Barsenalona. And West Ham.

March 22, 2010 11 Comments by Sian

Well, that was an eventful weekend. We hoped and prayed and begged and bargained with the Heavens above that we’d not be drawn against Manchester United in the quarter finals of the Champions League and guess what? We weren’t drawn against Manchester United in the quarter finals of the Champions League.

No, instead we got Barcelona. Shortly after Emilio Butragueño called our names out on Friday morning, Twitter (where the real news happens, don’t you know) went bananas with Arsenal fans saying in many different, colourful and far more eloquent ways, what was essentially a shared sentiment of “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.”

I don’t understand why. This is THE draw of the tournament. Sure, we’ve got a little bit of French vs French action going on in France (oddly enough). Hopefully Bayern will tear Man Utd a new one. And maybe the Russians will come through against Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan. But basically the clash of Arsenal FC and FC Barcelona should, all being well, be the highlight of a very eventful tournament.

The worst case scenario is that we’re outclassed by one of the classiest teams in Europe, the current champions of the tournament and a team that will at the very least give us a decent game. The best case scenario is that we beat them. Well no, the best case scenario is actually that we absolutely batter them, that Joan Laporta is reduced to a snivelling wreck and that the final shot of the field before heading back to the pundits’ box is Cesc casting him a pitying look as Thierry stands next to him having swapped shirts with Theo, doing his best not to burst into the first verse and chorus of We are the Champions.

FYI, that was something that hurt after we lost to Barcelona the last time we took them on in 2006: the Barcelona boys parading the trophy around to the strains of this very song. Errr, hello, get your own song, Queen-stealers.

I digress. It’s going to be a massive event and I hope that the crowd will give both teams the reception they deserve come next Wednesday and the following Tuesday. I don’t know if we will be able to get tickets for the Camp Nou yet, but I have absolutely everything crossed that we do. Seriously, you should see me right now, I look like some kind of contortionist. Evidently, the seat allocation for the Arsenal fans will be right up in nosebleed territory but don’t let that put you off – our fans’ seats at the San Siro versus AC Milan essentially qualified us as roof-dwellers and what harm did it do us there?

Anyway, the Barcelona match will be big, but that’s the future, let’s live in the past for a while. We played West Ham at home on Saturday evening, another rubbish kick-off time, but it didn’t matter as we won 2-0. I loved our performance. While we were still pretty and classy and passy, we were also strong and determined and finally showing some signs of the notorious spirit Wenger always claims we show.

The only gutser was the dismissal of Thomas Vermaelen shortly before half-time. Red card AND a penalty? Bit harsh ref, bit harsh. Especially since when we later got our very own penalty to put us 2-0 ahead toward the end of the match, the referee didn’t see fit to hand Matthew Upson a second yellow for handling the ball in the area. A sentence that always makes me snigger. I’m sure someone could tell me the reason for this decision, but I can’t be bothered to find it out by myself.

I also think Vermaelen’s reaction to being sent off was as cool as the cucumber he’s has shown himself to be. If only other players realised that once the referee has rightly or wrongly shown a player a red card, it’s time to leave the field. I sometimes think these players think the referee is actually, after enough hounding, going to go: “Oh… oh, awkward moment for me guys… sorry, I made boo-boo. Back you come, son, back you come.”

Ooh, and nuff respect to Manuel Almunia for saving the penalty awarded post-Vermaelen! He’s had a rough season but he came through for us on Saturday. Say what you like about him, he’s always been good at penalties. If it goes to such a situation at the Camp Nou on the 6th (which it better not, for my heart shall pack its bags and go on holiday), you could do worse than having him between the posts. Plus, it’s a confidence boost for a man who looked completely devoid of any just a few weeks ago.

Post-match, I walked through the spray-rain (the worst of all the rains, fact fans) to the Twelve Pins pub in Finsbury Park to watch the Real Madrid-Sporting Gijon match with the FootballUtd artists usually known as WestHamProcess and FootballBarbie – Sam and Kay, and Kay’s best friend Faye. Didn’t discuss the result too much with Sam, but I think he liked the Emirates Stadium. A man of taste, clearly.

Me, Sam and Kay

Me, Sam and Kay

Kay and I had never met before Saturday but it was like meeting the blonder, taller sister I never knew I had and I’m so glad I finally got to meet her. We did take a photo on my phone but… yeah, I still don’t understand how I get it from there to the computer. Real Madrid won 3-1, by the way. Unfortunately, we’ll have already played both legs of the quarter finals versus Barca by the time Real get to take them on again – but hopefully that fixture might be playing on their mind just a teeny-tiny little bit before kick-off at the Camp Nou on 6th April.

10 Comments

  1. Sam H
    2707 days ago

    Was great to meet you Sian – shame we didn’t get to talk too much. But don’t you worry, I was on the edge of my seat ready to offload a battering to the next person who decided drunken manhandling of women is something that is ok to do.

    I’ll be honest, I was ashamed of our own supporters that day and frankly entirely unimpressed with some of yours. A minority from both sides of course

    Reply

  2. sianyr
    2707 days ago

    I nearly wrote about that incident… that Kay and I are equally gifted at attracting weirdos! That pair were Arsenal fans so yep, pretty unimpressed with some of our fans too, although not entirely surprised.

    Was great to meet you too, hopefully not for the only time!

    Reply

  3. Sam H
    2707 days ago

    Very funny post too btw!

    Reply

  4. Marcus Dysch
    2707 days ago

    Great blog.

    Re Kay attracting weirdos: From personal experience of such situations I find it is actually best to hide behind her, rather than the other way round.

    This offers a far more frightening prospect to potential trouble-makers who don’t know what she’s like when she’s angry.

    Also, you could always have used her pal’s professional expertise….

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2706 days ago

      The thing that annoyed me the most was that they actually looked quite insulted when we (literally) brushed them off. As if normally we’d be like: “Sure, go ahead random drunk stranger, grope away!” *vom*

      Reply

    • Marni
      2131 days ago

      Superb inofmatrion here, ol’e chap; keep burning the midnight oil.

      Reply

  5. FootballBarbie
    2705 days ago

    Siany, you actually are my honorary little sis now! We can borrow each other’s shoes and all that! Marcus, you know me well. x

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2705 days ago

      Absolutely, shoes for life! x

      Reply

  6. Tricia
    2705 days ago

    I sometimes think these players think the referee is actually, after enough hounding, going to go: “Oh… oh, awkward moment for me guys… sorry, I made boo-boo. Back you come, son, back you come.”

    This made me actually laugh out loud. I just got some weird looks from my classmates as I am reading this in class. I will live for the day that this actually happens. My life will be complete when this happens. Until then, I will never be able to die. I shall be the like a Dorian Gray of football.

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2705 days ago

      That, in turn, made ME laugh out loud. Trouble is, a lot of footballers would have to grow a brain first. x

      Reply

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