23 January 2013

Arsenal 5 West Ham United 1. 

What is supporting a football team about, apart from watching the match?  It is about being with your mates, having fun, sharing experiences.  And just occasionally watching a game that is so enjoyable that you just can’t forget it.

Like the game on this day in 2013 in which Arsenal had 24 goal attempts and Podolski, Giroud (2) Cazorla and Walcott got the goals.

It was one of those “When we are good, we are really good,” moments.  We ended the game against West Ham with 69% of the possession, and 24 goal attempts, with 10 on target.  For 12  minutes we were unbeatable.   Any suggestion of anything else was a mere trick of the floodlights.

As for West Ham’s opening goal – it felt like we had to give them something just to make the game interesting.  At the start the match previewer on the Untold Arsenal blog said it would be a 3-1 win and that opening goal made it seem possible. 

But the game left many questions unanswered.  Like how could Sam (the one with the nickname that relates to his size, he who is now of WBA) put out a team like this?  Yes WHU did some defending in depth, but nothing like the revolting “park the team bus” and “kick the hell out of them” which had led me some years earlier on my blog to describe the tactics as “rotational fouling” and “rotational time wasting”.  Yes they still did high balls and industrial challenges in the nature of the Mr Allerdyce’s favoured tactic, but there were odd bits of footballing adventurousness there too, which was strange to behold.

West Ham tried to play, and really the only sadness in the match was the problems at the away supporters end in the second half.  Of course I could only see from my vantage point at the opposite end of the stadium, so maybe it was Arsenal stewards fighting amongst each other.  Maybe it was nothing. Who knows.

Back with the football, Santi Cazorla’s back flick goal, which crawled over the line at about the speed of a tortoise who has drunk too much meths, was a wonder.   And the promise of Podolski was there for all to see.  He did assists, set ups, and perfect passes and then went through the routine again – whilst getting the equaliser with a rasping shot.  A “Good Man” was the general assessment in the crowd.

So what else happened?

At each match during the season at this time I would always go and order a burger.  Not that I wanted one – I can’t stand them in fact.  But I did it just to prove that they are not available so I could write it up in my blog.  Try ordering a burger 10 minutes before kick off, anywhere in the upper north and the answer was always either a straight no, or you will have to wait 10 minutes. Not much good when one is at a football match in order to… watch the football.

Now since advertising a product you know is not for sale is against Trading Standards regs, Delaware North the purveyors of stuff at the time were, in my view, being naughty.  I told them so, and reporting it, game after game, seemed slightly amusing at the time. It all seems a bit silly now, but I was younger then…

I also used to ask for a cappuccino at half time.  This time, two of the three coffee machines in the area behind my seat had their front doors hanging off.  Only a couple of the people serving knew how to use them – the result was chaos as men with cups and no liquid bumped into men who had got liquid into their cups.  The doors on the front of the machines were slammed shut and sprung open, knocking cups that may or may not have had some form of drinkable solution within them.   That’s how it goes. Watching them helped pass the time, especially when we were losing. Remember Laurel and Hardy?

In fact irrespective of the football the service of food and drink at Arsenal at the time was chaotic, and looking back at my blog it seems we all commented on it quite a lot, so the victory on this day over West Ham was doubly welcome.

But on this day, most thoughts of food and drink it seems were forgotten. Theo moved into the middle at the end, and went off to count the £9.92 he earns a minute – even when he is asleep.  I think I would sleep better if I knew I was earning £9.92 a minute while sleeping. I wouldn’t spend it on Delaware North products either.

And I see in my blog for the day I made a point for the ref.  Very early on Vaz Te kicked the ball away after the whistle had blown.  The ref did nothing.  Later he got booked (at the end of the first half) for repeating the trick.   If the ref had seen the first one, he might have sent the player off – which is not what I want, but kicking the ball away is really a very silly little game to play.  But maybe the ref thought the first kick away was a knee jerk reaction.