A sneaky weekend away with the family on the Isle of Wight while Cambridge City are playing just across the water at Totton (What do we think of Totton? Fear not. I went through the song with the man from Eastlower via text before kick off!) It would almost be rude to not leave the girls and go to the FA Cup 4th round qualifier!
But this is an Arsenal blog? I know but forgive me. I grew up in Cambridge and like so many locals adopted a London side as my team. Less than an hour on the train so it counts! Cambridge City were the team I shared with my dad from as young as I can remember. I stood with him in the same place with his friends Jed, Big Dick, Grumpy and Wizz for years until he died in 1999 and I stopped going. It couldn't be shared without him. It took me about 4 years to go again but now my own son and I go as often as we can. Strangely, watching City is as close as I can get to my dad now. On Saturday he would be smiling.
I've seen 4 winning FA Cup ties already this season & it means Cambridge City are into the first round proper. Two wins away from the mythical trip to The Arsenal! On their way they have won over £27,000 - a history changing amount for a non-league team about to be made homeless or a drop in the ocean for the overpaid Premier boys. City hung on to win 3-2 and pulled out a plum home tie with MK Dons in two weeks. I can't wait.
Happily we drove south to the ferry we shared with a winning Isle of Wight rugby team (lots of singing and beer) and a losing football team (just beer) and sat waiting to sail with TalkShite supplying us with the gory details. It sounded bad from the off. Norwich, without a win, seemed right up for it. As we drove onto the ferry Mannone went all seasick on us, fell over, pushed the ball politely to the onrushing canary who, unchallenged, couldn't miss. The radio made it sound awful but having seen it they underplayed it. Mannone looked like an elderly person having a fall. He looked like the crap kid at school who goes in goal, makes an out of character stop but lets in the soft rebound. The teacher congratulates on the initial burst of action but commiserates with the unlucky rebound. That's if the goalkeeper is cold, would rather be doing science and is about 9 years old. That is not what it should look like at The Arsenal. We had Jennings, Lukic, Seaman and Lehmann. Szczesny is decent. Not in that list yet but has a chance. Behind him the cupboard is bare. In fact it's not just bare. It's on fire in a skip. I have no answers of course! It just seems odd that Mad Jens left in 2008 and 4 years later we haven't sorted this.
The rest of the team were just crap. To a man - Crap. These things happen. Many felt we showed more when we went down 8-2 (two shots on target at least!) This was so bad it was probably a one off (honest!) The team is not quite right yet. I don't think you can lose captain after captain and expect to improve too much. Every season we seem to be starting again a bit. We never get a chance to build on 3rd or 4th. We replace rather than add too often.
Yet maybe that's where the club want to be. We finished 19 points behind last year. That's a massive gap but we were sold a success because we squeaked into the oddly named Champions league. I hate that 3rd is like a trophy but can we hope for any higher?
So onto one of these golden matchdays on Wednesday and the boys need to be right on it to prove Norwich was just a bad day. These group stages the club hankers for so dearly are a sterile affairs but a win will see us full in command to face some bigger boys. No doubt Szczesny will still be out for 2-3 weeks so Vito will provide the heart in mouth moments we could do without. Sorry to keep on about him but even my wife thinks he's shit and she's very protective about anyone with the cannon on their chest.
So yesterday was City's day. A first win over us at their place since Duran Duran were number 1 with The Reflex, Lionel Richie was saying Hello and Melle Mel felt for Chaka Khan. The other City saved my day with their FA Cup hopes and dreams. They played with passion and celebrated like fans at the end. Arsenal showed nothing of the sort.
Up The Gunners (and CCFC!)