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Arsenal Versus Chelsea: End Of The Beginning

chelsea

Three FA Cup finals in four years and a team so consistently excellent that finishing fifth is seen as a major disappointment. What a gloriously happy accident that my seven year old self should have chosen to support the side in the red shirts and white sleeves all those very many years ago. Was I seduced by Alan Hudson’s flowing locks? By Peter Osgood’s bushy grips? Not on your Nelly. Not while Bob Wilson gazed flint eyed from beneath his goalie’s cap, not while Frank McLintock strode the muddy pitches like a colossus, defining my callow concept of masculinity, and never for a moment would the brutish Ron Harris nor the agricultural David Webb inspire or seduce me while Charlie George flicked the lazy fringe from his eyes and strolled with a careless nonchalance from the pitch and into my dreams.

The strand which connects this ageing, aching old man to the bewildered, excited child is unbroken. Nothing else in my life has lasted as long nor enjoyed so many reinventions. The cup final morning in 1971 runs seamlessly forward through cruel uncaring time to this expectant May morning. It is a path littered with noble victories and bitter defeats. From George Armstrong through Alan Ball to Liam Brady the team evolved, my heroes changed faces, shirt numbers and positions but The Arsenal remained constant. From David O’ Leary to Tony Adams, David Rocastle to Anders Limpar, Dennis Bergkamp to Tomáš Rosický the thread has unspooled until here we are today licking our lips at the prospect of watching Mesut Özil and Aaron Ramsey on the Wembley turf in the most hallowed of our footballing traditions, the final of the FA Cup.

Am I really as excited as a seven year old? Is it even possible to compare this creaking wreck of a man with the fresh elasticity of an unspoiled boy? Only in this. Only on cup final morning. And no matter how the machinations of mega powerful international money men nor the spiteful insolence of the modern internet supporter try to force me from the game, I cannot conceive of a cup final morning which won’t matter to me – as long as Arsenal are on the ticket.

Today the ineffable powers which control the football fates have dealt us an unenviable hand. Losing players to injury, suspension and illness in the week before such a game and all of them from the same vital position on the pitch is a wicked doom to befall Arsène Wenger. The re-jigged formation which so altered our league form will now either need to be scrapped or placed into the hands of players unfamiliar with one another’s strengths and shortcomings. Players who will face the champions of England, a side in their pomp, playing with supreme confidence and who’s boundless riches have seen them assemble a collection of the world’s very best.

So can we approach the match with hope in our hearts? Dare we dream of victory? Of wresting back our record from Manchester United? I say emphatically yes. Whatever the shortcomings of our back five in terms of familiarity and match fitness they are still fine footballers. Not only that but the pointy end of our side is producing some of the most eye catching play we’ve seen in years. Aaron and Granit understand each other as well as they ever have, Mesut and Alexis are both at their peerless best right now and either Danny’s pace and guile or Larry’s strength and finishing can provide the perfect foil for both. With Theo and AOC waiting in the wings to provide blistering finishing pace to the game we have no reason to fear the outcome.

So to those of you at Wembley today I wish you may have a final to remember. A day to stitch to the tapestry of your supporting life. A cup final which reaches back to past glories just as it will stretch on into the future. I hope to be back from work in time to join the worldwide television audience. My thoughts will, however, be with my little nephew for whom this game marks the end of his first season supporting the Arsenal. I envy him that leap into the unknown, the foundations of nostalgia he lays today on which his life cheering the boys in red and white will be built.

It’s just another final for us old fogeys but for him this is the biggest match ever. The greatest moment in his supporting life. These years are, for him, the golden age. What a journey he has set out on, I pray it begins in harmony and with a victory.

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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270 comments on “Arsenal Versus Chelsea: End Of The Beginning

  1. Just occurred to me we’ve now got the full set.

    Spurs, Liverpool, Everton, Utd, City, Chelsea have all been overcome now in the three cup-winning years.

    Nice.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. that photo of Ramsey after he scored the winner gave me a thought, the black armband he wore, makes me think the captains armband would look good on him.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Hope you are right Ed….and we should do all that is reasonable to keep those two.
    I also wonder if he may object to SOME of the reported structural changes being fired his way.
    Team Spirit….we cannot be sure, but his remarks on an unacceptable lack of respect seem very pointed. He says they don’t hurt him, but the clubs impeccable standing worldwide. That comment is not aimed at WOB fuckwits , banner boys, or those who commission plane fly byes. The CEO has not only conspicuously failed to back him during hard times, he also gave his infamous catalyst for change talk. Sir Chipps gave his terse statement. Press briefings….reports suggest they demand changes in backroom staff that Wenger may or may not find acceptable…..constructive dismissal if possible at the end of a contract? Whatever the truth, backing for Wenger during difficult times this season from the club has been lacking, and that has been one of my main criticisms of Stans silence…where I come from , if your man or woman is in trouble, you back them, and conspicuously so.
    This may all be bollox, but if there is one iota of truth that some,on the board want Wenger out, there is a danger is they press to hard, they may get their wish.

    But, my last word on this for now, tonite belongs to Wenger and his team, they were magnificent, not easily done from a spatial and artistic perspective, but that team deserve a statue at the ground

    Liked by 2 people

  4. well mandy oddly enough i think that the worldwide standing comment actually more points to the fan abuse, the banners and flyovers make the club a laughing stock. internal matters for me do not really have an impact on our worldwide standing.

    I can see the board bringing in a DoF type, this should only help Wenger, but any forced additions to the coaching staff is a step too far – I’d have no problem with changes to the coaching staff, additions, upgrades etc, but this has to be the managers decision, if its a demand from the board, then Wenger should walk away, nay he should run away as quick as he can. For me there is no place for the managers role being usurped, the choice of coaches, just like the choice of players, is and should always be the managers choice.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. also mandy, re the silence of the board, chairman, ceo, major shareholder, well for me this has always been the Arsenal way, old Peter Hill-Wood was seldom heard, now and again he would give an interview to the daily star, usually to tell silly fans to shut the fuck up. I had no idea who sir chips was until he became Arsenal chairman, and I would have no idea what he sounds like.
    Apart from David Dein, who craved interviews, we have never had an official who sought out the media limelight. Danny Fiszman absolutely hated doing media work.
    By and large, Arsenal FC have a policy of “no comment”, to speculation of any kind, be it new players, staff etc. this might not sit well with the modern media world, but thinking about it, most BPL clubs boards have very little to say, its the managers who are the front men. In fact how many CEO’s or even club Chairmen of BPL clubs could any of us name, or pick out of a line up.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. you know that record from Ramsey today covering the most distance of any player in the cup final, and of course him scoring the winner, well what do you reckon “top pundit” jamie I love liverpool me Carragher thought of his perfromance

    Jamie Carragher‏Verified account @Carra23

    Granit Xhaka playing centre midfield on his own.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. have to say that today’s cup win is probably my favorite of the ten I’ve seen Arsenal win, just about pips the 3-2 79 cup final, I went crazy that day when the winner went in, startled my sleeping dad with my screams of delight, he thought I had gone crazy. Well I screamed with delight again today when Ramsey scored the winner. It made me feel like I was a teenager again so don’t try telling me that the FA Cup is not a major trophy. Proud Gooner.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. Edu
    Your 1:46 video was from AFTV, right?

    Seriously though, snap that into the comments section as soon as A5’s done telling us how Aston Taylor (the effing-C) was entirely biased in Arsenal’s favour (IBSF, ta fins) @10:01.

    Joy.

    Great pics you’ve posted, amusing in-match commentary (no ArsPlaya mistake escapes a rollock-ette, but you keep up with both ref & dump-dits’ shenanigans, and you don’t blame the board/physio/Lawdick/Any-effin-body, as such – for behind the scenes “failures”. (I give Hector at least 7.5. He gave them hell, as well as the ball, a couple of times).

    I was thrilled to see Cech hugging Ooooooosssspina!, Theo dancing joyously, Mohammed (should’ve got at least 5, – one point per minute) – and the fact Arsene put him on.

    Have you seen the beebs highlights? Bunch of bitter so&so’s.

    Danny Morphine”Ah, we don’t want any yellow cards there”, and he criticised someone’s play – ‘don’t be playing like that near the corner’ or summat, and I remembered a video where Henry completely fk’d him up. Or was that Danny Mills?
    (They all play the same to me).

    Good job everyone’s gone to bed, innit doe.

    Rahtid game deh so!

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Fk me, I thought you’d gone to bed. How am I going to get to bed if you keep posting great stuff – whilst I’m psuedo-prosing? Tut. Now I’ll have to see the bloody tunnel-cam. It’s quarter to Fkng 3!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. just so great to see the joy and happiness… hope the team stays together,,, they can build on this!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a beautiful day.

    I missed the game to attend the wedding of the son of one of my childhood buddies. We are all Gooners. Most of the guests were Gooners. Some were live streaming the game on their smartphones during the reception. A roar went up on the final whistle. It was superb. Two of my old buddies are Chelski fans. It was fun being around them. My son texted me during the game saying we were immense. Mertesaker was immense.

    This morning another old buddy drove my wife and I to St. Pancras station to catch the Eurostar to Paris. We drove past the Emirates which looked beautiful in the gorgeous morning sun.

    For security reasons there will be no parade today so it wouldn’t have meant that I would have missed Passenal at the parade. Next time Passenal!

    I was half expecting to see Giroud and Debuchy In the departure lounge coffee bar this morning as I did the last time I caught the Eurostar. No such luck. Never mind off the the south of France for a week.

    Everything in beautiful……

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Saw plenty of speculation yesterday about a clash with Wenger and Gazidis, so just wondering if anyone saw Gazidis during the coverage yesterday?

    Can’t recall seeing him.

    Like

  13. Georgaki

    Nice post to start the day.

    I’m feeling good in Swansea, so goodness knows how cheerful a man who’s off to the South of France is feeling today. Enjoy

    Liked by 2 people

  14. New post up

    Like

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