Arsenal v Stoke was so boring for the first hour that I started writing this article before the halftime whistle had even blown.

Obviously, I wasn’t at the match but even I felt like writing to Arsenal to ask for a refund for my time at that point.

Refunds, eh? Thats a new thing in modern football. There are no guarantees of a performance every week but as Arsenal fans, this sort of tepid display when we were supposed to be seeing how much they want a top four slot has become routine.

Boos, from those who’d decided they’d nothing better to do on this Easter Sunday, once again greeted the team at the break.

But it wasn’t really Arsenal I was thinking about.

This sort of performance is nothing new and I checked out of the game long before halftime arrived to give us a break from having to watch them try to play football.

Rather, I started thinking about Stoke and how close they are to relegation and why that might not necessarily be a good thing for Arsenal fans.

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01: Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City and his team mates walk off dejected after the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at Emirates Stadium on April 1, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – APRIL 01: Ryan Shawcross of Stoke City and his team mates walk off dejected after the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at Emirates Stadium on April 1, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Sure, reading about Ryan Shawcross’s mum coming to pick him up once again when their stint as a Premier League club is over will be hilarious. Of all the teams in the division, Stoke is right up there with sides you’d want to see relegated all the way to the conference, or whatever it’s called these days.

But as we face yet another year of life under Arsene Wenger, I wondered how much passion and enjoyment we can afford to sacrifice ahead of what will most likely be an even more painful season to watch than this one.

The rivalry with Stoke has been eight years in the making and while it has died down in recent years, especially since the departure of Tony Pulis, the boos on Sunday afternoon whenever Shawcross touched the ball or got involved in anything, reminded us all that it still simmers below the surface. It would take little to reignite the blaze.

Sure, we can kid ourselves that games against Manchester City mean something but they don’t. We aren’t City’s rivals any more than Burnley are this season. And with no history between the sides, Arsenal have their London rivalries and matches against Liverpool and United to get fired up about. That’s it.

Whatever you think of rivalries between fans, they are a key part of supporting football.

There is as much pleasure to be found in your rivals failing as there is in your side winning, and relegation is, of course, the ultimate humiliation.

But what next year?

Stoke losing in the Championship falls off the radars of Gooners and one more piece of enjoyment is gone from the game.

So as funny as it will be to see Stoke relegated, that makes me a little sad.

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.