Reading 5-7 Arsenal. And no one ever understood them again.
‘You always see new things in our game. That is why it is never boring.’
Yes, Arsene, but would it be OK if we stopped seeing those new things in our game for just one or two matches maybe? It’s just that, we all have one heart. Mine has been beating constantly for 23 years now. The idea that it hasn’t had a rest since I began is something that bothers me greatly at the best of times. How can something never have a rest, ever? Lights go off at night, bums sit down at lunch time, TVs have a standby… but your heart, it NEVER stops. Ever. So when you factor in the Arsenal-supporting ways of that heart… well, I just don’t know how we have any supporters to have made it past 50, let alone 100. I think I might be a goner by 30.
Let’s first of all be rational, because if another team we don’t like had done last night, we’d no doubt be going ‘Ohhh it’s the Capital One Cup, ohhhh you conceded five goals, ohhhh move on.’ All true. I still don’t like the Capital One Cup at all, I think it’s cursed and I think it’s horrible, and no name changes will ever change that for me. However, had we been slung out of it 4-0 down toReading (or anyone) yesterday, I can barely imagine the fall out. Last week was nasty stuff. It would have got even nastier had half time been full time yesterday. And if you disagree, remember the ramifications on both team and fans in the aftermath of the trophy that wasn’t in 2011. It may be a little blighter you don’t much worry about, but when it goes wrong, it has the potential to wreak havoc. Like an appendix. Or perhaps a tonsil. The Capital One Cup is a tonsil, that’s what I’m trying to say.
Anyway, I missed the first half last night. We had text updates though. They went:
‘Reading 1-0 Arsenal. Jason Roberts!’
‘Reading 2-0 Arsenal OG. We are shit!’
‘Reading 3-0 Arsenal OMG This is worse than shit!’
‘Reading 4-0 Arsenal and it’s getting worse…’
Reading 4-1 Arsenal Walcott HT. Thank God.’
(thanks Mum btw) I wasn’t alone in missing seeing the match either. This here on Poznan In My Pants is great. I made sure to watch all the goals from the first half back though, because usually when we go behind I like to watch the opponents’ happy reactions whose worlds I know are about to come crashing down. Not this time though – been there, done that. Reading, we feel your pain. No, no, we actually DO feel your pain. This time I wanted to see just how awful it had actually got. Turns out, quite! By the time my sister and I got home last night, the second half had commenced and Theo had pulled one back already.
I mean, you know it was really bad because subs Olivier Giroud and Thomas Eisfeld entered the field of play in the 62nd minute. Uncharted territory here for AW. Two minutes after coming on, Giroud – who doesn’t do headers – headed in our second to give us just a teensy tinsy glimmer of hope. At least it looked less shameful from our point of view. At least we weren’t looking like we were playing drunk. At least the deficit was only two goals now. And it looked that way for a long time. We had chances, but so did Reading. Lozza Kozza (who looked well off his game to me, and I’m only going off the second half here), headed in our third in the 89th minute.
“WE NEED KANU!!!” was all I could think as the seconds ticked away. Who else scores late goals for us? Vermaelen does against Newcastle but Vermaelen’s not on the pitch! Four minutes were added and even then we didn’t want to put the equaliser in. There were grumbles about how our fourth eventually went in 90 seconds after what should have been the final whistle – er, my TV screen showed it crossed just gone 95 but whatev. And I despise time-wasting, especially when Arsenal do it (looking at you, Damian), but it looks like for once extra time was actually added onto the extra time, thanks to Simon Church’s replacement of Jason Roberts.
The goal seems to have been credited to Walcott as his shot did cross the line but can you imagine if it hadn’t – or had been judged have not – and Jenkinson hadn’t buried the rebound? Good Lord, imagine. It would have been a good enough second half performance but yet another ‘nearly’, and would have only added to that oh so punchable downtrodden look on the collective Arsenal face we seem to be so ready to wear at times.
Extra time was as ridiculous as anything that has ever been. Chamakh (CHAMAKH) scored our fifth only for the home side to even the scores again through Pogrebnyakakakakak (if Reading fans don’t do the Ulrika-ka-ka-ka-ka-ka thing, they deserved to lose 7-5). And then it was Theo again and then it was Chamakh in a really hilariously Carling Cuppy version of Torres against Barcelona last year. Obviously there’s rather a discrepancy in the level of game between those comparisons but there’s also rather a discrepancy in the level of disgusting disgrace to the game we bring, so I’m going with that.
It was overall just a really stupid match. If you were trying to explain to someone what it’s been like to be an Arsenal fan for the past few years, you’d just hand them a copy of that game. The difference last night was that it ended in happiness for us. How nice to be involved in a crazy game that didn’t end in us metaphorically falling face first into a puddle before being run over by an out of service bus?
It would be great to draw some conclusions from the match, like that maybe the hex we put on ourselves at St. James’s Park in 2010 had now been reversed and that now we’d bookended that particular period of our lives, we can now ‘push on’ like Jack loves and stop being so pathetic. But I fear it unlikely. I doubt we’ll learn from it, and it’s looking pretty dead set that we’ll go out of this competition to a deflected goal in the next round. But it was just wonderful to see a team respond to their circumstances rather than wallow in them for a change.
Maybe that’s a bit harsh and maybe I might be trying to jinx myself a bit (hope dies last and all that), but we’ve seen great performances rendered meaningless by buggering it up the next matchday. And, you know, we still conceded five goals. Admittedly, I don’t think anyone has ever seen a match quite like what we experienced last night. They really did fight themselves out of a tight little corner there. Additionally, the defence wasn’t the defence that will play on Saturday. Nor is the midfield. Nor the attack. Although, I do hope Arsene will look Olivier Giroud’s attitude in last night’s match and see that he is a player who can fight. Much as I’ve been hoping for him to do well, he’s annoyed me by falling over so much and so easily, but his performance yesterday was magnificent. I want him starting against Manchester United, partly because I think he’ll be a big biceppy bullying threat and partly because I just really like the idea of him flattening one of their players, accidentally and charmingly Frenchly of course.
Thomas Eisfeld has long looked like a great prospect based on his reserves performances and did himself no harm yesterday. It would be funny if he ended up being a really important player for us given the hard time he and Arsene were given when he was bought in January.
And Theo. Theo Theo Theo Theo Theo. I was over you. I had said my goodbyes and turned on my heel at the station, wearing my net veil. Your train was departing. Your puppy eyes at the window were doing nothing to wear down my steely resolve. And then you go and do all this. Look, if you’re going to keep doing that you might as well just sign and stay. Just get it over with. But you know, not that bothered. I’ll just leave this pen here. Next to your writing hand. With a spare in case it runs out. Whatever.
And to Chamakh. Fair play dude. He looked hopeless besides the goals, but a striker is… you know… there to do goals, so. Well done, really. Really though I was very happy for him. I wanted so badly for him to score against Coventry. No one will be holding out much hope this is the second coming of Chamakh, but a spot more confidence and proof he actually can kick balls at targets is good news indeed.
Besides that I am cool, calm and collected. It was a great night, but that’s all I’m taking from this. I am of course kidding no one and I now have visions of us leaving all our horrors behind and suddenly becoming the Arsenal we used to be again. Then again, if you can’t start feeling hope and love after a match like last night’s, in an increasingly horrid game with far too much distraction from actual playing time, I think that heart of yours we mentioned earlier might have already upped and left long ago.