It's pretty nice to be in a position where you are not playing on the weekend and yet the gap between you and your nearest challenger widens further. When Everton comprehensively beat Arsenal only a few weeks ago, manager Roberto Martinez attempted to heap pressure on Arsenal by stating that, well the pressure will be on us rather than them. Since then the Toffees have buckled under said pressure by first losing to Crystal Palace at home putting us firmly back in the driving seat. Yesterday the Saints drove a potential nail into an Everton Europa League place shaped coffin. Not even sure if that makes sense but we're gonna go with that for now.
It all means very little if we don't do our business ourselves against Newcastle United which I fully expect us to do.
The big news which isn't really news because not a great deal has changed but Arsène has given his clearest indication that he will sign that new contract with us for a further two years which I am pleased about I must say. What I believe we need is stability and continuity. We will already have to make a few changes to the squad given that the likes of Sagna, Vermaelen and Fabianski are more than likely off so the idea of a new manager, possible changes to back room staff at this stage seems like too much work in such a short space of time.
A few people have suggested that Arsène could call it a day if we do not beat Hull City in the final of the FA Cup. That it will be time to hand the reigns to someone else. That it will be time for a new approach.
There is something about that, that doesn't sit well with me.
Listen, losing to Hull City in the final and repeating the Birmingham shambles would be beyond awful. The atmosphere post match would be intense and we'd have a fair few laughing at us for sure. But given the clubs aims and aspirations it would seem a strange decision to make for failing to win a trophy that like it or not is always third on a list of four priorities.
Winning the FA Cup would be a fantastic day out for the fans and would be something to celebrate, the same for the players. It gives them a sense of achievement and we have our names in the record books but the truth as I see it is that the board, the manager and players want more than a trophy that the likes of Wigan and Portsmouth have won in the last 6 years. This final means so much because we have not won anything for so long. If we were in the League cup final I am not sure anyone would be feeling less excited.
I am not trying to undervalue the trophy, I have had many good memories as a fan watching my team win the cup but I just don't see a manager who is looking into the future of this club basing his and the clubs future dependant on a cup competition like this one.
Personally I would say there is a better argument for the manager waiting to see if Arsenal finish in the top four before making a decision. The target is to build as good a squad as possible, building that squad this summer would be more difficult without the lure of the Champions League and the revenue it generates. That said we will be relying far less on that revenue now with the new money coming into the club from Puma and Emirates.
Potential targets are not going to be swayed by last years FA Cup triumph but they could be by an upcoming CL campaign.
One player that looks unlikely to be involved in any future Arsenal competitions is Bacary Sagna. Many fans who have been screaming for the club to offer the man a deal misses the point. Deals are dependant on more than one party and if Sagna has decided to seek those supposedly greener pastures then there is not a great deal the club can do but offer an unreasonable amount and length of contract. Which won't happen, neither should it.
Needless to say I hope he goes abroad should he leave but even if he goes to one of our rivals I think the deserves utmost respect for his commitment, professionalism and attitude from day one.
Right, gotta dash. Preview and post match stuff tomorrow.