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Arsenal Versus Spurs: Raise Your Weary Gloves

I don’t want to write this, and more importantly you don’t want to read it. So as an exercise in futility today’s blog is hard to beat. After Zagreb, the last thing we needed was an hour and a half in the company of the world’s most detestable football club. Like getting beaten up on the way home from work on Wednesday only to find your husband in bed with your sister on Saturday. Not the greatest of weeks. And now we have to think about football all over again.

All we’ve wanted to do, you and I, is push all thoughts of the once beautiful game from our minds and try to find solace in other more tranquil, distracting pursuits. I’ve been indulging in an orgy of regression spending time either reading stories or playing with my friend on our bikes or listening to my favourite bands on my record player. Sadly while this attempt to run backwards towards the womb has managed somewhat to confound the morose patina which has otherwise overlaid and occasionally obnubilated my usual placid state of serene beatitude, nothing can entirely obliterate the image of Mike Dean and Diego Costa from my mind.

How do you distract yourself after a run of sporting disappointments? I must confess I can’t find a path through the woods this time. Ignoring it and hoping it will go away has failed. Taking increasing and frankly ill advised risks on a mountain bike is, for a man of my advancing years, not only an undignified but some might say a disproportionate response. Reading a book is difficult when the words either float from their place and form an image of a shiny headed, useless match official in the air above the page or the letters rearrange themselves into Football Association, PGMOL and corruption, before my disbelieving eyes. Even the anticipation of a new MJ Hibbett album hasn’t stirred me. Is everything lost? Has this proven one disappointment too many?

The answer is I’m still here. So while hope may not be springing in its usual defiance of eternity I am limping onwards and as you’re taking time out from your precious schedule to read these forced, constipated and unwilling thoughts it seems that both of us have survived the standing count and have staggered from our corners to raise our weary gloves and try to make it through another round.

One thought keeps going through my head when I try to look forward to tonight. If only it wasn’t Spurs. The league cup provides us with the perfect scenario, the ideal opportunity to wipe away our disenchantment with the game. At least it ought to. If we have to play again so soon then this is the tournament I would have chosen. It’s the least important of all the cups isn’t it? Traditionally Arsène fields a team full of fringe players of whom we usually see all too little and exciting young talent to whet our appetites for the future. The side has often played with exuberance and a freedom from pressure which has been refreshing to watch and a great antidote to the usual cauldron of anxiety that is the Premier League.

Not against Spurs though. You cannot expect the fans nor the players to take any meeting against their historic rivals and near neighbours with a pinch of salt. Factor in that this is the Middlesex cub’s only real chance of a trophy this and every other season and the stakes are higher than they otherwise would be and certainly higher than I would like. I just wanted a light hearted match with Jeff Reine-Adelaide dancing through the opposition midfield and Joel Campbell scoring a hat-trick. This could have been useful game time at centre back or central midfield for Calum Chambers and a run out for Mathieu Debuchy. The main talking point might have been how will Krystian Bielik and Alex Iwobi look alongside more seasoned pros. Instead it is now being described as a must win fixture.

God I hate that expression. Don’t you? Must win. I know ‘would be more preferable to win’ doesn’t trip off the tongue with such elegance and ease but honestly if any game was a ‘must’ win then how come the club still exists after a defeat? The suggestion of finality the conjuring of the imperative are misleading because there is no apocalypse awaiting us if we lose. It is all part of the football fans’ need the to reach for ever more fanciful hyperbole in their desperation to show how important their team is and how acute their personal commitment to the cause.

I read a Chelsea fan saying that if they lost at Goodison Park it would be disastrous. I repeated the ludicrous comment in an attempt to highlight how other clubs also have their fair share of ridiculous fans. I had hoped to illustrate that it is not only Arsenal that is so blighted with these bufoons. I was immediately taken to task by one of our own who suggested that defeat against Everton would effectively end Chelsea’s title challenge and therefore would indeed be a disaster. Where do you start with such a silly argument? With so many points still in play even suggesting that Chelsea could not still win the league was the stuff of illogic and fantasy.

The real false note ringing out from this argument was the idea that any defeat could be seen as a disaster. Even if it had spelled the end of their title ambitions it would not be a disaster merely, well, merely the end of their title ambitions. If one begins to describe as disastrous a single defeat then where does that leave us when facing that which is truly devastating? Hillsborough, Bradford, Ibrox, Heysel, these were disasters. Tragedies beyond the meagre resources of a thesaurus. If you start exploding the day to day disappointments out of all proportion you leave yourself nowhere to go when something genuinely awful happens.

So tonight is not a must win. Tonight is a hell of a lot more desirable to win than if it had been against a less antagonistic opponent and that detracts from the feet up, cup of tea and a gypsy cream insouciance with which games like this are usually to be enjoyed. But the sun will still come up tomorrow and Leicester will still be waiting for us on Saturday whatever the result this evening.

As I meander through this preview it occurs to me that the answer to the question I posed nearer the top of the page has perhaps revealed itself. The fact that just by pondering upon the match this evening I have started the gears turning once again. The only way to deal with a couple of horrible defeats is perhaps to anticipate another game. All that has passed is prologue. The sting of Zagreb, the burning resentment at Costa and Dean’s Bolero at the Bridge will only fade into the shadows when the floodlights click on in N17 tonight. Rather than dwell, the only thing we can do is to lash ourselves to the bull and open the gate into the arena once more.

There will surely still be rotation in the team tonight. Arsène must rest players after their gruelling schedule recently and who’s to say that a couple of youngsters might not shine, some fringe players make a name for themselves? Remember Cesc against Rotherham? Baptista at Anfield? The greatest league cup tie ever against Reading? How about the youngsters putting six past Sheffield United when Carlos Vela patented his dinked finish; all wonderful entertainment and the perfect curative to Premier and Champions League ills. So come on then, let’s drag ourselves out of the Slough of Despond and allow a little hope to creep back into our lives. Tonight could be a memorable night. Just this once, let it be memorable for the right reasons.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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101 comments on “Arsenal Versus Spurs: Raise Your Weary Gloves

  1. Best thing in the world, when you fall off clamber back on

    Liked by 2 people

  2. As a Spurs supporter I have to admire the eloquence of the author. It actually had me reaching for a dictionary once. While stating from a different perspective it articulates what each partisan body feels.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. Thank you Colin – unlike another commentator who accused me of childish vitriol (!) I hope you saw the humour intended in my piece. The fact is I far prefer a one eyed, utterly committed Spurs fan to a so called Arsenal fan who publicly denigrates his own club.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Look at it this way Steww, if you lose, you can, with some justification say that this competition doesn’t really matter. In an attempt to end the silverware shortage at the Death Star, your leaders elected to concentrate on the devalued, but still worthwhile FA Cup. Smile – you won it twice! Despite boasting a level of managerial stability almost unmatched anywhere in European football, let alone the Premier League, a new(ish) world-class stadium and a war chest that frequently goes unspent in transfer windows, you Woolwich types continue to ponce about in the CL, making up the numbers, and the days when you were automatic title contenders are but a distant memory. Sure, Woolwich have out-performed the ‘Middlesex’ club over recent years, but the road to the top four is a long and error-strewn path without an oligarch to pave the way with coin. Bearing in mind the resources available, your team are under-achievers. That said, you’re a football fan. Chin-up and man up! (Yes – obviously I’m Spurs.)

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  5. I tried to approve the other comment but it has been lost somewhere in the WordPress machinery. I’ll quote it here in full as I actually agree with much of what is said. It’s from ‘Baggyshorts’ and reads thus:

    “Blog too long and full of useless stuffing. Your comments about your close rivals only confirm the writers need to provoke imbecilic hatred. Nobody has too much time for local rivals but this sort of vitriol is childish”

    Baggyshorts if you’re out there I know it’s too long and full of stuffing., Anicoll’s comment sums up the entire thrust of the piece in one sentence and demonstrates with a concise and elegant economy of words just how I pad out a brief thought into one long ramble. But at the end of the day I’m just trying to entertain folk. There isn’t anything much anyone can really say about a football match that hasn’t been said a thousand times, especially a match that hasn’t even happened yet, so I’m left with a blank page every week and nothing to say. Hence all the useless stuffing.
    However I sincerely hope I don’t provoke hatred in anyone.

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  6. Now Simon on the other hand has entered into the spirit of the thing. Thank you Mr Taylor!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “obnubilated” typed Stew

    “Fuck off, Stew” thinks I “you made that up and sneaked it in”

    You didn’t and now I have I word I will slip into cover station down the pub this evening while watching the game. On your head be it, should I get a thumping. “Bugger me pal, we could do with being obnubilated after that”

    Am thouroughly looking forward to this evening’s game, but then I always do. Cheers Stew.

    UTA.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. My apologies Stew – I am afraid I did not consider Baggy Shorts effort worth preserving on the basis that he (she?) had not bothered to read the piece.

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  9. Heck conversation somehow transformed into cover station. As if the system has tried to define obnubilated for me

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am certainly looking forward to tonight’s game although it has been a rocky few days.

    I have attended a lot of Arsenal Spuds matches, and watched most from the Lane over the past 20 years or so and they are very very rarely poor games. Neither club ever goes in to the contest half hearted. Both sides I reckon tonight will put out decent sides with a mix of young and experienced and both will be determined to win.

    Whisper it quietly but WHL, especially under the floodlights, is a great football ground. In the old days, when dinosaurs still prowled the Lee valley, I had many a good night out there.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. He picked it up in Patrick O’Brian I suspect – or google does at least

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Boom! Andrew is in the right of it. Used by Dr McAdam to Stephen Maturin in The Mauritius Command chapter seven when the two are flinging barbs at one another about their respective substance abuse

    “McAdam instantly collected his faculties and replied, “It is the pity of the world, Dr Maturin, to see a man of your parts obnubilate his mind with the juice of the poppy”

    I made a note of the word and determined it should be used. 10 points to Andrew

    Liked by 5 people

  13. Just want to point out that once a post is approved, that poster is free to post anything they want, anytime they want.

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  14. Have no fear George, Messers Taylor and Colin SC will pop up no more than four times a year assuming we meet them in all the cup competitions. And as Steww points out a bona fide Spud supporter is a thousands times more welcome than the many half-hearted, two-faced gooners who undermine their own team using the same language as Mourinho, Gary Neville, Piers Morgan et al.

    Not to detract from a damn good post by Steww who has totally eviscerated the stupid fear mongering and emotional blackmailing by the media when it comes to a wobbly period in our season. They exploit our natural anxiety for our team to do well, which is akin to the anxiety of a parent who wants their child to do well in a school exam or test. Is it a must-pass? Will it be disaster if they don’t make an A, B, C, D or Fail? Of course not. Win-Lose or Draw, they remain our child and we use the experience to achieve positive things, at least that is the case of all normal parents.

    Liked by 4 people

  15. George – I thought you welcomed posters from other clubs here, as long as they play by the rules. Apologies if I’m out of line but I welcomed the feedback to be honest.

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  16. Theres nothing like being baited by the Pullet flea kids.Must be due to listening to Chas and Dave all day long.

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  17. Indeed, shotta-gooner, I’m sure under normal circumstances, your point about Spurs supporters posting on an Arsenal blog occurring only a few times a season would be spot-on. However, as this one seems such an island of erudition in an otherwise largely stormy, sparsely-educated, ill-informed and often downright ugly sea of spleen venting, I may find I’m compelled to visit and make you feel bad about your team on a more regular basis. (While I’m here, is there a limit on how many hyphens I can use in any one post?)

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  18. ” I may find I’m compelled to visit and make you feel bad about your team on a more regular basis”
    we don’t allow that from Arsenal fans so you may find this an unproductive course of action.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Simon Taylor @ 12:17 pm:
    Am glad you concur with us that this blog is an “an island of erudition in an otherwise largely stormy, sparsely-educated, ill-informed and often downright ugly sea of spleen venting”
    You will however find the door firmly shut should you visit to make us ” feel bad about your team on a more regular basis.” Surely a visitor should display good manners. In the past we have had a Spud visit us frequently and even make a guest post. We have had no problems with the opposing view. It is the tribal, nonsensical extremes from even our fans that we oppose.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Ah, Steww! I can always look forward to your entertaining write up every match day. Insouciance, obnubilate…them words had me scrambling for me dictionary. We learn every day (at least, I do).
    Paragraph 7 totally nailed it! I guess the more words I put down would only serve as expletives to the already exquisite post. I have no such intentions…save to wait for 7:45pm!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Steww and shotta-gooner: rest assured, I don’t do “tribal extremes”. That kind of thing is what I was referring to with the phrases “ill-informed” and “downright ugly”. If I post anything that causes a pang or two, I’m sure you’ll let me know. By the way, don’t feel weary. Obliterate the haunting images of Dean and Costa – if you haven’t already – with the righteous indignation of knowing you were cheated. Nothing more or less. You suffered really only one disappointing result, and one shameful, unedifying 90-minute circus of cheating and ineptitude. As you’d expect, I rarely side with the Gooners, but we all know that if it’s someone else’s team this week, it’ll be your team’s turn next.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. So GN thinks Costa’s 3 match ban is too harsh.
    Him and José then.

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  23. Thank you for that Simon. We do a bit of pantomime Spurs baiting here and one or two North Londoners feel the rivalry more keenly than others so I can’t promise you’ll enjoy all the posts. However, it’s good to chat with a fellow football fan capable of rising above the dirt and joining hands across the divide in a thoroughly agreeable detestation of Chelsea.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. GNev is the perfect antidote for those who think the leopard can change its spots. As the heir apparent to national team coach Roy Hodgson, with his remaining neanderthal ideas, I shudder for England’s future

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  25. We always want to read a Steww Black post.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. I’ve yet to meet a spud who hates our Club as much as your average AAA/WOB does.

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  27. Ah DK – but Jose thinks his man showed superior “emotional control” on Saturday in the lunchtime game – mad as a bat

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  28. The Sun publishes a gutter level piece about Arsene Wenger’s private life 24 hours before a Derby game?
    Yup, entirely believable stuff.

    Liked by 2 people

  29. The Sun publishes a ‘gutter level’ article ?!??

    Tell me it ain’t so DC !!!

    Let’s face if the ever so humble Murdoch or one of his stooges ever published an article that wasn’t mired in grubbiness and falsehood then it would be rarer than rocking horse shit.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. The phrase ‘must win game’ is a pet hate of mine but happy to consider Stew’s pre-match musings ‘a must read blog’.

    I know numerous fans of Spurs, United and Liverpool but none from the Fulham bus stop. There are countless numbers of Arsenal followers I’d happily avoid unlike my friends from other clubs who are generally happy to have a football conversation rather than a slanging match. And I’ve always found the perspectives of rival fans a fascination, largely because they are generally more positive about AFC than most of our own fans, as intimated above.

    Looking forward to tonight though I’m not sure how many youngsters will make the cut as so many of our best are on loan (or injured, Jeff).

    Enjoy the game all (even you Tottenham types that have sneaked in round the back of the blog!).

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Tribal extremes?

    Having lunch today at the Lilywhites sandwich bar on the High Road today of all days was extreme. (Passing through N17).

    They’re a lovely couple who run the cafe. However that never stopped me reminding them what a fraud Levy is or how poor the speculative signings of two seasons ago were, assuming those players were not just all bought as Mules anyway (hence the fraud bit).

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  32. Thanks steww.
    If you are a professional athlete then surely every game or match or contest is “must win”? Sounds like more gibberish from the groaning ninnies to me.

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  33. another Steww post which kicks me up the arse and gets me going again. I dont think it was just the defeats which haunts us but the manner. I felt like whats the point were never going to beat chelski if every year the ref makes such significant “mistakes”.
    Anyway onwards and upwards to tonight and yes we would have all prefered wasall at home but someone else bought that one so we’ll just have to take the difficult game instead. At the end of the season leicester may turn out to be the more important game but right now tonights the night.
    Win tonight and everything in the garden is rosy again so COYG

    Liked by 4 people

  34. Think that was Young Guns Hayden and Akpom’s first victory over PL opposition last night, a second string Swansea XI, ex-gunner Bartley starting for the swans.

    Still, must’ve meant the world to them. And I’ll take it as a good omen.

    AMN to score the winner against ‘LVG’s red army’

    Come on Arsenal!

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  35. At a guess Hayden appears to be playing in CM and not as the D**M of Hull, or his preferred position of CB but anywhere will do at his age as long as he’s playing it’s all good.

    I’m still offering odds on Hayden as 3rd or possibly even 2nd choice DM next season if there are any takers.

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  36. Arsenal U18’s beat spurs U18’s 5-3 today, after being 2-0, and 3-1 down

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  37. Gnabry starts for WBA v Norwich

    Alex Iwobi has been called up to the Nigeria senior squad for the first time for the upcoming friendlies against Congo and Cameroon

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Great to see Campbell get a start. Don’t think I’ve actually seen him for more than 10 minutes at a time in a competitive match in an Arsenal shirt. Good strong bench too.
    COYG

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  39. I love Mathieu Flamini

    Liked by 1 person

  40. 25 minutes, ox with a powerful shot that the keeper fails to hold and Flamini rams home the rebound. 1-0 to the Arsenal

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  41. Still love Mathieu Flamini

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  42. I do like the look of young Campbell too.

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  43. The rise of ‘ector Bellerin has been a joy but Mathieu Debuchy looks like a shadow of his former self.

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  44. Arteta, Flamini and Debuchy all booked

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  45. Their best player is Danny Rose. Can’t work out if that’s an indictment of them or us.

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  46. And it is a warning to any of you out there with hair and contemplating dyeing it ginger

    HT – great stuff

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  47. HT: spurs 0-1 Arsenal

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  48. Patrick O’Brian, I have always thought, missed a trick or two!

    Alexander de Humboldt and his companion, compiled 3 sets of specimens and other articles too numerous to mention. One set was always destined to be sent back to Spain by ship. Five years in the Americas and the intrepid explorers had to resort to many exports to Spain.

    Unfortunately, the pirates of the sea (British), were barbarians and cast the Humboldt collection of specimens, aside as being of no value.

    Dr Maturin, would of course, have known better.

    A match is on…. COYG

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Calum is having a good game. Quietly effective.

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