They’ll make a movie about this season one day. Well certainly Leicester, should they hold on to claim the Premier League crown, will get the full Hollywood treatment. Never before, certainly not in the modern era, has the nation’s top-flight been as chaotically constructed and electrifyingly entertaining as it has been this time round.
Even if Spurs end up pipping the Foxes to the title, it’d still make a great story – not quite Hollywood blockbuster, but certainly more than a straight-to-DVD, garage forecourt offering. But, be warned, because lurking behind the scenes is a crafty old French auteur in no mood for Hollywood romanticism, instead preferring an artistic, occasionally pretentious, yet nevertheless entertaining vision of things.
Having tried, and failed, to make his own award-winning movie for over 10 years, Arsene Wenger is not about to let the little known protagonists from Leicester or his humble north London neighbours come in and ruin the show with their small-club thinking and underdog ways. Not on his watch. Not when he’s spent a decade or more cutting, editing and directing his own take on things.
With all other projects scrapped for the year, the cerebral 66-year-old is now ready to ruin the common football fan’s season and guide the Gunners to an unlikely Premier League crown. There is no room for sentiment in his version, merely self-righteous entitlement played out in front of loyal fans who regularly over-pay to watch the creative, but ultimately unfulfilling drama on the Emirates stage year on year.
But putting grainy black and white shots of Jack Wilshere smoking down for a second, and brushing aside an injury record as laughably rotten as a Piers Morgan cameo, it’s entirely possible that the north London side could become the biggest party-poopers since Ludek Miklosko faced Manchester United in ’95 (look it up!)
Sure, it’s gonna need a little bit of luck and a few things to go their way, but with five of their final eight games at home against Watford, Crystal Palace, Norwich, West Brom and Aston Villa, it wouldn’t take too much to suddenly see Arsenal find their way to the top of the league.They have, after all, been there and done it, albeit a while ago now. But somewhere deep in the depths of Wenger’s puffer-jacket pockets – if he can find them – are fragments of the kind of title-winning mentality he used to possess.
This side, along with others in recent times, have generally shown they lack the ‘bottle’ to go on and claim a Premier League winners medal. And whilst they may be devoid of the steely resolve of a George Graham team, or even Wenger’s own 2001/02 league-winning unit, there is easily enough innate talent to deliver a most unlikely of championships.
Their recent performance and victory over Everton showed they can ‘get the job done’ despite many questioning their character, and the mere fact that both manager and club, regardless of playing personnel, have experience of this sort of situation will hold them in good stead between now and May.
Additionally, neither Spurs nor Leicester have had what you would call a wobble yet. Admittedly neither has looked like doing so to this point, but the final half a dozen or so games of a campaign has a strange effect on form and temperament. Key injuries have by-passed both of the top two sides as well. With a core group of about 15 players, neither side seems well positioned to cope with an injury to a key player or two – lose a Riyad Mahrez or a Harry Kane and things could get sticky.
Of course, this is merely speculation on events outside of Arsenal’s control. Win their game in hand and they’re only three behind Spurs, and close enough to strike. The challenge will come if/when they do get within that distance – their ability to perform when the pressure is off is one thing, the opposite quite another. But the more people write them off and genuinely believe either Tottenham or Leicester are going to win it, the easier it’ll get for Arsenal.
The only fairytale Wenger will dream of is lifting the Premier League trophy before he walks off into the sunset, leaving Arsenal to find a successor good enough to match his legacy.
Beat that, Hollywood!