Saturday, 28 April 2012

Draw Something.

Big day today. The wife, having frustrated and bored in their last two games, travelled to the knuckle draggers needing a win. A draw would be ok considering the opposition but would leave no room for error later on. The mistress needed a win even more urgently if they were to make the play offs.

As I stood in the drizzle with 504 other people willing a goal for Cambridge City I did briefly wonder what I was doing. My son had headphones glued to his ears giving Arsenal updates every 2 minutes. I concentrated on the part timers in from of me. City was where I went with my dad. He wasn't Arsenal and this was our team to share. I go now with my son and he's there. We walk past, but never stop, where he stood. It wouldn't be right standing there without him.
It couldn't be more different to the padded experience of The Grove. An adult and an over 12 at the turnstile hand over £13. A programme and a line of raffle tickets is another £3. Change from a twenty. Stand where you like. We go behind the goal we attack and stroll to the other end at 3.45.

Both of mine needed wins yet both settled for draws. The Arsenal's will only be ok once we know the next two. We are crawling to 3rd which will be fine if we make it. In a season where you lose 10 games then 3rd is a miracle and says a lot about the sides below us.

City needed a win. 5 teams going for 4 spaces. A 1-1 drew a groan from the crowd. We assumed the other teams hadn't messed up so joined the queue to get out of the car park. Half way up the motorway the Stourbridge score appeared on the phone. They hadn't won so City's poor draw saw them home. I smiled as the spray from a lorry battered the car. I thought of the Swindon player I'd had a little 'discussion' with after a high tackle on one of ours. A major difference from the Emirates. The players answer back if you call them dirty bastards! His team were relegated. Mine was in the play offs. I won!

The radio reported Arsenal's missed opportunities on the field and off it. 3rd, once we'd hauled ourselves there, became ours to lose. We are doing our best.

This morning I was explaining to a friend, in an Islington coffee shop, my day. The stress of worrying about two must win games. A last butted in. "I really don't understand the obsession" she exclaimed. I explained the spectrum. When you are young it means everything. As you get older it means as much but you subconsciously know its daft. Your happiness is intrinsically linked to people you don't know, occasionally millionaires but sometimes postmen, hitting a ball past a man wearing large gloves into a big oblong. Daft. But quite brilliant. The lady thought for a second and said she understood alittle more, smiled and went back to her paper. I didn't believe her.

So it's Oxford City or Chesham United away in the play off semi final. 90 more minutes of hoofing the ball into the box and hoping for the best. None of your pretty triangles and lovingly crafted opportunities. Madness.
Up The Gunners (and for this week only on the blog, Up The City too!)

- Posted using BlogPress from a bloomin' telephone!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Not So Safe Hands

Well, that was the worst game I've seen at The Arsenal since Monday. The Wigan game was poor but at least one team tried. Today was very very poor with both teams barely breaking a sweat. It looked like 22 blokes from an office who had all paid £50 to charity to have a run about on the Emirates pitch. The passing was shocking (my son counted the passes for a bit, because he was so bored, and neither team got beyond 4 for quite a while.) We hit the bar but other than than it was frustration rather than excitement.

The day was a rush from the start due to Sky not giving a shit about the fans. If they want us to play at 2am on a Friday I'm sure we will one day. The kids swimming lessons, dropping off and picking up, was a military operation and we made kick off. With hindsight we could've arrived at the original and rather old school 3 O'clock, watched an empty pitch and missed nothing. Yes it was that bad and it opens it all up to Newcastle and S****. As I write this I'm supporting QPR and that just leaves a filth around you. If The Arsenal cared or at least looked like they cared then today would've been better. We huffed and puffed against an understrength Chav team that were there for the taking and, coupled with the wholly pathetic display on Monday, is not good enough.

GOAL QPR 1 S**** 0

Now I've lost count of the hats I've taken off to this team as they hauled themselves up to 3rd and a week ago it looked a position we could only lose ourselves. Well we are doing our best. 1 point from 2 home games is poor whoever you play. These two abject displays has left it still in our hands but those hands now belong to Almunia rather than Seaman and they suddenly don't feel so safe. I'm worried. I am!

There was vague entertainment in the excitable man behind me who exploded with an orgasmic "OH YES" every time we attacked. Every time! Every time we defended we were treated with a more depressed "no" which was exclaimed too often as we lethargically tracked back. We looked around. More and more of the crowd sat forward in their seats. More and more stared at their phones. I'm sure there was a bit of angry birds going on in the stands and I'm not talking about the married women caught with the Chav captain.

I spend the afternoon sighing about The Arsenal and trawling Twitter only to find Cambridge City are blowing it slowly too. Today football is a stupid game that sometimes I wish I wasn't caught up in it. Maybe I'll walk away. I'll just check the QPR score first!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Can we blow it? Yes Wigan!

Well that wasn't great was it?

It's 8am on Monday morning I was standing next to the sea watching the water engulf the land while the pebbles shimmied as they were briefly released. That end of holiday feeling was in my stomach. Ferry, motorway, overpriced services lunch and we were home. Over land and sea and Winchester.

The bags were flung into the house as Mrs Pitch slumped into bed. She is properly ill and out of action. She's our RVP. I'm not saying this family is a one (wo)man team but without her we aren't Champions League. I'm doing OK. The kids are clean and fed but we can't find fresh pyjamas. However, our RVP doesn't know how to set up an iPhone or what an HDMI cable does so we all have our roles.

So I left the house with my son under dressed for what was to become a bitter evening but then our RVP wasn't with us to administer coat advice so it was our own fault. We strolled to the game furnished with the knowledge that we had never lost to Wigan at home in the Premier League but also knowing they were cheated at the Chavs and had just beaten the mancs. This wasn't going to be easy but it's still only Wigan. A town who'd rather be watching rugby. A team, who only 12 years ago, were playing non league Cambridge City in the first round of the FA Cup. It's relegation threatened Wigan. It'll be OK.

I scanned the programme and the starting elevens were sent to my phone. Whatever next? We looked too strong for them on paper and that, as they say, is where we should've played them because on the snooker table pitch they were better than us. Over the 90 I thought they did enough or rather we didn't.

We started OK. A couple of chances past us by before Wigan carved us open with such ease it didn't feel real. Son of Feverpitch said to me at kick off that he hoped Wigan scored (when we were 5-0 up of course) so we could hear the noise made by the tiny away support. He didn't have to wait long but their muffled cheers were drowned by a wave of F's and C's and the odd ''Wankers' from around us. Before we'd stopped tutting and shaking our heads they had done it again. Imagine the language now! Two of the most pathetic bits of defending all season and it wasn't even ten past eight. We've seen some crap at the back this year but these win the prestigious Stepanov's award for me. Utter utter crap.

We woke up a bit but I still thought we were just OK. We pressed and got the goal we needed to spring us into action but it never really came. The odd shot here, the odd cross there but we ran out of ideas too early and really looked quite awful as the second half dragged on. If QPR was a flash in the pan someone forgot to flush it. The flash turned out to be a bit of a floater that stank the place out again.
We left in silence. There were boos for us and claps for them. We just shook our heads at the steward as a man in a wheelchair abused a bloke trying to get out of his way. The atmosphere had darkened. This race for 3rd won't be over until the fat left back sings.

It was a bad night but not disastrous. It leaves very little room for error now though. The comfy cushion is decidedly lumpy. Losing Arteta is a huge blow. The news we won't see Jack this season less so as I never thought we would. We need to learn from this (Again! AGAIN!!) and stick a final fling together. 3rd was a dream we've touched and to Almunia it now (Let it slip between our fingers - keep up) would be gutting. If we get 3rd and this helps ease QPR down then we will look back on this and laugh. If we don't then the evening will be as bitter as it felt.

Come on you Rip Roarers.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Flat Packed 3 points

The kids are fighting. Supper's cooking and I'm surrounded by bits of wood and screws that will eventually look like the shelves in the picture. It was one of those evenings where you don't know where the time has gone.

"Blimey! It's ten to eight. Have we started?"

No coverage on the TV or radio and lacking the energy to find a stream that will inevitably die, we scramble for the Arsenal player commentary on the app. By the time we fire it up we are winning and they are down to 10. It breaks off claiming we should use wifi (we are!) and Kenny Sansom offers us technical advice! By the time it comes back Theo has made it two and it's barely 8 O'clock. The app splutters again and again. It's declared crap and we resort to radio 5, Jan Molby (who says he's a Gooner due to the 1971 cup final!) and Twitter.

I demand a 3rd late on as nothing seems to be happening. Moments later Yossi sticks a relaxer in. Job done. You're very welcome. An evening of throwaway telly while we await Match of the Day fills the time. It's a lot of time to fill as we are made to wait until 11.30pm. Mrs Pitch gives up. Retires and the joys of Keown's flirtatious shirt and ample neck will be a breakfast treat. I stick it out.

The penalty was deserved but the red card was harsh. BadSongs made no attempt to stop Theo but as he's a clumsy spud they both ended up in a heap. RVP stepped up as Bassong had such an early bath he could get home in time to put the kids to bed. Rob's chip was cheekier than Keown's shirt as it nestled in the grass of the goal. Breath had hardly been caught before it was taken away again by a knife through butter. 2-0. Theo and things were going to plan. Expecting an avalanche it was a little disheartening as nothing else seemed to happen. Twitter supplied news of a cracking Szczer save & what a save it was. We were fully in control but this side, despite turning a corner if sorts, still gives us, of a nervously disposition, the willies. So Yossi's strike was enjoyed at the time and later. A routine 3 points hoisting us well and truly 3rd.

Having only MOTD as visuals comments are difficult. By all accounts Djourou looked good which is nice news. Yossi played well to the point where I saw it suggested he's the type of player the Chavs need! The disparaging remarks about Ramsey I find unnecessary but people always have their villains. He's still very young and I just don't see how constant moaning helps. Is he really that out of his depth?

The shelves were built. The house was eerily quiet. MOTD announce Liverpool & bed seems the better option. Well played The Arsenal.

Up The Gunners.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Strangers In The Seats

At about 2 O'clock, as I sat on a bench in a beautiful, peaceful National Trust garden while the kids ran to find clues that would result in an Easter Egg prize, I was suddenly washed by regret that a family holiday had taken precedence over The Arsenal. The weather had been beautiful and I hadn't given it a second thought until now. The jealously I felt for the strangers in our seats betrayed the happiness on the faces of the chocolate filled children.

Three egg hunts and a picnic later we were home and relying on the Ipad to deliver us the game. The roast lamb was put in and we huddled together around the Wifi driven screen. I felt uncharacteristically optimistic about the game. It's unlike me. I tend to expect the worst and enjoy the nice surprise but I really felt we could do this. Despite their extraordinary spending and squad of 134 players I'm sure we are better than them. They are an expensive collection with a floppy manager while we are a team.

The first half proved my point. How we went in 0-0 is any one's guess. Man C were done but we just couldn't worry the net. We beat Hart but TV, with horror in his eyes, cleared it. The living room rose and sank. As the players headed for the tunnel Balotelli sat, ignored, in their path to make sure all saw him. He shouldn't have had the chance. He could've had two red cards in that half. The tackle on Song was an utter disgrace. The lowest of the low leg breaker and if the FA don't punish him for that then they are more pathetic than we all know they are.

The first half was a good half for us and it was a worry we weren't winning. You could just see these bastards run up the other end and nick one. They did try a bit harder but there were no heart in mouth moments for us. They were as poor a team as we've seen at The Grove. If ever there was a game we should win this was it. RVP hit the post. Theo, TV and Yossi somehow trickled and tickled the ball wide. It looked like one of those days. Frustration and desperation crept in until some more sloppy play from them led to the ball at Arteta's feet. He surged towards the North Bank. Lescott stood to admire. From distance he unleashed another thunderbolt past England's number 1 to continue his run, lifting his shirt, and sending the stadium and a family on holiday into jumping joy. The crowd doing 'the Poznan' was a punchline nearly as delicious as the man who goes to the barbers and asks for 'a bellend' finally receiving a red card.

That was a deserved win against a small club with money. A rag bag collective that have been found out. When we are good we look very good and with a better summer things could be very very good. If the club have ambitions and convey them to the captain I think he will stay. We've had some very bad times this season. We've had all that Wenger out nonsense and some abject performances yet they have pulled themselves up to 3rd. For so long top four looked unlikely. Now 3rd is ours to lose. We've failed to build on potential in the past and I pray these mistakes won't be repeated again this summer.

A great performance for the strangers to enjoy topped off with a celebratory Easter roast. A good day. Up the Gunners.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Quite Poor Really

'Quick, get in the car!'

The boot was loaded and we were off towards Loftus Road. So close but as The Arsenal huffed and puffed we sped towards the South coast. School's out for Easter so Absolute Radio Extra provided us with all the bad news in something they laughably call 'Rock'n'Roll football!

It sounded like we started well but as we got through London and we heard the names of our defenders more and more Mrs Pitch looked at me and said, 'We don't sound very good today.' Then they scored and swear words were muted to not corrupt the kids in the car with no interest in the nonsense.

As we pulled into the services we were still down. However, as I queued to be mugged by a well known coffee chain who somehow find the space to raise their prices even further next to a motorway, my phone pronounced I had a text by telling all 'Chelsea 3 Arsenal 5' (for that is my text tone!) It was from Mrs P who'd stayed in the car and who'd simply put '1-1 Walcott.' The horror at the cost of two coffees diminished somewhat. Come on Arsenal.

The names of our defenders just wouldn't go away. A slip, a goal, a slapping of the steering wheel and an unsuppressed swear word this time meant that despite the lightness of the traffic that was a pretty shit journey. The final whistle and a flick over to Radio 5 confirmed it was a pretty shit day for us all round. The following day, Liverpool aside who joined in April Fools Day beautifully, completed a crap weekend. It's not so much fun this way round and I was just getting used to everything going our way. It's been a magnificent run when things looked a bit hopeless so we can't complain. But it was QPR so we can be a bit annoyed. The have Hughes and they have Barton and we should never lose a game to a team with those mugs involved. But we did and it means the game against the small club with money next weekend is a must win.

I've still not seen the goals and there's a chance I never will. Forget it but learn from it. There are not enough games left to have another game off.

Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent.