Excuse me if I suddenly introduce random sections of dialogue or bizarrely inappropriate and entirely fictitious paragraphs into this narrative. You see it’s National Novel Writing Month and I’m attempting to put down an average of 2000 words a day in order to complete the ludicrous task of writing a book in a single calendar month. Penning this little piece in the middle of such insanity is a curious diversion but here goes nonetheless. I thought it only fair to warn you so you will understand if Tomáš Rosický appears to spend an inordinate amount of the match gazing into Santi Cazorla’s smouldering eyes as thunder rolls ominously overhead and dark clouds, pregnant with the threat of rain, blanket the world under a grey and purple bruise.
It’s five minutes in and I leave the novelling to check the match. Already Dortmund have shown their threat. They are pressing us high up the pitch, knowing we like to play out of a tight corner with intricate passes On the one occasion they’ve caught us out they struck with a cobra like swiftness and Per just cleared at the last gasp. We on the other hand are taking up where we left off against Liverpool, closing them on the halfway line hoping to nick it back and move through their midfield with crisp passing. It looks like the perfect contest between two very good teams. I hope the match measures up.
Our undoing last time was, according to Le Gaffer, that we did not want to settle for a draw and in our impatience to get the winner we left ourselves open to a quick counter. I can’t fault the analysis and it would explain why BVB are happy to play keep ball at the back hoping to tempt us out. 13 minutes gone and still all square. Aron, Santi and Tomas look very sharp and Giroud doing his thing of joining the dots but as yet we’ve been suffocated out of it at every turn.
Oh blimey, they nearly scored from a knock down after a free kick just as I was contemplating why there are no significant female characters in my story yet. 11,000 words in and still all blokes. Is it a deep seated and hitherto unsuspected misogynistic bent I’ve been harbouring all these years? Or is it too much time writing about the all male environment of premier league football? We seem to be trying to quieten the crowd, keep the ball and take the sting out of the game – the oldest clichés in the ‘playing away from home in European Competition’ book. To be fair if impatient over enthusiasm cost us last time it is probably the only sensible tactic. Plus when one considers the statistical fact the the overwhelming majority of goals in a football match are scored in the second half, all good teams take it steady in the first to ensure they have enough left in the tank for that crucial phase of the game.
Having said that this Dortmund team are quick and inventive on the break so we need to be at our most vigilant when we lose the ball. Mesut just failed to get onto the end of Giroud’s pass but a little space around their area is at least encouraging. 26 minutes gone I need a cup of tea, back in a mo. If we score while I’m in the kitchen it’s my goal.
I’m back. Look at Tomáš go! He left that geezer for dead. Shame about Mesut’s free kick. Least said I think. And the least said about Mesut giving it away for that counter the better too. Thank God for the elegant genius of Per Mertesacker, he just snuffed out another very dangerous attack. 31 minutes. All square, them on top in terms of chances. I think I might kill off one of my characters soon. I’ve given them all pretty tragic back stories but none of them has actually gone through the final wringer themselves yet. It’s supposed to be one of the tenets of writing fiction that you put your characters through hell at every opportunity.
Christ that was close. Some bloke with an unpronounceable name really should have scored, he tried to place it with Ramsey like calm into the far corner with only Szczęsny to beat but pushed it wide. We need to close down earlier, cannot have Mikel Arteta chasing these speedy guys. 38 minutes gone and Dortmund are treating my heart rate like I plan to deal with a couple of unlucky characters in my novel.
Better. We’ve started getting tight to them around the half way line and cutting out the supply to those pesky forwards. Lewandowski booked for a cynical trip on Aaron, the situation forced by us stepping things up in the middle. We’re trying hard to get the fast one touch stuff going but it’s all just a little rushed, a little stretched and not assured. Right now with three minutes left to half time I’ll take nil nil. Fuck sake, some bloke trying to get Gibbs booked after a nothing challenge. I hate to see that above almost anything else. Beardy yellow shirted twat.
OK so it’s half time and the plot remains much as it was at kick off. We should, I feel forget the sting of the defeat in the match at the Ems and realise that a draw would actually be fine for us. We then need only to match Dortmund in the remaining fixtures to stay top. Unless they go and lose all their remaining games of course then we need to do more than just match them but I’m sure you know what I mean. Gung Ho not the order of the day, of course you need to keep threatening even if a draw is good enough, it’s no good to play for the point and invite them onto us all day. Keep them with half an eye on their back door and you keep them honest I say. I might have a look at Twitter in the break. The wisdom there is anything less than a 10 – 0 lead at half time is always a disaster. It’s part of the English disease. Patience being the most vital commodity in the modern game and the hardest lesson for some people to learn.
49 minutes gone and Per is penalised for the best tackle of the game. Reus’s header is cleared by Szczęsny at full stretch. Would have been horribly unfair after such a harsh free kick. Brilliant save from Szczęsny moments later and then some bloke bangs it in from an offside position. We need to tighten up here, they are passing to each other while we are looping it hopefully in the vague direction of a team mate and that’s making the difference. Arteta is walking a very fine line tonight with this referee, I wonder if he’ll last the ninety. 53 minutes gone, free kick BVB, Reus high and horribly off target.
Still raining outside. Hope it stops tomorrow I’m cycling to work and hate getting wet before I even start.57 minutes gone and Bac has kicked some surf dude in the head. Still 0 – 0.
An hour in and we see one of the most beautiful sights in football as Tomáš Rosický curves a pass diagonally across the width of the pitch with the outside of his boot. Shame Giroud tried to pass through a defender instead of shooting, but oh my! YES! Just as I type this Ramsey stoops to conquer. 1 – 0 Arsenal. An untidy goal and one we hardly deserved but now we truly have something to defend. Just how good a season is our Welsh dynamo having? So often in the right place and putting his head in harms way there as the boots were flying.
64 minutes in and an incredible pass from Giroud to Aaron who for once is kept out by the defender. Per falls like a tree in their area but fails to connect and they nearly undo us on the counter. 1 – 0 Arsenal. My tea has gone cold. This is an excellent rehearsal for the Man U game who surely cannot be as good as Dortmund. No one has closed us down as well as these guys and no one has threatened as they have and I can’t imagine the domestic side that can.
20 minutes to go and we look fresh and sharp now. BVB making a change bringing on some bloke and I assume taking some other geezer off. No – correction, they’re swapping two not just one. We respond with our all action left sided super sub Nacho Man for the tiring Santi who has been back to something like his best tonight.
15 to go and I hope we don’t sit too deep for the remainder of the game. I’m a tired old man and I can’t cope with a long siege. My ticker won’t stand it.
Aaron wins a free kick in promising position but Kos is taken out by their keeper in a hideous assault. Per is absolutely furious berating the ref like a savage electricity pylon but the officials saw nothing wrong with the Kung Fu attack. Down to ten men. Tense times. 10 minutes to go, Kos is OK. Thank God. Or Buddha. Or chemical chance. Whatever, he’s OK.
What I wouldn’t give for a flying Theo to keep them on the back foot right now.
7 minutes to go. My stream goes down. Bollocks.
Found another one but it’s bloody English commentary and they’re banging on about Big Nic Bendtner and how crap he was against Chelsea. The fuck is wrong with these people? OK I have a better one and these guys sound Dutch, much better.
Big Nic on.
1 to go plus injury time.
1 – 0 Arsenal.
BVB’s famous fans leaving early.
Tomáš Rosický off, TV5 on. The rain outside grows heavier. There’s something scratching at the window, I peer through the rivulets that run down the glass, there’s a shadow just beyond the weak pool of light, is it a face? It’s hard to tell, the dog at my feet stirs, an insistent banging noise starts from the darkened garden, the shed door? I can’t be certain. The candle flickers, but where did the breeze come from with all the doors and windows bolted shut? I shiver, I must be imagining things. But it does seem suddenly cold. There’s a creak on the floor board behind me, the dog is snarling now , I turn