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Monday, 20 September 2010

If There's a G-d, How Long Before The Queen Mum Makes Good Use Of Her Time In The Hereafter, By Converting The Old Geezer Into A Gooner?

Having seen Andy Gray’s analysis on the box on Sunday afternoon and his unbiased take on the traumatic 95th minute equalizer at the Stadium of Light (as the 4 minutes of injury time had already elapsed), I had a little more sympathy with Wenger’s uncontrollable urge to vent his anger at the 4th official.

Unlike the events at Goodison the other week, when Moyes threw his toys out of the pram, after his Toffees had been stopped dead in their tracks and deprived of an attempt at a most unlikely winner against Man U, for reasons only beknownst to himself, ref Dowd decided not to blow up when the Black Cat’s set-piece had run it’s course, choosing instead to allow an additional 15 seconds for the ball to be hoisted back into our penalty area, causing hysteria amongst the thousands of home fans who’d already headed for the exits,, as they missed out on the panic-struck scramble that culminated in Bent finding the back of the net

Nevertheless le Prof’s protestations felt something akin to the student screaming at his teacher for not allowing sufficient time to pass his exam, when in truth culpability lay a little closer to home, in his failure to study hard enough. Moreover, notwithstanding taking the lead with a one in a million fluke and the fact that we should’ve been home and hosed, if only Rosicky had kept his head over his powerfully struck, but ultimately missed penalty, Arsène’s remonstrations to the 4th official felt somewhat hollow, as the Gunners dispirited display barely deserved of a draw, let alone all 3 points.

Sadly the annual shareholders Q & A session with our esteemed leader a couple of nights prior was a shamelessly sanitized encounter, compared to previous years. This last bastion of an opportunity for genuine interaction between Gooners and le Gaffer bit the dust, after wildly exaggerated media reports of a full-scale revolt last time around, when in fact it was merely one solitary contrary question that ruffled Arsène’s feathers, as the remainder of the evening followed its customary reverential course..

The Arsenal’s own Politburo has nevertheless intervened, castrating the Q & A, by restricting the event to questions sent in advance. Not only does this afford an opportunity to redact any queries deemed too contentious, but much to my chagrin it means we’ve since been denied a rare opportunity to engage our Arsenal mentor in meaningful discussion, by pressing le Prof on some of his less revealing responses when previous sessions were entirely open to questions from the floor. Sadly I guess such is the way of things, in an age when the Gunners are consumed by their megalomaniacal efforts to exert complete and utter control.

By comparison to the good old days, when one could turn up at London Colney on spec and enjoy entirely gratis, a post-training cuppa with our heroes, or check on the Young Guns progress, the arrival of electrified gates & fences, during the wholesale modernisation of our training facility, signalled the advent of the ‘behind closed doors’, increasingly remote business that’s unfortunately become of my beloved football club, in this media obsessed modern era.

With £10 grand Arsenal shares priced way beyond the means of the vast majority of Gooner working stiffs, a selection of shareholders’ inane and bizarre pre-prepared queries supplied by some of those attending this privileged gathering, hardly represented the concerns of the average mug punter, many of whom have been shouldering the burden of the Arsenal wage bill for several generations, long before the arrival of a large proportion of affluent “Johnny come lately” high-rollers (where were they when we were sh*t?).

With his irrefutable red & white heart, it was left to poshness personified, in uncle Bob Wilson, to raise many of our more obvious frustrations, whilst chairing the Q & A with customary ease. Coming on the back of our pummelling of Portugal’s own “Arsenalistas” in Tuesday night’s 6-0 romp, from Arsène’s point of view this annual encounter with his subjects couldn’t have been better timed. Singing from his now customary (if a little dog-eared) song-book, trotting out another string of Wenger-ball clichés, Arsène reiterated his desire to win with style.

Alluding to the club’s arrival at the “second stage”, that elusive moneybags Promised Land of milk and honey, after all the (somewhat miraculous) tribulations of maintaining our elite status, despite the enormity of the fiscal implications of our new stadium project, Arsène assured us that we are now in a position where we would never be forced to sell our star turns. Although I somehow doubt it, surely this should also imply that we need no longer fear being outbid for prospective purchases, as considering his current magnificent form, I still can’t forgive the Bues for gazumping us to sign Essien!

Yet in light of what subsequently transpired on Wearside at the weekend, it was somewhat ironic to hear Wenger reaffirm his conviction that this squad have reached maturity, affording us the sort of resilience that will ensure we won’t continue to roll over in any more humiliating repeats of the bashings we were forced to endure against some of the big guns last season. Arsène also reminded us how important it was that we turned up at the Stadium of Light, in the first of FIVE domestic awaydays following midweek Euro encounters.

Much to my disappointment, the Gunners failed to heed our manager’s call to arms. Not only was this apparent in the way Wilshere gifted possession to hungrier opposition in dangerous areas far too many times, but it was the patent lack of leadership in this Arsenal squad, which leaves me fretting that success might continue to elude us.

This was rarely more obvious than when Alex Song received his first booking for his demonstrative display of frustration and none of his team-mates assumed the responsibility for having a word in his shell-like. The situation was crying out for someone to put an arm around Alex’s shoulder, remind him that we were away from home where decisions were bound to go against us and that it was imperative that he kept his cool to ensure that he remained on the park.

Conceding such a late goal wasn’t nearly so distressing as the fact that so few Arsenal players appeared willing to display that tooth & nail determination, in their appreciation of the importance of clinging on to all three points, but instead the Gunners looked like they felt they had done enough (including a fresh-legged Denilson). But then how can we expect the required levels of commitment, from those who seen our ‘lead by example’ skipper withdrawn from the fray, so early on in proceedings, 1-0 up away from home, merely as a precautionary measure?

Although I must admit to wondering about my own culpability. In not quite sure who I’m appealing to in those far too frequent moments when I put my hands together and appeal to the heavens for fortune to favour the Gunners, but despite me being a disbeliever in the religious hocus pocus responsible for so much strife on this planet, considering the obligation to fast on the Jewish Day of Atonement, perhaps the late goal was merely poetic justice, inflicted by the ghosts of my more religious ancestors, for me having greedily accepted the offer a half-time bacon sarnie?

Then again, religious observance didn’t exactly stand Avram Grant in good stead as his West Ham side still struggled to achieve that elusive win. Perhaps we’re both “kicking with the wrong foot”, as according to the stereotype, it stands to reason that the bearded geezer up on high is more at home at White Hart Lane - and Tottenham certainly weren’t punished for their transgressions, scoring two late goals while playing on Yom Kippur!

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