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Matchday Photo of the Month: The Draw

By Jonathan Blaustein, Sister Act

At the end of every youth league soccer game, since the beginning of time, the kids walk in a straight line, slap hands with the opposing team, and say “Good game.” It’s repeated, until there are no more hands to slap, nor games to play.

The other day, my son, Theo, had a Saturday afternoon affair. Afterwards, his friend Campbell, who played on the other team, walked down the line, saying “Bad game” instead.

Theo was mortified.

“Why would he say that?” he asked, in earnest.

“Because Campbell is a little shit,” I said, “and he likes to cause trouble.”

Theo nodded in assent. In reality, I might have used slightly more G-rated language, but Campbell is the kid who taught Theo to say “Fuck,” so his low character had previously been established. And the game seemingly ended in a tie, so I can see why Campbell was pissed off.

Here in America, we have an old saying: a tie is like kissing your sister. For us, though, a tie means a draw. It doesn’t mean a match.

Draws are thoroughly unsatisfying, unless you’re Chelsea. Then you feel justified in celebrating like you’ve just liberated Paris from the Nazis. (What’s that you say? Chelsea fans in Paris act like Nazis? Oh. That’s right. I’d nearly forgotten.)

We can now say with certainty that Chelsea are the 2014-15 Barclay’s Premier League Champions. Shall I take the high road and offer them my heartfelt “Congratulations?”

I’d rather not.

Those wankers are so unlikeable, they make Ted Cruz look like Tom Cruise, circa 1989. And did you hear Mourinho’s post-game speech? Tim alluded to it the other day, but really, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

Even though I’m used to his sour-mouth ramblings, he still managed to give me the OMG face. Rather than celebrate, or mention ANY members of his team by name, he went on a rant about how he chose the hardest league to coach in, and other people didn’t. He’s the bravest man in world football, for accepting Roman Abramovich’s billions.

Tim suggested that he was taking a swipe at Pep Guardiola, for choosing the cushy Bayern job. Not to mention that Pep was only taking on a treble winner, with the pressure to improve. It doesn’t matter.

Jose Mourinho proved once again, and for ever-more, that he is the sorest winner and thinnest-skinned-insecure-asshole the world has ever seen. Honestly, he could have sex with Karlie Kloss, and then complain that while she might be the hottest supermodel in the world, RIGHT NOW, there were supermodels in the 80′s and 90′s who were far larger cultural icons, so really, it wasn’t that special.

As to the game, we all knew it would end in a draw. And it did. Not. Very. Gratifying.

But you know what was gratifying? The 3-1 win against Hull City yesterday. Talk about a thorough spanking! More please.

It’s almost as if nobody remembers that last year, Aaron Ramsey was playing like the most in-form box-to-box midfielder in the world. That’s right: in the WORLD. People were saying he was worth £50 Million.

And this year, Alexis Sanchez has been one of the most dynamic players on the planet. His buddy, Mesut Ozil, has within him the potential to do things with a football that most people wouldn’t even imagine. (Yes, that was the third magic flick of the year, by my count.)

Now, what might happen if all three of those guys started playing to their potential, together? Throw in the in-form Santi Cazorla, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more delicious group. A core that’s now motivated, more than ever, by watching John Terry wet his shorts with joy because his team managed a draw at the Emirates.

Speaking of delicious, and draws, once again there is a method to my madness. Even when I’m so off-topic you suspect I might have ingested hallucinogens, I assure you, we’ll get to the point.

Which is this: for the first time, in our last month of Arsenal football for too long, we have a draw for our “Matchday Photo of the Month.” Perhaps it was inevitable, as the biggest theme of the season, in this column, is that kids are cute, and people like to take pictures of them. (The second biggest theme is that Steve keeps trying, but just can’t win. But more on that in a moment.)

Yes, I might not have expected that we’d get all these kid photos, but now that it’s happened, I’m not surprised. We love sharing our passions with our children, and what’s more illogical and passionate than fandom?

My son, Theo, is 7, and doesn’t fancy Arsenal much. Mostly because he likes playing sports more than watching. But Adrian Lightly’s 7-year-old son Theo recently caught his first Arsenal match at Wembley. Look at that scarf. So dashing. And the Spiderman sweatshirt? Adorable. He’s looking at the program with such erudite attention, you suspect he might actually know how to read.

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But then, our very own Tim sent in this cute picture of his daughter helping him prepare breakfast before the aforementioned Chelsea match. Strawberries and cream with bacon? How do you beat that? Really?

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And have you noticed that both pictures are mirror opposites of each other? Compositionally, sure. But one is in the Old World, the other in the new. One’s at the stadium, the other getting ready to sit down in front of the television.

You know what you do when you find two photos like these? You declare the contest a draw, and hope your faithful readers will understand.

So, do you? Isn’t it the fairest option? Just ask (my) Theo. He loves it when his sister deigns to kiss him. Granted, she’s 2, and typically withholds affection, but still. Maybe a draw isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Finally, we get to Steve. Always the bridesmaid. Listen, Steve, I’m happy to publish your pictures. I genuinely appreciate that you keep submitting. But if you want to win one, slow down, take more time on your composition, and pay attention to the light. If you’re not photographing cute kids, you’ve got to bring your A-game.

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OK. We’re done here. And the season is not far behind. Send me some photos this month, and we’ll eke out one more column before the summer is upon us.

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Matchday Photo of the Month #8: Cup and Pie

By Jonathan Blaustein, 80′s Mullet Chief 

I was watching “Stripes” on TV a few weeks ago. I clicked in near the beginning, and couldn’t help dropping into the 80′s time warp for a half an hour or so.

It was so good, I could practically feel my mullet re-growing, and my braces re-appearing, so powerful were the memories of the past.

Bill Murray. Harold Ramis. John Candy. Warren Oates. Sean Young. John Laroquette. The dude from Miami Vice who plays the moron. The all-time-great-movie-psycho-Francis.

That is a lot of talent working together right there. A comedy dream team, if you will. And when you’ve got the right talent, working together properly, all bets are off.

That was remarkably evident to me this past Saturday. I know it was partly a revenge fantasy, after the gory nightmare at Anfield last year, but really, it was more than that. Up and down the pitch, Arsenal were fielding “World Class” players, and Liverpool weren’t.

Say what you will about Raheem Sterling’s potential, but he’s not there yet. And while Coutinho may have ripped off a few crackers from distance this year, he’s no football-genius either. Who from Liverpool’s starting 11 would have made the pitch for Arsenal on Saturday? Mignolet? (Maybe. And he was awful anyway.) Nobody? (More likely.)

I know the haters have begun to hide under their rocks again, save d-bag Peter Wood, but there were many, many doubters over the course of this season. I wasn’t one of them. Why? Because I’m the good-old-voice-of-reason. Remember?

To the few of you out there who still revel in negativity, who refuse to admit how far this club has come in the 4 years I’ve been following, I’ve got a little “thought experiment” for you.

Allow me:

Szczesny, Gibbs, Gabriel, Chambers, Debuchy, Arteta, Wilshere, Rosicky, Oxlade-Chamberlin, Welbeck, Walcott.

If Arsenal fielded that team all season, where might they place? Top 4? Top 6? Definitely top 7.

So the second team, (give or take,) is now better than most of the clubs in England. When I started watching the games, in 2011-12, Andre Santos was an important player. And he looked like he could have eaten Theo Walcott for dinner, and still had room for some Lee Dixon pie.

What’s my point? Do I have one?

If I did, it would be that Arsenal are now poised to repeat as FA Cup Champions. Maybe they choke, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I suspect we’re about 6 weeks away from raising the trophy for the second time in two years.

And then, what will the haters say? That we should have won the Premier League too? The Treble? Let them whine. Because after all those years of people torturing poor Arsene because he couldn’t bring home the silverware, 2 FA Cups in 2 years will be big, big news.

Why do I have the trophy on my mind? Why get ahead of myself? (Am I trying to break the record for the most rhetorical questions in a 7am kickoff column?)

I’m all fired up because on Saturday night, Matchday eve, I happened to catch some Graham Norton on BBC America. Frankly, I have no idea what people think of that guy in England. Is he a goofball? A mainstay? A dorkily-dressed trendsetter? No matter.

My wife and I watch the show sometimes because he gets charming Hollywood guests, there are few things that will hold both of our attention these days, and it gives a shade of European Glamour to our otherwise-boring-lazy-sofa-sitting endeavor.

They play the show here months after it’s aired in England, for whatever reason. He had Jessica Chastain on in this episode, and she really is a ginger fox. But he also had Gary Lineker on the couch, and he brought a friend along.

The FA Cup.

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It was poor form, IMHO, that they failed to name-drop the holders. It never came up. In America, that would never happen. You wouldn’t show off the Larry O’Brien trophy without giving props to the Spurs.

Spurs. Maybe that was it? Lineker, the former Tottenham man, couldn’t help short-sheeting his former rivals?

Whatever the reason, I felt compelled to freeze-frame the TV, and snap off this photo of the FA Cup in all its gleaming glory. So. Very. Shiny.

I’ve got no choice but to anoint this picture the Match Day Photo of the Month. (By default.)

Last month, I gave you guys mad love for raising your game, and sending me some good shit. Premium digital content. But this month, I didn’t get anything fresh at all.

Our buddy Steve, who made the runners-up-list last month, sent in this picture of his son eating a pie outside Piebury Corner. But it was from a game in February.

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And Imran, from Peterborough, emailed in a few pics from the Brazil v Chile friendly held at the Emirates. Now, Alexis Sanchez may well be my Man-Crush-of-the-Moment, but he does not single-handedly turn the Chilean national team into Arsenal.

We’ll include one of them here anyway, as I’m down with supporting my supporters.

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But I’d ask that you guys re-open the channels to your creativity next month. We’ve got a few games yet in April, and then May will be here, after which there will be no more games to play. We’ll cry. And begin the embarassingly-addictive habit of checking the transfer rumor pages 914 times a day. (I feel dirty just thinking about it.)

Email us some good photos this month, unless you’ve tired of my discursive nonsense. Lord knows, Tim, with this run-on-sentence columns, and thoughtful poetry, doesn’t need my help to classy-up the joint. He’s doing a bang-up job on his own. And the rest of the blog-team gives you a natural break from his voice anyway.

So let’s see what you’ve got, readers. Snap some pics, make it good, and I won’t ever have to award myself my own trophy again.

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Matchday Photo of the Month: what’s in an euonym?

by Jonathan Blaustein

I’ve got a cousin named Jonathan Blaustein. I use the word “cousin” in the loosest sense of the term. I’ve never been able to understand the rules, with respect to cousin-hood.

What’s the difference between a cousin-once-or-twice-removed, and a second or third cousin? Really, I have no idea. To me, they each mean people that are related to you tangentially, rather than meaningfully.

I’m really close with my first cousins on my mother’s side. I’ve smoked more reefer, drank more booze, and done more stupid shit with them than with almost anyone else. (Ages ago, of course. Now, I’m a respectable Dad.) As for the younger ones, I view them as if I were an affable uncle: offering advice and support, and discouraging bad behavior.

On my Dad’s side, though, it’s a different story. My first cousin Jeff is a good guy, but we don’t have much in common. His sister, Michelle, is a complete stranger to me. We shared food during Passover Seders, growing up, but that’s about it. Haven’t spoken to her in a decade.

C’est la vie.

Jonathan Blaustein, though, is now a High School student in Mahwah, New Jersey. His Dad was my father’s first cousin’s son, so what does that make him to me? Again, I haven’t a clue. Jonathan’s Dad died of a drug overdose a few years back, and I was genuinely sad to hear it. He was a good guy, taken down by his demons.

Names are funny things. We take them so personally, our names, but they’re just meant to designate one human from another. If we were all named Numbers 1-7 Billion, it wouldn’t make a spit of difference. The purpose would be the same.

(Hey, number 6,323,654, your farts smell like rotting tofu. Might be time to take one of those juice cleanses, and start drinking a little Kefir, OK?)

Where is this all coming from, this rant of mine? You came here to read about football, and a bad comedy routine broke out? Shame on me. Is there a point? As my regular readers at A Photo Editor can assure you: always. (It just might not be a good one.)

This is now my seventh column writing for 7amkickoff, my favorite Arsenal blog. (Sorry Arseblog. You’re a solid second.) I feel like things are starting to come together, as evidenced by the strange co-incidences brewing in this month’s submissions. Not to mention, the volume and quality this round was particularly high. (And I’m not, at the moment. Clean blood, I assure you.)

Our winner, the Matchday Photo of the Month, was submitted by Andrew Luck. What? The super-star quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts is an avid reader? And Arsenal fan? Holy Shit! How cool is that?

What? Did I look carefully at the submission? (Pause.) Oh. Wait. He lives in London, this Andrew Luck. So I guess he’s just a regular dude. Not “The Andrew Luck.”

No matter. The photo he sent in is badass. Not only that, it’s an homage to a classic, old school image made at Highbury. And Andrew was nice enough to point out that Highbury is the stadium where Arsenal used to play. You know, because I’m an admitted new fan. (He wanted to make sure I wasn’t a complete moron, but still, I applaud the consideration.)

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He took this photo to counter claims that Emirates Stadium lacked charm. So not only is it a cool photo, that references a classic bit of Arsenal history, but it’s also an FU to the haters out there. Andrew Luck, I wish you the best in the 2015-16 NFL season. I hope you have better “luck” against the Patriots next time around.

The runners up are really solid as well. This little triptych was sent in by Wojciech, who visited the stadium during the Stoke match. You know, the one where we beat the pants off those goons from up North. I’m really hoping that since I’m mocking the meatheads, some Stoke fan will write in the comments with typical use of horrifying-English-grammar-studded-with-spelling errors. Come on trolls, what have you got?

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Oh yeah, and Wojciech? Is our now-second-string-keeper secretly reading the blog, and trying to get his pictures published on the Internet? I guess we’ll never know…

Next, we have a solid offering from Steve, who took this one outside the stadium on Aston Villa matchday. Really gives you the flavor of the neighborhood, I’d say. Steve, are you lucky? That Villa game was the best we’ve played. Not to mention the total score of 8-0, home and away. We might have to consider you our new good-luck-charm. (Sorry Andrew, couldn’t resist.)

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Finally, yes finally, we have a new photograph from Karl Jende. Do you guys remember Karl? He’s the Gooner from Minnesota, who wrote back to agree he’s got the Absolute Perfect Name for a Minnesotan. You go, Karl. I hope you get yourself a nice, Scandanavian-American hottie one of these days.

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In the meantime, Karl spent the horrid NLD matchday snowcat skiing just up the road from me in Keystone, CO. He sent us another shot, this time of his mates enjoying a group photo. If anything could wash the sour taste out of a Gooner’s mouth, after a crap match like that, it’s some champagne powder on a crisp winter day.

Keep ‘em coming, Karl. And if any of you want a pic featured next month, don’t be afraid to email me. I swear, I won’t bite. As for the other Jonathan Blausteins out there, I make no such promises.

Submit your photos to matchdayphotoofthemonth@gmail.com and let Jonathan Blaustein take a bite out of crime.