Arsenal Preview: 5 years is a long time in footballBy: Dave | May 1st, 2010
In 2005 Gordon Brown was an integral part of the Cabinet team that won an unprecedented third term of office for Tanny Blair’s government. He was frequently acclaimed as one of the most successful Chancellors of the modern age, and claimed to have ended the ‘boom and bust’ phenomena that had previously afflicted the UK economy. These halcyon days must seem like a distant memory to the gaffer, after a week in which he continued to press the self-destruct button in spectacular style. The humiliation of The Botchdale Affair© and a strained performance in Birmingham have seen Labour languishing in third place in the polls. With the middle classes seemingly rendered helpless by multiple Cleggasms, and the Tories succeeding with their maverick ‘We Have No Policies’ approach, Brown’s chances of election victory seem increasingly remote. All is not lost, however, and he should draw comfort from this weekend’s visitors to Ewood Park.
In 2005 Arsenal won the FA Cup with a victory over Manchester United at the Millennium Stadium. As Patrick Vieira knocked in the winning penalty, few would have thought that it would be Arsene Wenger’s last triumph for five years. Despite his well-documented inability to observe pitch-based events, he had managed to overcome his short-sight to see his team win three championships and three FA Cups in nine years. Over the past five years he has continued to receive plaudits for creating a team that plays with flair and purpose, but has also been criticised for failing to fill the Emirates’ shiny new trophy cabinet. Gallic grumblings of relatively low budgets and serious injury problems have been delivered in his defence, but many Arsenal supporters continue to wonder whether any other ‘top four’ team would retain the services of a manager who has failed to deliver success for half a decade.
The current Premier League season has been a typical example of Arsenal’s strengths and weaknesses. At the turn of the year their title bid appeared to be in rude health, but disappointing results against their rivals, not to mention an FA Cup knockout by Stoke City, have resulted in a season that is now officially fizzled. Monday’s game will be played in an atmosphere of apathy, as both teams have little to play for. Rovers are aiming for a top half finish, but a season of stability has already been achieved, and thoughts are turning to the next campaign. Arsenal must also look to next year, hoping that stylish play will finally be rewarded with silverware.
So take heart, Gordon. Arsene has also seen his stock fall since the glory days of 2005, but his position as leader does not seem threatened. The electorate may remember the success of times past, and decide to reward you with a mandate for the future. And, now that we know that you’re almost blind, if it does all goes wrong on Thursday at least you can just shrug indifferently and say you didn’t see it.