The right to brag about being the best team in London below Chelsea
More than once The Fiver has spotted a wistful tear well up in the eye of Weird Uncle Fiver as he laments the ceaseless passage of time. “What do you mean you’re closing?” he has often been heard to bawl. “Get your effin’ hands off me! Don’t you know who I … Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!”
In truth, time takes its toll on everyone of course, life turning into a slow accumulation of petty indignities: the greying of hair, the sagging of muscles, the forgetting the next bit. And then, to some unfortunates, comes the most humbling moment of all. The moment when your team finishes its campaign below Tottenham Hotspur. It is an ignominy unknown to most Arsenal fans seeing as how they, judging by their behaviour across various social media, are only eight years old. Spurs have not finished above Arsenal since 1995.
What a strange and distant time that was. Blackeye Rovers were English champions! Nottingham Forest were third! Wimbledon, Nasty Leeds and Queens Park Rangers all finished above Chelsea and Manchester City! Eric Cantona had to interact with a fan through the medium of kung-fu kicks because spats on social media disgrace Twitter hadn’t even been invented! Arsenal sacked a manager!
Then came the modern era, once Arsène Who? had replaced Mr Bruce Rioch, who had replaced Mr Brown Envelope. And ever since then Arsenal have been the kings of north London, swanning about as if they own the place, partially because they had to mortgage their gaffs to pay for their season tickets. But this weekend could mark the end of that golden era. For if Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs beat Arsenal on Sunday, Spurs will be mathematically certain of finishing the season above Arsenal for the first time in 22 years. So there are serious bragging rights at stake, the right to brag about being the best team in London below Chelsea. What a way that would be for Spurs to wave goodbye to dear old White Hart Lane! But they shouldn’t get carried away, according to Wenger. “You cannot say the weight of one year has the weight of 20,” drawled Wenger, who knows a thing or two about fending off power shifts.