Oh the Road Was Beautiful and Invigorating, now let’s finish on a high

It has been a long season and another demonstration that, especially in football, the journey is often much nicer than the destination. Finishing second this season is of course a great destination; all of us would have settled for it 10 months ago. Yet, I cannot help to be a little deflated and have started to look forward to the next journey already.

The boys and manager have clearly overperformed and have made a giant step forward. It’s a pity that the blue-shimmered Oilers are in the best form ever until now, and were able to keep up with us and then overtake us at the final hurdles; otherwise, we would have still won this league regardless of our late slump.

Arteta is speaking of a pivotal summer and this gets me excited. He knows he needs to add to the squad and especially midfield is in need of reinforcement. If we are critical, we must say that at the key moments we lacked the energy and on-field leadership to push through and still get results. In the first three quarters of the season we certainly didn’t lack this, but at the business end we did.

Come to think of it, all the WC key players faded or lacked form in recent games. Granit and Thomas looked jaded at times and certainly were not able to give their 100% all the time. Saliba got injured. Young Bukayo lacked the spark to maintain his incredible high standards and Ramsdale started to make one or two unnecessary, tired, mistakes. Saliba was well-missed and White also faded a bit. And Jesus just never got back into his early season stride.

Jorginho and Trossard were great mid-season signings but ultimately we were short on focus and energy, leadership and belief to push even further and win the league. It was there to be taken but we let it slip away, and so a journey full of beauty and promise ended on a relative low.

The brain tells us Arsenal did so well but the heart and gut are left a little disappointed.

Now it is key to finish the two remaining games in style and then to go out and add to our midfield and a few other positions. Granit will likely go back to mainland Europe and there is good hope that a certain midfielder of West Ham will join us. One or two will probably be added and quite a few will leave. Yet the core of this team is strong, especially in defence and attack. We are young and free and in the Champions League. The journey will hopefully be good again and who knows what further progress Arteta and the boys can achieve. It is all very exciting at the moment, despite the recent setbacks.

Now let’s finish on a high and win the last two games in style. Use a few youngsters in the process and let’s give the boys and manager a great round of applause on the final day at the home of football.

By TotalArsenal.

29 thoughts on “Oh the Road Was Beautiful and Invigorating, now let’s finish on a high

  • Have you had an update about it, TA? I wonder how Stu’s recovery’s goin’, too

    Guardian this morning (don’t agree with the “only having 11 regular players” bit, I think Arsène deserved a spot in his genius list, but thanks a lot to this true football fan anyway):

    ‘Man City is Goliath’
    “Arsenal won the league this season, in my opinion. When you take into account the piles and piles of money Man City spent to get to the treble, and compare that to Arsenal being just a little step behind despite only having a regular 11 players, then Arsenal have achieved far more in the league.
    Regarding Pep getting over his knockout jinxes, yes, it was finally a great match against Real Madrid. But one great match does not make a great team. Not compared to the teams of Brian Clough, Alex Ferguson, and Jürgen Klopp. There’s no spark of genius, no excitement, no David versus Goliath. Man City is Goliath.”
    Peter Wallace, 42, Sunderland fan, Folkestone

    About the “11 regular players”, I think our first-choice team has had an unbeaten season (didn’t check it out, though):
    They’re so young, they’ll have matured, toughened up a lot this season, and will come back with a vengeance …

  • Update from GN5s daughter:

    “Dad is doing much better and is expected home sometime in the near future but we don’t have an exact date yet, being a long weekend here. I will be sure to let you know when we know more.

  • Good news all round then. Glad to know that both men are doing well.

    As for the game today, the home crowd would be up for it and so will the team. Hopefully, we silence them quickly and get a hold of the game.


  • Not playing bad but the missing link is clearly a woefully out of form, Jesus. I don’t think he had a good first touch or a second one. Unlucky with the goal.

    But space will come and Arsenal can win still.

  • The passing lacked that snap, that zip we had a couple of months ago, you need to play it accurately first time to break the deep block, I mean I’ve heard of parking the bus but that was the entire bus garage. A couple of months ago Odegaard doesn’t give away the fatigued possession that led to their goal, a few months ago we’d have pulled them all over the place and scored two or three goals but the team is played out, our last big effort was Newcastle but the relentlessness of City just wore us down, all the players, Arteta, the coaching staff look emotionally exhausted, it was just too much for such a small squad, nevermind the inexperience as I think we could have rode the storm but the legs and mind just broke.

    That’s 5 titles in six years for Man City, competitive Premier League, don’t make me laugh, it’s just like Ligue Un and the Bundesliga.

  • Glad to know that GN5 is doing better. Can’t comment on the match though. Better not as iam in a minority. Concentrating tkk much on city we might as well not play the league at all. Sports always gives a chance whatever the level may be. Have good weekend fellow Gooners.

  • Thanks Total. So good, to read that news of GN5. Spring in the Northern Hemisphere will undoubtedly encourage his recovery.
    I am well, thanks LG. Back on the pitch, played 45 minutes last week and 75 yesterday. Missed a sitter in the box, tho’. I only venture forward for corners, and the ball fell sweetly to me about 10 yards out, but my volley clipped the top of the cross bar. The team we played were made up of Fijian Indians who all live in Whangarei (the Far Norths biggest city). Lovely lads who served us up a lesson on the pitch but a fab curry in the after match to ease our pain.

    It has indeed been a beautiful journey over the course of the season, Total. I draw a modicum of comfort from the stat that the four teams who have failed to win the title after being 8 points clear have all gone on to be champions the following season. The last being our Invincibles in ’03-’04.
    I draw greater comfort from the culture that is being re-established at our club, Arsenal are once again a club that elite players would want to be involved with, well run, ambitious, and furthering that commitment to beautiful football which Arsene so wonderfully made us famous for.

    I think there is undoubtedly a spark of genius in Pep, and in the likes of De Bruyne, Silva, Grealish, Mahrez and Rodri. I wonder tho’ how Pep would fare in a club without the financial clout of Barcelona. Bayern Munich and City. Could he achieve what Cloughie did at Derby and then Forest? Could he save an Everton of a Leicester City from relegation? Managing with a silver spoon in your mouth is one thing, give him a plastic spoon and see how things pan out.

    Tho’ they never got on the pitch, it was good to see some of our youngsters on the bench this morning. It may prove to be the high point of their careers but for 99.999 % of footballers in the world it is a high point we could only dream of.

    Wolves at home this weekend. The 122nd meeting between the clubs. GN5 will remind us of the great Wanderers sides of the ’50’s, perhaps the greatest club side in the world at that time. I remember well the Derek Dougan, John Richards striking partnership in the 70’s with the brilliant Phil Parkes in goal.
    English football. What joy it has brought and brings to my life. I thank God for it.

  • With Manchester City hot on our coat tails, our ladies are making a fist of the game vs Chelsea, in the second half of their WSL fixture, being down 2-0.

    We had a chance to pull one back but McCabe missed the penalty. If we don’t get something from this game, we’d be hoping United don’t slip up against City. The girls need that 3rd spot to guarantee CL footie for our stricken stars, who are unable to contribute but would love to be in the CL next season, when they are fit again.

  • Thanks for the updates. I’m really pleased with the season. We saw loads of progress, and I think we can finally see where the finishing touches need to go on improving the squad.

    It’s clear we no longer had the energy for the high pressure Arteta ball with all the running the boys did all season long. Saka, Ødegaard, Martinelli, Xhaka etc… the Saliba injury is just bad luck.

    Not only do we need to bring in players that Arteta feels comfortable to rotate and sub more, but he needs to be more proactive in that area. That’s the change he needs to make in himself.
    I wouldn’t change him for any coach now. The league will be harder next year, and we will be better and deeper too.

  • Fine comments by all. J, you summed it up nicely. Arteta squeezed the lemon as much as he could and in the end we fell short, but WHAT a progress we made this season.

  • Saka has signed for four more years, maybe the club was sitting on this, so we could have a bit of good news after the bad?

  • Ikay Gundogan? Why not? However, Arteta may hesitate on account of his age the fact that his fellow City fore-runners have not exactly pulled down trees for us, this season. 🤷🏽‍♂️

  • Great news about Saka’s contract.

    I’m a bit dubious about the Gundogan rumours even if Xhaka looks as if he is (sadly) leaving. Yes, he is available on a free transfer but, his wage expectations are likely to be high. We are linked with a number of other midfielders too. If true, it may be a signal of quite a clearout.

  • Yes guys, Gundogan is not young anymore. I guess we will see a revolution in midfield this summer. We need both real fitness and quality but also experience in midfield. They run the show and it’s so demanding. Cover for Granit, Thomas and Martin was limited this season, and with CL footie to come we need quite a few quality additions.

    It could well be Thomas, Jorginho, Gundogan, Rice, Elneny and ANother next season.

  • Edu is gradually working his way through the squad with Gabriel, Martinelli, Ramsdale and now Saka on shiny new long-term contracts, next in his crosshairs is Odegaard, Nelson and Saliba. As the financial status of the club continues to improve post-lockdown this area of club husbandry will continue, it’s as vital as new signings and an area Arsenal have been awful at since David Devin was sacked (dumb move).

    Edu has manfully tried to improve on our equally awful record at sales, the only standout sales in recent years have been Alex Iwobi and Joe Willock whilst before them you have to go back to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Knowing when to move on a player who seemingly has value is a difficult skill and having a reputation for being poor at selling is hard to lose but I think we’re improving, small steps, but getting better.

    Getting some value from a player whose into his golden years is a skill, a judgement call, but you really want your old players seeing out their careers on someone else’s books and you don’t want to make a habit of taking old players from your rivals, unless their is true value in a short-term deal so yes to Jorginho (1.5 year contract) and no to Willian

  • I’m going to go big on the predictions but I reckon that Lewis-Skelly is going to push onto the outer reaches of the 1st team next season, he really is top top quality and to me a better all-round player than Nwaneri. Arteta won’t promote a young player justto try him out regardless of my wish for him to do so but if a kid has the ability to get into the squad and be as good or better than a senior player then that’s the level Mikel wants to see.

  • MLS should be on board the pre-season tour plane, and with this kind of talent, making a beautiful, unexpected mess of the presupposed hierarchy is always possible.
    There’s something of Jack’s, or Cesc’s confidence at the same age about the lad.
    As you may have guessed, I’m a huge fan too, Kev.

  • Tbh LeG I’ve felt more warmly to Skelly than I ever had to Nwaneri, mainly because I think that Skelly is more invested in Arsenal whilst Nwaneri is more invested in other things, so yes I share your affection to Myles.

    As for the Wolves game I’ve lent towards what seems a policy of only playing youngsters if the manager genuinely sees them as potential players for the senior squad, also itsrare that Arteta has a game where there isn’t something riding on it but the Wolves game most certainly doesn’t fall into that category as it’s a dead rubber.

    So on this occasion if the same previous trio of youngsters get a seat of the bench then I will not be impressed ifhe doesn’t give them a run-out, not least by not doing so it would send a really poor message to the academy players.

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