As an Arsenal supporter there is only really one place to start this week and that is with yet another weak-willed capitulation, this time for the final time at the home of our nearest-but-not-so-dearest North London rivals. Criticism of yet another abject performance from Arsène Wenger’s side should in no way denigrate from the quality of Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs team, and they definitely are a proper team, compared to the collection of overpaid, over-pampered, over-indulged prima-donnas that were purportedly ‘representing’ Arsenal. With every passing defeat it feels increasingly as if the manager has run out of ideas, the players have stopped playing for him or even listening to him and it feels as if drastic change is needed. If it hadn’t been for some excellent saves from Peter Cech, reminding us all of just how good a goalkeeper he has been, then this could have been truly embarrassing along the lines of hammerings in Manchester, at the Bridge and Anfield and against Bayern Munich.
In the end Tottenham didn’t even have to play particularly well to win this game and to ensure that for the first time in 22 years St Totteringham’s Day (the day each year when it is mathematically impossible for Spurs to finish higher than Arsenal) has been cancelled. The pathetic display last Sunday afternoon did little to suggest that it will be reinstated any time soon. The only hope for Arsenal fans is that the circa £50 million shortfall in revenue for dropping off the Champions League gravy train might stun our majority owner into some form of action; if he feels the threat to the value of his asset. Technically Arsenal could still make the top four and even win the FA Cup; however with this weekend bringing a visit by Jose Mourinho, a manager that Wenger has never beaten in a competitive fixture, and his Manchester United side who have been Arsenal’s bogey side on all too many occasions recently; you would be hard-pressed to find any Gooner that would expect things to get anything but worse.
The 3 points were absolutely vital for Tottenham after Chelsea’s convincing win at Goodison Park in the earlier kick-off. In a similar fashion to last season Spurs continue to pick up the points and to hang onto the leaders’ coattails in the hope that a stumble is to come. This weekend provides an interesting reversal in that Spurs go to the Olympic Stadium to face West Ham this Friday evening, a victory there would lay down a marker and pile the pressure onto Antonio Conte’s men ahead of the visit of seemingly doomed Middlesbrough on Monday night. It may just be that unless there is a major shock at Stamford Bridge, Tottenham are simply going to run out of games.
Rather disappointingly the Champions League semi-finals were less competitive than we had hoped, assuming there are no Barcelona-style comebacks in the second legs this week, the final between Juve and Real promises to be a fascinating match. Once again an irresistible attacking force will face an unmovable defensive object. I have no idea why but I fancy Max Allegri’s expertly drilled side to win the big prize this time around.
After a hiatus brought about by the KNVB Beker Final, the action resumes in the Eredivisie this weekend. Once again my attendance at Arsenal will prevent me from watching Feyenoord live, but with just one more win required to make the dreams of their success-starved supporters come true, it may well be that there is a hell of a party to come in Rotterdam either this weekend or next; no wonder the police have closed off Coolsingel, the main road, and the centre of town in preparation.