Arsenal are busier than a one-armed wallpaper hanger recently and there are two matches to consider this week, neither of which are very high quality. The first is agin Swansea Town, and eftsoons Red Star of Belgrade.
‘Doing it the Hard Way’ is surely in contention for our new motto when the next ghastly corporate rebranding of Arsenal happens. After all, Victoria Concordia Crescit or Victory Through Harmony could not be a less apt description of things at the moment. Or perhaps Victoria per animi vigor (Victory Through Mental Strength) or Victoria Handbrake Crescit (Victory Through Handbrake).
Yet again we decided to most generously allow our moderately talented but well-organised foes a one-goal start. Everton, a club currently hurtling towards the ground and frantically trying to pull the emergency chute cord, and Norwich, ghastly provincial upstarts who should have been dispatched whilst wearing canvas pumps. And once more we showed fortitude in victory. Yes, it was a fourth successive win, and Sir Chips would have felt that it was the cherry on the cake following his barnstorming, majestic performance at the AGM last week.
Sam Clucas, he of the extra consonant, got clucky with his 22nd minute goal to give the pit ponies a half time lead. And yet, cometh the hour, cometh the brick shithouse, and sure enough, our new folk hero Mr. Collingwood, who seems to be a ballet dancer in the body of a bare-knuckle fighter, popped a beauty in. Harry Bell, Mr. Shackleton, and forwards Lakeshead and Orwell were all at the party, with Mr. Collingwood happy to oblige via a ricochet for 1-1.
And there he was for number two, happy to Ladle the punch* for another Gentleman’s Favour** for 2-2. We delighted in his performance, particularly the Achilles’ Special*** that sent Mr. Saunders away down the left flank. I like the cut of his jib, his mainsail, his topsail, his standing lug and indeed his junk. What a player we have on our hands. Despite the laboured way that it came about meseems that a win is a win, and that was the 13th in a row at Fortress Highbury.
To Europe then, and anything Spurs can do, we can do better. Middlesex’s lilywhites scraped a win via an offside goal against the worst Real Madrid side in a hundred years, in Europe’s second tier competition The Champions’ League. Meanwhile in the bog boy’s competition, The Europa League of Champions, Arsenal magnificently brushed aside Red Star Belgrade as if they were a reasonably good time from one of Europe’s poorest leagues.
And when I say ‘brushed aside’, I mean ‘drew with’. And when I say ‘magnificently’, I mean ‘poorly’. Verily, this was one of the dullest games I have had the misfortune to watch. As you know I like to be wheeled about the estate in a comfortable wicker bath chair, and the comfort of the vehicle coupled with the soporific nature of the soccer proved too much and I dropped off. Happily the butler, Archibald, had recorded the ‘highlights’ for me, and from what I can see through this monocle, Mr. Cockleton resembled an enthusiastic competition winner more than an actual professional footballer.
A point was enough to send Woolwich through to the knockout stages, which as Arsenal fans know, are named as such because we always get knocked out in them. The only move that didn’t immediately have me reaching for the tincture of opium was a magnificent save from all six foot six of our gargantuan glove butler Andre Giante. Wonderful stuff.
To Manchester then, for our game against the Vulgarians in the safest stadium in the world, where the stewards outnumber fans two to one. I think I speak for us all when I say a win against these unspeakable Johnny-Come-Latelys would be welcomed by every decent man, woman and child in the Empire.
May god be with us!