It is so easy, as a fan, to complain when your luck is out. And as a cyclic process, there are times when that is undoubtedly true – last season there were numerous matches that we lost 1-0, despite hitting a combination of the woodwork and a keeper having the match of his life. At the same time, we looked enviously at Man Utd, who seemed to have fortune on their side, as they sneaked undeserved victories and suffered only a few injuries.
All of which appears, on the face of it, to be true. United seemed to be rolling inevitably towards the title last season, while whenever we travelled from the Emirates, it seemed nothing was going our way.
It is far trickier for a fan to recognise when the tables have turned, when luck is suddenly looking upon you more favourably, and when others are bemoaning your latest victory which could’ve gone the other way on any other occasion.
Now is one of those moments, where as Arsenal fans we must admit that little things are going our way, and enjoy them while it lasts, as it inevitably won’t.
It started on the opening day. Just as last season, we conceded early, and couldn’t break Fulham down, but this time, we sneaked the valuable goals at the end of the match to begin the season with three points. How different life might look now, had that not happened.
More recently, Spurs came to the Emirates in the league and should’ve left with something, we equalised late against United, benefited from a rare Cech error against Chelsea, and were thankful for some poor Burnley finishing in the cup.
And on Wednesday night, we escaped from the first leg of the Carling Cup semi finals with one of the most fortunate draws I’ve ever seen. Spurs took the lead through Jenas in the first half, and had Malbranque not missed two sitters, the game, if not the tie, may have been over by half time.
But somehow we got away with it, Eduardo feeding Walcott late on, and the defender clearing it onto the youngster’s chest, where it ballooned into the net. Moments later, Defoe (complete with idiotic hair) missed the kind of chance he buries in his sleep.
The match should’ve ended 0-3, but now Spurs must wonder just how they can beat this Arsenal team. Even playing appallingly, with Spurs actually looking sound in central defence, they couldn’t beat the reserves. Incredible.
So why has the luck turned so utterly? It’s an old adage that you make your own luck, and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s true. Last season, when we were heading to so many defeats, there were many matches where you just knew we weren’t going to score. It wasn’t just that we often had the inept partnership of Baptista and Aliadiere up front, you just got the feeling it wasn’t going to happen, and it didn’t.
This time around, the attitude is entirely different. No matter how badly we’re playing, you just sense that something’s coming. Even on Wednesday night, with twenty minutes to go, I had a strange feeling that we were about to sneak a completely undeserved draw. And we did.
Now, I’m no expert in predicting the future, but I bet when you watch matches at the moment, you get the certain same sense of inevitability against sides like Spurs. Last season, we just knew United would get late winners, this time, it’s our turn.
So why? Well, if we think an equaliser’s bound to happen, it’s probably either a sense we get from the players’ belief, or the crowd’s faith, in turn, makes it to players from both sides. Did Spurs begin to freeze towards the end? Would Walcott have made that run if he didn’t feel a goal was coming? Who knows.
But somehow, at the moment, the fans and the players just refuse to lose, and escape however they can. The only two matches we havelost this season, at Boro and Sevilla, have been completely deserved, not last season’s ‘if only’ days. On another day, in another season, we could’ve lost to United, Spurs (twice), Fulham and more. But the point it – we haven’t.
Make the most of it, because these things never last. Is it the old idiom that confidence breeds success, that you make your own luck, that a never say die attitude wins out in the end?
Or are we about to lose this afternoon’s home game to Birmingham, with their keeper playing a blinder to even things up?
Whatever it is, enjoy the ride.