It’s week two of my LadyArse tenure, and the amount of newsworthy Arsenal material remains as voluminous and unrelenting as ever. The week started with the most horrible of footballing days against Liverpool where everything seemed to go wrong; and retained its downbeat nature as Nasri made the switch to Manchester City, all the while smoking up with hundred dollar bills as rolling paper. It surprisingly ended on a relative high, with Arsenal showing a defiant middle finger to the entire world (which was obviously against it) and making it to the Champions League group stages for the fourteenth year in a row. (Can we make a trophy out of it, oh can we can we can we??)
Rotten Emirates Luck
I’ve already made more than a passing mention to the Liverpool game being a bad football day. I’m currently attempting to complete my engineering degree in the midst of a sultry desert, and so it was with much surprise that I found the heavens opening up and spewing forth torrential rain as the match was about to start. This gloomy rat-a-tat-tat of raindrops provided the backdrop to what was a scrappy but even first half, a half that wasn’t exactly overflowing with quality.
There were no glaring chances from either side; a few Szczesny saves from headers and a Reina fingertip to flick aside a Frimpong fizzer are the most clear-cut opportunities that come to mind. But the second half was when things really started getting pear-shaped. The rain gods redoubled their efforts to drown me senseless, someone shoved a cactus up the ref’s arse and he started giving ridiculous decisions. In the seventieth minute or so, Frimpong went into an overzealous challenge and was rightly booked. What rankled though was that he had been wrongly booked earlier on in the first half. So another debutant was off to take an early shower, and the unceasing showers continued to fill my college common room as Liverpool scored one of the luckiest own goals I’ve had the misfortune to see in recent times.
Shoulders slumped both in India and Islington, and we were never going to get anything from the match after that. Fate was sticking its tongue out at us, and it was a long, sticky, vitriolic tongue. I managed to swim towards the television set in the final minutes to catch further developments I could have done without; Jenkinson getting cramp, Suarez getting a second (offside, ho-hum), Arsene searching for water bottles to strangle, the usual ‘bad football day’ stuff.
Nasri’s Money Switch
My Twitter Timeline has been filled to the brim with money-related jokes in relation to Samir Nasri’s Manchester City move, and rightly so. To a large extent, I can understand why money motivates people. Money makes the world go round; it buys you Twix bars, extra large Twix bars and cookie-flavoured Twix bars after all. It would be unreasonable to expect no response whatsoever if an offer with double the wages you currently earn comes your way. Football is a business at the end of the day.
But, as Nick Hornby put it, football is not just any business. It’s part of the customer satisfaction business. When Nasri came as a buck-toothed adolescent from Marseilles, there were signs that suggested he would go on to big things. But they were only signs nonetheless. Arsenal, Arsene and the fans banked on those signs, bore two seasons of inconsistency and one sine curve season of awesomeness and mediocrity. For him to abandon ship now, when the club is in a fragile situation, berate the fans for not being passionate enough, cite ‘transfer inactivity’ as a reason for his move…well, all this certainly doesn’t cater to customer satisfaction, that’s for sure.
I don’t harbour any special hate for Nasri; he’s no Adebayor with his thick-headed comments and lazy performances. He was professional in his last game against Liverpool as well. I hope he enjoys his new and improved, Poznan-indulging passionate fan-base at the Etihad Stadium. But I definitely won’t feel guilty while sniggering at any Nasri (or Na$ri, as I’ve been told to refer to him from now on in) jokes I come across in the near future.
We’d do well to remember that when any ship wobbles, it’s the rats that scamper off first.
Arsenal Scratch That European Itch
There’s something about Arsenal and Champions League qualifiers. We tend to go on and win them. Nevertheless, the mood around the club prior to Wednesday’s second leg tie at Udinese was grim. Injuries meant we were scrounging to put players on the pitch, and a narrow 1-0 win in the first leg meant a positive result was hardly beyond Udinese’s reach.
The first half was all helter-skelter, ping-pong with chances flying by at three a minute. Arsenal didn’t make use of their early pressure with Handanovic’s..erm…hands coming to the Italians’ rescue more than once. At the other end, Di Natale was doing his best to drag Udinese over the line all by himself. After already hitting the post once, he flitted in between Jenkinson and Djourou and looped a fantastic header past Szczesny into the goal. So it was half-time and we had our backs firmly against the wall.
But thankfully there was a sense of ‘enough is enough’ from the team as the second half started. Rosicky came on for Frimpong, we looked around to the wall our backs were against and said, ‘Eh, fuck off wall’ and huffed, puffed and blew the home side away in the last forty-five. Gervinho, who had a good game, tricked past the defender on the by-line and squared it to van Persie who blasted home the equalizer.
Then a bemusing penalty was awarded against us by a referee who, like the ref against Liverpool, also had a greenhouse of thorny plants up his bum-hole. But Szczesny stood strong, taunted Di Natale and pulled off a magnificent save from the spot. Udinese deflated after that, and our second goal (wonderful interchange between Theo and Sagna on the left flank, composed finish) only served to put a further completeness to proceedings. This was a Champions League qualifier, and we don’t lose ‘em.
And that’s the end of week two. There will be plenty of time to run the magnifying glass over our Champions League draw later; I’d prefer to just bask in the glory of an important victory at the moment. Now all we need is a nice, easy match at home against cannon fodder, something to get ourselves back on track in the League.
Right, who are we playing on the weekend then?
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