There is something strangely satisfying about watching your team play poorly yet escape with all three points. It’s the same euphoric feeling that you got as a kid stealing sweets, or as an adult stealing someones wife. You shouldn’t get away with it but by god it’s good when you do. After playing Southampton it felt precisely like this because we ‘robbed em’ plain and simple, they had the better game-plan, executed it better, were more of a threat offensively and looked more robust defensively. Sir Alex said that Pochettino’s Southampton side were the best team to play at Old Trafford this season and they weren’t far off it at White Hart Lane. Fact is though that we won the game thanks to yet another individual effort from Mr 3rd best in the world as everyone seems intent on catagorising him as. The team were not good enough on Saturday, even Bale (apart from the goal) was quiet. This poor performance however has allowed us as a collective fan base to experience something, this is what it feels like as an Arsenal fan… It’s an empty old existance.
The reason behind the performance may have something to do with the nerves that have permiated the club and the fans in recent weeks, Chelsea haven’t fallen away like many had hoped and Arsenal are somehow keeping their run going. This means our future is in our own hands and we can’t allow for one slip up, naturally in this situation the nerves set in pre match as this was in every sense of the word a must-win game what with Chelsea coming up in the week. The team did not cope well with the added expectaion and could not settle into a rhythm, granted this was in part due to Southampton’s far superior movement around the pitch but for the entire first half they were in control of the game and looked comfortable.
Changes were made to the team both forced and unforced with Dembele, Dempsey and Lennon being replaced, this did little to effect the game until the 80th minuite. It was as though everyone in White Hart Lane simultaniously looked up at the clock and said to themselves time to stop fucking about. The team pushed forward and the winning goal began to look more likely, going to Chelsea on Wednesday would always be hard but to do so on the back of anything less than a win would be the end of our season. Bale certainly knew this and there was an aire of inevitablility about it when he picked the ball up on the right up against his so called protege Shaw, (Levy should be dusting the cheque book off for him this summer) cut in and fired home his 20th in the league this season.
After picking up all the awards this season if he drags us into the Champions League he will write himself into Spurs folklore, the first player to score 20 in the league for nearly 20 years and if/when he does depart us it will be for the kind of money that could really help build a new stadium…
Up next is Chelsea on Wednesday, we are not expected to win which is only a good thing at this point and may allow for some of the players to relax and play their game more. If we loose then it is out of our hands and we then rely on other teams, our run in includes two teams that play on Monday night so hopefully after that game at least one of the two is safe from relegation. Arsenal’s run in includes two teams that look as though they will be battling for survival in Wigan and Newcastle so their final games are anything but guaranteed points. Chelsea meanwhile have a Europa League final to contend with as well as the in-form Villa and Everton on the final day of the season, again these are difficult games to call so regardless of the result midweek this battle for Champions League football will go down to the wire.
Games like Chelsea on Wednesday are the ones that you can judge characters by, you can judge the managers decisions and the players actions. You can judge the season by it, this game is Tottenham’s most important in a long time, the stakes are so high for both clubs. These are the kind of games you love football for, when the fixture list throws you one that has real importance for both teams, one in which you can leave all rational, reason and sense at the turnstiles and be immersed for two hours.