Arsenal’s Dignity Still Intact

If like me you were curious to watch the monster that sent us crashing out of the Champions League this season, then on Saturday evening you would have tuned into El Clasico. I found myself in the middle of something from Louis Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, terrified of seeing repeats of Leo Messi, those which still haunt me, but too twisted to look away in case I missed anymore of what could be the greatest team that play the game this century.
In the end Barcelona made light work of Real Madrid just as they had done Arsenal, with goals from Messi and Pedro. The difference though in the two downtrodden teams at Barcelona’s wrath was simple. Both had been outwitted, but only Arsenal left the playing field with their dignity intact.
Madrid’s pre-season plan was to become the most victorious team in Europe by outspending their rivals. In the summer Florentino Perez welcomed the new wave of Galacticos which tallied a total spending spree of £225 million. What a sad sight then in the Santiago Bernabeu, when Madrid’s wildcard was the 32-year-old Raul.
For the disgusting amount of money pumped into the team, Madrid had nothing to show and are likely to end up empty handed after another feeble Champions League effort. Their extravagant summer budget would be enough to help Haiti jump start their economy and prepare for hurricane season which starts in June. £30 million of that came in the shape of Karim Benzema who warmed the bench behind the more trusted Raul.
As the world of football spirals into a circus of debt ridden clubs, Arsenal remain steady footed. Barcelona can spend as good as anyone, but it was refreshing to see the two names on the score sheet against Madrid products of their excellent youth academy, which only gives me hope and optimism that over time the similar one in place at Arsenal will pay off.
Barcelona may have helped Arsenal in promoting youth as the basis for success. Nicklas Bendtner and Gael Clichy were Arsenal’s brightest players in the Nou Camp last week and the best examples on the night of what type of player the system can produce. In the past it has proven its worth by cultivating names such as Brady, O’Leary, Rocastle, Adams and Fabregas.
The feeling is Arsenal are a Robert Pires or Thierry Henry (neither of which cost £30m) away from greatness. Maybe this team wont achieve that just yet, but an important chapter in Arsenal’s history is still possible by winning the Premier League this year. Beating Tottenham away on Wednesday night would give that vision a real lift in becoming reality.
And for the Spurs players yesterday – like Madrid – there was little left in the way of dignity. Portsmouth had deservedly beaten them in the FA Cup but it wasn’t to say our north London rivals hadn’t put in effort. What a sore case for anything other than majesty then, to see a majority of their fans head for the exits before the final whistle and not applaud the team for an entertaining semi-final. On the call-in stations some fans wanted Harry Redknapp out.
Unlike Spurs we must remember our position, financially and in comparison to the teams we are competing with, and then try to judge accordingly whether it is founded. Based on the innovations of Barcelona and the ground-breaking successes of Leo Messi, what more could Arsenal expect from Europe this season? The league, although with the bare bones of a squad, is in touching distance.
Maybe Arsene Wenger should rethink his policy on the FA Cup. Maybe this is Arsenal’s realistic chance to win silverware, and to see our rivals take what the Arsenal fans feel should be their place at Wembley, does irritate. Wenger is unshakable on his priorities and the likelihood of reassessing the FA Cup is unlikely. One thing is for sure though, Arsenal fans would have stayed behind and clapped.
Whatever the outcome of this season, I hope through it all Arsenal maintain their dignity, merit and prestige. Give Carlos Tevez his kudos for the grandeur shown when asked about scoring against Manchester United this coming weekend. The Argentinean bashfully smiled saying “OK, thank you,” before rushing off – clearly his talking will be done on the pitch. Also, it ranked much higher than Alex Ferguson’s attack on those “typical Germans” last week.
Gradually dignity is being rewarded. Maybe it has something to do with good karma, but I don’t really believe it all that. Perhaps though, dignity is  becoming a good modus operandi for winning. It seems to be working for Pep Guardiola, Carlos Tevez and the good supporters of Portsmouth, and maybe it could be the last route to glory for Arsenal when all else fails. Wednesday night then should give us some sort of idea when the best supporters in north London meet the worst, and no, I’m not talking about Cockfosters FC.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know