What else is there to say other than that Arteta is a complete fraud and that this entire campaign, the one in which we’ve essentially perched atop the Prem from matchday one ’til now, has been one season-long fraud? Having stumbled to a second consecutive away draw despite having seized an early two-goal lead, what other conclusion is there?
Arteta is a fraud. Sack him. Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale, Granit Xhaka? Sell them. Hell, sell all of them. We might as well start sizing up our opponents in the Championship at this rate. I recognize a few future opponents there: Sunderland. Burnley. West Brom. Norwich. Swansea. It might be nice to get re-acquainted. On the upside, we might find an easier path to some silverware, what with relegation looming over us.
On the other hand…
Maybe, just maybe, this disappointing draw is but a speedbump? Could it be that the squad that stumbled to an injury-hobbled fifth-place a year ago after two consecutive eight-placed finishes might have actually exceeded expectations for almost an entire year, bravely soldiered on despite numerous injuries, and still found itself atop the Prem with its destiny in its own hand?
Look. If you’re of the mindset that says we’ve bottled it, that we should sack Arteta, that we should sell various players, you should just piss off. Then again, maybe you’re precisely the kind of so-called Gooner who should read on. If you’re that kind of Gooner and you’ve stopped reading, good. Jog on. Get bent. Don’t come back. Go support Man City.
We still have a fighting chance. I’d love for this season to be the next installment of the Rocky franchise, with the plucky underdog fighting back against all odds to defeat an implacable, remorseless opponent. That storyline assumes that we’re on the ropes, barely fending off a knockout blow—but we’re still standing. What’s more, we do still control our destiny, if only by the most-tenuous of margins.
Saka missed a penalty. The last time he did that, he went on a scorching run from the spot and from open play. Something tells me that the spirit and culture that Arteta has worked so hard to instill will see this squad rise from the proverbial ashes. I’m not saying we’re going to run the table on this run-on; there are too many tricky fixtures to make that declaration. What I am saying is that this draw changes the calculations on a few of those fixtures.
26 April now looms quite a bit larger than it ever did. That might just play to our advantage. Hear me out. Man City have to go into the Allianz Arena on Wednesday to defend a 3-0 advantage. Three days later, they host Sheffield United in an FA Cup semifinal. Four days after that, we pay them a visit. That’s three crucial clashes in just over a week. We’ve dropped points, but it’s too soon to say that Man City won’t do the same. For as deep as that squad is, it’s entirely possible to see them dropping points here or there.
In an ideal world, of course, we would have taken all three points instead of sharing the one. Then again, in an ideal world, Leicester would have taken all three and we’d all be checking our calendars for when the parade would be.
It’s still too early to draw any definitive conclusions, which cuts both ways. It might have been nice to come away with greater confidence of winning the Prem had we and Leicester had the minerals. Then again, we do still technically control our destiny. One match at a time. That’s the mantra.