Week Thirteen – What If….
Two huge games this week, the sort of games that are the reason we all love football. A week made more exciting by the fact that we go into this week in decent shape after going five points clear at the top of the league at the weekend. I’ve spoken before about my belief in the importance of momentum in football, and I don’t think we can ask to be in a better position momentum-wise than we are now.
Borussia Dortmund away, followed by Manchester United away. The “tests” are coming thick and fast now.
If I had to choose I would be happy with a draw against Dortmund and a win against United, but I don’t think any exertions in midweek will necessarily mean going into the weekend knackered, momentum and all that.
I haven’t actually heard anyone getting too worked up about rotation and team selection one way or the other early in the week though, which to me is a sign that we are happier actually enjoying the position that we are in, rather than worrying too much about “what if’s”.
And enjoy it we should, because as we travel to last year’s Champions League runners up for a top of Champions League group clash, that lot up the road are busy preparing for a White Hart Lane Thursday Spursday Glory Glory Night glamour clash against Sherriff Tiraspol (me neither…)
This brings me back to the “what ifs”. Football is a game of “what ifs”, how many times have you said “what if” over the years? Too many to mention here for me, but this week got me thinking about a recent one…
What If Lord Sugar Had Been Right?
Any excuse to show that picture. Never gets old.
But what if it had actually been 1-1 at Newcastle that day, and old bingo wings there was eating her way to Dortmund right now, rather than consuming her own body weight in reduced to clear, cock on a basketball cake, counting down the days until Sherriff Whassisface comes to town?
Arsenal were ridiculed, by some of our own as well as opposition fans, for celebrating clinching fourth place so exuberantly on the final day of last season.
To me though, it was an extremely significant fourth place as to how the summer, this season, and probably even the next few seasons to come would pan out.
What if we had the delights of Sheriff Thingybob to entice Mesut. Fucking. Özil rather than Borussia Dortmund, would he have signed for us?
What if we hadn’t signed Özil, would the good feeling around the club since his signing exist now? Would we be top of the league?
There is a lovely song going around at the moment about our North London neighbours selling a certain simian looking jug eared divey Welshman while we signed one of the world’s best players.
But what if it had been 1-1 at Newcastle, would both or any of those two things happened?
We’ll never know the answers for sure of course, but it’s something worth bearing in mind while you watch and, hopefully, enjoy the two big games this week…
Borussia Dortmund 0 Arsenal 1
This is one of those moments that are difficult to put into words. I got a feeling last night, not for the first time this season, a familiar feeling from seasons past. The feeling you get after a real backs against the wall, battling performance.
You could almost say it was like something from the George Graham era, but that would be doing Arsene Wenger an injustice, as we have seen many performances like that from Wenger teams, buried somewhere underneath the xenophobic tinged “Arsenal don’t like it up ’em” narrative.
I think the negative press Arsenal have received over the last few years, some of it justified but a lot of it lazy and harsh, has put us fans on the defensive recently when our start to the season has been constantly belittled, I have certainly not hidden my utter disdain for these arseholes in this column.
But if you take a step back for a second you realise that this is exactly how we should like it, just like it used to be.
I believe the detractors and the naysayers actually help us pull off results like this, just like it used to be.
Watching the sneering “pfft…..not for me, Gary” when we are winning is actually quite enjoyable when you think about it. There will be a lot of eggs on a lot of faces if we achieve success this season, just as there will be plenty of smarmy “told you so” cunt pundits and journos praying that we don’t. I mean, it’s not like they would admit to being wrong is it? Nope. Amnesia seems to affect the media a hell of a lot at times.
As far as the performance itself goes, although we may have rode our luck a bit in the first half, I think we played it perfectly.
I have no problem with us getting the rub of the green, especially as we’ve experienced plenty of the opposite.
Most of the talk after the first game was about the need to learn lessons from that game and take that to Germany with us, and to our credit we did.
After Aaron Ramsey scored (again!), I think we were more comfortable than my underwear may have suggested. I was impressed by the way we sensed we could get another, which we almost did, but then dug in when we didn’t get it soon after the goal.
There were important performances all over the pitch. Tomas Rosicky was everywhere, Mikel Arteta had another great game carrying on from where he left off against Liverpool. At the back, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were outstanding for me, particularly after we took the lead, and Wojciech Szczesney once again made some important saves. But the most important thing was the performance by the team as a whole, not the most stylish of performances, but the sort of gritty performance title winning sides need to pull off.
To hear even Jamie Redknapp pull his head out of his arse and talk us up after was rather enjoyable. He even almost admitted that he had been too busy hiding behind the Sky Sports narrative to even pay any attention to how we’ve played this season so far. That’s how I heard it anyway. All in all a great night, and a great result.
Probably a decent result for the cleaners at Sky Sports studios too, such is the over-the-top cock-sucking love for Jurgen Klopp that if Dortmund had won, the studio would probably have ended up looking like an explosion in a Yakult factory. “Here you go Jamie, get a bit of Klopp glop down you…”
They might start rating us now though, perish the thought.
I think the “Arsenal haven’t played anyone yet” bollocks can be put to bed now if nothing else though. Until Sunday anyway…
Ah, Man Utd at Old Trafford. A fixture that conjures up so many memories, both good and bad. More recently it has been the latter, or course, so there is a real chance to banish some demons there. I can see a bit of aggro occurring Sunday.
David Moyes isn’t exactly known as an exponent of the beautiful game is he? Don’t know who the ref is as I write this (he’s probably a cunt though, aren’t they all), but he’s going to need to be on his toes methinks.
Still, this week so far has been about learning lessons, so if we – and the ref – don’t let ourselves get mugged off by divers, get stuck in without getting silly, and play our game, I can see us leaving that shithole satisfied…
Manchester United 1 – Arsenal 0 – Against Modern Hipsters
Well, that was bound to happen wasn’t it? Just as we were getting uncomfortably confident, a dose of man flu does the rounds, old Van Thingybob scores after poor defending on our part, and we are brought back down to Earth with a bump.
Not a great performance on our part at all really, we just didn’t look at the races for most of the game.
At the end of the day, United only scored the once against a pretty lacklustre Arsenal team, and the three big games in a week seemed to take its toll.
Still, I’m sure a couple of months ago we would have settled for going into this international break sitting on top of the league, and with Theo Walcott to hopefully come back the other side of the break, it’s not the end of the world, and let’s see how we can bounce back from this.
And remember – What If….
I should tell you a bit about myself. I’m not a stat man or a tactical genius, and you certainly won’t hear my opinion on Arsenal Football Club finances. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that, it’s just not my thing. Don’t get me wrong, some do this very well but, for me, football has always been about what’s on the pitch, watching the game, discussing it over a beer with your mates after, then going into work on Monday morning either gloating or defending your team to the hilt, resisting the temptation to punch the token deluded Tottenham fan in the throat. Oh and my Dad and brothers are all with the Dark Side…