All Guns Blazing: What kind of season has it been for Arsenal?
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
In our last Arsenal fan column of the season, Alex Bellotti reflects on the Emirate’s FA Cup screening, the past season and the road ahead.
As one of the many thousands who attended Saturday’s screening at the Emirates, I was able to witness first hand the consequences of staging an FA Cup final at the needlessly late time of 5.30pm.
Watching from a Highbury Corner pub a few hours earlier, people were already staggering past us so inebriated I wonder if they actually remember the match itself (pity the man who could forget that thunderbolt Alexis Sanchez delivered, though). For the most part, such revelry only added to the riotously fun atmosphere, but there was one incident shortly after half-time that momentarily marred proceedings.
Whether it was a dispute over seats or something uglier, the sight of fellow Gooners fighting is a sad thing to behold, and the majority of the crowd were baffled to see stewards rushing past to break it up inside the stadium. The general response typified the day: cries of “Arsenal” in unison soon drowned out the dispute and reminded you that of all days, this was one to enjoy collectively as much as individually.
It’s worth cherishing such moments, because unison isn’t always apparent. Even following last year’s FA Cup triumph, our poor run of form early this season culminated in some fans lambasting Arsene Wenger outside Stoke train station in December. While most wouldn’t vent so venomously, that old question of the manager’s worth reopened and divided large segments of the fan base.
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An impressive second half of the season and a record-breaking 12th FA Cup title has certainly alleviated such problems since; the challenge now is to ensure they don’t resurface again. There are clear signs for hope: although our league points tally has remained roughly the same, we’ve delivered more emphatic victories, endured fewer emphatic defeats and, most encouragingly, showed signs that we can turn up against the big teams and on the big occasions.
One of my favourite games – alongside our cup visit to Old Trafford and Liverpool at home – was the 2-0 victory at Manchester City. In part indebted to the amazing renaissance of Francis Coquelin, that showed we could finally mix beautiful football with a steely professionalism.
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During the summer, there’s no doubt that we’ll be looking to fine tune this appealing blend – if we can, let’s be dreaming of more days to come together again in Goonerdom. Football, after all, has always been a team sport.
Follow me @alexbellotti