For Arsenal, read Toronto.

Excuse the brevity of this post, but when not one but two of your sporting teams seasons are ended in dramatic circumstances in a matter of hours, you don’t feel much in the mood for blogging. I’m not sure which is more heart wrenching. You’d think the Toronto Raptors missing out on the NBA playoffs on the final day of the season would take some beating, but then who would have expected Tottenham Hotspurs, the same Tottenham Hotspurs who hadn’t beaten their great North London rivals in the league in 11 years, to be the team to finally put Arsenal out of their title misery.
Much has been made of the injuries of both teams. Even the most fervent Chicago Bulls fan would find it hard to deny the part Chris Bosh’ absence had on the Raptors end of season capitulation. Similarly Arsenal fans were given a cruel glimpse of what might’ve been via an inspirational Robin Van Persie cameo appearance after Thomas Vermaelen’s first half injury left Arsene Wenger bereft of six of his likely starting eleven (five with the introduction of RVP) and forced him to field his fifth and sixth choice centre backs.
Whilst most people put Arsenal’s seemingly never ending injury problems down to the type of player that Wenger tends to buy, fleet footed with a wire frame, that doesn’t account for the absences of Gallas, Song and Vermaelen, three of our more robust units. I’m sure most Gooners would love to put it down to more than just bad luck (that implies there’s a solution) but that would be to doubt the intelligence and considerable ability of the clubs esteemed medical staff. Don’t forget that Gary Lewin has frequented the England bench in recent years.
Looking towards next season and it seems that the similarities between Arsenal and the Raptors extend beyond a red and white home jersey. Whilst Jay Triano and Bryan Colangelo face the seemingly fruitless task of persuading their all star Chris Bosh that their club will ever be more than first round playoff cannon fodder, Wenger will have to deal with the inevitable rumours linking Cesc Fabregas with a move to Barcelona.
With Arsenal closing the gap between themselves and their title rivals, and the Raptors failing to make the post season for the first time in four seasons, you’d have to think the Frenchman has the better chance of keeping hold of his superstar. At just 23, it seems that when he does eventually decide the swap the red and white for the claret and blue he will probably do so with his prime still ahead of him. This is a worrying precedent for the side as, traditionally, players tend to leave when there careers are winding down and, save for Thierry Henry, most players go downhill after leaving the Emirates. One thing is for certain, the commitment and dedication that Cesc has shown during his time at the club (see Aston Villa and Barca at home this season) has ensured that when the day does come for him to leave, he will certainly do so with my blessing.
If Wenger is to send the Spaniard back home with a Premier League winners medal, then  he will undoubtedly need to make reinforcements in the summer transfer window. Though the squad is stronger than it has been for years, reality checks against Chelsea, Man Utd and Barcelona have exposed a soft core. When the going has gotten tough this season, the Arsenal have typically failed to get going. A few more experienced heads in the dressing room could be just what this team needs to point them in the right direction when the flowing football isn‘t working. Marouane Chamack seems a gimme to arrive in the coming months, and he could prove the perfect complement to a fit Robin Van Persie and an emancipated Nicklas Bendtner. With William Gallas now firmly on the wrong side of thirty, somebody to challenge his partnership with TV5 would also be welcome.
That just leaves Manuel Almunia. It seems to be accepted that Wenger needs to replace the fumbling Spaniard after a far from glorious season between the posts. Performances like the one against Barcelona just serves to make the lows all the more frustrating.
When I chose the Raptors as my NBA team back in December, “because I quite like Andrea Bargnani and Sonny Weems”, I had no idea just how much of a perfect fit they were. A team littered with foreigners? A team that offered so much midway through the season, but delivered so little? Young players that will set the league alight next season?
For Arsenal, read Toronto.

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