I love watching a good game of football, and thats exactly what The Arsenal and Manchester City(the league champions by the way) served up to us yesterday.
Am I disappointed we didn’t win ? Yes, I always am.
Am I disappointed with our performance? Hell no, I thought we were fantastic.
I really don’t understand how people can suck the joy out of the game. It’s beyond pathetic the way fans ignore the good things and focus on the negatives. Why watch the game if you don’t appreciate the aesthetics of it. Just read the result in the morning paper if the result is all that matters.
Completely against the run of quite superb play we went a goal down. Flamini was at fault and they scored. But don’t all goals come from mistakes? Yes it was a poor goal to concede, but what went before was not instantly erased.
We then scored two wonderful goals and perhaps should have gone on to win. Sadly we let in another poor goal which if not for Wojciech Szezesny’s supreme athleticism in getting a hand to it, Flamini would have nodded clear. A bit of bad luck on top of a bit of bad defending and it was all square.
We then rode our luck for a short spell and in the end I was happy with the point.
Hey, we are unbeaten and looking better, much better, much much better.
Plenty to be optimistic about if you ask me.
Jack was quite simply outstanding.
Alexis is looking every inch the player we hoped he would be.
Danny looks a fit.
Some, like Ozil and Aaron, are not up to their usual ridiculously high standards but I’m sure it is just a matter of time.
I loved the way we played yesterday. How could I not?
Right. below is a bonus from @anicoll5 with his recollection of the fixture some 50 years ago
My heart hoped for the home win, and on the balance of play it could have been. Citeh are however a wily serpent, slithering and striking around the defensive shield and it was not to be.
My head, to its credit, had settled for the draw. As I left the house in the morning, trotted after Steve towards the stadium and finally settled in my seat at 12.40 it was certain the points were to be shared.
How !?! You cry – such certainty of a draw, such a limit of ambition, so little of the Positivistas joie de vivre – it cannot be.
Well it was the cycle of history turning my friends. Fifty years ago was my first game at Highbury ( I know I have bored you with this theme before but stay with me a little longer).
The sun on that day shone in 64, it shone as bright yesterday. I sat on the North Bank, actually on the terracing but as I was by the fence at the back and the ground was half empty it was easy to see the action. It was a time of rosettes and rattles, and dark clothing, men wore dark clothing. I sat yesterday in the North Bank, wedged tightly between Arsenal fans other than when the goals went in and we popped up like a seed pod bursting. Some fans yesterday wore short trousers as they used to be known, clad in replica shirts mostly. In 1964 no adult owned shorts, let alone wore them out of doors irrespective of the weather. In 1964 I wore short trousers to the match (undoubtedly), so Ah – ha.
To be honest fifty years ago watching the tiny figures whizzing round miles away was pretty much beyond me and I suspect my mind wandered pretty soon. I persuade myself these days I know and understand a little more of what is going on, but I am prone to self delusion. Those replay screens have saved me from moments of embarrassment more than once.
And on that day many years ago you know what happened on the pitch ? The opposition scored first, the crowd groaned and tutted. Had I been more mature I expect I would have heard a few discontents muttering about Billy Wright. Our brave Arsenal lads battled back, then late on Joe Baker scored what in my mind’s eye I can still see as an excellent strike from outside the box in front of my North Bank perch to level the contest, and both sides went at it to the end. Some long forgotten referee blew his ceremonial silver whistle and the players exited for a plunge in the communal bath and for our visitors a fish and chip supper on their long, long journey back to East Lancs by stagecoach.
And “So What?” concerning all this misty eyed sentimental reminiscing you ask, what relevance might it have to yesterday’s events ?
Well just to say that I do not think that football has changed very much. Players were exceptionally talented athletes 50 years ago compared to the men and boys on the terraces, and they are exceptionally talented now, another breed. They are dedicated to their craft. If they were not they would be the same as us, and spectators in the theatre.
The geographical origin of players has changed, and it was pleasing to see an old Arsenal player called Johnny McLeod on the pitch at half time (who even pre dates me) talking about how he had persuaded his former Hibernian teammate Joe Baker to sign for the Gunners. From what I saw on the pitch yesterday the joy of playing, the excitement of scoring, and the frustration of letting in a goal has not changed for players or fans. Admittedly the notion of Joe Baker ripping off his shirt after his goal to reveal a perfectly rippling torso would be from another Universe compared to Alexis yesterday, but Joe had his moments, in a 1964 kind of way. Eye contact, manly handshake, firm but friendly pat on the shoulder, you know the form.
That I do not think the attraction of watching a real contest that had lured me to Highbury fifty years ago and has kept me returning year after year, though not always week after week, since has changed very much.
Every single game is a clean slate which will be won or lost by an unknowable amalgam of physical skill, game intelligence, perseverance, organisation and always of luck. Luck in some games consists of a few grains, in others it is delivered by the bucketload.
If football had changed, or the object of my affections had changed then my life may have been different. Nothing has changed, other than the colours perhaps. The flame burns bright. My appetite for the game, for the Arsenal and for the contest is as sharp as it was then. I suspect the hunger may carry on in the future as long as there are sunny days like yesterday, great players, great contests, though perhaps not for 50 years.
I thank you.