For too long Arsenal fans had to battle against the reminders, both pointless and spiteful, of how long it had been since the club last won a trophy. Saturday’s FA Cup win was a watershed moment, a release of built-up tension, anxiety and hurt.
There wasn’t any need for discussion about transfer activity or in-fighting on the future of the manager. Saturday – in fact the entire weekend – was a feel-good moment for the supporters as well as the players, many of whom had waited with great impatience for their first slice of silverware.
The unity among the supporters was fantastic to see. The joy of the cup win stretched well beyond north London, with fans across the globe sending in their stills of how they saw out the final and what transpired following.
There’s an argument to say the bad times are necessary. Under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal’s supporters have been spoilt, both in bringing home titles and in at times exquisite football. But the last nine years have been painful, some moments well beyond any reasonable explanation. There have been cup losses, the departure of club captains; that haunting night in Paris. This past weekend put those moments and memories into perspective and gave them purpose. You need the lows to really appreciate the highs – and how Arsenal fans have been enjoying this particular high.
There are still unnecessary jabs, of course. “It’s only the FA Cup,” “look at how poor you were on the day,” “it’s a one-off that won’t lead to anything else in the near future.” Mesut Ozil has drawn his critics once again. But it’s all been water off a duck’s back. Arsenal supporters are lapping it up and rightly so. There’s a trophy in the Emirates cabinet, finally. There’s now vindication for the new stadium; the starting point and finale of the trophy parade on Sunday couldn’t have been more fitting.
The relentless tirade against the club has come to an end. The remaining pieces of that nine-year-wait nonsense and all that came with it has been wrapped up and thrown into the sea. Many other clubs in England and Europe have used domestic cups as a starting point for further success, and that fact isn’t lost on Arsenal at this time. The barren spell is over, the period that facilitated, rightly or wrongly, the questioning of a manager who has done so much for the club. Arsenal have finally rediscovered the taste of tangible success, the critics have been silence, for now, and pride and self belief have been restored.
It may only be a domestic cup, a couple of steps down from the grand prizes. But Arsenal and its fans deserve to sip from the FA Cup long into the summer.