Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Normal Service Resumed?

Dashing around to the ground on Saturday, late as ever, an Only Fools & Horses
style t-shirt on one of the stalls caught my eye, featuring Harry Redknapp as
Del Boy and a rib-tickling variation of the Trotter catchphrase “This time next
year we’ll be Champions League”.

Most of my Spurs mates have been downtrodden for so long, that they daren’t
usually allow themselves to get carried away with early season flights of
fancy. Besides which, any pre-season optimistic stuffing has normally been well
and truly knocked out of them, within the first couple of disappointing outings.

Sadly for them, the majority were swept up on the waves of media hogwash which
suggested that the writing was on the wall for the Gunners. They all positively
revelled in the reports that our membership had been rescinded, to the elite
pack of four clubs that were previously guaranteed Champions League
qualification, eagerly swallowing the bait, hook, line and sinker, about Spurs
joining the likes of nouveau riche Man City, in crossing the Rubicon, to
declare war on the Premiership’s established aristocracy.

Thus even for customarily ‘simpatico’ Gooners like myself, it was hard not to
savour the double-helpings of Schadenfreude served up this past week. After our
North London neighbours were afforded a brief glimpse of the Promised Land, with
their momentary sojourn at the summit, it appears as if normal service has been
resumed, as suddenly it all appears to have started to go tits up for
Totteringham.

I customarily tease one of my Spurs mates, with a text message to remind him not
to forget to tape Eastenders for me, whenever we’re involved in Champions League
encounters. So naturally with us 0-2 down after only three minutes last
Wednesday night, he couldn’t resist pointing out “this is much better than
Easties!” However with the Arsenal subsequently enjoying more than our fair
share of good fortune in Liège, by the time Eduardo added the climactic drum
beat lead in to the theme tune and credits, I fully concurred with my pal’s
sentiments, picturing the wretched look of dismay etched upon his face, as the
Gunners had once again gone and ruined his evening.

I suppose just the fact that I’m even focusing on the enemy is evidence enough
that Spurs fans weren’t alone in failing to heed the proverbial “don’t believe
the hype” warning. Mark Hughes might not be alone with his conspiracy theories
about Sunday’s Mancunian derby continuing on, as long as was necessary for the
established old world order to prevail. Yet both Sunday’s derby games suggested
that although the competition might have intensified a notch or two this term,
to the point where these upstarts might occasionally upset the odds, all the
money in the world cannot instantly bridge the gap of that big club mentality
gap that’s been established over the past decade or so.

Nevertheless with the likes of Robinho, Adebayor and Santa Cruz all absent at
Old Trafford and with the talented Slovak Weiss still sitting on the Sky Blues’
bench, Arsenal fans are undoubtedly taking the threat of City seriously.
Sunday’s two derbies were the perfect demonstration of the diminution of Gooner
expectations. Where once I would have sat down to savour such a feast of
football, praying for both big fish to drop points, it now appears to be in our
favour for them to beat the likes of City and Spurs. Still as much as the
results might end up benefitting the cause of the Gunners continued
qualification for the Champions League, our rivalry with Chelsea and Man Utd is
so entrenched that it really didn’t feel right cheering either team on.

In truth, I couldn’t help but share Hughes sense of outrage that the final
whistle wasn’t blown before Utd’s winner and as delighted as I'll be to
re-establish our North London superiority, I had mixed feelings about Robbie
Keane’s failed penalty shout, since there’s always so much pleasure to be
derived from watching Petr Cech pick the ball out of Chelsea’s net. Personally
I think I’d have preferred for there to have been no winners, with all four
clubs dropping points in two draws.

I don’t enjoy seeing any footballer suffer injury (although I can’t help but
feel there are karmic forces at work when Didier Drogba limps off) but that
didn’t stop me from smiling as I envisaged my distraught Spurs mates watching
their defence being utterly decimated, as King and then Bassong joined Woodgate
and Dawson, in the centre-back card school that’s become of the Spurs treatment
room.

Meanwhile our own defence managed their first Premiership clean sheet the day
prior and Thomas Vermaelen continued to develop his burgeoning cult hero status
by bagging a brace and bizarrely leapfrogging William Gallas as the club’s two
leading goalscorers! One of which was the sort of 25-yard, top corner strike
that Thierry Henry himself would’ve been proud of. But far more important was
the soaring header that resulted in Tommie’s first goal, as now, for the first
time perhaps since the days of the fab back four, the Gunners appear to once
again have a genuine aerial threat at set-pieces and corners. It’s truly a
welcome change, after enduring so many frustrating seasons, where we’d become
so impotent in the air that the award of a corner had basically become just a
good excuse to nip to the karsey.

With Tommie the tank’s prolific goalscoring feats and the long-awaited return of
Rosicky seeming almost like a second new signing, there’s something of a
feelgood factor that could well burst forth over the coming weeks, with a run
of winnable games against some of the Premiership’s lesser lights. If the fates
should choose to smile kindly upon us and with the likes of Theo Walcott waiting
in the wings, who knows, perhaps Saturday’s result will prove to be the start of
the sort of successful run which might just enable us to return to setting our
sights on the big prize?

--
e-mail to: londonN5@gmail.com

5 comments:

Charlie said...

Nice article as usual, I enjoy your blog more than most and am extremely pleased to find someone who shares my sense of optimism that their is more to come from this team! The last two results really could have gone either way and shouldnt be used to dictate our season.

Gooner 4 life

Anonymous said...

The match against MU sums up my feelings towards referees.Ashvin shd have been given a penalty and the MU cunt given a yellow if not red cards.That is why I want to highlight how Atsenala re playing against 12 guys if not 14 .
The Guardian used stats to back up the theory that the red faced cunt has been give extra time to win matches.I don't care what Hackett says. For all you know he is in the red faced cunt's camp.

Anonymous said...

The match against MU sums up my feelings towards referees.Ashvin shd have been given a penalty and the MU cunt given a yellow if not red cards.That is why I want to highlight how Atsenala re playing against 12 guys if not 14 .
The Guardian used stats to back up the theory that the red faced cunt has been give extra time to win matches.I don't care what Hackett says. For all you know he is in the red faced cunt's camp.

Anonymous said...

i'm quietly optimistic about the attack, but openly worried about the organisation of the defence. i don't think the personnel aren't good enough, but they're not organised at all. top attackers cut us up to ribbons. it's painful to watch.

Anonymous said...

Great article - love the optimism and balanced view a really refeshing change from the relentless whingers on sites like gunnerblog.

There is a long way to go yet, chelsea have the ACN disrupion to deal with, we have had a really tough start and now hopefully will embark on a serious winning run. Its not until we come to play Chelsea we will really have an idea of how far we can go this season but the signs are very good - playing reasonably well, scoring for fun even without Nasri, Theo and Vela and with Nik and RVP yet to find their shooting boots. And for me still the most entertaining team to watch in the league by miles.