Arsenal 4 (Arshavin 21, Van Persie 26, Baird og 37, Vela 84) Fulham 0
Before yesterday, we were in danger of ending the season on one of our worst runs of form in years, not just because of the games we’ve lost but the quality (of lack thereof) of the sides that have defeated us. But with Fulham the most accommodating of visitors, we were able to finish the campaign on a high against a defence already preparing for Forlan and Aguero on Wednesday.
The game was wrapped up by half time – Arshavin robbed Schwarzer to score the first, although had he missed Van Persie may not have forgiven him all summer, so free was he in the middle. The Dutchman got his goal five minutes later after being slipped in by Walcott – the first effort was pushed on to the bar, but the ball fell kindly and the game was as good as dead. When Baird inadvertently extended our lead, we could at last relax and put any lingering concerns about Spurs to bed.
The second half was true end of season fare, and after Van Persie had managed a remarkable miss from a few yards out, Vela scored the sort of goal we have become accustomed to seeing from him in the Carling Cup – a marvellous chip over the advancing keeper. You have to wonder if it is the only type of goal the Mexican can score.
With the bench ridiculously young, there were rare outings for players we have barely seen this season – Djourou was a welcome sight after his injury issues, while Lansbury returned from his Watford loan in time to make his first ever Premiership appearance. By that point, the game, and the season, had well and truly fizzled out.
Yet still, I found myself highly irritated by a number of the Arsenal support (admittedly a minority, but a brainless one all the same), who jeered Arshavin for his recent comments (and perhaps his selfishness for the opener) but saved the worst of their bile for Fabianski.
You can say what you like about the Pole’s ability in goal, but while he has been rightly criticised for his mistakes, I don’t think anyone can doubt his attitude to the game. If he is not ready for first team action, that is hardly his fault, and given how much of a confidence player he clearly is, it seemed hugely counterproductive to ironically cheer his every touch and then, when he handled outside the box late in the game (and was booked), to ‘hilariously’ call for the referee to send him off.
Lest we forget – he is our player. Destroying him helps no-one, and frankly I wish that section of ‘support’ would up sticks and move on. It is one thing to have a go at a player who isn’t putting in the hard yards, but quite another to hound one who is giving it his all, irrespective of how impressive or otherwise that may be.
It is a shame that a promising, title challenging season has ended with some of the fanbase turning on the players and manager. Of course there are things wrong with the squad, weaknesses that need to be sorted, but it is easy to forget the strides we have made this campaign purely because it has ended so poorly.
Over the coming days, I will be looking back at the season, doing my end of term report for each of the players and looking at what we need to do this summer if our hunt for a trophy is to come to an end next season. Until then, enjoy the aftermath of a resounding win – it has been a while.