It is amazing how one game can change one’s fortunes. This was a game Arsenal could not dare to lose and yet fifteen minutes it threatened to be another big disappointment as Hull scored two quick fire goals and would have scored another one if not for Gibbs heroics.
It was understandable. Arsenal were under alot of pressure to rise up to the occasion and nerves had got the better of them. They needed to relax, find their rhythm, and claw themselves back into the game without conceding and falling further behind. This they did and at the end of it all lifted the trophy. A huge weight had been lifted off their shoulders. So what does this win mean for Arsenal as a team?
The first thing this win has done is to unify both Pro and Anti Wenger fans. There was doubt from some quarters that Wenger was the right man to take the club forward, a dinosaur whose methods had been overtaken by the modern game. Their feelings were understandable as Wenger himself will readily admit, the same doubts were starting to creep in to his mind. However, this win only serves to act as a reboot of a machine that has just being serviced, fresh with a new part that causes it to function more efficiently. He now knows what is required to achieve further success with this team.
Tony Adams said before the final that Wenger would have walked away if he did not believe he could win the Champions League with his current crop of players. The FA cup will only strengthen his belief that he can win the ultimate prize.
This win also shows that loyalty pays. Sagna, wherever he is, is a very conflicted man. He knows what Wenger has sacrificed for the team and would want to repay his manager’s faith but at the same time is not getting any younger and would like a huge pay rise either in Arsenal or elsewhere. Whatever Sagna decides, he has been repaid for his loyalty as has Wilshere, Rosicky, Ramsey…the list goes on. What Van Persie and Fabregas would give to be part of the celebrations of the team they love.
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This current Arsenal team might not have the attacking impetus of the 1997/98 and 2001/02 teams or the panache of the invincibles but they make up for it with their heart and never say die attitude. As Hull found out to their detriment, they just keep coming at you, wearing you down until you break. How many times have they done that to other teams?
Arsenal is now ready to kick on and dominate European football for years to come. You have been warned.