Admittedly, starting a blog about Arsenal the week that they more or less conceded their final fight to the usual suspects seems a bit anticlimactic, if not absurd. Surely a better time to start would be July, you say, with World Cup'd eyes and a fresh Premier League table with Arsenal at the top of the alphabetical list. And yet, here we are.
As I said in the opening post, I tend to be much more optimistic about Arsenal than I am about other teams that I follow. The reasons for this are many (being subjected to the NHL equivalent of catenaccio for the past ten years, for one), but my optimism is grounded in the fact that I have more or less what some might reasonably call a perverse sense of what it means to support this club. While I would love to win trophies as much as every supporter, we should not let the fact that it has not happened for five years take away from the pleasures and frustrations of watching Arsenal do what they do.
Arsène Wenger himself pointed out yesterday that Arsenal have made progress over last year and silenced the critics who said that without Kolo Touré or Emmanuel Adebayor, the club would sink out of the top four. This has not happened. It has not been an easy season; since December, most of our games have been spiky, craggy encounters. Last minute wins, frustrating draws, and soul-rending losses have far outnumbered the hazy strolls down country lanes (does anyone remember Goodison Park, August, 2009?).
Man City loom on Saturday, and that means the return of the aforementioned Messieurs Adebayor and Touré. City's rise has been well-documented, and writers spilled cubic miles of ink over the 4-2 at Eastlands (complete with Adebayor controversy). This fixture, while probably meaningless in the title race, is important to keeping Arsenal in third. That fact, coupled with the events of last autumn, should be more than enough motivation for any starting XI that Wenger chooses. It is likely that he will field the strongest side possible and wait until the Blackburn match to give some of the youth squad a Premier League baptism, but I wouldn't be shocked to see Craig Eastmond start again in Alex Song's absence.
A more in-depth preview of the match will be coming on Friday. For now, all I can say is that I want trophies badly, but I also want to just sit down with a cup of extremely strong coffee at 7:30 AM to watch the type of sport on my television that was missing for all too long from my life. At this point, it will have to suffice.