It’s been an interesting week. Somehow predictable and yet at the same time filled with the unexpected. Take our most recent match as an example. Given the relative points differential between the two sides at The Emirates on Sunday, what transpired was, in the strict definition of the word, a surprise. We ought not to have been capable of the utter domination with which we subjugated the barbarian horde in the first half. Surely they, being champions and many points to the better, should have strolled around us passing with an élan and a freedom befitting the greatest team in the land. An uninformed impartial Martian must have assumed that the boys with the artillery on their shirts were the pre eminent team. A surprise also that Phil Dowd should actually caution so many United players who were after all only following in the time honoured tradition of so many Ferguson teams down the years and kicking their irritating ‘foreign’ opposition into submission. You could actually see the confusion on their faces when the rules of the game were, for once, applied. A surprise also that we conceded a goal after a mistake from the hero of the battle of Sunderland and one of our single most reliable, dependable servants. Also a surprise that he should fail to realise that no matter how well he recovered and how perfect his tackle, you cannot be that close to a top Premiership forward with Robin’s experience and get away with a sliding challenge, even one as sublime as that off with which Bacary pulled.
Then came the predictable. Firstly, and most regrettably was Man United coming away with more than they deserve from a match against us. Neither was there an iota of surprise that the little Uzbeck incubi should scurry to their keyboards and do their master’s bidding. Proclaiming this most recent continuation of our phenomenal unbeaten run as some kind of proof that we need to replace our leader would make Orwell blush. And of course no surprise whatsoever that the Usmanov stories then reared up in the press as we all assumed they would, aimed purely at destabilising Arsenal football club as the most crucial part of our season is in the vinegar strokes.
One of the surprises I didn’t mention was how much I enjoyed the match on Sunday. As you know I can’t usually stomach our meeting with the red Mancs but I found by looking away every time the camera panned onto that poor unfortunate old drunk on the away bench it was rendered a thoroughly entertaining affair. The two differing football philosophies are actually well matched when both are running smoothly. United’s success is largely built on their coach playing a way with which he is so familiar that he has rubbed it down until it shines and greased every nipple until it runs with a silent, ruthless efficiency. Helped by the most brazen one sided officiating imaginable of course, just ask yourself how many red cards they received this season. Some of the playing staff may change but SAF just slots them into a system he has honed to a knife’s edge. Of course it also helps when you can afford to keep players on high wages long after others would have to offload them. Arsene too knows what he wants from his players but it seems sometimes to me to require an incredible level of skill, intelligence and group awareness for them to pull it off. When it all comes together however it is a wonderful sight to behold, and is, as the champions discovered, simply irresistible. It was Cavaliers and Roundheads doing battle on Sunday. Just the perfect match up in many ways and no surprise that honours were even in the end.
I referred earlier to the deliberate placing of ridiculous stories designed with the sole purpose of undermining and derailing our challenge for that vital and much sought after top four finish. This is just one example of the great British sport journalist at work. Chasing any story, no matter how silly, and no doubt being fed what someone else decides and when they decide. I shan’t go into it, it’s tedious in the extreme. They did the same thing before the North London Derby and we all know precisely what their game is so bollocks to them. When I come across somebody who believes this garbage and goes on to base their opinions on such spurious nonsense, I am reminded of the PG Wodehouse line that they are to be pitied rather than censured. Such inadequate individuals obviously need help and here at PA we believe in trying to assist those possessing, shall we say, putting it kindly, a lesser calibre of argument. They require and I suppose deserve to be shown a better path, the path to enlightenment, but if they won’t take that help then I have no interest in them nor their so called support. As Officer John Cooper says in Southland, ‘Ask them, tell them, make them’. My technique for dealing with useless online Arsenal fans is, however, more breviloquent than the LAPD’s approach to recalcitrant civilians. I’m more an ‘Ask them, unfollow them, block them’ kinda guy. Well come on, seriously, life is just too short.
OK so that’s the recent past, I wonder, to what can we look forward? Another weekend approaches and here in the UK we will all be Morris dancing, crowning the May Queen and taking Monday off work. I am off for my regular rest cure of peace and tranquillity and the gentle lapping off the liquid mud of the Bristol channel. But what about the rest of you? I presume a nail biting wait for the late kick off on Saturday afternoon beckons. I’ll do my ‘appy ‘arry preview on match day, and if I clamber to the top of a cliff and wave my phone above my head I may even get a strong enough internet connection to be able to post the damn thing. In the meantime I’ll content myself with anticipating a display from an Arsenal side bubbling with confidence instilled from a performance where they easily matched and often humiliated what is supposedly the best in the land. I hope on this occasion we see no surprises and that all runs true to the form book. I of course should have arranged my sojourn by the sea for the following weekend as a glance at the fixture list shows that we have no match until the 14th of May. This is for no reason obvious to me. And of course that’s a bloody Tuesday which means no one will be listening to my radio show either. I tell you even being just a lame armchair fan requires a hell of a commitment sometimes, I suppose I’ll just have to play some Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Their tracks usually last a good twenty eight minutes or so. Unless of course you know any other artists famous for lengthy tunes? Let’s chat about it shall we? After all we’ve bugger all football to talk about for a couple of days. It’ll be good preparation for the dreaded close season. I cannot even begin to imagine filling these pages when that bleak time comes upon us. It’ll be like the five year winter in Game Of Thrones. With possibly a little less dwarf sex. Maybe we could work out some internet versions of those games your Dad used to invent to help pass a long boring car journey and keep you from giving your sister Chinese burns. You must have some. I recall Pub Cricket, I-spy, some complex thing involving car number plates and colours the details of which escape me now and in all likelihood did back in the days of Datsun Cherries and hot plastic seats. Suffice it to say, June and July, footballistically and bloggily at least, are a prospect to which I do not look forward with any enthusiasm. But I suppose we have plenty of time to worry about that later, I’m sure in any event George has a plan for the long empty summer months which are drawing ever closer. In the meantime we have just two hundred and seventy minutes of our precious Arsenal left. I can’t believe how quickly it has passed. Another season nearly gone and if Andrew’s inside knowledge is correct it could be Arsene’s swansong.
Lumme, now that is a depressing prospect. I-spy anyone?