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Arsenal Versus Chelsea: Just Arsène meets Violet Elizabeth

Floodlights At West Clewes
A couple of short months ago I wrote to you of a harbinger. Like the early snowdrop suggests the first death knell of another long winter, the removal of the goal posts from our local park signified that the football season was nearly over and summer lurked around its traditional seasonal corner. In what seems the blink of an eye the complimentary bookend to that perennial phenomenon has popped up in the very same park. Just last weekend I sailed down the A367 in my ailing Vauxhall Zafira and saw a group of lads bibbed and booted, balls at their feet taking turns to slalom through a row of slender red and white striped poles; pre-season training, Sunday league style.

Similarly, I was enjoying meandering with my dogs on a late evening stroll catching the last stare from the eye of a setting sun as it burned the horizon into a kiln of deep furnace red, when drifting on the breeze I heard distant, unmistakeable cries lifting from the town beneath me. The voices were carried aloft from West Clewes, home to Welton Rovers and while the ground itself lay consumed in an inky murk a twin row of white pearls glittered, an earthbound constellation distinct against the blackened town made by the floodlights used to illuminate a noisy and enthusiastic rehearsal for the approaching Toolstation Western League Premier Division season.

I’m sure these scenes are being repeated up and down the country. Boots are being dragged from under stair cupboards, football jerseys strained over summer paunches, hamstrings and calf muscles tentatively stretched in readiness for the battles ahead. For you and I there is only one point of focus today. Liverpool’s triumphant pre season victory over HJK Helsinki means as much to us as Exeter City’s use of Arron Davies at right back for their warm up against Torquay United. We have bigger fish to fry. Today is the only summer friendly watched by football fans regardless of the teams involved. The Charity Shield is the closest to a competitive game any side will play before the real blood-letting commences.

The result is irrelevant, and that fact is also irrelevant. This paradox arises mainly from two things. Firstly none of us enjoy seeing Arsenal lose and Chelsea win and secondly Jose Mourinho. The silly little man has been stamping his feet and threatening to thcream and thcream until he’th thick and all and thundry, sorry, sundry, have rushed to give him precisely the attention he so craves whether arguing his ridiculous contentions, belittling or agreeing with them. It’s all one. We as Arsenal fans didn’t need his most recent inanity to want to beat him. His club represents all that is hateful in the modern game and as such any chance to wipe the smirk from his smug mug is to be grasped and enjoyed to the full. To be honest if they brought back It’s A Knockout as a warm up for this game I’d be watching the proceedings with clenched fists willing the Arsenal side to fill their buckets of coloured gunk more quickly than their opponents.

I should probably apologise for this small departure from my usually calm and sober reflections on proceedings. Since the demise of Man United and because of my geographical remoteness from traditional North London rivalries I’ve needed a new pantomime villain and Chelsea just goes out of its way to fit the bill. Rest assured the result today will have no bearing on the league campaign, no relevance to our future performances against Mourinho’s soulless automatons nor any other side and will have no lasting emotional impact upon me. But I really, really hope we win today. If you sense a certain contrariety in my approach to this game all I can offer by way of excuse is this: Life is full of such disconnected inconsistencies and football is no different. Just because defeat in a non competitive pre-season friendly has very little actual venom in it, any triumph of our rivals at our expense still carries a certain sting, and like a schoolboy relieving himself on a wasp’s nest I will take the pleasure but happily avoid the pricks.

So what will happen today? I have no idea. Of course not nobody does. No matter how many of you spend how ever many hours debating the line up and whether it carries hints for the competitions to come, you had just as well argue as to whether or not it will snow on Christmas Day 2022. I do, however, have the ability to analyse previous encounters between the sides and can surmise from those that Arsenal will attempt to play with ebullient exuberance and Chelsea will look to contain and smother and hit with fast efficient counter attacking football. But then, having said that, I can also imagine Arsène sending his troops out to employ a more pragmatic approach like for instance that we saw against Man City lasts season and Violet Elizabeth to throw caution to the wind and prove his critics wrong with a free flowing attacking game of flair and invention. Who knows? After all if you wanted to experiment against top opposition with a little pressure but in a game where the result didn’t matter today would be the day.

The fact that there is such debate as to our best first eleven or the possible permutations for future fixtures speaks loudly as to the incredible depth of talent in the squad. Put simply, it is impossible to name our starting line up. Whichever way you slice it Arsène has assembled a group of players of such an outstanding calibre that more than one man who would walk into any other Premiership eleven will be sat on the bench today and, injury Gods willing, for many matches to come. It is of course the very extent of the squad which will assist with our injury situation. Look how long the manager was able to give Theo to properly recuperate. With high class cover in so many positions there is simply no need to rush a man back from injury nor play him when in the fabled ‘red’ zone. Given that outrageous bad luck with injuries has been the principle if not the sole reason we haven’t won the league at least once in recent seasons this augurs well for the future.

Anyway, I’d love to share more of my wild assumptions and reckless assertions with you but I am taking part in a film today and need desperately to attend to both hair and wardrobe lest I disgrace the Black family name before an adoring Youtube audience. Before I go allow me to make one small suggestion. All this afternoon should really mean to any of us is the chance to see our boys have another run out before the real stuff starts next Sunday lunchtime against West Ham. Of course I know you’re getting a bit excited and I am too, so how about this. I submit that we celebrate in an entirely over the top and inappropriate fashion if we win and shrug it off as an irrelevant pre-season warm up game if we lose. Think about it – it’s win win. The only people who should get bent out of shape if we fail to raise the shield today are the same troglodytes who always come blinking out of their holes after a setback, and they provide us with the perfect distraction while we come to terms with defeat.

It’s a day out at Wembley in the sun for those lucky enough to be there and a pleasant couple of hours in front of a screen for the rest, no more no less. Next week the proper games begin, today is your last opportunity to simply relax and enjoy a match so why not do just that? Before you know it the goal posts will be taken down at the local park and summer will have rolled around once again. The more time you can spend happy in between then and now the better your life will be.

About steww

bass guitar, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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96 comments on “Arsenal Versus Chelsea: Just Arsène meets Violet Elizabeth

  1. Marvellous as ever, Stew. A great start to the day and I thank you for it.

    I can, I’m afraid, be fairly sure there will be snow on that future Christmas Day, simply because I can here now the grandmothers, at the turn of the next century, quoting the old poem “The Blizzard of Christmas Twenty Twenty Two”. It just seems bound to happen.

    Anyway, enough bollocks from me, time for a shower and, as you say above, pull my football jersey over my summers’ paunch. Sadly, the plural summers is more relevant in my case, being some years of consecutively adding to the paunch with negligible attempt to reduce it and mine is but that of an observer rather than a participant of the wonderful game these days.

    Cheers again for the good start. UTA.

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  2. Steve – like you my playing days are long gone. Vicarious thrills for me from now onwards.

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  3. Bravo Steww, immense as ever but though you may have tried to maintain an orderly outlook on the day I’m pretty certain you are as excited as the rest of us. I’ve struggled just to get through this week if I’m honest and I think part of that is my confidence that our boys will give a superb account of themselves against the pantomine villains of west London.

    I will come out and confess that I have always thoroughly disliked the club and if the song was “Stand up if you hate Chelsea”bas opposed to our neighbours in far-flung Middlesex, then I’d probably never be seated. The fact that no-one seems to discuss Spurs these days (or even Man u all that much) suggests there’s been something of a seismic shift in the outlook of our fellow supporters.

    Wembley feels like a home from home these days – what is it now, five appearances in the last two seasons, today being the sixth? As I set off on the local bus for the short hop round the edge of north west London in a couple of hours or so, the opportunity to lay down a marker for the season – just as we did this time last year against Citeh – is too good to brush off as a “meaningless friendly” and this will be true for both managers, both sets of players and supporters alike.

    A defeat won’t be then end of the world for either side, but in a season likely to be hall-marked by fine margins, the sooner one side gets momentum going, the greater, however slender, however ‘psychological’, the advantage will be.

    I’m going with ‘advantage Arsenal’ – and in some style, too.

    Have another great day, Gunners!

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  4. Fuck me! I put here instead of hear. Arse!

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  5. Ahaha brilliant Steww.

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  6. ah stew you forgot one key point, “there are no excuses” for Arsenal not winning today, or so the AAA tell us, its their new “spend some fucking money” soundbite. I wonder what will be there next one

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  7. Beautiful stuff Steww.

    I hear Jose is going to risk Costa’s hamstrings today – just to get another chance to beat arsenal.

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  8. well my prediction for today is that with time running out and the game 0-0, Ozil, Ox and Giroud will be clear in on goal, for some unknown reason Ozil will stop to take a selfie, the ball will break to Ox but again strangely he will be more interested in showing the crowd his six pack, but it will be ok as Giroud will get the ball and head for goal, he will round the keeper, but just as he is about to score into an empty net he will get distracted by a lady offering him some hair product and off he will go to take care of his barnet.
    Roy Keane showed me the reality of this Arsenal team with his wise words last night as he took time out from beating up taxi drivers and generally being the sort that would break someones leg for no good reason.

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  9. Feck me. A splendid piece of writing as ever. Steww has a way of making a bloody football game seem like a literary epic; from images of a slumbering English countryside to the crass ravings of a narcisstic, egotistic, self-absorbed football manager. If anything it is a challenge to our idle brain cells as much as it is to those of us of bulging bellies and aching knees who need to go out more and even take up bloody photography.
    Long may it continue.

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  10. d_c @ 11:58 am: If Maureen risks Costa today then he is even more narcissistic and self-absorbed than we have ever imagine; confirming he is solely concerned about the short term results rather than the long term health of his main striker.

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  11. Wembley’s huge acreage unlikely to do Costa too many favours Shotta.

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  12. Lovely stuff Stew,2-1 to the Arsenal today.

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  13. I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was today’s game.

    Mourinho is as boring as watching a UFC fight pitting two Ju-Jitsu grapplers against one another. I expect to see a parked bus with rotational fouling that goes unpunished until it no longer matters.

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  14. AA @ 1:06pm – Surely playing Costa today is all a bluff by Maureen? If not, he is a megalomaniac who needs to be confined in a mental home.

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  15. Mo will announce Costa if only to try to make us more cautious in our line up; much like effect Theo has on opposition defences.

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  16. Brilliant Steww a grand opening to the grand opening if you like. I too am geographically many miles away today and if I can keep the Mrs distracted enough with holiday shopping then might be able to get a stream to watch parts of the game.
    I hope Jack is just a precaution and he is available for west ham next week.
    I think the most important thing about a win today would be the laying to rest of Arsene can’t beat Maureen line, suddenly the small man will look alot smaller.
    Another trophy would make tomorrow s papers have a warm glow to them, although I won’t get them for a couple of days, and set up the season nicely COYG

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  17. reports that Jack Wilshere misses today’s game through injury.

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  18. Chelsea
    Thibaut Courtois; Branislav Ivanović, Gary Cahill, John Terry, César Azpilicueta; Cesc Fàbregas, Nemanja Matić; Ramires, Willian, Eden Hazard; Loïc Rémy

    Substitutes: Asmir Begović, Kurt Zouma, John Obi Mikel, Oscar, Juan Cuadrado, Victor Moses, Radamel Falcao

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  19. Costalot on the bench. Remy who couldn’t find a way past the BFG with younger legs when at Marseille gets the start.

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  20. Not in AFC squad: Ospina, Chambers, Flamini, Wilshere, Rosicky, Gnabry, Alexis, Welbeck

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  21. Ox for Sanchez, Theo keeps his place. Not so unpredictable as we thought.

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  22. Hmmm. The only surprise in that Arsenal line-up is Giroud on the bench. Interesting line up. It looks like a 4-2-3-1 with Walcott as the sole striker. Seems the boss is trying something new. Intereting!

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  23. “To watch the evolution of the club, I played my little part and I’m proud of that” Arsène Wenger.
    Carlsberg doesn’t do humble but if they did…

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  24. Shotts isn’t it the Cup Final line up with Ox for Sanchez?

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  25. Thanks Stew: top work. Back from the outlaws, TV on – so can do a review if no one else is desperate to do one.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. John Cross is an idiot

    John CrossVerified account
    ‏@johncrossmirror
    If Arsenal win on penalties, does it count as a victory for Wenger…?

    Liked by 2 people

  27. john jensen says Wilshere has an ankle injury and that it could even mean him being months out, that full extent of injury will not be known till tomorrow.

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  28. Wilshere did not travel to Wembley with the team, nor did Flamini(its reported that he is in talks with a couple of clubs over a move)

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  29. Steww @ 2:28 pm – Spot on. Wenger says he loved the way we play in the 2nd part of last season but Giroud was central to that. Walcott up top shows a different emphasis as in the FA cup.

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  30. Ramirez in for cfc to add an extra kicker to their team

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  31. Ramires is such a nasty player. And the referee of course gives nothing.

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  32. Ohhh Walcott almost twists and twines Ivanovic inside the area cutting in from the left.
    Puts on the pressure. And they say he can’t dribble?

    Chamberlian obliges with a fantastic left footed finish cutting in from the right!

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  33. 24 minutes, good flowing move, theo to ox who takes on his man and fires in with his left foot, 1-0 to the Arsenal

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  34. the goal was a bit like bellerin’s v liverpool last season

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  35. Gasprom always due some pressure themselves what with a cool billion on the pitch.

    Come on the Arsenal!

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  36. It’s ok it’s only Ramires with the attempted finish.

    Think he played opposite Özil when Germany tanked Brazil.

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  37. Not that I’m getting ahead of myself, or the game here.

    Hazard doing his bit for Jose down by his own goal line. Let’s hope the gunners can keep him thereabouts.

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  38. It’s ok. Ramires with the half chance again.
    Hopefully Oscar will put in a transfer request this season and further weaken Jose’s rebuilt Mendezian squad.

    Ohhh. Ramsey nearly. A better half chance?

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  39. Wonderful counter by the Gunners. Nearly.
    Ivanovic “the ‘ard man” tumbles under a challenge from the Nacho man for dramatic effect. Typical Gazprom mercenary (there’s another expression people use for Gazprom mercenaries).

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  40. Yup. As if on cue Ivanovic follows up with another dive, this time whilst attempting to get past that giant bruiser Cazorla. Typical Gazprom mercenary.

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  41. HT: Arsenal 1-0 chelsea

    ox took the goal very well, its been a tough game so far, ref letting ivanovic and ramires do as they please. willian causing us problems

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  42. If Gazprom were more ambitious they’d attack the wide areas better, but they aren’t so AFC are holding their form or shape in Deeeefence. But they will find the odd pass such as the one that got in behind Bellerin.

    Another goal or two for the Gunners would be nice!

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  43. Wonderful running by Ramsey for the goal. A pass through the lines by Walcott?
    All very fluid and intriguing.

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  44. All in all a fantastic half of football from the Arsenal in this friendly. Hopefully they can keep it up. Gazprom will probably chick on Costa if he’s in the bench or Falcao now?

    Makes up for the early finish in the cricket!

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  45. Very positive half so far. We already proved we can score even against the parked bus but I am not convinced about our defending. Two clear chances to the cunt, Ramires, who should have done better. Our right side has been opened up too often for my liking.

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  46. The biggest challenge we face this year is keeping clean sheets. That is the key to the title.

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  47. might be a good idea to bring on Debuchy at right back.

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  48. falcao on for cfc

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