It’s not been a great week for the man who blatantly wishes he was Arsène Wenger.
It’s been an even worse week for the club who so clearly wish they were Arsenal Football Club.
I refer, of course, to both Jose Mourinho and Tottenham Hotspur.
Now, clearly, it’s true that Jose’s Manchester United side were much better than Arsenal were on Saturday. But, as any Arsenal fan can tell you, being better means nothing if you don’t win the game. Arsenal stunk Old Trafford out on Saturday, but still came away with a point. There was something a bit, dare I say it, Manchester United about our last minute larceny.
If Saturday was also last minute larceny and euphoria for that lot up the road, then yesterday was something else entirely. Something a bit more…
— Charteta (@Charley2385) November 22, 2016
Now. I know, you know, we all know, that Spurs want to be us like nothing else on the planet.
We know this because they’re in the process of building a stadium almost identical to the one we call home. Except it’s “one louder” – or 1,000 people bigger.
We know this because their every utterance every season is about being better than Arsenal.
We know all of this, but they’re so desperate to be us that they’ve got confused. It’s the second round you’re supposed make a Horlicks of. Not the penultimate game of the group stage.
That’s a bit “one louder” of you.
Monaco 2-1 Tottenham!
— Eurosport UK (@Eurosport_UK) November 22, 2016
That’s enough about them.
Unfortunately, I’m writing this a few hours before we take to the field against PSG. For the purposes of this article, this match doesn’t really exist. In fact, I’ll be sitting at home watching the final of Australian Masterchef when the boys take the pitch tonight.
You don’t really believe that, do you? Good.
I must admit that, having sat through 62 episodes of it (almost longer than The Wire) I kind of wanted to see it through to the end. However, the opportunity to see Arsenal finish on top of their first Champions League group in five seasons – and with a game to spare – is not one to be sneezed at.
And it’s this opportunity that makes me feel safe in writing about Spurs in the way that I have. At the end of the day, if we lose against PSG, the worst that can happen is we finish second in the group. And get drawn against Barcelona in the next round. Whatever happens, there is no Thursday night football awaiting us this season.
The fact that we can win the group with a game to spare hints at the progress made by Arsenal over the last couple of seasons. As I mentioned last week, I think it’s the cumulative effect of signing top quality players. I mean, that part of it isn’t rocket science.
To go back to where I began this article, we saw – I suppose – further evidence of that in Manchester on Saturday. Whilst the performance left a lot to be desired, and questions to be answered, the fact we got anything out of it at all should be applauded. Particularly at a ground where, as both myself and Matthew have noted, our record is horrendous.
Above all, I guess we saw the importance of the squad. I mentioned last week how important squad strength has been in the past in getting a result at Old Trafford. Three days later, two substitutes combined to bag us a point we didn’t really deserve. A great cross from the Ox and and an even better header from Olivier Giroud; what a moment.
Perhaps we also saw further evidence that Jose Mourinho isn’t quite the man he used to be. One nil up with a minute left and his team couldn’t see it out?
To borrow from yet another Rob Reiner film, “Inconceivable!”
Perhaps that’s why he seemed so down after the match. And how funny was this?
No penalty, ref? “INCONCEIVABLE!!!”
I thought it was interesting that Jose “Finally I lost to Arsene” Mourinho seemed to regard this 1-1 draw as a defeat. I suppose, in a wider context of three consecutive home draws, it must feel a little like the fates conspiring against him. I’d feel terrible for him, if only he wasn’t such an insufferable oik.
Give a little, get a little Jose…
Looking at ourselves though, it is undeniable that in the absence of Santi Cazorla, our early season momentum has stalled somewhat. We’ve drawn three out of four matches. In the case of United away, I’ll accept Coquelin and Elneny at the base of midfield. I can understand the rationale. I mean, I mentioned such a pairing last week. I’ll even accept that Aaron Ramsey, with his work rate, made sense as a sort of horses for courses selection. But we felt a little technically deficient with all three of them playing at the same time. More to the point, if you set up to play on the counter attack, you need players actually capable of executing one.
And I’m not sure that was the case on Saturday. I suppose Ramsey was supposed to offer more protection to the defence, but it came at the cost of our attacking game. We can’t afford to let this happen again. All of which is a long way round of saying, I’d prefer not to see that particular midfield ever again, thanks very much. Particularly not behind Alexis Sanchez: centre forward.
Of course, by the time you read this, that midfield may well have been deployed to great effect against PSG. In which case…
By, the way, if you don’t know what “one louder” is a reference to, it’s okay. But you really should seek out This Is Spinal Tap, it’s one of the greatest movies ever made. You can thank me later.