Riddle me this: When is a draw not a draw? When your opponent feels like they have been beaten 6-0. That is what happened this weekend last agin Newton Heath at the Glazerdome. Mr Mourinho, one time evil overlord of FC Chelsea 2003, a kind of next-level tyro uber manager from another dimension, is now reduced to pointing at Phil Jones. Not, as small boys do in the street, with laughter, but with frustration and irritation. It was indeed Phil Jones, the Old Trafford gargoyle, this gurning hedgepig, who informed the world that despite drawing the match, he felt like United had been slapped 6-0.
YES. IMAGINE FEELING LIKE YOU HAD BEEN BEATEN BY A SIX GOAL MARGIN AT OLD TRAFFORD. THE SHAME OF IT. His pointed use of the word ‘slapped’ points perhaps to a cause for his grotesque, medieval ugliness; we wonder whether Mater Jones slapped six shades out of Mr. Jones when he was a babe.
To the match itself then. We could, if we had won, have opened up a six-point lead over Middlesex, and a nine-point lead over Newton Heath. Yet this being November, it was not to be. Repeat after me:
We’re in November,
Regularly losing the plot;
There is no reason
For this part of the season
To always go to pot
I was scolded upon the twitter by one Charles Hatfield who attempted to convince me with mere facts that Arsenal’s Month of Sewage is a myth. We won five, lost none and drew one in 2013/14, Won three, lost one and drew two in 2014/15. Only last November, he ventured, was the first in 10 years where we only won one game. Well, Mr. Hatfield. I care not for your facts. We have had enough of experts. And facts. November remains officially The Worst Month That There Has Ever Been.
The opening stages were surprising, if a little lacklustre, as Mr. Mourinho opted not to go for his normal, stultifying formation and seemed incredibly to be trying to score a goal. For Woolwich, Mr. Saunders spurned a chance by choosing a shot rather than a noggin bobbler. The high point was a bamboozling piece of erotica from Mr. Orwell, but ultimately this resulted in not a jot. Newton Heath came roaring back and ended the half in superior fashion with Valencia suggesting in the strongest possible terms that he was due a penalty, and Harry the Helmet proving his worth with a couple of dolphins*.
The second half proffered more of the same; United, as expected, were defending solidly and neither Walcoué’s French magic or Mr. Saunders brand of high-octane jiggery pokery or Mr. Orwell’s wizardry provided the breakthrough. As an Arsenal fan, one of the main recurring trains of thought is: Which run-of-the-mill, overpaid journeyman is going to suddenly turn into Zinedine Zidane purely because it’s Arsenal they’re playing. In this match my money was on Matteo Darmian suddenly transforming into a decent left back and driving one in from thirty yards like Roberto Carlos. But no. It was The Haircut himself, the ninety million guinea dud, Mr. Pogba. He sent a ball through to Herrera, who cut it back to the four-foot wonder Mr. Mata for a goal.
Stop! Brigadier Time, cried Mr. Windsor, and our Bullet from the Bench, our Seventy Minute Saviour came on, and ten minutes late Master Oxlade-Chamberlain appeared, on for Private Pike. The two combined wonderfully for the equaliser; a delightful cross met with the famous pate of Goring Hildred to make it matchsticks**. Much gnashing of teeth in the Newton Heath dressing room, and yes, I would have taken a draw before the match.
We turn then to Spexit. A very special event, for which Wembley had provided much of the backdrop. Is this the Spursiest thing ever to have happened? Perhaps. For this season, at least. They have made the last sixteen of Europe just the once since 1997. As many times as Leicester, Newcastle and Leeds. Only three fewer than the Abu Dhabi Vulgarians. And a full sixteen fewer than Arsenal. Shadow is not the word. We are talking total eclipse. Any Spurs fans reading – and I know that there are – the Europa League draw is on the 12th of December.
Looks very much like we’ll finish in our traditional second place in the group and will undoubtedly face fearsome opposition in the round of 16. Loathsome long-hair Mr. Cavani put the Parisians ahead, but we were awarded a Tottenham*** when Whizzbang Saunders was brought down by vowel-pauper Grzegorz Krychowiak. Mr. Verratti scored a hilarious own goal but the joke was on us when Mr. Webbley sent Lucas’ noggin bobbler past Mr. Ramsden to level up.
On Sunday we have a date with Bournemouth. At home. SURELY a match we can win, November or not. We shall of course face Benjamin Fowler who shall provide a stern test for Messrs Costerley and Masterson.
*A diving save
*** Slang for a penalty, due to the surprising regularity that they are awarded to Spurs.