It could have been oh so different. As it turned out, it was what Arsenal was hoping for and what Chelsea and Man Utd not wished for.
Time and time again, Arsenal are accused of being soft, of being not physical enough, or not being imposing enough. The media, pundits, rival fans, always taunt the Gunners of being boys and soft hearted, meek and cant really stomach physical challenges.
The media would have you believe that Arsenal are afraid of even the slightest tackles. But that is far from the truth. Arsenal has always had its fair of tacklers, Viera, Parlour, Adams, etc. In fact, at the beginning of Arsene Wenger's tenure at Highbury, there were always complaints, ironically, of Arsenal being rough, what with an appalling disciplinary record then.
Arsenal played Bolton this past Sunday, and there was a lot at stake. The obvious buffet of the consequences of the game was that had Arsenal lost, they would been for the umpteenth time been written of the title challenge, and if they win, funny enough they are "back" in it. For Bolton, a loss as it happened, was catastrophic as it meant that they are back into the bottom three.
Bolton understandably started the match furiously, and although that in itself is not particularly a bad thing, it was the manner in which they went out about it. THUGGERISH.
Arsene Wenger has always moaned about lack of protection for skilled players and not necessary his players only. Bolton battered Arsenal players almost hoping to do so till they submit. After-all, they are physically weak. Fabgregas was the usual target, so was the substitute Merida.
It would seem that modus operandi for Coyle and his boys as learnt from Sir Alex's lackey Allardyce was to intimidate Arsenal if not by roughing them up then by actually tackling them into defeat.
How Bolton never received a red card remains for me a mystery. Had Arsenal lost, the usual regurgitate bollocks would have been flooding through. Arsenal played and survived the thugs called Bolton and not a pip comes through from pundits about that.
While it is true that each team played to its strength, there's also no reason why Bolton should stoop to the level of football playing thugs. Some teams are just as limited as they are but they aren't as thuggish as they are.
Perhaps the media is only to happy to write Arsenal off when they have off days, perhaps the pundits are eager to see Arsenal crumble. But as the Arsenal showed on Sunday, they just might survive and do according to the naysayers, the impossible, win the title in style while the football playing hooligans suffer the ignominy of relegation.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!