good as ours.
If we could just win the FA Cup again, that would be okay, wouldn’t it? It wouldn’t be so bad. Missing out on our first League title for a decade would be easier to take if we just won something.
After losing 2-1 to Watford at the Emirates and therefore getting knocked out of our beloved FA Cup, our shortcomings all became a little too real and many of us gave up on the season. Results like 3-3 with West Ham and 1-1 with Crystal Palace only hammered home how terrible we were. It wasn’t even just the fact that we were reliquishing points, it was the manner in which we seemed quite happy to hand them out.
0-0 to Sunderland and there was a chance our biggest rivals, Spurs, could still win the League.
This season can’t end soon enough.
I’m not sure when it was. I think my acceptance of our terrible season merged with the depression but somewhere during the latter stages of the season, probably around when we lost away to Barcelona, I knew we weren’t getting anything this season and I couldn’t care less.
Well, that’s a bare-faced lie. I did care. I do. A lot. But fretting wasn’t helping me. There’s enough going on in the ‘real’ world that warrants my attention, getting upset over my football team isn’t one of them.
Until next season, anyway. When we do this all again.