Thursday, March 04, 2004

Arsenal - The Time is Now

The Arsenal Football Club is making history. Through 27 games they have yet to lose a Premiership game and as of March 4th they(we) are nine points clear at the top of the table over ManUre & Chel$ea. There are 11 fixtures remaining, including difficult trips to Blackburn (with American World Cup hero Brad Friedel keeping goal) and White Hart Lane to play Tottenham (always a fight, even if they are within spitting distance of the relegation zone.) Our toughest remaining home game is against ManUre on 27-March. In addition to the Premiership, Arsenal will play Portsmouth on Saturday for a berth in the Football Association Cup semi-finals and next week we'll play Celta Vigo in the home leg of the Champions League leading 3-2 in aggregate.

It's been a couple of years since Arsenal has been alive in all three of these competitions so late in the season, with more than a punchers chance to go through. But with the team in top form and the scoring coming from people other than Arsenal Hero Thierry Henry (Edu, Robert Pires and even Patrick Viera) the Gunners are facing the very real possibility of owning the 'Treble' at season's end. This was last achieved by ManUre in 1999 (only after Arsenal's Bergkamp missed a penalty in the FA Cup semifinal and Ryan Giggs scoring the goal of the decade to decide it. Bitter? You betcha.)

The English newspapers have been relatively mum about this trophy case busting possibility. But they're always first to trot out the disciplinary record and the fact that the majority of our players and our manager are not from the UK! If we are to be beaten, it would have to be by a team who can do many things well and sustain those things for a full 90 minutes. Manager Arsene Wenger has done a masterful job of having the lads focus on the next game (perhaps we can call it the Martelli Method of Motivation.)

As the season progresses and Arsenal remain alive in these competitions the pressure will grow exponentially with each winning result. My hope is for two trophies, but three would be truly magical, particularly if we finish unbeaten in the Premiership.

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