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One trophy should have been three.
24 April  2004

Sat here possibly less than 24 hours away from Arsenal being crowned Champions, there is a lack of that usual excitement just before such a big game. Whether that is because we have to wait until the end of the Chelsea game to know if it's possible to win the title tomorrow or not I don't know. Maybe not knowing if tomorrow is the game or not just holds up the excitement a little.

Liverpool winning at Man Utd today will make Chelsea's chances of winning at Newcastle all the more harder. Maybe Chelsea are not too bothered anyway. They have known for a few weeks I would guess that they were never going to win the title, and with a game and a point in hand over Man Utd, second place is all but theirs anyway. So their minds could simply be focused on their second leg against Monaco. Or of course there could be a few players out there wanting to prove their worth after the collapse in France.
Therefore, if Chelsea are in the mood, Newcastle won't stand a chance and we will have to wait until the Birmingham game next week to claim the prize.

But this lack of excitement ahead of tomorrow is slightly annoying.
I am hoping that watching the Chelsea game before hand will really build up the tension and we can all sit back and watch Arsenal tear apart Spurs in real style to be crowned champions.
And of course winning it in Spurs back garden again means it can be added to the list of impressive title winning venues along with Spurs 1971, Anfield 1989 and Man Utd 2002. I don't think any other team has sealed the title in as many significant venues.

One thing is for sure, the team will have remained unbeaten at least until the title has been won. Even if we can't win it tomorrow, we won't lose the game at Spurs. Even a Spurs team playing at their height tomorrow won't be enough for them to grab a win. And if ever there was a tempting fate comment it was that one. But I can't see it.
So even if we don't go the whole season unbeaten, we will have the very proud record of having not lost until the title was sown up. A record in modern times that would be just as awesome. The only thing that can stop them going unbeaten the whole league season I think, is winning the title with games to spare. The foot could come off the pedal, teams like Portsmouth needing points could catch us relaxing and grab a win.
But it's going to be exciting to see if we can hang on and get that record. One which can never be broken, only at best equalled.

But sitting here thinking about the near conclusion to the season and how after tomorrow, it's all possibly settled, I can't help but keep thinking back to what really could have been.
The madness of such a thought, if you went back to August and was offered an unbeaten league season complete with the Championship, you would snap someone's hand off there and then, especially in light of the revolusion at Chelsea and their sudden spending power.
And to think of how such a season could have been better or to even look back on one like this with any regret is greedy and to pretty much any other fan of any other team the most scandalous thing to do.
But looking at the last four in the Champions League, you can't help but think it really would have been our year had we just finished off Chelsea in that first half of the second leg at Highbury. Chelsea were dead on their feet, fear in their eyes and you could see they were hanging on for all they were worth, and we just didn't finish them. A second goal would have been enough. You can't blame tiredness, we were well on top. And what about the FA Cup Semi Final? With Millwall in the final you have to say we missed a massive chance to beat a Man Utd team who looking at their starting Xi were so there for the taking. You can't help but feel that the final would have been one of the closest things to just needing to turn up to a game to win it there is. Sounds cocky, but going on Millwall having lost a few key players for the final already, you can't really see them doing any damage in the Final now.

And watching Henry take almost everyone apart that he has played against since the Chelsea Champions League game, you can't help but ask "where the hell were you on that night". The talk of the injury I don't doubt to be true, but he has been fine since and it's only natural to question where he seemed to disapear to. Especially when your looking back and think how close real history really was.
Like I say, to feel any regret in such an entertaining and awesome season is greedy and unthinkable. Maybe it's that desire to have this team of ours remembered as a truly great team. As we keep seeing reported, no team can really go down in history until they have made their mark in Europe. Maybe it's that want of wanting to emulate anything Man Utd can do in this ever on going battle between the two clubs?
Seeing Chelsea in the last four and so far throwing away such a big chance to get the the final doesn't help. Seeing them get further than we have ever been despite season after season of trying is also a bitter pill to take.

This all may sound a rather down beat article to read considering what might happen tomorrow. Typical Arsenal fan some might say. But you can be sure that come tomorrow, if it all goes our way, I will be going just as mad as every other Gooner on this planet. It will mean the world, winning it at Spurs will have that sweet taste as about it as well. One to be remembered and enjoyed for ages. I will be taking it all in, proud of the team I support, proud of their league season, and shouting about it at work on Monday.

My thought of what might have been, are just that, just thoughts. They in no way could take anything away from the delight of winning the title in the best league in the world.
But come the day of the two cup finals, you just can't help but think what could have been.

Maybe this season will make them even stronger next season in the Champions League. This seasons come back after the sudden collapse last year suggests it will happen and we can all look forward to that. But they will then have to really do it the hard way, because there are a lot of other huge teams who fell this season earlier than they were expected to who will be wanting to put things right.

The Ginge

andyw@theginge.com
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