When last I left you, Arsenal had just beaten Tottenham at home. I had already paid standard price for the tickets for the last match of the season, Arsenal v. Wolves. As you know, this is my thing. Whenever I can buy tickets for the last match of the season, I do. It matters not who Arsenal will play that day. The point is that the Premier League trophy is handed out just after the last home match for the winner. If Arsenal happen to be that winner, my hopefulness will be rewarded. It has never before happened.
Even if not, there is a different reward. The match will for sure be played on a fully predictable date at a fully predictable time. That’s because all matches on the last day of the season are played at the same time, to mitigate the kind of boring matches that could occur when two teams playing each other realize they both only need a tie to avoid relegation or finish in spots that guarantee European competition next year. Being able to predict the day and timing of the match makes it possible to make early travel plans and not have to wait until Sky announces the TV schedule to be sure of when the match will be played.
Last match of the season or no, things I know can stop a match from being played:
- Bomb threat at the stadium
- Global pandemic
- Death of the monarch
- Tube strike
Looking at that list, it seems silly to say that the last match of the season is predictable at all. All the things in the list have happened recently and have stopped matches. Even last matches. The only variable removed from the equation is Sky. And the intentions of the Premier League.
Still, I felt good enough about things that we not only planned travel to London, my husband and I added a week of travel in Ireland before the match.
What I could not have predicted: how close we came to picking up that trophy. Arsenal stayed in first place until nearly the end of April, with Man City getting stronger and stronger and Arsenal becoming shakier and shakier. What used to be our traditional slump in November is now, two seasons running, a slump the last month of the season. It’s mostly injury-based. We don’t have the squad depth of the expensively-, and allegedly rule-floutingly-, constructed Man City. No one does. Our two best players were obtained from Manchester City during the summer because they are not good enough to play for Manchester City. It must be said that we did have a team available that still could have challenged better by the end. We fell apart mentally, not just physically.
While Arsenal were still looking great, tickets for the last match became more and more scarce and more and more valuable. There was a rumor that tickets were becoming available for resale for that last match at a price of more than £20,000 apiece. I’m curious if anyone took that bait.
I would not have dreamed of parting with my tickets.
They are worth considerably less today. While we’ve been in Dublin, Manchester City celebrated their 5th Premier League title in 6 years. I would have loved to avoid seeing them celebrating but we were having dinner in a pub in Dublin that was showing it on TV. We muttered darkly amongst ourselves while drinking the requisite, equally dark, Guinness.
It’s been a marvelous year of rebirth for the Arsenal. We had exciting matches with beautiful play. I watched them from my home, from the Emirates, and from bars in Detroit, Rochester, and Dublin. We qualified for the Champions League for the first time in years. We celebrated St. Totteringham’s day, alsofor the first time in years. We will finish the League in second place for the first time since 2016. Whether we win or not on the last day. Whether I attend or not.
I will attend. I can’t wait.