Become Legends

Written off by everybody, we need two goals to knock off the Champions. Does that sound familiar to you?

Before the season kicked off, Arsenal and Nike decided to commemorate the 20th anniversary of our famous championship winning victory at Anfield. The campaign featured former Arsenal players like Steve Bould, Alan Smith, Michael Thomas, and Paul Merson talking to current Arsenal players like Cesc Fabregas, Theo Walcott, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott, Manuel Almunia, and William Gallas. Unfortunately, through injury, William Gallas will miss out today, but the key players had been identified even before the season began.

Now others have stepped up. Alex Song becoming a colossus in midfield, Samir Nasri scoring a brace at the Emirates to beat United, Denilson doing the dirty work while being criticized frequently by others, and Bacary Sagna delivering quiet, no-nonsense defensive performances. Their contributions cannot be underestimated.

We’ve been written off during this season before. Countless times. By our own “fans” sometimes, the media pundits oftentimes, but never by Arsene. He has supreme confidence and if you saw his press conference yesterday, you’ll find a man who has zero doubts about this squad. He believes we will get to the final. Back during the Roma second leg, Wenger himself was astonished by the will in our team. We missed the first penalty, away from home, and ended up being victors. Penalties are a cruel way to decide a tie, but it showed we had backbone.

After being bombarded in the first leg and kept in the tie by Manuel Almunia, we arrive at the biggest match in the history of the Emirates. This, being the full blooded English glamour tie of the last fifteen years. There was once a time in 2003 where a commentator called a regular Premiership game between Manchester United and Arsenal as the biggest match in Premiership history, for it would dictate who would reign supreme. This is much more bigger than that.

One week ago, I just hoped that we would be in a position where we could win the tie at the Emirates. Perhaps I was projecting some bad karma, and we’re in a more difficult position than I had hoped for.

Jose Mourinho has proclaimed that United will 100% advance to the final. Ian Wright, former Arsenal striker, said these words, “I don’t see enough of the Arsenal team really loving their club. Of the current team, Cesc Fabregas definitely has a special relationship with the club but that looks to me about it. If Arsenal fail to win a trophy, I wonder how many of the players will really be hurting.” Do we really need this sort of tosh from a former Arsenal player on the night before this massive tie?

That is the kind of attitude that we’ve been fighting against. It is not enough that we’re playing against teams who resort to negative tactics in order to salvage their dignity and teams constructed with such ludicrous amounts of money, we have to put up with this kind of crap also.

Which all brings me back to the start of this post. There is a difference between Invincibility and a Legend.

Invincibility is when a supreme force conquers all. I don’t need to remind you of a certain Arsenal team that has achieved this state before. And I also don’t need to remind you of a cheat and a ref who completely failed to protect our team that brought this accomplishment to a premature close.

A Legend is one that is crafted from a season like the one we’ve had thus far. Facing incredible odds, being in a position where nobody backed us, a team blossoms in front of our eyes to become the players that we believed that they can be. And in that, the joy created is from watching beauty and teamwork triumph in the face of such great adversity that only a handful of fans believed that the impossible was ever possible.

That kind of joy was achieved twenty years ago when Michael Thomas scored the goal that defined his career.

Tomorrow, against a well-oiled United engine led by a merciless Scottish manager, we have a chance to fulfill the prophecy that Wenger predicted for this team.

Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to Become Legends.