He sure looked it, every moment he was on the pitch

Look like you want to play for the Arsenal

The day started with a trip to the Grove to see the Arsenalisation of the stadium. One quick turn around the stadium and I saw the whole of the Arsenal pantheon: Thierry Henry’s statue, photos of and fan stories about the famous old players, the tea lady, Herbert Chapman, and finally Tony Adam’s statue with his arms unfurled as if to say “climb on boys, I’ll carry you”. I scampered up the statue and placed 5p in Tony’s upturned right palm. An offering to the gods ahead of the match.

By 4:30 I was in the Famous Cock with Dee, chatting about the day ahead. What we expected, what we fantasized, and what we hoped didn’t come true. He told me he’d put £5 on 6-1 to the Arsenal rationalizing the 200-1 bet thus “they have to concede, eh?” I agreed and after a few pints went to Ladbrokes and put a fiver on 6-1, Ox for a hat-trick, Robin first goal, and half-time/full time to the Arsenal.

I was supposed to meet up with Chary (from the blog) and sure enough he tracked me down right after I finished the bet. I downed what was left of my pint and we took this Japanese guy who barely spoke English with us, I thought, in order to show him the way to the stadium. As it turned out Chary bought us both dinner, because he’s that kind of guy, and we showed the Japanese guy to the Emirates. Here was this guy from Japan who doesn’t speak hardly any English talking to a man from America through broken Japanese about how to get to the Emirates. He’d never even been to London before.

We split up with Chary and I going to his usual where we met the fine folks from Arsenal Arsenal (and I even had a word with Tim Stillman) and got in a few pints before kickoff. Everyone was ebullient from the weeks results, 5-2, 2-1, and “I love your blog, I saw the photos from Anfield!” and yet, expectations were low. It would be enough to see the Arsenal play well was the consensus.

Every time I’ve been to see an Arsenal match, there’s the normal pre-match jitters and people are somewhat excited but this was different. There was excitement all around, voices were quicker, smiles broader, and everyone didn’t just have a twinkle, we all had diamonds in our eyes.

Dee had offered me my choice of seats and I took the one directly behind the bench. If I can get them off my laptop you will see exactly how close I was. I could have reached out and stroked Aaron Ramsey’s hair, that’s how close I was. Kickoff came and the crowd was buzzing. The Ox™ was getting stuck in all over and chants of “Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal” rained down on the Milanistas. They looked scared, to be frank, and Arsenal’s first corner of the game showed how scared as they simply played the ball behind.

That would be their undoing. A wonderfully crafted set play which saw Vermaelen and Song draw the Milan defense coupled with a wicked delivery from The Ox left Koz all alone in the box and he towered over the ball, powering it into the bottom of the net.

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If the crowd were up for the game before kickoff, they were absolutely rocking now. With six minutes gone and Arsenal up one-nil, there was reason to go with the irrational belief that this tie could swing Arsenal’s way.

ONE NIL TO THE ARSENAL!

The Arsenal midfield was absolutely in control of this game almost entirely because they were given width down the lanes. You’ll have to remember that luxury wasn’t afforded them when AC Milan intentionally ruined the pitch at the San Siro in order to force the game into the narrow shape that benefit their cheating scumbags formation.* The interplay between Sagna and Gibbs with the forward midfielders was magnificent – every pass was one-touch, every play was anticipated, fluid, and broke Milan down time and again.

Which is how Rosicky scored and which is where Oxlade-Chamberlain’s driving run came from which earned the penalty.

And now at 3-0 there was something special in the air at the Emirates. You could hear the Italian buttholes tighten across the stadium as the Arsenal faithful went through their cannon of songs finally landing on:

HE SCORES WHEN HE WANTS, HE SCORES WHEN HE WAAAAANTS!

At half-time Arsenal were up 3-0, people were smiling and everyone shaking fists and saying “get in!” The team had left it all on the pitch for us in that first half. Koz had worked so hard that he had his hands on his knees before half-time. I didn’t have time, though, to even worry for what might happen in the second half. The bench was threadbare and we needed this first team to simply come out and put the game away.

Which they nearly did. Gervinho picked the ball up, drove at the Milan defense, and struck a crisp shot at the keeper who parried nicely. The ball fell to Robin van Persie who tried to chip the keeper but it wasn’t high enough. Who am I to second guess the greatest goal scorer that Arsenal have had since Thierry Henry? No one. If he wants to chip then he can chip all day.

From there, Milan sussed out how to kill the game; slow down, waste time, and most importantly, dive all over the place. The referee was so fully conned by this cynical bullshit that Ibrahimovich even once looked to have tripped by kicking the ground himself and the ref called Arsenal for a foul. Consensus after the match was that the ref wasn’t crooked, just well out of his depth. Whatever the reason, he had Arsene Wenger up and down constantly throughout the match.

By the time that last 10 minutes or so came around, you could see that Arsenal were out of steam. Wenger had to remove Ox because he had a little niggle, but in doing so he had taken off Arsenal’s most creative midfielder and player who put in a real shift with Chamakh, who, to be fair, is not very good. And when Park came on, the old guy next to me got up and left. He was right, you could tell that it was over, but not because they hadn’t tried. They had given absolutely everything.

After the match we all went back to the Bailey for more pints, more singing, and the mood was actually kind of incredible. There were people singing, smiling, laughing, hugging. It was a win that felt like a loss that felt like a win. If that makes any sense.

No one knew whether to feel gutted, glib, or gleeful but we all knew that we loved the Arsenal.

We all follow the Arsenal,
Over land and sea, (and Leicester!)
We all follow the Arsenal,
Onto victory!

I just want to thank everyone who helped to make this trip possible. First the people who donated money. Each and every one of you is owned a deep debt of gratitude for what you have given me. I won’t name you because I don’t want to embarrass anyone but I will simply say thank you all so very much. Second to the Gooners over here that I have just met or have known for years, your hospitality is what makes this love for Arsenal more than mere fandom. We are a family and I feel that thanks to you. And finally, to the club, the players, and the boss: in all my years coming to see the Arsenal I’ve watched the good, the bad, and the ugly side of the team but for the first time I saw a team on the field that looked like they wanted to play for the Arsenal.

They did us all proud.

Qq

*Cheating scumbag is a diamond in the middle with cunts diving all around and the ground freshly tilled.

29 thoughts on “Look like you want to play for the Arsenal

  1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1DReam

    “It was a win that felt like a loss that felt like a win.” I couldn’t quite put my finger on what I felt last night but this sums it up perfectly.

  2. +3 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    Now I feel like rolling over and smoking a cigarette…
    Well done, safe travels home and well Arsenal. We left it all – 100% – out on the pitch and that is all any supporter can ever ask of his/her club. Pride restored, we move on.

    “Badlands
    You gotta live it everyday
    Let the broken hearts stand
    As the price you gotta pay
    Keep pushing til it’s understood
    and these Badlands start treating us good”
    The Boss, (The one from New Jersey, not Alsace)

  3. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Charybdis1966

    Afternoon all,

    glad you had a trip that made up partly for the disappointmnet of your previous one, Tim.

    It was an epic night that I only had a flavour of as my man flu dictated I go home and not stay around to watch the game in the pub.

    It’s matches like this that cement the Gooner nation and will push us onwards and upwards.

    Great work, as ever, on the match report.

    PS – did our japanese friend get home ok after the gaem ?

    1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

      @Charybdis1966, You, sir, are a Gooner and a gentleman. It’s the little acts of kindness that make us all proud. What say we set up a nice little 501(c) for soliciting tax-deductible donations for the Traveling Gooners Beer and Breakfast Fund? I nominate Charybdis as Ambassador-in-Chief and Finder of Lost Waifs.

  4. -11 Vote -1 Vote +1Sean J Little

    Everyones verdict, the players last night looked like they were Arsenal players not Mr Wengers usual nursery babes and the spark that did it was Oxide-Chamberlain.
    Credit to them all, perhaps now we,ll see the end of the Alminias,Chamakhs,Squillaces,Djourous,Denilsons,etc. And perhaps its time Mr Wenger you stopped playing players out of position. Playing Rosicky on the wing against Sunderland for instance. And is it not obvious Walcott will never set the wing alight and Van Persie is wasted at centre forward where he faces a split second less to use his skill which is even more powerful than his goalscoring.
    Arshaven too was played out of position until he obviously could,nt be bothered.
    The last 3 matches has either shewn Mr Wenger he had got it wrong and has now learned that its better to back whole hearted players than passy passy types and that each position is a specialist one and you cant just juggle players around any old where.

  5. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1chas

    Great to meet you last night, Tim.
    Cracking match report, too.
    Love the 5p in Tony’s hand!
    Up the Arse.
    chas from Arsenal Arsenal

  6. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1MumbaiGooner

    We struggled, We fought, We won. We vanquished the Italian Champions.

    We struggled, we won yet we lost.

    Chin up guys, you did us proud. You played for the jersey, you played for the Cannon on the chest, you played with pride.

    Our time will come.

    Arsenal Till I Die and Beyond.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Yan

    I really still don’t know what to say. I feel totally emo, and I think this feeling will last until the next match.

    I simply love this club.

    Safe travel Tim.

  8. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Caribkid

    I was happy but sad at the same time and totally drained as I went through the greatest roller coaster of emotions ever experienced in 2 hours. Hearing the Emirates in full throttle truly stirred my soul and provided goose bumps which would not leave me.

    After sitting down in a daze for about 10 minutes after the game, got up, headed to the fridge for a well deserved Guinness and had this feeling of pride and redemption for the lads.

    I still have this haze of pride surrounding me today, but know, I also have a question which has been nagging me for years.

    WHAT IF?

    In this case, “If we had Arshavin coming off the bench yesterday, WHAT IF.”

    Oh well.

  9. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1arobba

    WHAT IF?

    We’d be moaning about how frustrating & lazy he was the same as we’ve been doing all season.

    Absence makes the heart grow fonder or is it amnesia?

  10. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Eddy

    What if Kos’ header skewed wide, what if Rosicky scuffed it, what if Abiatti dived the right way. Whats true at the end of the day is that the team put in a good shift to restore pride and belief.
    I think this season is about consolidation. As long as we keep the ship steady and make it back to port in one piece we will be back to fight another day.

    As a side point, Just as well Ibra doesn’t do auditions, last night when the going got tough the whole Milan team got found out as bunch of diving cheats. Any money suarez ends up there, when he realises Liverpool aint going to the CL any time soon.

  11. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1LMG

    Tim and Chary, since you were right behind the bench I have one question I’ve been dieing to find the answer for: What was up with all that puke on the arsenal bench?

    So far I’ve got it down to Arteta’s woozy head or your shenanigans…lol

  12. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

    Well, first came the win against Tottenham, then the win against Liverpool, then the win against Milan, and then, 6 hours ago my son Ian came into this world.

    What more can you ask for in this world?

    Probably that you continue writing in 5-6 years time Tim, because as soon as he learns how to read, I’m bookmarking this blog on his iPud9*.

    *not a typo, but a guess.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

      @Teampossible, Ian? Really? What kind of Gooner are you? Not Robin or Wojech or even Song Billong? :)

      Congratulations, by the way… your poor missus… two Gooners in the house.

      1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Teampossible

        @JV Mauer, Thanks, I was trying to have him named Arsene, but in my mind that would make him look like the little Leslie Nielsen son in Naked Gun, so I gave up on that idea very quick.
        Besides, Arsenal.com should be very grateful already, I just about ordered every single item from their baby wear collection.

  13. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1NorCalArsenal

    Safe travels Tim. Really enjoyed the ” man at the game” reports.
    Continue to believe and play with pride and 3rd is there for us.
    Play for the shirt, play for The Arsenal.

  14. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1DF

    Are the spuds imploding?
    18 min, they are 1-0 down with a penalty conceded in the 3rd minute…

  15. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Notoverthehill

    Well done, Tim, you have sorted out the malaise that The Arsenal have been suffering from this season.

    As for the Amy Lawrence drivel, what does she know? Why the excuses for AC Milan? Why the mention of that game at the Howard Webb Stadium? Quite obviously, a dumb cluck!

    As for the “stain” on the bench, apparently the Ox has the ‘flu and “threw up” before the game began!

    Onwards and Upwards! COYG!!!

    P.S. Tim, please remember you have a daughter, so do not insult her!

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

        @PJ, I don’t know about their sports reporting, but Bild is a generally respectable paper. Fox and Sky Sports have now picked it up as well, presumable based off the Bild article.

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