Lets start by making one thing absolutely clear:
9 points is not an unassailable deficit. If you look at our league triumphs of 97-98 and 01-02, in both seasons we came from behind to win the league. Indeed, in 97-98, we were 12 points behind on November 1st.
Moreover, there is no doubt in my mind that Liverpool and Chelsea will drop 9 points and more over the rest of the season. So, the question is this:
Can we drop nine points less than our rivals do over the rest of the season?
And the answer is difficult. Whilst I am up on the bookies over the course of this season, I am no mystic meg.
But, the reason the answer is difficult comes in our last couple of Premier League games.
Beating Man United was wonderful, it was tremendous. That Cunt Harry Webb gave every decision to Shrek et al, and we still managed a sensational victory. It was a tactical mismatch. I was told by a friend that only Fabregas would get into the United team. Now, that is rubbish, but on paper, a strike force of Ronaldo, Rooney and Berbatov, combined cost £70 million, should be able to beat a team with a strikeforce of Barry Bentdner, cost Free Transfer. Fact is, they didn't.
And not only did they not do so, they were comprehensively annihilated from the off. Clichy had the nancy-boy cunting fucker of a mongrel Ronaldo in his pocket, and the team followed suit. Anderson who I believe is one of the best talents in the Premiership was made to look like a mug. Diaby channelled his energy in a wonderful manner, and we cannot forget about Samir Nasri. As Goodplaya pointed out, if Nasri were called Theo Walcott, how much credit would he have got for his two goals. Another great bit of business to go with the signings of Sagna and Walcott.
So, to all intents and purposes you would have thought that having got one over on old rednose, Arsenal would now get some impetus to carry on and go on one of those famed unbeaten runs we used to go on. We managed 35 and 49 games unbeaten in a three season period. Now, we look more likely to manage three. I know these players are young but they could still count to double figures.
Anyway, Villa came to the Grove and came away with three points. Almunia saved a penalty but a Clichy own goal and an Agbonlahor breakaway goal gave Villa the points. There are several things which have to be said here: anyone criticising our home form is a cretinous bile-inducing cock-loving spud. The reason we haven't won the league in previous years was not as a result of our home form. We've lost 3 home games in three seasons. That is a good record, no questions asked. Our failure to win the league has come from our poor away form - according to The Times a couple of weeks ago we've lost something like 25 out of our last 78 away games: not good. I could pick at the game, but I think it would be stupid to do so. Sure, Clichy shouldn't have been in that position, a big centre-back should have, but its irrelevant. You can get in compromising positions in games, it's stopping the damage which is important. Indeed, Shrek got in a couple of great positions last week, but they didn't end in goals. And the second Villa goal was just a classic counter-attack so its an irrelevance.
What I'd rather look at, is the Arsenal fans who are criticising Wenger's transfer dealings because he didn't buy a holding midfielder. Now, there's two points here: primarily, the fact that against United and in the Champions League, Denilson has been wonderful. But also, that there aren't that many good players around. Who are the two holding midfielders everyone wants us to sign? Veloso or Xabi Alonso.
Porto sold Quaresma in the summer - how would their fans have felt if they sold their two best players? - explains why they were never going to sell Veloso. So, that leaves Alonso. And Xabi Alonso is a really good player who would indeed walk into the Arsenal first-team. But, that doesn't mean you can criticise Wenger for not buying him.
How would you have felt if Arsenal had sold Thierry Henry to Chelsea three years ago? You would have been furious, and livid, ready to go for one those rockstar tantrums where you throw a TV out a third floor window. I probably wouldn't have thrown a TV out a third-floor window but that's only because I'm not strong enough to carry it up two flights of stairs. But, that is by the by. The point I'm making is that there is a very limited supply of players who would improve Arsenal who are within our budget. Arguably, Alonso is one, but why would one of your rivals sell you one of their best players to fix the biggest problem within your team.
Everyone thinks they are so clever for realising Arsenal need a ball-winner in the middle of the park. But Wenger also realised this. He tried to fix it, but he was sensible about it. You're not Sherlock Holmes (or Amaury Bischoff PI (Bischoff is a private investigator in his spare time)) for realising this.
You take the two matches against United and Villa, and what do you see? As a recent Gooner cover put it, the Jekyll and Hyde of Arsenal. I still think we can win the league. When we've won the league in recent years, especially in 98 and 02, it was through sensational end of season runs. But, we have to stay in the mix, and to do that, we need to be more consistent and gain momentum.
In many ways, losing to Villa is more dangerous than losing to Stoke, because if we keep up with our patchy form they could challenge for the final Champions League place. Frankly, I think that course of events is quite unlikely, but for all that we've had 15 different scorers or something this season, we need more spurts of goals from people. Our great start to last season was helped by six goals from Fabregas in quick succession. Bursts of form from players are vital to our success - not all players are always going to be firing, but if we have some players who can act as an inspiration, it aids the teams collective success. In reality, in 05-06, we qualified for the Champions League again through two men: Thierry Henry and Jens Lehmann. I think we have players in Fabregas and Van Persie who have been a little subdued so far this season: a little more from them, and this team could be one of the most successful in history.
And, the filling between those two games was the Carling Cup vs. Wigan. Wigan are a solid mid-table Premiership team, and this was a really good result. I enjoyed the game immensely, and whilst I'm going over old ground here, Wilshere and Vela look like wonderful prospects. But, the one who I'm most excited about is Djourou. He can really play and we need a big, strong centre half. I'd like to see him given more Premiership experience.
I'll write again soon, but currently I'd like to celebrate my birthday.