14 April 2013

Man U to clinch the Prem at the Emirates? I don't think so.

As we size up our own prospects for a top-three finish, some attention has turned to our April 28th match with Man U, and the worriers and hand-wringers look at it as a potential nightmare-homecoming for Robin Van Persie: a chance for him to help his new club to clinch the Prem title. It ain't gonna happen. It just won't. It's not even worth dissecting the various outcomes of their matches and those of Man City's between now and then. It won't come down to that; we won't have to rely on
the likes of Mancini's men to save us from that kind of ignominy. We'll do it ourselves. Those chumps barely escaped when we came to visit in November, relying on a lucky scuff from Vermaelen to Van Persie and a red-card to Wilshere to bail them out. Had not Vermaelen "assisted" Van Persie in that 3rd minute, we'd've been looking at a very different game. Yes, I know that Rooney missed a penalty and that there were many other chances, but points are not awarded for chances. They're only awarded for goals. On that score, Man U barely emerged from the contest. I daresay they won't be so lucky next time.

I'm engaging in a little bit of braggadocio, I'll admit, but it's not unfounded. When we met back in November, we were still staggering about as we struggled to adjust to the departures of Van Persie and Song. Our new signees were still finding their footing in the Prem, and everyone was adjusting. Our starting lineup featured three new players, a backup goalie, and a player who had missed most of the entire previous season. In other words, almost half of our team was still getting acquainted while facing last year's runner-up, a team that had poached our most-lethal scorer. After last season's 8-2 bloodbath, the stage was set for another messy affair. I don't put much stock in moral victories, but for them to emerge 2-1 winners does count as one. More to the point, they were left counting their blessings and wondering how to spend their remaining birthday wishes.

Even if we drop points against Everton or Fulham, Man U will arrive at the Emirates to face us on a run of form that has seen us climb to 3rd in the Prem with quite a bit more left to prove. By contrast, they'll come in with the somewhat-more abstract idea that they might be able to clinch the Prem (assuming City drops points, but we're not worried about that). Whatever their motivations may be, ours will be stronger: we seek to further distance ourselves from Spurs, consolidate our tenuous hold on 3rd, and continue to chase City for 2nd. In fact, I do hope that City drops points between now and when we face Man U, all the better for us to achieve the unthinkable. It might be cold comfort for us to set our sights on delaying the inevitable, but I'd take it.

At the risk of wallowing in a bit of mud, what would it say to Van Persie (and Song, for that matter), if we were to finish in 2nd place after his (their) departure(s)? Pulling that off would send an unmistakable message to Robin: you could have stayed and helped us win the Prem, perhaps the  FA Cup, perhaps the Capital One Cup, advancing in the Champions League, and joining a pantheon of Arsenal legends, bathing yourself in the kind of glory money just can't buy instead of selling yourself to the highest bidder (amidst rumors that we were the highest bidders).

I know that spite is unhealthy, so that's as far as go in swimming in it. We're not the club we were in November 2012. We're not the club that Man U will defeat to claim the Prem League title. We're getting back to being the club we're supposed to be. We are Arsenal.