What a party that was! I mean, I wasn’t quite there, but in spirit, we all were. Fans from around the world tuned in to bid Arsene Wenger farewell, and to say #MerciArsene.
The man came, he saw, he conquered… he went a bit off the rails for 8 odd years, but overall, I think in time we’ll forgive the banter years, and maybe even embrace them.
Yesterday’s beasting of Burnley was fitting. An exuberant show of football to see out 22 years. 5 excellent goals, beautiful clear skies, a packed house at The Emirates. It was lump-in-your throat time after the game as Wenger did his final lap of honour. What a career that man has had. What an impact he’s had on the clubs brand of football, he took us from boring, boring, Arsenal, to the must-see club in world football. His ability to keep the team afloat during the skint years will be looked back on as legendary. He’ll always have the honour of putting the first three trophies in the new grounds trophy cabinet.
He’s been a monumental part of our history. No doubt about that.
As for the football, well, it was all great fun. It was the testimonial match we’d been hoping for. Some interesting curiosities came out of the game, but before we get into the details, what about Mesut fucking Ozil? He missed training the day before, fretting over a back injury… sure mate, we’ve all been there ducking rugby class in sub-zero temperatures back in the day. You have to get it into your heads people, Mesut doesn’t give a fuck about Arsenal. The rest of the boys all paid their respects, Mesut wimped out. In fact, he’s so prolific at not turning up for games he doesn’t fancy, there’s a song doing the rounds.
The Oziltoligists excused the episode as a non-issue because the game didn’t mean anything. I have to back people up on that, firstly, yes the game did mean something, it was the difference between 7th and 6th, and it was Wenger’s farewell party. Finally, and most importantly, he’s our most handsomely paid player. He has a responsibility to lead by example. The man is a liability, I just can’t believe we gave him that much money to stay on. No way he’s going to get sold this summer. Hopefully, the next manager can whip him into shape. Going missing in tough away games cannot be this thing we deal with, having cheeky breaks away so regularly cannot continue to happen, going missing in big games needs to be a thing of the past.
Those that did show up put on a great performance. Iwobi combined in a lovely one-two with Lacazette, dinking a chip into his path, the Frenchman pirouetted into a shot he dragged across goal, with Auba foxing from a yard out.
Our second goal took 30minutes to arrive. Arsenal fans spent most of that time cooing over Mavrapanos, the Greek very much looking the part, sparking excitement that Diamon Eye is going to be a big deal. Strong in the air, fast on the ground, with a good range of passing. I know we always lose our minds over young players, but he looks a very good prospect.
At the death of the first half, Iwobi started the move for our second goal, he fed a teasing ball into Hector Bellerin on the right, the Spaniard clipped a ball to Lacazette at the front post, allowing him the chance to finish first time on the volley. A great goal, taken perfectly in his stride.
The third goal came from a powerful Jack Wilshere run from deep midfield, his acceleration allowed him to run at a retreating Burnley defence, he switched his pass out to the right, Kolasinac picked up the ball and launched it across goal past the hapless Nick Pope.
The game really did take a turn for the bizarre when Auba turned provider from the right, he cut a ball back to Iwobi in the box, the target shy Nigerian took one touch, made some space and launched his shot into the top corner. Majestical guys, that’s the word I’m making up to describe that goal.
The final goal came from some good work from Ramsey in midfield, Bellerin was found wide right, he found Auba with a teasing cross 8 yards out, with the man from Gabon doing what he does best, finding the net.
There was still plenty of fun to be had when he goals dried up. Wenger waited until the 71st minute to make his subs as usual. He brought on Per Mertesacker, a man we’ve all grown to love over the years. It was fun watching the players make sure he landed plenty of touches. Maybe a little uncomfortable for the German if truth be told, but it was all part of the carnival atmosphere.
The final whistle blew almost exactly on 70minutes, Wenger shook some hands readying himself for his final lap and his speech.
He definitely took in the moment, soaking up the applause and hearing his name being sung. A really beautiful thing to watch. Any upset you may have had over the years melted into nothing but respect.
‘Thank you for having me so long, I know that is not easy. But above all else, I’m like you, I am an Arsenal fan’
‘This is more than just watching football, it’s a way of life. It’s caring about the beautiful game, about the values we cherish, and as well, that something that goes for all our bodies in every cell of our bodies. We care, we worry, we are desperate, but when you come here, the theatre of dreams we realise what it means.’
“I would like to finish in one simple sentence: I will miss you. Thank you all for having such an important part of my life, thank you all, well done, bye bye.”
God damn it Arsene, you got me all teary-eyed over here… I’LL MISS YOU TOO! x
Short and sweet, a man of class until the end.
Now we have to move forward. The Wenger chapter has closed. Our job as fans is to back the next manager with the same force we backed Wenger. It’ll be a rocky season next year, the main difference is it’ll all be in the name of progress.
You saw today that we have a lot of great talent to work with. Aaron Ramsey, Auba, Lacazette, Mavrapanos, Bellerin, Iwobi and even the young kids coming through are going to be given a new lease of life. We’ll hire someone who can coach, instil discipline, come armed with an exciting football philosophy, hopefully, one that involves some form of pressing. Ideally, we’ll bring in a manager who can unite the fanbase, the backroom team and the players.
This summer is going to be fucking crazy. Not only are you losing Wenger, we’ll likely see the back of a number of coaches and people who work behind the scenes. It’s hard to see futures for Boro, Peyton, Colbert, Priestly and a few of the others. Not only do we need to hire a brilliant mind to spearhead the next move, we need to gel that person with some of Europe’s elite coaching staff. It’ll be fun, but new ideas take time to bed in. Pep did fuck all in his first year at City, same can be said of Klopp. It’s all about laying foundations and building for the next three seasons.
I’m excited. If we’re shooting for a young buck like the LA Rams did, let’s hope the club does its due diligence. If we’re talking to one of the tier one managers, let’s hope they’re able to lead the club with care and attention. Whoever we hire, be sure of this, it’ll be a massive improvement and very much needed, and you’ll be jumping out of bed to get to the Arsenal on Saturday mornings.
That’s what football is all about. Shared joy. I can’t wait to write about it, and I’m excited to go on the ride with you all.
On that night, I shall tap out.
Thank you Arsene, you’re one of a kind, and we’ll miss you too. x
Have a great day everyone and stop crying at your desk.