Regular followers of my Twitter feed will know that Mikel Arteta has been my favourite player of the season. Dreamy good looks and elegant style, he has an eye for a pass, a killer shot and more importantly, experience. What he does in an Arsenal shirt may not be flashy or make the back page headlines, but he gives this young Arsenal team assurance and balance in midfield.
So the statistic that Arsenal have failed to win a single game without him this season is not surprising and on the flip side hugely disappointing.
And so it proved again today when we were held at home to a Norwich side that have nothing to play for.
And that draw leaves our hopes of qualifying for next years Champions League in tatters. There’s no other way of describing it.
Because we are currently in 3rd place but only 2 points ahead of both Tottenham and Newcastle who have a game in hand. Win that and we find ourself in 5th. And that’s before we play our last game of the season at West Brom, while Tottenham and Newcastle have more straight forward games against Fulham and Everton. And both challengers are in much better form than we are.
While it’s conceivable that one of them may slip up (Newcastle still have to play Manchester City), even if we manage to fluke 4th spot we could still be in trouble. Roberto Di Matteo (or John Terry) has the golden touch and it’s not a forgone conclusion that Bayern Munich will lift the Champions League trophy in their own back yard.
That’s why 3rd spot is so so important.
The biggest frustration is that going into the game against Wigan at home, 3rd was all but sealed. A sloppy performance was punished and since then we’ve been complacent and lazy.
While the Arteta stat is easy to point to, the fact is he is one of the experienced players who drives the team on and helps us see out games. But the fact we can’t win without him is a damning reflection on our team.
The bottom line now is that Arsene’s brilliant record of getting us into the Champions League year after year is no longer in our hands.