Sunderland 0 Arsenal 1 (Walcott 24)
A thrilling but ultimately disappointing campaign closed yesterday with a fourth straight win courtesy of Walcott’s fine goal, finishing superbly after Gilberto played him through with a beautiful pass. The win means Arsenal have collected 83 points, enough to win the title in many seasons, but not now the bar has been raised so high.
It is that standard that people seem to miss. Even the unbeaten Invincibles drew twelve games, leaving them with 90 points, just seven more than amassed this season. Food for thought.
The game itself was a typical end of season affair between two sides with little to play for, although it was a good chance for a few players to make their mark. Gilberto, Walcott and Fabianski certainly took their opportunity, while substitute Randall had a goal wrongly ruled out.
When the title was finally lost at Old Trafford, we asked for a positive finish in the last four games, and we got it. Four wins, three clean sheets, and in the end just four points separated the top three. Turning just one of those many draws into wins would’ve seen us second.
But there is no point in dwelling on what might have been, instead let’s look forward to next season. And with Flamini already gone, Hleb has two weeks to indicate his intentions or he’s going nowhere, while Gilberto, a forgotten man so often this season, wants to stay:
“I have always expressed the desire to stay here to the end of my career. If that happens, it would be fantastic. “
“I would be very happy to stay here and then discuss another contract to the end of my career.”
The Brazilian has endured a tough campaign, starting out by losing the captaincy, and then losing his place. But he hasn’t spoken a word out of turn, and has been the ultimate professional. He may never be a regular again, but I feel he still has a big part to play with this team, offering stability, calmness and experience to a growing side. He can certainly mentor some of the younger ones, and his professional attitude cannot be underestimated. Sign him up, Arsene, even on one of your one year extensions.
It also looks like we won’t have to wait long for signings, Wenger being unusually forthcoming in his plans:
“I know what I want and I am very confident. I hope to turn that around in the next two or three weeks. But the fans should be re-assured by what they see.”
“It would be better to buy someone who has played in England because they are less risky. But it costs more money if they are from the Premier League, so maybe I will try to do both.”
Encouraging words, and given that his activity is always on the quiet, it seems that he really is confident that a couple of players will arrive before the European Championships start. His candidness also suggests that he faces no competition for the names he is after. Good stuff.
So the summer has begun. Reviews coming up soon.