By Emmanuel Lee (@Manu_Lee91)
Since the unbeaten era, the last time I genuinely felt Arsenal were in contention for a league title was during the 2007-2008 season, prior to Eduardo’s horrific leg break. Understandably the team were unsettled after the injury and they never quite managed to regain momentum that season, or indeed the ones to follow.
But 8 games into the new season and I’m starting to get that good feeling again. And trust Arsenal to really drag us down deep, crumbling in the opening game against Villa, when everything seemed really fucked, before rising up again like the hero of a default Hollywood blockbuster. The season so far has left me feeling a strange combination of shock and euphoria, the symptoms of which have been most evidently displayed by my bodily functions – I now find myself salivating at kick-off and any mention of Mesut Özil induces goose pimples.
But the cautious side of me is telling the overexcited side not to get carried away. We’re clearly in good form at the moment but good form doesn’t win league titles (as contradictory as that sounds), good form implies a period in which a team is exceeding its expectation. The Invincibles were never described as being in ‘good form’ because demolishing teams week in week out was simply their standard form, and that is the position we need to get back to.
Wind back to the end of last season, when the final whistle blew and we pipped the Spuds for fourth place. At the time there were a few people who accused the players and manager of celebrations which were unjustified for a fourth place finish. A view I didn’t share, partly because that final whistle marked the commencing of St Totteringhams day (and it was entirely necessary to rub it in Spurs’ face) but mainly because I felt the reaction was as much an expression of relief as it was celebratory.
Clinching that Champions League spot couldn’t have been more important. All the foundations were in place to build a team and start to regain the immortality we once had. We had maintained the vital incentive of Champions League football, we had a significant amount of money to invest, and unlike previous seasons, we weren’t set to lose a top player.
There really was an opportunity to take it to the next step, and when it seemed that the management weren’t seizing that opportunity, the fans were legitimately frustrated. The signing of Özil finally showed initiative and here we are now, sitting at the top of the table, playing some of the most arousing football we have seen since the good old days.
The opportunity is clearer than ever… and we’re almost there, but come next season we can’t be looking back on ourselves, wallowing in hindsight, bitterly assessing that we only needed a couple more players to have won the league. The squad still needs bolstering – we lack a natural left winger, Giroud could do with a partner/back-up and some defensive reinforcement also wouldn’t go amiss.
The fans influence in supporting the players this season has been palpable and the current squad are playing out of their skin. Now it’s time for Arsene and the rest of the guys at the top to really show we mean business by investing the rest of our money in January so we can strengthen/refine the squad and immunise ourselves from the curse of injury. It’s time to finish the job.
You can follow him on twitter : Emmanuel Lee (@Manu_Lee91)