Seven games to go, behind Arsenal on goal difference and five points clear of Chelsea. Semi-Final of the FA Cup looming on the horizon.
If you had asked me in August of last year, whether I would be happy with that at this point in the season, I would have nodded my head with some enthusiasm.
On some levels, I am not unhappy with the position we find ourselves in. Yes, we were ten points ahead of the Gooners and yes, we threw away the chance to go thirteen ahead. We then watched from behind the sofa as Robin Van Persie FC chased us down and overtook us until the mighty QPR stopped their seemingly invincible run.
But to quote Rafiki in The Lion King, “it doesn’t matter, it is in the past.”
What matters now is the next few games, none of which I am really looking forward to. Friends here in Boston have assured me that we are over our blip and that we will claim third place, which we held with such critical acclaim from September.
Modric has been subdued for too long, Bale has also been off his pace for a while and Adebayor has infuriated me more than any other player since Jermaine Jenas. The England job still hangs over ‘Arry’s head like a badly weighted pass from Huddlestone (who I think we have missed this season). The absence of Lennon has hurt us, it was good to see him back against Swansea and, provided that he can make it through the last few games, could be a crucial factor at this business end of the season.
We need to keep going, I have said this so many times this season that it has become a personal mantra. Starting with the early game against Sunderland today. Win or draw that and we go back above the Nomads for at least a day, lose… we become Citeh fans for 90 minutes tomorrow.
In solidarity with my Lilywhite brothers and sisters that will have to get up stupidly early to drive the 17,267 miles to the Stadium of Light, I have also dragged myself out of the comfort of my bed and am now sitting on a train heading to Boston.
Public transit in America is so rubbish that the first commuter train of the weekend won’t even get me into Beantown in time for the kick-off. The second train would have ensured that I missed the last 20 minutes of the game. Decisions had to be made, happily I was already planning to head up for a day of photographing people dressed as video game characters and basement dwellers kitted out in styles of clothing inspired by Japanese Anime.
I should be in the pub by just after 8 a.m.
This will be a tough day – not the photography, the game. Martin O’Neill has done a good job with a team that looked as if they would be scrapping at the wrong end of the table when Steve Bruce’s gamble of assembling an entirely new first team for the season backfired.
They are the only team to go the Eithad and get a point so far this season (it should have been us, should have been three!). They aren’t challenging for European places but they aren’t battling relegation. They don’t have an FA Cup Semi-Final against Chelsea next weekend to think about.
But our performance against Swansea was good, I thought we were unlucky to not break our Stamford Bridge hoodoo and we seem to welcoming players back instead of booking them space on the treatment table.
On the BBC website yesterday, Mark Lawrenson looked into his pundit’s crystal ball and declared that we will go to the Mackems and come away with a win. It’s not behind the realm of possibility; we have hunted up North this season and left with smiles on our faces.
I hope that Lawro is right, I want ‘Arry to tell our boys to go for it, once more into the breach and all that. We have the weapons, we can use the power-ups at our disposal – Defoe must be straining at the leash to get a start, Modders looked better against the Swans while the dual wing-play of Lennon and Bale can be devastating if used properly.
The train is approaching the station.
Fingers crossed, seven games to go.