I really feel sorry for Man U fans. What a drab, depressingly by-the-script team they support. Even at their most successful this season, the entertainment factor of Man U’s performances has basically consisted of watching a human version of Shrek push in goals like a locomotive engineer shovels in coal. Yeah you might be going places, but that doesn’t mean you’re not boring me to death with your workman-like predictability.
But then you have the unpredictable, often undisciplined Arsenal. Loose at the back, shaky between the sticks, “sporting” in the way even the simplest chances are rejected by ballooning the ball over the opposing team’s goal. Who knew one team could conjure up this much drama? They brought it in spades tonight by first redefining the term “last ditch” as they hung on for dear life in the opening 20 minutes of the game, then eventually conceding two soft goals (for sport, of course), then clawing their way back within a goal (quite fluently, I might add), then winning a late, late penalty that was scored by the team captain who also might have broken his leg in the process. While this all no doubt caused an immensely frustrating, emotionally jarring experience in each one of us, you’ve got to admit from the sickest, most warped and twisted corner of your mind, that you quite enjoyed the sheer drama of this unorthodox 2-2 draw.
Once you emerge from your twisted revelry, however, the obvious point to be taken from all this is that Arsenal have got to learn quickly from their hapless first half performance and now reverse the roles (to an extent) against Barcelona next week at the Nou Camp. One of the main positives we can take into next week’s game is that, while we were desperate with our overall defense tonight, Barcelona weren’t that much better, and things are bound to get worse for them next week with Puyol and Pique suspended. And while Dani Alves may be a holy terror on the advanced wing, that advanced position is mainly where he stayed tonight, allowing Nasri plenty of time and space in a vacuum that the marauding Brazilian will most likely leave behind again next week. So while we may not be able to patch all the holes in our defense in a week’s time, judging by the final 20 minutes of today’s game, we just might have gained the confidence we need to punch more holes in Barcelona’s makeshift defense next Tuesday.
In the meantime our exhausted team will probably be hoping Mick McCarthy throws in the towel against us this weekend by fielding his reserves, but I guess that undue respect is probably only reserved for that boring team from farther up north that specializes in selling souvenirs and occasionally plays a little football on the side. Add to that the fact that McCarthy is no doubt still out to prove he’s got “more integrity in [his] little finger than most of [his] accusers” regarding his pathetic team selection against United back in December, so he’ll most likely field a (relatively) strong side. Luckily for us his little finger is also home to the sum total of his managing prowess, so all we should really have to do is throw in “Mini-Cesc” for a spell and a few passes later the three points will be ours. In all seriousness though, I’m done hoping for an easy three so this week I’ll just ask for three points, period. We are gluttons for drama, after all…
With “Super-Roo!” (gag!) out injured it looks like my Man U voodoo doll has been quite effective, albeit a little inaccurate (I specifically called for the simultaneous injuring of both Rooney AND Drogba this weekend). That’s the problem with voodoo in my experience, it’s not a precise science…what you can count on this weekend, however, is an interview with USA.Arsenal.com (that’s the US version of Arsenal.com, to the layman) editor and content manager Kevin Mooney on this weekend’s Arsenal Review USA Podcast, along with a long-awaited talk with the Portland Gooners during which we’ll review the week of Arsenal football from an American perspective. Keep your iTunes plugged in (??) and ready then over the weekend, and most importantly, get behind your team!
Up the Arsenal!