Guard of Honour… Nooooooooo!

With Manchester United having won the Premier League last Monday beating Aston Villa 3-0, much has been made of Arsenal giving Manchester United a ‘guard of honour’ prior to the Premier League fixture on Sunday at the Emirates. Indeed, it seems to be so much more of a contentious issue with many Gooners, due to the return to the Emirates of Robin Van Persie!

Many supporters have said they will do a ‘Poznan’ (turning their backs). Plenty have suggested booing or even complete silence, although the best suggestion of all to my mind is from @GeoffArsenal who suggests getting into the ground at 4-05pm. Haha.

Tradition…

The one thing that puts Arsenal Football Club leaps and bounds above every other club is their tradition and their honour as a football club. As such, you wouldn’t expect them to do anything other than the right thing, and tradition dictates that it is the right thing to do, no matter how much it may stick in every Arsenal supporter’s throat. However, I think it would be a far greater travesty if it was a guard of honour for the Spuds! – Fortunately, I don’t think that is anything I or any other supporter will have to worry about in my lifetime… There is more chance of Lionel Messi becoming an Arsenal player!

In his press conference, Arsène Wenger said

“I am French, and when you work abroad you have to respect the culture of the country you work in. The tradition in the Premier League is to give a guard of honour”.

Robin Van Persie…

Arsene Wenger has been magnanimous in his comments about Robin Van Persie, and although it is gut wrenching that he has won the Premier League title in his first season away from the Emirates, he is a talented world class player, which no sensible football fan can deny. Moreover, no matter how talented he is, let’s just remember in his eight years at Arsenal, he really only had one good season, one season truly injury free, namely last season. That is not sour grapes, just stating a fact!

Barcelona giving Real Madrid a guard of honour in 2008

Barcelona giving Real Madrid a guard of honour in 2008

Many comment on how he left and how Arsenal did not do enough to keep him. There are plenty who know a lot more than I do as to the true position, but to be honest I believe regardless of his wishes, Van Purse Strings made his position at Arsenal untenable with the comments that came out through his representatives…

No matter how much it sticks in the throat, the reality is that no player, regardless of who they are, are or ever will be bigger than the club… NO EXCEPTION!

“Van Persie is a massive talent, a world class player. He has fantastic technique and huge experience as well. He played in a World Cup final, he has huge experience with a national team, he has played in the Champions League.”

“What we focus on is when big players go, which happened to us many times, we get around it and try to find a new organisation that is efficient. You always miss a big player and I would say it took us a while to get around it.
“The only thing I can say is if you look at the number of goals we have scored; it is similar to last year. We had to find a new balance between defending and attacking, but now we have stabilised.”

The way forward…

Before even thinking about who we are going to buy to strengthen the squad in the close Season, Arsenal need to concentrate solely on qualifying for the Champions League. Despite Ivan Gazidis saying if we don’t qualify it doesn’t affect the business model, most, if not every Gooner would be disillusioned beyond belief if that were to happen. Frankly, I think Gazidis knows as much about football as I know about anatomical pathology! Further, with the likelihood of the Premier League losing a Champions League place in either 2015/15 or 2015/16 season, it will be that much harder to get back in it.

I said in my article, Monsieur Arsene Wenger – Deluded or Genius? That I would settle for fourth place. That still applies, which is not intended to be defeatist, but bearing in mind we only have four games left, it perhaps is simply just a reality! Having said that, we currently have 63 points and four wins would give us 75. I believe we will get 10 if not 12 points from our remaining games, assuming that the squad are determined and focused. Unfortunately, it is no longer in our own hands as we are reliant upon Spuds dropping points bearing in mind they have a game in hand over us and only two points behind. Yes, they have to win their game in hand, which is Chelsea and no easy feat!

A result on Sunday is essential. A draw would not be tragic, but a win is very, very important. Of course Giroud is banned, and despite many saying Giroud has been crap, the reality is Arsenal will miss his presence on Sunday, particularly in the air and defending set pieces in our own goal area where he has been key on at least two or three occasions recently. The Everton game does come to mind.

Podolski or Theo? – Personally, with Giroud banned, I think Podolski should start. He’s proven he can do it through the middle at his previous club, and if fit, I believe he has the quality to produce. There is an excellent piece looking at this Sunday’s game by @goonerdave66 and @mj_afc from OND2OU How to beat Manchester United on Sunday and certainly worth a read!

Last Word…

As much as it is a bitter pill to swallow, I believe all Arsenal fans should do the right thing on Sunday (whatever you think the right thing to do is… haha). United gave Arsenal a guard of honour at Highbury in 1991 (Yup, I was there!), so I suppose reciprocation is warranted, but next year will be our turn!

Arsenal receive guard of honour at Highbury in 1991

The 1991 guard of honour at Highbury, evidently well before HD television.

With four games remaining, Arsenal need to treat each game as a cup final and ensure we get that Champions league spot… nothing else at this point matters!

As I have said many times before, whether you are an ‘In Arsene we trust’ supporter or a ‘Wenger out’ fan, he is not going anywhere anytime soon and will be in charge next season. That is something I think has to be accepted.

As such, although I may get ridiculed for this, I believe it is a foolish person who writes off Wenger producing an unstoppable team next term. He has a point to prove, and although there is no guarantee next season will be Wenger’s last, he certainly wants to win not only the Premier League again, but the all illusive Champions League before he finally decides to call it a day…

However, Sunday is the next game, and as Arsene Wenger said :

“We have no room to drop points. This is another vital game for us to get the points we want. We are on a very strong run. We need total desire, commitment and focus to achieve what we want.”

I believe we will do it… Come on you Gunners!

By
Jeremy is an avid soccer fan and life long season ticket holding Arsenal ‘mad gooner’ supporter. Although his bias is towards Arsenal, he is big enough to comment on all teams both here in the UK and Europe… whether good or bad! - He regularly ‘tweets’ on all things Arsenal together with football issues and sport in general. He definitely loves a bit of banter too! - You can follow Jeremy on twitter: @jeremylebor
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