Tag Archives: Arsenal v. Blackburn

crocs-bayern-munchen-fc-beach-red

Arsenal 0-1 Blackburn: pajamas and crocs

Arsenal slipped out of bed and padded to the kitchen to put on the kettle. She rinsed her favorite mug and fished in the cupboard only to find that she was down to her last bag of tea.

Not a problem, she thought, one cup would be enough to get the day started and feeling full of that famous British resolve she walked triumphantly to the fridge to get the milk. The carton was there but as soon as she lifted it from the shelf she knew it was empty. “Paddy…”, she said under her breath, and just then she envisioned him drinking straight from the carton, tipping it all the way back to get the last drop. Standing there bathed in the light of the open refrigerator door, he probably held the carton over his head and danced around like he’d just won the FA Cup against United on penalties. Then he closed the lid and put the carton back on the shelf, shutting the door with a little grin.

One cup of tea to start the day was one thing but not having milk for the tea was another matter entirely. There was nothing for it but to go to Sainsbury’s and get some supplies. Milk, a tin of biscuits, and perhaps some chicken for dinner.

She slipped on a pair of Crocs (with the fur inside) and looked down at her pajama bottoms. The thought crossed her mind that perhaps going out in public wearing pajama bottoms and Crocs might not be the most dignified way to go shopping. “Folks need to be respecting themselves and not going in public looking like they don’t care about their appearance.” is what her father would say any time he saw someone wearing even sweat pants in public, he would probably have a word with a young lady if he saw her wearing pajamas. But Arsenal looked at her pajamas with their cute little hearts and thought “no one will be up at this hour, and besides, I can pull this look off. It’s all about attitude!” And with that Arsenal tucked her hair up under her hat, blew herself a kiss in the hall mirror, and breezed off to the supermarket.

Sainsbury’s was brightly lit, the food all lined perfectly, but ultimately as dull as one expects from a chain grocery store. There were a few other shoppers, some of which gave Arsenal a look but she just shook them off and stood in aisle 5 taking her time picking out the perfect biscuits.

Arsenal looked through all the different cookies Siansbury’s had to offer. She couldn’t just pick any brand, she had to read every ingredient; the biscuit needed to have some fiber, some whole grains and not too much fat. They couldn’t have too many carbs, no high fructose corn syrup, and certainly no preservatives either. She stared at each package in turn, picking it up, looking at the packaging, then the ingredients and then picking up the last package and comparing the two.

This went on for an age. 80 minutes in real time but to the people working at Sainsbury’s it seemed more like time had frozen around this poor woman. Standing there in her pajamas staring at biscuit tin after biscuit tin, getting slightly excited about one and putting it in her basket before taking it out and comparing it to the next.

After about the 80th minute, a man walked by the biscuit aisle, turned and walked back to check if he had seen what he thought he’d seen. He cocked his head, furrowed his brow, and walked straight at Arsenal, who was standing there comparing the Newman’s Own Oreos to the Mother’s Circus Animal cookies.

 

“Arsenal?” His voice crept into her conscious like a velvet fog. “Arsenal… Arsenal.”

She turned and there was Jack smiling at her but looking down at her with concern. Oh Jack, she’s carried this torch for so long and and here he was freshly showered and well put together with a nice sweater and pair of expensive jeans. He even had on a pair of nice suede shoes.

“Jack, love, just picking up a few things. How are you?” She tossed the Mother’s cookies in her basket and flashed him a smile but it wasn’t the confident, poised smile that Jack was used to seeing around the neighborhood. This was the toothsome grin of woman who felt unsure.

“You doing ok? You look a little…” his voice drifted off and he looked down at her pants.

Arsenal was flushed. Suddenly self-conscious, she looked up at Jack and just smiled again, “I’ve got to get home, mother’s sick and I’m here just getting some things.” And without another word, she spun around and turned down the aisle toward the cashier. It was as if she suddenly had an urgency and purpose to her day.

For the last 10 minutes of her time at Sainsbury’s Arsenal didn’t even stop to wave goodbye to Jack, she just picked item after item and walked purposefully from one task to the next. Arsenal saw Jack in her peripheral vision and she could feel him staring at her, but she didn’t even look at him.

When she got home, Arsenal stopped and looked at herself in the hall mirror. It was exactly as bad as she imagined. “I shouldn’t have gone out like this.” She said to no one. “Jack’s never going to forget that.”

She took the bag of groceries to the kitchen and put the kettle on again. Dad was right, dad is always right she thought as the kettle started to warm up. Folks need to be respecting themselves and not wear pajamas and crocs in public. It takes just a few more minutes to put on a dignified display.

Pants. I wasn’t even wearing pants. Jack must have thought I was a crazy person.

She pulled the biscuits out of the bag and set them on the counter. The kettle went off and Arsenal poured the hot water over her tea. As the tea steeped she walked to the fridge to get the milk.

The milk. She forgot the milk.

Qq

Henry's last goal on Arsenal home turf?

Snowstorm

Orange snow clouds rolled in, unburdened themselves of their heavy load, and a hush fell over the busy streets of London. People who would otherwise occupy their minds with the grind of life stopped for a moment, put on a pair of their warmest shoes, and went outside.

They formed snowballs first, to throw at their friends not in anger but in relief. They looked up at the sky and marveled at the way the night light of the city reflected off the thick clouds. Reflexively, they stuck out their tongues to catch a flake. They slipped and fell and got wet in places which would normally ruin their day but would now be ample excuse for a warm cup of cocoa.

Everything around them is covered in a layer of perfectly constructed frosting which hides every imperfection. Cracks are covered, the city slows down and gets quiet, and the grime that you see every day is whitewashed.

For those of us who get a snowstorm just once a year, which lasts for just a few days before melting away down the drain, it’s a moment to stop, breathe, and just enjoy life. And so it was auspicious that such a storm would arrive in London on the very day that Arsenal put seven goals past Blackburn. Seven goals that overturned Arsenal’s 8-2 defeat to Man U. Seven goals that kicked off the career of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and caused the manager to compare him to the very best players. And seven goals which featured Thierry Henry scoring the last goal of the day, in the final minute, of what should be his last game in front of the Arsenal home crowd.

This season for Arsenal fans has been difficult, to say the least. The 8-2 loss to United was a breaking point for some and the “Arsene Out” brigade gained many new devotees both inside and outside the club that day. I’ll never forget the announcer on the television that day saying “this is Arsenal they are doing this to” his voice filled with a mixture of horror and exasperation.

For the first time I can remember, season ticket holders are now selling their seats for less than face value. I’ve even seen Arsenal booed by her own fans before but never the way that the manager was booed when he subbed Arshavin for the precocious Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. And the press seem to be fighting over who can publish the more outrageous claims of Arsenal’s demise.

Yet the faithful remain ever vigilant, ready to take up arms when needed to defend the club from constant attacks. This is a club in transition at a very turbulent time in the history of the game, they rightly point out.  This is a time and a League in which a very small talent pool is made even smaller by clubs like Manchester City who keep the world’s talent locked up in their harem. And this is a manager who has and always will have a long-term outlook for the team.

But some of us fans want it all. We want the manager to leave Oxlade-Chamberlain on the pitch when he’s having a good game and yet we also want to blame the manager for overplaying him and the inevitable injury that causes. We want the club to buy three world class players for every position and we also don’t want ticket prices to go up. We want the manager to buy but when he does buy and gets it wrong we want him to cut loss and sell, compounding the cost. We want exciting young players but we don’t want them to be paid the salaries that get them to sign for us in the first place in case those young players turn out to be duds. We complain about squad depth and yet you see Blackburn eviscerated whilst missing just two key players and Arsenal keeping Chelsea within reach whilst missing arguably six key players.  On and on, we spin endlessly looking for reasons and solutions to the problem. A problem that we can’t even define very well much less solve.

In those moments it’s good to have a snowstorm.

Qq

Man at the match, Chary: Rovers given a spanking by rampant Arsenal.

A Blackburn side without their two main pillars of attack and defence (Yakubu and Samba respectively) where dismantled by an Arsenal attack that were unrecognisable as the one that failed to score at Bolton earlier in the week.

Having kept an eye out for legions of spectators making their way to Ashburton Grove with bin bags and seen none the atmosphere before kick-off was subdued due to the near freezing temperature and the early kick off.

Wot no bin bags ?

Wot no bin bags ?

Your humble scribe even omitted his pre match Peroni’s as necking lager at noon didn’t feel quite right, in any case a hot drink would have been more in order to stop the teeth chattering.

The only surprises in the starting XI were the omission of Sagna (perhaps due to his comeback being managed with caution) and the continued starting of Robin, although to be fair he would have a week’s rest before the next fixture; the resting of Ramsey was less of a surprise as he had looked tired towards the end of his last few games.

Viewing from behind the clock end goal the away support seemed, like the home crowd, filled their quota to around 80% and seemed a respectable turn out especially considering their relegation battle and the supporter-Board of the club struggle.

Northern monkeys penned in

Blackburn supporters

Barely had we taken our seats then Theo rampaged towards my line of sight to the left of “Chunky” Robinson’s goal and slid in a straight forward cross which Robin ran onto and slotted in, easy as you like.

A quick fire start

A quick fire start

One nil down inside 90 seconds and the away support became even quieter.
The Blackburn midfield had offered no protection for the back line and the early attack cut through the defence with ease.

From thereon in some jolly jokesters in the Clock End decided to heckle Chunky with (in a parody of Robin’s song):

“He eats when he wants,
He eats when he waaaaants,
That Paul Robinson,
He eats when he wants……you fat bast**d”

Sitting behind him for the first half I noticed Chunky’s nervous tic of kicking his right foot against the post and looking at the sole of his boot to ensure there was no mud on his studs, before he would take a goal kick that always landed near the right touchline, level with the centre circle.

Arsenal continued to probe away at a Blackburn side that struggled to gain any meaningful possession of the ball so it was against the run of play when a rare Rovers foray up field resulted in a free kick following a Kozzer pull back on Modeste, I think it was.

Those around me muttered their expectation of an equalizer, which Pedersen duly supplied.

Now the press may have been rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of another half time booing of the home team off the pitch, but 5 or so minutes later another Theo surge down our right flank resulted in another assist for Robin and the lead was restored, much to the chagrin of the hacks ready to paint the Arsenal support as fickle and petulant.

I saw no dissent or protests of any sort, trash/bin bag related or otherwise; however with the way the game panned out perhaps that is not surprising.

While Theo did not score he was creating almost as much havoc on his wing as Oxo was on the left – the twin wing menaces were giving the Blackburn full backs an unnerving time all through the game – and two assists will have done his self-confidence wonders.

Theo shows some leg ?

Theo sets up RvP's 2nd goal

Almost straight after we had started goading the away end with “You’re not singing anymore” then Oxo crowned a stand out first half performance with a debut premier league goal after he rounded Chunky, following a Robin through ball, and showed composure beyond his years to slot the ball home.

Oxo's 1st goal celebration

Oxo's 1st goal celebration

3-1 nearing half time and Rovers already looked a shattered side although to be fair their supporters still tried to keep their spirits up with a near constant refrain of “Barmy army”

However all spirit seemed to drain from them when a few minutes after Oxo’s goal Givet was off for an early bath, as Eddy Waring may have said, for a crude lunge on Robin, one which Robin took some of the sting out of by managing to hurdle some of the flailing legs of the Frenchman.

The red card and all the yellows were fully deserved as Rovers were a fairly cynical side, giving our players a nudge whenever they were following the flight of the ball onto their head; however referee Mariner spotted most of these offences and had a fairly decent match.

Note, we were 3-1 up BEFORE the sending off so don’t believe any pony (pony and trap, crap) about the red card being a pivotal moment.

It was still an anxious wait for Robin to recover and prove there was no lasting damage done and the first half ended with the Gooner faithful very happy, if rather frozen.

The second half started with a spell of dainty possession for Blackburn, with which they produced no significant attacking intent and soon enough we increased our lead thanks to a rare long range shot from Arteta after a half clearance following one of our endless number of corners.

Theo then produced his third assist of the game to set up Oxo for his second of the game and confirmation that he had arrived – are we seeing a legend in the making? Too early to say but the possibility is mouth-watering.

A present day legend however sealed his hat trick after receiving a cross from the willing Coquelin and slotting in effortlessly for his third of the game and the cue for the Rovers fans to start drifting away at 6-1.

Those that remained did show a sense of humour in “Oleing” whenever their team could string a few passes together as Arsenal inevitably eased off in the intensity of their attacks after the 6th goal.

Some more action in the Rovers penalty area led to what, even from my view at the opposite end of the ground, looked like a decent shout for a penalty however at 6-1 we could afford some largesse to the referee and his linesman and lineswoman.

Oxo and Kozzer were taken off so there was time for the re-introduction of another legend (and for Sagna to continue his comeback) and with the sense of theatre we expect from the great man Thierry Henry duly obliged with the 7th goal in front of his beloved North Bank.

His upward twisting, pirouetting goal celebration shows that his 228th goal for Arsenal is as cherished as his first. As he left the pitch and the sky darkened and looked ready to start sleeting at full time one could sense the NY Red Bulls player was savouring every moment he could in his second chance to play for the club he loves.

TH12 claps off the pitch

TH12 claps off the pitch

Charybdis1966

twitter @charybdis1966