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Wednesday 6 March 2013

Large Thumb Wanted! To Shore Up N5's Ever More Fragile Dam

Apologies for the lack of recent posts. It's not that I haven't been writing my weekly missives for the Irish Examiner, but limited to only 800 or 650 words and after the struggle to meet a Sunday deadline, I always think I'll find the time to subsequently add everything else that I was forced to omit and then never get around to it. But then my gravestone will undoubtedly be engraved with the old adage "procrastination is the thief of time"

Mind you, apart from my number one fan (my dear old Mum), it's not as if my absence appears to have been noted by anyone else these past few weeks?

Meanwhile, I for one am eagerly looking forward to our trip to Munich next week, as I can at least be guaranteed not to come back totally empty-handed because I've long since run out of my stock of Camel filters (no longer available in the UK) and I'm not sure how I'm going to manage maintaining my nicotine addiction if we should fail to qualify for the Champions League next season. I'll guess I can just add this to the sadly ever lengthening list of AW's war crimes !



I imagine I wasn’t the only Arsenal fan looking forward to Sunday’s outing to White Hart Lane, much like I would a trip to the dentist, full of trepidation about having to endure some incisive Gareth Bale route canal agony.

With my sadly, ever diminishing faculties of recall, I tend to forget each season how intimidating this fixture can be. I’m convinced that the reverse encounter at our place doesn’t have anything like the same intense level of testosterone-fuelled animosity. This was only augmented by the rare instance of a high-risk match kicking off at 4pm. When in recent times all such derby games tend to be early kick-offs, in an effort to limit the potential for all the increased aggravation, provoked by the quaffing of large quantities of pre-match lubricants.
Still, I guess the late KO made for a far improved atmosphere inside White Hart Lane than the disappointingly sedate midday meetings of late. Although, I imagine the tense old bill weren’t too enamoured with those responsible, as they struggled to maintain segregation between all the more legless Neanderthals outside the ground.

I made the mistake of neglecting to obscure my red & white scarf under my coat after parking up. As a consequence, even my desensitized ears couldn’t believe the disgustingly offensive tirade of abuse from the locals, forcing me to quicken my step in search of safer sanctuary, surrounded by the fluorescent yellow coats of the cops, their mounted colleagues and all the barking Alsatian dogs by the away fans entrance, adding to the high-profile police presence, which only tends to worsen the white-knuckle, war zone atmosphere of what is supposed to be a civil sporting occasion.

Whilst raising my nicotine levels, by chain-smoking cancer sticks to try and calm my nerves before making my entrance, out of the corner of my eye, I espied a mother trying to give her daughter a bunk-up, for a precious glimpse of what was going on behind the big wall. The two of them had travelled from Switzerland, with the daughter, a Spurs fan, desperate to gain entrance, but with her poor mother unable to afford an extortionate three hundred quid being demanded by the touts.

If she’d been a Gooner and there had been sufficient time to make it home to watch the game on the box, I might’ve been tempted to make the ultimate sacrifice, by giving her my own ticket. But instead I suggested that they might be better off heading around to the main West Stand entrance, where the miracle of a last minute, or post KO spare amongst her tardy fellow Spurs fans, might just result in her fantasy coming to fruition and at least her and her tearful daughter wouldn't have to suffer more abuse from all those savagely malicious Spurs fans who assumed she must be one of us.

The two of them enquired with utter bemusement, as to what was going on. Naturally they were aware that the encounter between Spurs and the Arsenal was imminent. Yet it was patently obvious that they’d never before experienced such overtly offensive displays of bellicose aggression between two sets of supporters before a mere football match, Thus I felt obliged to explain that this was far from par for the Premiership course.

It was a relief to get inside to the relative safety of our seats and our nail-biting anxieties were further eased, by the fact that home team favourites appeared to suffer stage-fright for the most of the match. However for all our domination, the Gunners lacked any cutting edge. Almost every effort to threaten Spurs goal was thwarted by the unstinting resolve of the stalwarts in their defence.

Meanwhile we were all left utterly shell-shocked by the break, due to the fifteen minutes spell in which Bale & Lennon scythed through our statuesque defence. Nevertheless, where at our ground Wenger would’ve likely endured untold abuse at 0-2 down in such a crucial encounter with our local rivals, it was great to experience our unwavering loyalty, as we responded to the Spurs’ fans teasing of “we want to him to stay”, with our own chorus of support for our encumbered leader.

It was indicative of our inability to break Spurs down, that it took a fortunate Mertesacher header to get us back into the game but then all our momentum seemed to evaporate with a couple of bizarre substitutions. I saw Stevie Bould call Podolski back from his touchline calisthenics, but as against Blackburn previously, it hardly suggested a man who was desperate to come on and impact upon proceedings, as it took the German almost ten minutes to tinker with his boots as he readied himself.

To my mind this was the difference in the two teams in a nutshell, as while the home side were intent upon making the most of this rare advantage to usurp our North London superiority, the Gunners ambitions were limited to maintaining the old order, while sorely lacking in the leadership and the focus to redress the current status-quo. And with the margin now stretched to seven points and the resulting impact upon the respective confidence of the two clubs, it would take a serial optimist to believe that the Gunners haven’t blown their best opportunity to salvage the sort of pride, which might at least offer the necessary encouragement to stump up our hard earned wedge when season ticket renewals come around in the weeks ahead.

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Rob - Glasgow Gunner said...

Great to have you back. I was actually getting a bit worried you had been so distraught with our current predicament, you had given up on us avid readers. As for renewal encouragement, I feel a media scoop on a familiar take of war chests being readied and Arsene offering acceptance of a supreme desire to spend it. Sadly, there is little in the way of new ground here and can't help but feel a bit aggrieved being fed the same old medicine.
I still believe we will make 4th. Mostly because Arsene always seems to pull this particular target out the bag in seasons past. Not to memtion supporting a positive outlook is probably better for my health.

Once again, it's great to see you back.

Anonymous said...

Deluded fool.

Anonymous said...

I too was baffled by the decision to pull Jenkinson off as he did not appear to be injured. For me though, Arsene's failings were exposed by the presence of Vertonghen, Dembele and Lloris in the Spuds side at all, as all three would add much needed strength and competition to our side and were realistic targets with whom we were, however spuriously, consistently linked.

With Stan-the-man schooled in the hard-knocks ( ) of NFL ownership - ha!- I can't imagine there'll ever be sufficient pressure from above to force AW to adapt, and the increasingly desperate cries from below will continue to fall on deaf ears - and fattening wallets.

Still sucking away on the e-cig over here but I'll gladly schlepp down to the corner store to track down some filters for you - looks as though they're still widely available - and send a box or two your way.

All the best and keep the posts coming please,


Bern said...

Thanks Rob, it's gratifying to hear my absence didn't go completely unnoticed

It wouldn't surprise me if AW does pull 4th place off again, although it will appear an ever more daunting task if Spuds win at Anfield on Sunday and go 10pts clear of us (with our game in hand against Everton). Yet I can't help but wonder whether it might be failure to qualify for the Champions Lg and all the resulting financial agony, loss of profile and a couple of season scrabbling around just to qualify for th Europa Cup, that's the required medicine to provide the much-needed catalyst for a wholesale change of approach at the club?

Here's hopping we don't have to find out!