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Well, here we are. The final game of yet another season. It is frightening how quickly they go by, isn’t it? Perhaps it is a symptom of the rising levels of fun we are having. The phrase, “time flies when you’re having fun” comes to mind.

Overall, it’s been another fantastic season, progress wise. We have already surpassed last season’s points tally of 84, sitting on 86 going into the final day. That is the most we have amassed in the Emirates era, and should we beat Everton we would end the season only one point shy of our best points total of 90 which was, of course, achieved in the Invincibles campaign of 03/04. In fact, we have already surpassed that team’s number of wins (26) winning 27 of our 37 games which is the most wins we have ever achieved in a 38-game season. 

And speaking of the Invincibles, many of them, including Arsene, will be present on Sunday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their immortality, a feat which has not been matched in English football to date. How glorious (and downright hilarious) would it be if West Ham could pull off a minor miracle at the Etihad and deliver us our first title in two decades in front of so many of our former heroes? 

Because, as fantastic as this season has been, it would be bitterly disappointing to fall short on the final day. But at least we have taken it down to the wire. This is a proper title challenge. Not that last season’s wasn’t, but regardless of how we will be feeling at 6pm on Sunday evening, we can at least take pride and solace from the fact that we have not taken City some of the way, or most of the way……we have taken them all the way. But, ultimately, first place is what we all crave and if we are to achieve that, we simply must beat Everton and West Ham must avoid defeat in Manchester. The former is very likely, the latter, not so much. But stranger things have occurred. 

Our final day record of late is very good. The last time we failed to win on the season’s conclusion was 2011 and we will need to win to stand any chance. City have won the title on the final day four times in the last ten seasons, more than any other side. They haven’t always made it easy for themselves; in 2012 they needed two goals in added time against QPR for their first title in 44 years at the expense of their city rivals which was highly amusing at the time. And two years ago, City came from 2-0 down in the last 15 minutes against Villa to win 3-2 as they won the title at Liverpool’s expense. I’m not sure my trousers would be able to cope with that level of drama. 

The fact that we do need to beat Everton has probably been somewhat overlooked in the pre-match build up as many of us have been caught up in the desperate hope West Ham can do us a massive favour. A replica of the Premier League trophy will be on standby at the Emirates just to add to the drama. Also present will be the Premier League CEO Richard Masters presumably because he’d be too embarrassed to hand the title over to a team with 115 financial breaches to their name. Or there is some undercover plan to rig the final day in our favour. Something like three West Ham penalties and a Rodri straight red card. Well, that would be nice. I suspect The Hammers will need all the help they can get and then some.

But if we don’t win the title, have we bottled it? Of course not, but that’s not how others will see it. This season we have spent 57 days on top which is less than both City and Liverpool. It is some way off the 247 days we spent top last season and yet we have come closer this time around. One of the key lessons Arteta learned from last season, I suspect, was it is not how you start but how you finish. Or more specifically, it is about maintaining a high level throughout. But you cannot play at 100 MPH for an entire 38-game season. You would burn out (unless your entire squad is entitled to asthma pumps which you can keep puffing on all season long to your heart’s content) so you need to pick your moments for when to go full tilt and when to reign it in a tad. This season, in the first half of the season, Arteta instructed his players to save themselves for later in the season. This was reflected in the performances and some of the results pre-Dubai. We won only 12 of our first 20 games drawing four and losing four. The greatest damage was done in December where we suffered three defeats in five games to Villa, West Ham, and Fulham. Since then, we have won 15 of our last 17, dropping just five points this calendar year. It has been like the first half of last season when we dropped just seven points in the first 19 games. 

I suppose the hope was that we would still be good enough to have taken enough points in the first half of the year to mean any blips in the second half could be compensated for. Even if we don’t take the title, the fact that we have taken it to the final day suggests the squad has become more adept for this ‘saving energy approach’ going forward. It is worth remembering that we were still competing in the Champions League until a month ago and we have experienced four incredibly physically and mentally draining encounters against Porto and Bayern. But we have not run out of steam after the defeat in Bavaria as many would have expected of us. In the last month we have beaten Chelsea, Spurs and United. That doesn’t sound like ‘bottling it’ to me. 

Regardless of events on Sunday, we have enjoyed another season of progress and in many respects our strongest and most enjoyable campaign since 2004. We do need a minor miracle elsewhere, but we can only control what we ourselves do, and I expect us to do just that: 3-0 to The Arsenal and a 1-1 draw for our comrades from the capital that will send shockwaves across the football world as Arsenal snatch their first title in twenty years by the smallest of margins. 


55 Drinks to “The Final Countdown”

  1. 1
    TTG says:

    Lovely preview 21CG ! Isn’t it strange that optimism and pessimism rise up and down in relation to each other at odd moments . For some time I’ve accepted that a team with 115 charges hanging over them were nailed on to win the league but as we get nearer to kickoff I’m starting to feel optimism grow .
    21CG is absolutely right to praise the team for an incredible effort from everyone. I think Arsenal fans are very proud of what we’ve done and wouldn’t it be delicious to raise cute trophy despite the Spuds’ fans best efforts to deny us .
    I doubt it will happen but I think we will win tomorrow and are the moral winners of the league next season . Before kickoff group of Holics will meet with Don Carlo at Pappagone to celebrate a wonderful season and go toast all Holics near and far .

  2. 2
    TTG says:

    I think the league trophy is cute but it isn’t quite what I meant !

  3. 3
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Cheers 21CG. Well written preview and I hope your prediction comes good!

    Tomorrow, I’m gonna watch the dvd of the Invincibles season (weirdly called ‘The Untouchables’) and then I’ll celebrate the best team we’ve had since then, whatever happens. The odds are with City, but stranger things have happened…


  4. 4
    bt8 says:

    Cheers, 21cg!

  5. 5
    bt8 says:

    Quick hello from Manhattan before heading off to LGA to fly home. COYG

  6. 6
    bt8 says:

    Brilliantly selected photo atthe top of the page

  7. 7
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    As a side note, the weird conspiracy theory about Liverpool and asthma pumps was started on Twitter by a bloke who also claimed one of Russia’s bombings in Ukraine was staged by actors.

    As well as coming from a source that we might conservatively call unreliable, it also lacks scientific legitimacy. Asthma pumps don’t help people who don’t have asthma improve athletic performance.

    Liverpool did a huge amount of amazing things to compete with a club whose alleged financial dealings would, if proven, amount to cheating. They deserve tremendous credit for that, and it is a shame this entirely untrue rumour is used to unfairly and inacurrately accuse them of cheating.

    If anyone wants to spend 9 minutes listening to the BBC completely debunk the conspiracy theory then here is the link.


  8. 8
    Trev says:

    Fitting preview, 21CG.
    I feel strangely calm about tomorrow. I think that’s because I’m fairly resigned to Man Cheaty completing their “inevitable”, according to almost all sources, title victory, but in a very odd way, I don’t care.

    In my mind we have already won. To be in this position on the final day of the season against this version of Manchester City is a remarkable feat, whatever the outcome of that final 38th game. They have not accumulated 115 financial irregularity charges against them by accident. As the season finale fast approaches it seems, at long last, to be dawning on the broadcast media that this ain’t right, and it ain’t good for football.

    Or maybe they really have known all along but the prospect of the greatest league in the world becoming an inevitability has finally persuaded them to speak up, regardless of whatever “advice” to the contrary they may, or may not, have received. Phew !

    So a season of brilliant achievement for me – confirming the maturing of our young team and the establishment of Mikel Arteta as a truly elite coach.

    Thank you, Gunners ! Here’s to next season.

  9. 9
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    Congratulations Bayer Leverkusen!

    Welcome to the club.

    And good luck in the 2 games left.

    They have a chance to better our record and achieve something that might not be done again. I’ll be rooting for them!

  10. 10
    Trev says:

    GSD, yep, amazing scenes at their stadium.
    Good for Granit, and the arrival of another great coach from the Basque region of Spain.

  11. 11
    bathgooner says:

    Great preview 21CG, documenting the achievement of this young team simply to match the alleged serial offenders of Man £115y over the weeks since the Villa aberration. As you rightly observe the alleged £115y irregular investments led to a legitimately funded Liverpool team being robbed of two titles after exceptional seasons and that must be rectified. Were it not for the alleged fast and loose behaviour of accountants in the pay of the UAE Treasury we would be defending our first title in 19 years. Hey ho! Let’s hope the Powers That Be wield the Hand of Nemesis tomorrow and give the Spammers an unexpected result whilst not neglecting to give the Arsenal a famous victory. Your scoreline, 21CG, would do very nicely.



  12. 12
    BtM says:

    While it won’t be easy, Everton are something of a form team, I’m confident that we’ll be sitting on 89 points by this time tomorrow. A remarkable accomplishment by a young squad which has still so much to offer in the years to come.

    I’m less optimistic regarding the Hammers’ chances, I really don’t expect them to get anything at the Emptihad – but then again, I certainly didn’t expect them to gain three points at our place, so I’ll be only too happy to be wrong again.

  13. 13
    Doctor Faustus says:

    A very level-headed and thoughtful preview 21CG!

    Let’s just win this match and then we can analyze and introspect. We have obviously made tremendous progress on and off the field. The degree of solidity and know-how on display in the last few months has been impressive beyond I think most people’s expectations. If we finish the campaign with 89 points, 60+ goal difference and Arsenal record 28 wins but miss out on the title, we can still be tremendously proud.

    I think we will start the same team as it was last weekend. Congratulations to Raya for his golden glove.

    Come on Arsenal!

  14. 14
    bt8 says:

    In the best tradition of Goonerholic, an optimistic preview. Yet in this case 21cg only your prediction for the C115ty game can truly be said to be an unlikely score in any way. Still, I of course will be praying for it while knowing that if we take care of our business we will have done our utmost which will make this team truly worthy of being champions.

  15. 15
    scruzgooner says:

    21cg, a fine job, catching the tensions on the button.

    i am half scared half optimistic here in lucca. will be watching on our terrace hoping for a miracle in east london.

    if no miracle occurs, i’ll take pride in our boys being the best non-doped team. and be so thankful for a year of great joy. if one does, add the title, and schadenfreude for scum…

  16. 16
    Doctor Faustus says:

    Scruz@15: a miracle in east London won’t really help given the hammers will play away. 😉
    Let’s just win … the rest will be what will be. 🙂

  17. 17
    OsakaMatt says:

    Thanks 21CG for the optimism and Ned in the last drinks for servies to Neasden.

    I watched Wham last week and I have to say I didn’t rush out and put money on us to win the league. They were exactly the sort of mediocre garbage for which Moyes is justly famed. Anyway, you never know I suppose but just win tomorrow to round off an excellent season and in the excellent company of AW and his Invincibles.

  18. 18
    OsakaMatt says:

    I forgot to mention the gathering of goonerholics among the excellent company!
    A glass to you gents too 🥂

  19. 19
    North Bank Ned says:

    Perfectly pitched preview, 21CG.

    West Ham has only won once away to Man City in the league since 2003 and Moyes has beaten Guardiola only once in 15 attempts. It would be lovely if lightning were to strike twice, but I can’t see it happening.

  20. 20
    Potsticker says:

    Pastafarians have faith. In lasagna we trust!

  21. 21
    scruzgooner says:

    faustus@15, ah. i’d read it was city away from a city perspective. no matter.

    i think everyone focusing on arsenal today, and giving short shrift to al-$hitteh, is a subtextural acknowledgement that what arsenal has done this year is somehow greater than what city have done. and with the gathering of the Invincibles an acknowledgement that the premier league should produce teams like these and a club like this. i also have to believe the subtle loss of face will add a cup of desert sand to the mouths of the celebrators in blue, and hopefully turn back to green the dial of perception/resentment against arsenal as a club that had been so brutally maxed on red the last 20 years…

  22. 22
    Ollie says:

    Cheers 21CG, beautiful write-up I found myself nodding to a lot!

  23. 23
    Sancho Panza says:

    Whilst it’s still possible it’s still possible and fantastic would it be if the Arsenal are deserved Champions once again.
    Here’s to another successful season and all the very best to all you wonderful guys.

  24. 24
    ClockEndRider says:

    Nice write-up 21CG.
    I’m very relaxed about today. I guess that comes from being lucky enough to have seen a number of title victories up close and personal over the years. The chances of the golden scenario actually occurring are, however, very slim. However there are some parallels to 26th May 1989. On that occasion we had to win by 2 goals away at an absolute machine of a team who had not lost at home by that score since Methuselah was in short trousers. My mate had tickets for that game but we didn’t because we couldn’t face the idea of being surrounded by that many happy scousers after the match and the miserable journey back home. We did manage to spend the evening in The Brownswood Tavern on Green Lanes along with Lord knows how many others and when Mickey’s goal went in, it went potty. We ended up at the Angel until all the pubs were drunk dry and my last recollection is walking home from an insalubrious drinking den on Camden Road at 5 am only to watch the game again on video (VHS, not Betamax. Ask your parents, youngsters!). I would like nothing more than for 21CG and those who haven’t experienced the madness to have that feeling tonight. I’m hoping, but not expecting.
    Looking forward to seeing some of you for lunch; Fine company, a cheeky negroni, nice food and wine followed by the Arsenal. These are the days when we know we’re alive….

  25. 25
    Ollie says:

    Boarding time, see some of you on the other side.

  26. 26
    scruzgooner says:

    sp@23, i’m glad to have shared this with you, too, and dg, noosa, mmtwp, andeveryone else. it’s a very catholic church (only in the small-c use of catholic!!), our ghf community!

    cer@24, this is for you:

  27. 27
    bathgooner says:

    Excellent drinks above, gents. I think we capture appropriately a mood of celebration of a superb season from this young side whilst ignoring the machinations of a club that is only where it is as a result of ‘creative accounting’. We have a great coach who has built a great team through legitimate funding and it’s a side worthy of achieving great things which are sure to come.



  28. 28
    ClockEndRider says:

    Truly brought back that feeling of being young and looking forward to the days adventure, Scruz. Grazie tanto.

  29. 29
    Countryman100 says:

    Great preview 21CG. Leaving for North London shortly. Curiously serene. Che sera sera.

  30. 30
    scruzgooner says:

    prego, cer. it even mentions the month of may, so i thought it was really apt. they are indeed the days i’ll remember!

    enjoy the lunch, all who are going. raise a glass to those who weren’t as lucky…


  31. 31
    ClockEndRider says:

    I imagine there will be pictures from both restaurant and the ground making their way to you this PM, Scruz

  32. 32
    Uplympian says:

    Thanks 21CG for a fitting finale preview. You have summed up where we are perfectly.
    Wishing all the ‘holics a fabulous pre match season ending lunch. I’m bowling in the beautiful sunshine by the sea this afternoon and will keep checking to see if the unexpected happens. Where are you have a great time.

  33. 33
    Rev AL says:

    Whatever happens, we’s the beauties … UTA!

    2Day’s outfit pour moi …

    IMG_7343.jpeg IMG_7344.jpeg

    (Coz him & Arsene done, done it the most re these daze. & this lot’s putting us back there.)

    PS: If the pix don’t upload, it was me in skis & a cowbell … UTA!

  34. 34
    bt8 says:

    Come on Arsenal

  35. 35
    scruzgooner says:

    no saka, timber on the bench.

  36. 36
    North Bank Ned says:

    We might get to be reminded by his absence of just how good Saka is.

  37. 37
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:


  38. 38
    Las says:

    Cheers 21CG, excellent write-up. Can’t wait for the kick-off.
    It was a season full of pleasure, beautiful wins and goals.
    Long it may continue.

  39. 39
    OsakaMatt says:

    Missing Bukayo no doubt but a nice goal from Tomi, and timely too.

  40. 40
    bt8 says:

    Lightning strikes just before halftime. Hope back in the equation for now.

  41. 41
    scruzgooner says:

    crowd magnificent today. the support after their goal and the madness after ours!

  42. 42
    BtM says:

    Created several very good chances in that half. Unfortunate OG for Declan. Need to keep creating those chances and more goals will come. Tough to watch Dyche teams play. Visit to the dentist preferable.

  43. 43
    scruzgooner says:

    they really are awful to watch.

  44. 44
    BtM says:

    Good win. Tough block opponents deserve to be put to the sword- especially if they’re managed by Dyche. But really, we were outdone by the team playing with the 115 formation. Moral victory for the team in red.

  45. 45
    North Bank Ned says:

    Two points shy of the best team money can buy.

  46. 46
    OsakaMatt says:

    Glad we scored at the death there to have a winning end though I was surprised Oliver ignored the VAR call.

  47. 47
    Gunnersaurus Stunt Double says:

    I’m so proud of the team and everyone at the club. It’s been a brilliant season and it has taken City’s money to beat us, with 115 charges pending. We’ve been magnificent.

    And we will be back next year.


  48. 48
    North Bank Ned says:

    OM@46: I don’t think Oliver had made a clear and obvious error, if that even matters to VAR any more, but apart from the goal standing (and what a deft pass from Ødegaard to Havertz), Dyche was apoplectic, which is always worth the price of admission.

    And what GSD said @47.

  49. 49
    BtM says:

    Kudos to Michael Oliver for giving the VAR boyos a big thumbs down after his summons to the screen of woe. More balls than most on this occasion.

  50. 50
    Las says:

    What GSD said @47.
    What a season this was.

  51. 51
    Sancho Panza says:

    Well it wasn’t to be after all but I take great pride in what the team achieved this season. I have switched off all media so I don’t have to witness anyone crowing about C115y. They are what they are and the rest of the football world apart from them, a few twatty Spuds and those in the media with their heads firmly planted in the sand have no interest in joining the circus of cheats.
    Hopefully we go one step further next season.

  52. 52
    scruzgooner says:

    ned@45, now there’s part of a chant!

  53. 53
    bt8 says:

    Every word of what Ned said @48. And that pass by the Norwegian was top top drawer

  54. 54
    bt8 says:

    And Martin’s first assist was same class. Also, take a bow Takehiro Tomiyasu.

  55. 55
    Bathgooner says: