In the 92nd minute of today’s 3-2 win over West Brom, Arsene Wenger clung to his erstwhile assistant Pat Rice. It was a mixture of fear, terror, nervousness, horror, trepidation and anxiety as he knew one goal for the home side would see Arsenal finish 4th and our scuttery neighbours Sp*rs qualify automatically for the Champions League.
In the end, thanks to Kieran Gibbs incredible late block, it’s Sp*rs who have to watch the Champions League final in dismay, hoping that Chelsea fail to win so they can get to the qualifying rounds.
And Arsene feels that today was an apt send-off for Pat Rice who has spent 44 years at the club.
“I am very happy to give him that present today,” he said. “I would have been sad for him to leave the Club today and not be in the Champions League. It is very emotional for him and for me as well because I arrived here and he was always my assistant.
“Pat has many qualities of the ‘Old Guard’; that means he is a fighter, he doesn’t talk too much – but when he talks, he talks! He is mentally strong.”
Finishing third when we started the season so badly is, under the circumstances, quite an achievement, something the manager was keen to acknowledge, whilst admitting it wasn’t something he thought about early in the campaign.
“In September certainly not. We were 17th in the league then and in the first seven games we had lost four.
“When you have played seven games and lost four you think there are 31 games to go and it is very difficult to imagine that you will finish third. But we had an exceptional run after our exit in the Champions League.
“I think if you look at the season as a whole, we lost only two of the last 16 games and created a fantastic run. In the end we finished with 70 points, which is respectable, and we qualify for the Champions League for the 15th consecutive year.
“Of course we are very proud of that, especially this season having started where we started.”
And when the board went up for injury time, Arsene was as surprised as anyone to see 5 minutes, despite no real injury stoppages and a regulation number of substitutions. The boss said:
“I am still thinking of suing the referee for the five minutes of added time because my heart suffered immensely!”
I think we all know how you feel, Arsene, but let’s just enjoy the fact we got where we needed to in the end, and that the Sp*rs chucked away a 10 point lead.
The shit, bottling twats.