Burnley win showed bottle
When Burnley equalised in injury time at the weekend I had an overwhelming, and familiar, sense of dissappointment. The majority of our rivals had dropped points and we had just spurned our chance to eke ahead of them to become the most serious challengers to Chelsea for the title. There were still four minutes to go but already my mind had wandered to other sporting events to fill my weekends. I was mentally checking the Cheltenham festival odds, looking forward to the tennis, booking tickets to the World Snooker Championship and ordering the Anthony Joshua fight on box office.
Like many people, watching sports is an escape from everyday stresses but, sadly, as a typical Arsenal supporter I set my expectations quite high so the inevitable fall is quite painful. The three minutes leading up to Alexis Sanchez’s panenka penalty were some of the most miserable I’ve experienced as an Arsenal supporter in the past few years.
The thought that kept pounding through my skull was ‘Arsenal are boasting their most complete squad since the Invincibles, finished second last year and possess two of the best players in the league yet they’re going to be out of the title race before we’ve even reached the end of January.’ It was torture.
Alexis’ goal bought sweet relief from the shame of drawing at home to the worst away side in the league, a team that had picked up a solitary point in 9 previous away matches. More than relief, it gave me a fresh sense of optimism and perspective. Was it any surprise we would struggle to break Burnley down even though we were at home? Have we not seen enough from opposition teams at the Emirates this season to know the vast majority of them come to N5 with no intention of trying to play football?
A scrappy match should have been expected and we should expel from our minds this notion that scrapping results shows a lack of bottle. Depending on your perspective it’s more a display of bottle than a lack of. Battling back from three goals down against Bournemouth showed courage. Sure, we should never have put ourselves in that position but the determination to salvage something is a quality Arsenal have perhaps lacked. The Gunners displayed this determination against Burnley. Arsenal sides of old would have dropped their heads at conceding in the 93rd minute but this team kept going and got a deserved late win to claim second place.
I’m just as optimistic about Arsenal now as I was at the start of the season. If the lads can maintain this level of determination and cut out the errors that do so little for the cardiovascular health of Gooners the world over then I think they might end up surprising a few people come the end of the season.
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