Three points for Arsenal and Le Return of le Barnét de le Bob.
(** I don’t speak a word of French. I’m sure the title is totally wrong, but it sounds good. So shush.**)
If Arsenal was a schoolkid it’d be the clever one who can really excel in school when he tries. The one who could rock up to any exam it wanted and pass it easily enough. But it’d also be the schoolkid who liked to leave his essay-writing until the last minute, who had his teachers tearing their hair out with the stress of worrying whether or not they were going to make that deadline in time because you know, GCSEs finals are only around the corner.
Saturday’s match against Aston Villa was a good example of Arsenal being this kid (let’s call him Eddie). In the first half, much like against Braga away, we dominated posession and also managed to have quite a few chances to put ourselves ahead early on. The goals didn’t actually come until nearly half time with Arshavin putting us one up in the 38th minute. Arshavin was, by the way, superb on Saturday.
Don’t know what had been said to him, but the Arshavin that showed up at Villa Park was an Arshavin we’ve known has been lurking in the depths of other Arshavin for a long while. He was absolutely everywhere. Nasri doubled our lead in the 44th minute straight after Brad Friedel had made an excellent save to keep Chamakh’s header out. It was a pretty good goal from Samir, not least because it could have taken any one of about 17 deflections away from goal on its way in.
We went into the break looking the much better team, but lacking the confidence (complacency?) of last week. A two goal lead is not the easiest to hold on to, you know? Of course you know, you’re an Arsenal fan! There were groans heard from red & white sectors worldwide early on in the second half when, obviously, Villa pulled one back through Ciaran Clark, with his first Premiership goal for Villa this season. There were arguments after as to whether or not John Carew had been interfering with play by standing his big galumphing self up right in the way of Lukasz Fabianski as the goal was set up. Yeah, he probably was but whether he knew what he was doing or not is another matter. I mean he could have quite easily got right in the way of the goal couldn’t he?
Anyway 1-2 it was and ARGH how we sighed. Please don’t let this be a replay of last week’s second half collapse, we cried! This week, however, we still had supplies left in our shooting bucket and took advantage of stocks in the 55th when Chamakh widened the goal difference once more. So it was 1-3 and, yes, less scary-looking but still a worry.
Clark scored his second for the home side in the 70th minute while all Arsenal fans (and probably Fabianski too) went “Nooooooooooooooooooo…” Actually if it’s anything like the reactions of my living room, the response was probably a bit swearier than that. How could we do this to ourselves once again? Where is our spine?
Anyway we managed to keep posession of the ball and made a few subs which made us relax a little bit. Kieran Gibbs coming on in the 84th with Denilson seemed a bit odd, but Gibbs made a big difference going forward with his fresh legs. In the 90th we finally had our two-goal lead back as 5ft 7in (not 5ft 5 or 5ft 6, alright?!) Jack Wilshere scored HIS first Premiership goal of the season with a diving header no less. Probably the first and last he’ll ever score with his head, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.
Kudos to the fan who joined in the manpile after the game. Also, while Jack’s badge-kissing was nice to see, I preferred his little “Yesssssss” air punch to the crowd. I don’t know why, I just did. The fans had been brilliant once again, so frankly I think the stewards who carted off the fans that had managed to get on the pitch in the first place are big fat party-poopers. Up yours, health and safety!
The match also provided Return of Le Bob and his ten-to-two feet. The match highlight with regard to him was probably the greetings between him and the Arsenal players in the tunnel pre-match. They all got a handshake, and some got kissed on both cheeks. I’ve never wanted to be a cheek before, but I definitely did then. Unfortunately LB was not at his best for Villa but my God hasn’t he got an impressive head of hair for a 37-year-old?
There are bigger issues to discuss than Le Barnét de le Bob, but to be honest it was just such a relief that Eddie the untrustworthy GCSE student also known as Arsenal Football Club, hadn’t given away three points for the second week in a row, that those issues seem small and insignificant. We managed to go top for a couple of hours before Blackburn sent out their nans to lose 7-1 to Manchester United, but we’re still up there. Could have been even up-er there had we not dropped those points in recent times but MOVING ON. Also Newcastle did us a favour by holding Chelsea to a draw so all in all it was not a bad weekend.
Tomorrow we play Wigan in the Carling Cup. I’m going, so if you never hear from me again it’s because my fingers fell off in the cold. Hopefully the Arsenal will be on fire, and will keep us fans’ body temperatures just above the point at which you would otherwise die. Come on the Arsenal!
PS: Non-English readers, ‘Barnet’ is rhyming slang for hair. Barnet Fair= hair. I also live near a place called Barnet and signs to the place have had the little accent added to them by kids in an attempt to make it sound classy and French. Like Barnét. It works, non?