First things first, let’s get the site news out of the way. Regular readers of the blog will notice that it looks very different – I’ve been working on a redesign for some time now, and it finally went live today. So have a poke around, see what you think and if you spot anything out of place, please let me know.
The extra observant among you may have noticed the two new features. The first is a long overdue subscription service, so you can finally get Groan updates by email if you so wish. Just click here, enter your email address and you’re away.
The second is the Beautiful Groan Podcast, which is due for launch on May 5 (a fortnight away), and will run every Wednesday from then on. And yes, I am aware that the first episode comes out four days before the season ends. My timing is impeccable.
So back to Arsenal news, and no matter where you go, it feels as if the season has ended. Barring a few worriers who are spending their time looking over their shoulders at City and Spurs (to think either can get near us considering their run-ins and the already substantial gap is fanciful in the extreme), everyone is talking about next season. And I’m not just referring to us fans – the club are at it too.
Nasri has been defending the lack of a trophy, claiming that this season has set us up well for next year:
“I think we have more merit as a club than those who have built their teams with millions of pounds whereas Arsenal have brought in young footballers, who have come here to play a certain kind of football and who have developed.”
“I am hoping that our squad will stay unchanged because we are really good and with a year more experience, we can achieve some great things next season.”
He isn’t alone. Wenger claims this season to be a success, pointing to the sustained title challenge:
“I feel we have made huge steps forward this year compared to last year and the year before that. This year I feel we have appeased our fans a lot. We have always shown a great attitude, a great response when needed.”
Aside from the questionable timing of praising the attitude of the players, you can’t really argue with either quote. We have improved this year despite a deeper injury crisis, and those who believe us to be static forget how poor we were in the early stages of last season. Sorry defeats like the capitulation to Wigan were happening on a regular basis, but with an improved team ethic we have made great strides.
But am I alone in thinking these platitudes can wait a few weeks? We have three games to go, and whatever you think of our position, those games mean an awful lot. I don’t mean as a bearing on the title race, which we’re out of, or for securing Champions League football, which is assured with one good result, but as a way of finishing the season strongly, leaving the fans on a high throughout the summer, and giving us reason to look at the campaign with a smile, not the tainted memories of a late season collapse.
These three games could define how the entire season is viewed – close to the top pair, or fighting it out for third and fourth – and that alone gives them a huge importance. And when you take the opposition into account – Adebayor, Bellamy, Allardyce – you cannot say the season is done and dusted.
So while everything Nasri, Wenger and others says is true, those seasonal summaries can wait until the campaign is over. And it isn’t over until we’ve given ourselves a feel good ending.
It isn’t June. It isn’t May. It is only April, and that means there’s football to be played.