This past weekend, I fulfilled an ambition that had lasted for over a decade: going to see my beloved Arsenal Football Club play at home. The fixture itself did not disappoint, and neither did the clinic the Gunners put on in a 4-1 demolition of struggling Reading.
The home 11 created a myriad of goalscoring opportunities which left the Royals in the dust, and while complacency threatened to rear its head after Hal Robson-Kanu broke the visitors' duck to make it 3-1, the hosts carried through their momentum and killed the game when Mikel Arteta converted his side's fourth from the penalty spot.
However, despite the convincing final scoreline, many fans I spoke to at half-time were noticeably bitter, angry, resentful, disappointed—whichever adjective you choose to apply to the situation, many fans weren't happy. And I, for one, couldn't understand it.
Consider the context. Ahead at half-time, following on from consecutive victories against Bayern Munich and Swansea City, Arsenal were looking set—if a little shaky—for a third straight win in all competitions, the perfect platform to build a winning streak upon.
Yet the fans I spoke to didn't think Arsenal were converting enough of their chances. They attacked Gervinho—who, remember, had scored his side's opener and had threatened with limited success as well—at every opportunity. They believed Arsenal should be three or four goals up after 45 minutes.
The undertone that was pervaded every argument, though, was that Arsenal weren't good enough.
Interpret that in however way you will—that the Gunners weren't good enough in that fixture, in the wider context of this season or wider still of the scope of the last few years.
But Arsenal came back to silence those doubters with a trio of goals to add to their tally. In the same vein, they are in a prime position to salvage a top-four finish from this Premier League season, just as they have done for more than a decade and a half.
The signings Wenger made in both the summer and winter transfer windows were a star attraction against Reading on Saturday; both Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla scored, and Nacho Monreal was a perennial terror for the Royals' widemen until his substitution.
Progress has been made since the start of the season, and while Arsenal have by no means been the consistent, dominant presence in the Premier League and Europe they once were, there is genuine quality throughout Arsenal's squad. You only need to look at Jack Wilshere, whom many Gunners will undoubtedly point to as a club captain of the future, to see the bright future Arsenal can have.
And—crucially—this is not a jibe at Arsenal's fanbase as a whole. It is not an attempt to knock fair-weather fans, or criticise those who would criticise the team for little or no reason.
For Arsenal's faithful's sound reverberated around the Emirates for the entire 90 minutes. Chants and songs—in praise of both the current Arsenal generation, and for a star of a previous crop of Gunners, the legendary, late David Rocastle—echoed through the stands no matter what the scoreline.
It is obvious Arsenal have a hugely determined, passionate and faithful mob of devoted Gunners, and it was an absolute joy to stand amongst them this past weekend.
So following this weekend's triumph, and my experiences in north London, Arsenal fans (and I generalise) ought to just have a little more faith, and wait and see what Arsene Wenger can conjure in his squad.
Be it at half-time, with a few games left in the season or at the start of a fresh one, Wenger and Arsenal's consistency is something that many fans seem to either take for granted or tend to forget. While there are always changes desired or even required—certainly in the transfer market this summer, for example—there are still plenty of things for Arsenal fans to cheer about.
This season is almost over, and there is still a lot to play for. But the gulf between Arsenal and the Manchester clubs is no longer widening.
And that, to me, is cause for celebration.
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