I’ve always despised the League Cup. Long before Koscielny met Szczesny and long before Vermaelen’s penalty met that post, I hated it. I remember groaning about our game that night being just the Worthington/Carling/Capital One/Oil of Ulay/Oil of Olay/Jif/Cif cup even back the days of Highbury.
Partly, it’s the penalties. Generally the team playing in this tournament (for teams like ours, anyway) is a team of fringe players, or players returning from injury, or youth players, or players on their way out the door. It seems quite unfair that a team of men very unused to playing together, or in some cases playing at all, should be the first at risk of coming up against a penalty shoot out. It’s not your in-favour superstars stepping up to take them, it’s the other ones. The ones in the background of all the Friday afternoon training pictures.
Maybe I’m wrong and maybe they relish that, but penalties make me absolutely sick. If it’s a team I don’t care about or haven’t watched before, I’ll still be hiding behind a cushion watching them step up to the spot. I remember David Seaman saying he loved them, because goalkeepers were never expected to save them. When they did, they were heroes. But outfield players are expected to score them, or at least hit the target. I never feel sorrier for a footballer than when he’s just missed a penalty.
Anyway, there are plenty more reasons why I hate it, but it doesn’t matter because we’re out. We played a fairly strong team yesterday, but still one full of players who’d not enjoyed much playing time together in recent months. When the match finished after thankfully 90 minutes and not 120 or 120 and the additional screamy vomit cushion time though, Chelsea’s was stronger. Vermaelen came back and captained the team, and had a pretty good game. The talk of him leaving in January makes my vision go as wobbly as it goes when there’s talk of Bac leaving, so I very selfishly hope that soon enough Arsene feels confident enough in the idea of him and Koscielny playing together, that a tired Mertesacker wouldn’t put the fear of God into him. Tommy is about the modelliest professional you’d ever find, and the idea of him not being at Arsenal kinda hurts my veins.
It wasn’t a heavy defeat. It was a cock-up and a good goal, but we didn’t have a shot on target until late in the second half because up until four minutes prior to that, we’d been playing with a striker we’ve been trying to get rid of for three years. It showed how obviously our back up team is not quite as good as our first choice team, but then is that news, really? Of course Chelsea’s second is as good as their first. If I had all that lovely jubbly oil money slopping around in my bank account, my wellie boots and my knackered old running trainers would be just as top quality as my favourite boots too.
It wasn’t a fun evening at all, but not really because of the performance. The performance was alright, but theirs was better. It was mostly horrible because they are so vile in all the ways. There were 9,000 of their muggy fans sitting in blue last night (BLUE! BLUE IN MY STADIUM! GET OUT OF MY STADIUM IN YOUR BLUE!) Nine thousand of them singing that dinner lady-looking pillock Mourinho’s name. Honestly, it was only looking at him twatting it up in that rank old tracksuit next to Arsene in all his lovely lean suity booty glory that finally made me understand what people talk about when they say they wish the boys showed up for matches in suits rather than tracksuits.
I’m a bit annoyed Ozil and Giroud came on at all, because it was pretty obvious the match was never going to extra time. With Liverpool, Dortmund and Man United all days away, every time Giroud touched his hamstring, I yelped. But anyway, hey ho, out we go. Hopefully we’ll be glad in a couple of months when fixture congestion reaches its peak.
The only real talking point of the match was I suppose Carl Jenkinson’s mishap with Fabianski. It was kind of like a less awful Hart/Nastasic moment with more of the blame Jenkinson’s than Fabianski’s. The reaction to it though, has been something to behold.
When Jenkinson was playing consistently for the first team last season, it irritated me beyond belief how much people wanted to talk about how big an Arsenal fan he was. It’s lovely that he is. The stone he has outside the stadium dedicated to his granddad is beautiful, and who hasn’t laughed at that picture of him in his bedroom with his Arsenal curtains?
But he’s also a professional footballer. He plays for Arsenal because he’s very good at football, regardless of his bedspread. Let’s call it like it is and say he’s a good player, a great prospect, and is lucky to have Bacary Sagna playing ahead of him and helping him learn how to be the best and most consistent right back in the Premiership. He’s not some yahoo who got lucky one day. I know he makes you dream that you too could have made it, but darlings let’s be honest: if you’d ever got a chance out there you’d have been left flat on your arse, and that would have been seasons before you ever got a chance in the Allianz Arena. It’s quite offensive that people can EVEN joke about the fact they may as well be playing if loving the club is all that’s needed to gain a place in the team. I know you’re kidding, but the only reason it gets to even cross your mind is because you know he actually supported Arsenal before he played for them. And really, it’s so irrelevant. He’s a young player who probably has a great future with the club. One great game doesn’t make him Lee Dixon and one bad moment doesn’t make him Nigel from Block 7. He made a mistake a player lacking game time tends to make. Yeah he’s not all that brilliant aerially, but to write him off in the wake of it is very very Aaron Ramsey of you. You would think you’d learn.
Anyway, moving on. As ‘Jose Mourinho’ rang out around the stadium, the fans kind of went into their shell. To be honest, it’s understandable. We were sat there watching a game we were losing, in a cup we all hate, against a team that should be standing trial with the UN, with fans that are so minging that oh my god when you see their top-button-done-up faces and 20s hairstyles all you can think is whyyyyy why whyyyyyyy can’t you just ming your way off the planet.
Ohhhhhh the kerfuffle afterwards though! Oh no we were outsang. Oh, the horrors. Wakey wakey, dickheads, they were winning and we were losing. The crowd at the Emirates is rather reactionary (have you noticed?) There is truly no greater sound in the whole entire world than the crowd when it really gets going at a point we can tell something is about to happen. It’s beautiful. Ten times more beautiful than that orchestrated bollocks they had for Dortmund last week. Did they react to the events on the pitch once (besides the goals)? They had actual conductors. CONDUCTORS. Where are all you Against Modern Football crusaders here please? Men. With their backs. Facing the football. Just so they can make noise. It’s just so bollocks, I mean really. And I’m sure next week in the Westenfalanadandolion, Keats will rise from his grave to write his blog on Guardian Sport about the beauty of the noise they make.
The away fans will be as magnificent as ever, and the home crowd at the Emirates will only come in for more stick. That’s a home crowd that is mostly made up of regulars, but also made up of an awful lot of people just there for the spectacle. The reason many West Ham fans don’t want to be moving to the Olympic Stadium is exactly that, the tourists. It’s fine, seeing them in their Ozil shirts, taking pictures before the game. It’s quite annoying when they walk in front of you to get out eight minutes before the end. It’s even more annoying when you get home to the same old fans criticising the atmosphere in the stadium. It is what it is. There are those of us there who offend the poor old man sitting in front of them with their tasty language, and there are those of us there who are really only there for the pictures. It’s kinda rich being apportioned most of the blame when the blamers aren’t actually there in the first place though.
Rightio, we have Liverpool next! It’ll be about as first team as we can possibly make it, and with our first team, I feel quite confident we can do anything. Our opponents have been annoying me lately, playing silly buggers and keeping winning. A couple of weeks ago we were in a Heaven we’ve not been in in about ten years. I want them to go back to that place where they don’t win much, and us to go back to our Heaven. There quite a simple route to that place for both of us, so go on Arsenal, go forth and prosper!