It was always going to be a nervous last day of the season and boy was it. Things couldn’t have been more closer as the afternoon went on and I don’t know about you but that was probably the most nerve-racking Arsenal match I have ever watched.
The first goal in the match was always going to be decisive, especially as Arsenal seemed to play “with the hand-brake on” as Arsene would call it. In the first half, things were pretty even and in all honesty, Newcastle probably looked the more likely to break the deadlock.
It was 0-0 at half time and that was the score at White Hart Lane. I did wonder if Tottenham were playing mind games and giving Arsenal a false sense of security, maybe putting into our minds that a draw would be enough. Unlikely I know, but when under stress and nerves then I thought anything would be possible.
Then on 52 minutes, the vital moment came. Sagna did well to win a freekick on the right hand side, Walcott delivered and the ball bounced to Koscielny who smashed in from close range. In a game of few chances, it was a massive, massive goal and no-one else on the pitch deserved it more than Koscielny. To say he was immense was an understatement - he was colossal.
After that, it was the most nail-biting 40 minutes of my life. Tottenham were still level and the Twittersphere was hoping for a Sunderland draw - but I knew they would score eventually. When Sunderland needlessly got a man sent off, things looked even more ominous and sure enough, the one man team scored with, their one man, as Gareth Bale scored in the 90th minute.
Up until the 90th minute, I was a nervous wreck but when Bale scored it meant any mistake from us or brilliance from Newcastle would condemn us to 5th spot which would be disasterous. And when Theo Walcott waltzed through and hit the post, I almost broke down.
We had 4 minutes of injury time, could we hold on?
Fortunately we did, and the relief was such a release. And below is always how I will remember that day:
Pure ecstasy for us, and pure anguish for them.
As far as I’m concerned, the post-mortem can start in the coming weeks. For now, we should enjoy making it into the Top Four, finishing above our North London rivals (who lets not forget, we 7 points clear of us only 10 games ago) and having the chance to play Champions League football next season.
And concentrating on the positives, our run of late has been outstanding. Whether by accident or design, we now have a defensive unit which is solid. Koscielny and Mertesacker are now a strong partnership, we have Gibbs and Monreal on the left and Sagna (who is likely to leave) and Jenkinson on the right. And that is something we can build on next season.
Our main problem this season has been scoring goals, and I’ll touch more on that in the upcoming season review.
Yesterday, as I’ve already mentioned. Koscielny was fantastic, and by far the Man of the Match. Podolski and Cazorla found it hard to get into their groove but tried, while Rosicky was trying to set the tempo by closing down at every opportunity. Ramsey again was full of running and desire but lacked that cutting edge that could have made a difference - a couple of times he had the chance to play Theo clean through but couldn’t execute the pass. Oxlade-Chamberlain did well I thought and linked the play well and the two fullbacks were solid and made some really vital interceptions. Szczesny didn’t really have much to do but did well well called upon.
So there we have it. 1-0 to the Arsenal and the chance to play Champions League football next season! I don’t know about you but this Monday morning is distinctively more enjoyable than usual!