A few weeks ago I suggested that the lack of midweek games would be beneficial for our run-in – it would give us adequate time to rest and recuperate, allowing the likes of Cesc and Walcott to go easy on their straining muscles, and would enable us to press harder in the matches themselves in the knowledge that the next game was seven days away. Clutching at straws, perhaps, but it was the silver lining to the cloud of being out of every cup competition.
This week, however, it hasn’t felt particularly healthy. Since Saturday’s draw with Blackburn, the mood around the club has been sombre, which has been reflected in the fanbase. ‘Civil war’ has been bandied around as a phrase, and while that is a gross exaggeration – the noisy minority are being portrayed as more than that – it is fair to say that there has been a significant drop in belief in the team, and a few of the individuals in it. Another match might have been exactly the fillip we needed.
Some writers attempted to broker the peace. The top bloggers, as always, provided sensible, balanced and rational views only to be jumped on from both sides, and it seemed the weekend could not come quickly enough. What good could come out of this midweek period?
And then Spurs came along. Now, if there are any Spurs fans reading, and I suspect there are, since I seem to get quite a lot, yes you made it a round further than we did – congratulations on that. But I have to say I enjoyed the humbling at the hands of Real Madrid, partly because of the overblown claims of the fans (getting one round further in a cup competition, in you only appearance in it, does not make you a bigger club, sorry) but probably more because of the media love-in, particularly from Sky.
Last night their coverage was excruciating and hilarious in equal parts. Ray Wilkins spent the entire first half calling Spurs ‘we’, making excuses for every pass that went astray, but also patronising them to the extreme by saying ‘Well done’ after successfully executing simple passes, in the manner you talk to a three year old.
Post-match was even funnier. Jamie Redknapp and Glenn Hoddle proceeded to talk utter nonsense (even by their standards) about how Spurs deserved a goal because of their impressive campaign, or how they still might have a chance at the Lane. They looked distraught, completely forgetting their jobs of being analysts and delving straight into cover-up mode.
It was all because of Crouch’s red card, they said. I have no doubt that going down to ten men affected them, but it does gloss over the fact that a) he put in two stupid challenges in 15 minutes and deserved it and b) Spurs were already losing and being outclassed by that point. It was all because Lennon was unavailable, they said. I’ll remember that next time they fail to offer it as mitigation when we lose. It was excuse after excuse – Hoddle even said that everything conspired against Spurs and Real only won because of ‘favourable circumstances’. What circumstances were those? Being better footballers?
And to add icing to the cake, Spurs could barely point to their Inter win by the end of it, since the Italians were being spanked 5-2 in Italy by Schalke, who are themselves in the bottom half of the Bundesliga.
Usually I’m not one to gloat, and I normally ignore most Spurs results, but last night was satisfying because of all the overblown Spurs platitudes that we’ve had to put up with all season, for Redknapp, for Bale, for Modric. Talents all, but overhyped to the max. Besides, I had to sit on the train home for two hours prior to last night’s game listening to two guys praise Redknapp to the rafters and claiming Bale was worth twice as much as Ronaldo because he doesn’t dive. Yes, they really said that.
But more than that, I want to thank Spurs for doing what no-one else could – uniting the Arsenal fans, cheering us up, and making us look to the weekend with more of a smile on our faces.