I usually like taking a bit of time and effort on my blog posts, even if it is just a blog. I like to do a bit of research, making sure I get all my facts right and presenting it in the best way I can. But it's currently 11:54am on Sunday morning, and I am leaving in just under two hours to watch Arsenal host Aston Villa, and I'm writing this completely off the top of my head - so bear with me.
In his Friday press conference, Arsene Wenger said that 'we will be losing three big personalities' when asked about the departures of Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini. You can say that again. Three excellent servants to the club, each in their own separate ways, who are all set to leave the club this summer as their contracts expire. I'd just like to say thank you.
Mikel Arteta. Following your potential arrival to the club on Sky Sports News in August of 2011 was an absolute rollercoaster ride. It was on. It was off. We couldn't agree a fee. The boss even denied our interest in you at one stage. But it finally went through with minutes to spare, and I'm so glad it did.
Thank you for sacrificing your attacking instincts to play that little bit deeper. Thank you for providing a secure foundation which allowed Aaron Ramsey to turn into Ruud Gullit on steroids for those six months. Thank you for being the glue that kept my club in the Champions League in 2012 and 2013. Thank you for that goal against Manchester City.
Thank you for your incredible performances against Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool. Thank you for playing on despite losing your tooth. Thank you for always being a calm and sensible head. Thank you for being a leader. Thank you for your composure from the penalty spot. Thank you for being a model professional.
I'm sorry your calves gave up on you and that you haven't been able to replicate your clear influence off the pitch on the pitch as much as you'd like. But in my opinion you've been the greatest Arsenal captain post Highbury, and I hope you go and learn tons of shit under Pep so you can come back and boss it for the Arsenal. Thank you, el Capitan.
Tomas Rosicky. Oh man, the sense of regret I feel over your Arsenal career is ridiculous. I watched you in awe at times during the 2006 World Cup, and despite being injured for a third of your time in North London, the sense of excitement your little ten yard midfield bursts give me are unrivalled.
Thank you for that screamer against Hamburg. Thank you for performances against Brighton and AC Milan. Thank you for being part of that incredible midfield four in 2007/08. Thank you for that brace against Liverpool. Thank you for your relentless energy. Thank you for your iconic hair that flows ever so beautifully when you run. Thank you for your celebrations. Thank you for using the outside your foot when it's blatantly obvious that using your left would be so much easier.
Most of all, thank you for hating Tottenham. Thank you for the first 5-2. Thank you for robbing Danny Rose on the half way line and dinking Hugo Lloris. Thank you for twatting one into the top corner at White Hart Lane and drawing a piece of commentary from Martin Tyler that'll stay with me forever. Thank you for understanding what it meant.
I'm so sorry that your best years were robbed through long term injuries, and that I had to watch your stomach wrenching interview after you got injured against Burnley. I have no doubt that you would have been one of Europe's best players had things been different, but hey, you're loved in Prague, you're certainly loved in Dortmund and you'll always be loved here.
Mathieu Flamini. You might not be everyone's favourite player, but you've certainly had your moments.
Thank you for that tackle against Danny Rose about 30 seconds after you came on. Thank you for that rocket against Newcastle. Thank you for your goal against Chelsea that made me lose my voice. Thank you for being Fabregas' bodyguard for a season and killing everything that got within five yards of him. Thank you for also being part of that incredible 2007/08 midfield. Thank you for being Ozil's best mate.
Thank you for giving your all at left back in the season that we somehow got to a Champions League final. Thank you for bossing Kaka at the San Siro. Thank you for going to all that trouble cutting your tracksuit bottoms, even though you could've just worn shorts. Thank you for making me wince every time you went in for a tackle. Thank you for always giving your all in our shirt. Thank you for being brought on to shore up the midfield against Everton and then ending up nearly scoring a header in their penalty box ten seconds later.
I'm sorry that you've often been made an unfair scapegoat, and that passing may not be your strongest quality in a (normally) possession based side. But nobody can deny your commitment to the cause and what you haven't always had in talent, you've made up for in passion, determination and fight. Also, remember you're old mate Phil who's written these few paragraphs when you're out there saving the world and sitting on chairs made out of money. All the best for the future.
It's a sad day, but hopefully also a day of celebration as we thank you for your services to this great club and I hope you all get the send off's you deserve. (Not that type of sending off, Mathieu).