Last night, due to work and other commitments, I was unable to give this match my full attention. I missed the first 20 minutes or so, and when I did get to see it I was standing in a bar, watching a TV with no sound.
I have to say, it does give you a different perspective on things. You forget just quite how leading commentary can be. As much as I’d love to paint Alan Parry with gold paint which blocks up his pores and kills him, it’s hard not to find your match-watching experience coloured by the absolute shite he talks. The same with most commentators. Like them, loathe them, they colour your view of what you’re watching.
I’m pretty sure that had I been at home watching on TV with the sound up I might have been a lot more frustrated, a touch grumpier and more focused on the things that, this morning, don’t matter one bit. As we watched in the bar, drinking pints of delicious red ale, we (the Arsenal fans present) opined that we’d be happy enough with a 0-0. A decent enough result away from home against a team who, from our vantage point at least, closed off a section of their stadium to make it look like they just don’t give a shit.
It was deep into injury time and we’d more or less accepted the result. My friend Madeleine then told us she’d had her appendix out not so long ago. This was a surprise. “Blimey”, I said. Then Aaron Ramsey scored. “Clearly you had lucky appendix”, I said. “Merely mentioning them resulted in an Arsenal goal. I hope you have them at home in a jar because I want them. Our season depends on me having a sliver of your appendix for each game”.
Unrealistic, of course, and possibly stupid drunk talk, but I told her I’d name this blog post after her now departed vestigal structure. And so I have. And back then I got on with enjoying the fact we’d gone away from home in the Champions League, played out a pretty dull game and done a smash and grab in the final minutes. Last minute winners are just so enjoyable when you’re not on the wrong end of them, like we’ve been far too often in recent times.
There had been chances before. Walcott and van Persie both forcing saves from the keeper from similar angles, while at the other end I really don’t remember us being troubled unduly. Perhaps we were but I really don’t recall. And if we were it doesn’t matter. Because what last night reminded me is that regardless of what happens in the 90 minutes (or the 93 minutes), the only thing that matters at the end is the scoreline and this one was 1-0 to the Arsenal.
I think, from now on, I will endeavour to watch all games like this. I don’t mean in the pub, drinking delicious red ale (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing), but soundless. Or at least commentary-less, because it does shape your opinion of the game as it’s happening and certainly has an influence on how you remember it. And if we all accept that most commentators and pundits are lazy thinking ballbags who bleat the same old tired bollocks over and over again it’s amazing we let these people, unconsciously or not, shape how we think about our club. As I watched the Arsenal fans who had made the trip to France celebrate the goal, it reminded me that all they would take from the game was a late winner which would lift spirits and thus force them to lift spirits in the bars of Marseille after the game.
Maybe they’d analyse the ever-loving shite out of the game and individual performances, but when it comes right down to it, it’d be that night in France when we scored that late winner and won the game. The night when Dortmund lost to Olympaicos, the night when Arsenal took three points and went top of the group, and the night when we took a big step towards the knock-out stages.
Afterwards, Arsene was happy with the win, but keen to keep a lid on things:
We’ve made a little step forward but we have to be humble. We are a team who must continue to grow and we have to show that. the next game at home against Marseille is very important. I felt like we needed to be patient and intelligent. You could see our midfield had experience – we didn’t make stupid mistakes and we didn’t play stupid balls. It’s an important win but you take any win away from home in the Champions League.
And on recent form:
If you look back last five or six games you will see we only have one defeat. We are slowly getting there – that will help tonight.
And it certainly will. Baby steps they might be but they are, at least, in the right direction. And it gives us a fantastic chance to ensure we qualify from the group. We have two home games, Marseille and Dortmund, before a final group game trip to Olympiacos, and you would have to hope that we’ll have sorted everything out before then. I mean, there is every chance we’ll do this the Arsenal way, making it ‘exciting’ right to the end, but fingers crossed we can qualify boringly.
Other than the result the only other talking point was the departure of Carl Jenkinson with a knee injury. From what the boss said afterwards it was a hyper-extension kind of thing, which is always a bit painful, so fingers crossed he hasn’t done himself too much damage. Now, we return, take stock, and prepare ourselves for a much different test on Sunday.
Finally, thanks to @SianyMacalarny for her fine live blogging last night. She’s as lucky as a recently removed appendix. Give her a good old follow on the Twitterbox.