25 February 2022

You're so vain, you probably think this post is about you...

Hello, wandering Wolves fans. You probably think this, and our celebrations after defeating twice in a fortnight, are unseemly or unbefitting a club of our size and stature. After we won at Molineux, your Ruben Neves said, "We saw the way they celebrated the win and that shows the level we are," the Portuguese said. "I didn't see Arsenal celebrating like this in the past 10 years - it was like they won the league." Well, after against besting you last night courtesy of a dramatic stoppage-time winner from Lacazette (I don't care that it's officially an own-goal), complete with frenzied celebration, it's incumbent upon me, your humble correspondent, to clarify a few misconceptions—well, one, mainly: it's not about you, sweetheart. Our wild celebrations reflect perhaps as much as 3% joy over besting a spirited opponent. Perhaps. I think I speak for most Gooners when I say we kind of like you lot and wish you well...for the most part. Still, doing the double over you has little if anything to do with you yourselves. This isn't a North London derby, you're not Stoke, and there's no trophy at stake. So why the over-the-top reactions defeating you? Let's get to that.

See, we're after something we've coveted for some time, something some of us see as a kind of birthright (I'd disagree, but I also digress): a Champions League spot. I know you seek the same, but, for us, it's much more tangible. We've earned it before. We know how it feels and what it means. You can probably imagine it, but, until you know that feeling, you can't know how it feels to take a dramatic step closer to earning it again. Defeating you isn't about defeating you in the same way it would be about defeating Man U or Tottenham or some other hated rival. You're just the club that happened to be next on our fixture list, the next three points we had to have. That we deprived of three points or even just one point? Meh. It's nice and all because it does create some space between you and us as we both chase the same target, but that still doesn't really explain our apparently boorish behavior.

Ok, I'll admit that part of that behavior does derive from the dramatic nature of each victory. Going down to ten men and having to defend a precarious one-goal lead away from home is demanding. Scoring two late goals to come from behind to win is exhilarating, regardless of the opponent. The fact that Lacazette scored a winner in the last few seconds of stoppage time—time that was added because of Raúl Jiménez's time-wasting—does add a savory dollop of karma to it all. Still, however, that's not the point. After all, we all remember Jiménez's awful head-injury and are happy to see him healthy again.

Back to the subject at hand. We celebrate because victory brings us closer to a much, larger goal. At a risk of sounding dismissive of you, you're little more than a stepping-stone. I don't mean to say you're insignificant or that we don't rate you. We simply have our eyes on a much larger prize—that Champions League spot and all it represents. We're in the middle of a massive overhaul, not just of the squad but of the club itself. We've been wandering a bit ourselves lately but winning brings us that one step closer to achieving that dream. Getting a Champions League spot doesn't just bring in bucket loads of money. It doesn't just restore us to a competition we'd been in for nineteen consecutive seasons (an English record, by the way). It's more practical than that. It puts us in a position to sign those last few players we need to compete with the big boys whom we've been chasing for years. 

Congratulations on your own sense of competitiveness. Bruno seems to know what he's doing, and he has you in the mix for a European spot of your own next year. We'd much rather see you get it than Tottenham or Man U...because they inspire actual spite, scorn, and schadenfreude. Those are rivalries with history. Mention a certain scoreline or a player, and Gooners can instantly summon up which match and what season you've mentioned. Who knows? Maybe, in time, this little spat between Arsenal and Wolves can blossom and grow into something similar. In time. For now, however, it's a speed bump. A trifle. In other words, don't think you're too big for your britches. Not everything is about you. I mean, if it makes you feel big to believe otherwise, good on you (but I must admit, feeling a need to boost one's ego is, ironically, a sign of insecurity, so meditate on that).

One thing I'll thank you all for, though: you did a wonderful job of trolling Tottenham's fans. Hwang had them all in a tizzy over the possibility we'd lose. That you instead collapsed in the most dramatic of fashions really got their knickers in a twist. Cheers.