Sunday, 30 March 2014

Finally, some hope.

No, you're wrong.

This match is not a description of the creditable 1-1 draw we gained against City. Of course I agree that we were good money for our draw, and that second place is possible if we win all of our remaining games. My speculations on Arsenal suffering a collapse may prove to be wrong, looking at this performance more than the result. I'm still not sure that we can continue these performances and convert them into wins, but I'm more hopeful than I was two days ago.

Arsenal needed performances like these. The last six league games of the season read Everton, West Ham, Hull, Newcastle, West Brom and Norwich, all winnable games, and games for which Ramsey, Ozil and Wilshere may play a part. Such is the topsy-turvy nature of the EPL that we can win the title if we win all these games (82 points) and can certainly finish second with these results.

Yes, Arsenal gave me reasons to be hopeful about our league finish. However, as I initially said, there are a lot of things that can go wrong about it, which does not fill me with confidence and bravado going into the most important part of the season.The performance was encouraging, yes, but not entirely convincing. It'll take more performances to convince me that we've recovered.

But as I said above, this post is not a review on the City game. In reality, it is about knowing that a bright future awaits for Arsenal FC.

If you must know, prior to Wenger's pre-match conference yesterday I felt drained. Devoid of hope, devoid of optimism, Filled, instead, with emotionless dread and silent despair. The reasons for my current predicament were a lot - personal life, pressures and recent frustrations. However, Arsenal had a large part to play in it as well.'

As you know, after the Swansea game I lost what every human craves - hope. As far as I was concerned, Arsenal were ruled by a cowardly dictatorial manager with a clueless board, collapsing players and lifeless fans. There really seemed like no way out of this descent into mediocrity, there wasn't anything that any Gooner could believe in in this club.

Personally, I felt horrible. The days from Wednesday to Saturday were the most saddening and sickening I had ever felt. It's amazing how emotionless and silent one can go after being devoid of faith and belief.

For the following days, I had hardly paid attention to daily happenings and tasks. Instead of living, I just existed, a sense of emptiness creeping in my tin chest. I won't say that my current state was completely down to Arsenal, but our collapse sure was a decisive factor.

So what happened in the pre-match conference that changed my mood? Well, believe it or not, it was Arsene Wenger. A particularly interesting quote in his press-conference perked up my mood. When asked about his contract, he had said:

“Yes [I will sign it], unless I decide otherwise. I have told you many times we have had no time to sit down and do it. Nothing, not going anywhere, don’t worry for that. But I want to have a feeling coming out of the season that that I have done the maximum for the club.”

Yes, unless I decide otherwise? That makes it clear his contract is unsigned and his future is dependent on the outcome of the season.

That, in turn, makes it clear that his future rests solely on the FA Cup. While I have heard many people saying that finishing fourth and winning the FA Cup will be a successful season (I'm not one of them), let's be honest, it's only winning the cup that will glorify coming in the top four yet again. I don't think anyone would say that losing the FA Cup and even finishing second would be a successful season.

It's almost ironic that a competition Wenger does not give preference to is the one that potentially saves his neck. While winning the league was never a possibility since 1st February, the cup dream is very much alive. Win it, and in all likelihood Wenger stays.

However, if we lose it, Wenger almost definitely leaves the club. Note how he says that he wants to come out with the feeling that he has done his maximum - I'm sure that feeling won't be there if we lose to Wigan in two weeks.

It's a win-win. Lose the FA Cup, and Wenger leaves the club for good. Win the FA Cup, and we can end the trophy drought and instill happiness among millions around the globe. And for people who are worried that Wenger might choose Arsenal's successor and control his moves from above as a board member, he's clarified that as well.

“I always said, and you can check that, everybody [has] his job My job is to do well for the team, not to do anything else [not to choose Arsenal's next manager].”

A clear indication that he isn't going to select Arsenal's next manager, which is a relief for me. I always feared that even if Wenger left, he'd occupy a board position and control the next manager from above. He'd probably handpick a 'yes sir' manager with no backbone and run the club like he never left, continuing the reign of Arsene FC. I cannot express my joy knowing that such a scenario is not happening.

I'm happy with both situations. What I wasn't happy with was Wenger signing on after losing the FA Cup, which is something almost ruled out. I say "almost", because I don't trust the manager to keep his promise. I think he will, though, there's too much pressure on him to get away with this.

Finally, some hope.

-Santi (Follow me on twitter: @ArsenalBlogz )