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Charles WattsGooner Columnist

It’s just nice to be in contention again

One of things I love most about my job is that it gives me the opportunity to speak to so many interesting people.

That was highlighted the other day when I sat down for a long chat with the great Nick Hornby to discuss 30 years of Fever Pitch and the work he did adapting his genre-defining classic to film.

As a journalist there are plenty of interviews you do that once you are finished, you think to yourself, ‘bloody hell, that was hard work’.

But then there are some when you just don’t really want to stop talking. And this was definitely one of those.

Once we had finished discussing Fever Pitch, the conversation predictably turned to current matters and what is going on with Arsenal this season.

And Nick said something that still sticks with me now.

“It’s just nice to be in contention again,” he said “It’s nice to be getting to this stage of the season and still having something to really go for.”


Goal’s Gunners correspondent Charles Watts in conversation with Fever Pitch author Nick Hornby


Now that statement might show how far standards have slipped in recent years, but he is bang on.

This time last year, the thought of Arsenal competing for the Champions League places felt a million miles away. But here we are, in the final weeks of the season, and a top four finish is tantalisingly close.

The results over these next few games will obviously decide for many how this season will ultimately be viewed, but for me, whatever happens now, this has been a year of undeniable progress.

It’s fun to watch Arsenal again and there is genuine hope around the place that things are finally back on the right track. This is a team that the fanbase can get behind and connect with. The work that Mikel Arteta and the players have done has made the Emirates a fun place to go and watch football again.

“I’m excited now for the first time in quite a while,” Nick said, as our conversation continued.

“My admiration for Mikel Arteta has just grown and grown. The way he has taken hold of the squad and got rid of the dead wood and the undesirable elements has been great.

“Add that with the quality of the young players who have come in and it’s a good place to be again.

“It really feels like the crowd is excited and up for it.

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