For many of us watching yesterday’s epic battle from the Lane in the UK from we suffered the ultimate horror of the armchair fan as the BT signal went down three minutes from the final whistle and a brightly coloured “ We apologise for the interruption – We will be back on the air as soon as possible” popped up. Within a minute the signal was back up in time to see Aaron bursting into the Spuds box and firing over, so it was no more than a moment of eye watering frustration on an afternoon when I had already been pacing to and from and waving my arms in the ‘technical area’ in front of the TV since the 54th minute. The slight advantage of the unexplained broadcasting blip is that the commentators, other than a far distant and faintly mumbling Hoddle, were silent for the last two minutes of the game until Mr Oliver brought proceedings to a close. The missing minute among frenetic 94 no more than a trivial footnote, other than for the unfortunate BT engineer responsible I presume.
Reflecting on the technological anomaly this morning than breakdown was a fair metaphor for our afternoon. Our hosts had, entirely predictably attached us vigorously for the opening 25-30 minutes. During that phase we had, I think, defended well if at times a little scruffily. For half an hour we occasionally got the ball over the half way line but could never keep it there. For al their huff and puff though just once did the home side create a clear chance and my man of the match , David Ospina, palmed away the close range effort. Having allowed their Lilywhite storm to blow itself out we took control of the game, scored a beautifully executed goal with a delightfully clever ball from Hector and a touch of magic from Aaron, and for the remainder of the half there was only one side in it. Our hosts were pinned back and, in their turn, holding on for the half time whistle to re-arrange themselves.
We were out first on the pitch early for that second half. On a foul weather day my impression was that demonstration of sharp enthusiasm was deliberate, goading the home fans and showing we had come for the victory. And so it proved with Tottingham not “gaining any traction” ( I love that cliché) in their efforts to recover a goal.
And then as surely as later in the afternoon some misguided BT engineer brought the broadcast to a sudden halt a left me and a million Arsenal fans open mouthed, young Francis committed THAT FOUL. Off he went, no complaint from either the player, or me. As I said above I started to pace, I Pointed , I shouted, my arms never still. If I had enjoyed the benefit of a fourth official I would have been constantly “at him”, as they say.
As Le Coq trooped down the tunnel, the following message could/should have been posted on screen on behalf of Arsenal Football Club;
“ We apologise for the interruption – We will be back on the air as soon as possible”
Entirely fortuitous though their windfall was Spuds seized the initiative and two goals in two minutes followed. But for a super save from Ospina and the miracle of goal line technology it could have been worse. The second goal from Kane was an absolute screamer. Bloody hell.
But then – but then – just like the BT signal we suddenly switched back on, we stabilised, those few minutes of unnerved disorganisation dissipated and we began to control the game again. We took possession of the ball, we had a shape again. Our passes found their target. Suddenly the ten men of Arsenal were taking the game to the eleven men in white! Did Spuds take their foot off the gas thinking the contest was over – Surely they can’t be that stupid ?
And so, gentle reader, the final phase saw us again I n the ascendancy, a well worked goal from an obviously delighted Sanchez rounded off the afternoon, though not before Gabriel had stopped a few red hearts with a shanked clearance onto the roof of the net – Brazilian humour – he is a card that boy.
Some great performances all over the pitch from our lads, Ospina, Gibbs, Hector, Danny, Aaron, and Mo Eleneny ( what a PL debut!). I would go so far as to say that after a recent “interruption” to service that we are “back on the air” again.
Enjoy your Sunday.