Arsenal, celebration-gate, and a no-win situation 0

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Over the past year, Arsenal’s players have been the subject of significant derision for two moments of celebration: in the dressing-room after securing fourth-place last season, and on the Wembley turf yesterday following their penalty shoot-out victory over Wigan.

Wigan are a Championship side and Arsenal needed penalties to beat them - if there is such a thing, that is a victory with a small ‘v’. However, it is still a victory, it still puts them in a cup-final, and they are still a step closer to removing the 8 year-old monkey from their back.

While there’s clearly a very sizeable difference between winning a league title and finishing fourth or progressing to a final, what did people really expect of Arsenal’s players yesterday? Should they have skulked down the tunnel, heads down, faces blushing, hands of apology raised to the fans? Come on, winning is winning in football, and semi-finals are significant irrespective of the opposition.

Nobody - at least to my knowledge - is trying to claim that yesterday represents a righting of all the current wrongs associated with the club, nor are they pretending that 2013/14 is an overwhelming success because of it, but players, fans, and managers are still entitled to celebrate victorious moments. Should Arsenal lift the FA Cup this season there will be no asterisk against their triumph in the history books, and the trophy itself won’t be engraved with any sort of caveat.

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t mock a club for failing to meet expectations and then also laugh at them for enjoying the moment when they do.

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