It occurred to me at a screening of the forthcoming talkie about Mr. P. T. Barnum that Arsenal Football Club would make a really tremendous circus sideshow.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, roll up, roll up! Step inside the tent please for one of the most STUPENDOUS WONDERS of the natural world. More INCREDIBLE than the Irish Giant! More dumbfounding than the Siamese Twins! More awe-inspiring than Schlitzie, The Last of the Aztecs! More gasp-inducing that Frank Lentini, the three-legged man! Ladies and Gentlemen I give you ARSENAL, THE INCREDIBLE DRAWING TEAM!
“Watch in WONDER as they produce more draws than a sixty a day smoker. CLUTCH your PEARLS as they give you more draws than a caricaturist on amphetamine sulphate! TELL YOUR FRIENDS how they manage to dig out a point against teams they should be beating easily! WOW at Arsenal’s starting more slowly than LAZARUS HIMSELF!”
Following the defeat against the slowly mentally disintegrating Jose Mourinho’s Newton Heath, what we needed was a couple of wins against mid-table Southampton and 19th placed West Ham. After all, this is supposed to be how we have maintained our position in if not the top four then certainly the top five. We are flat track bullies. So let us stuff their Charlie Austin’s head down the lavatory and flush it! Let us put itching powder on Pellegrino’s chair! Let us put a ‘KICK ME’ sign on Fraser Forster’s back! Let us wedgie David Moyes! Let us Wet Willy Mark Noble!
Yet we are denied even the simple, taken-for-granted pleasures of twonking three or four past the Premier League’s baseborn paupers are denied us this season. We are like a lazy teenager, unwilling to leave his pit at a reasonable hour, still half-asleep at eleven. By the time we’ve rubbed our eyes and realised what has happened it is too late. What is the remedy to this?
At my old school we were allowed to roll such laggards into an iced bath straight from their bed. Perhaps an old fashioned cold shower just before kick-off might do the trick? I could not bear another early ambuscade tomorrow against Newcastle. I do not wish to dispraise the team, for in actual fact a lot of decent soccer is being played, but the decent soccer comes TOO BLOODY LATE. Agin Southampton we required a late noggin-bobbler from the Brigadier to salvage a point.
“In the last two weeks unfortunately we are losing points after a bad start,” said Mr. Windsor, referring to the double concession in the first 11 minutes of our 3-1 defeat by Newton Heath eight days prior.
“I felt the Manchester United game played a bit of a part in the head of our defenders,” he said.
So let me get this straight. The very same players who let in two early goals just over a week before the match were a bit nervous about conceding an early goal so they ensured that they would concede an early goal by giving the ball away. Perhaps there is some credible psychology at play there, but it really just sounds like yet another poor excuse, like a parent trying to explain the antisocial behaviour of an errant infant: “He’s only stabbing you because he is just so worried about the English test he took last week.”
We have now conceded 32 Premier League goals away from home this year. One of the teams who have conceded more is Thames Ironworks, where we travelled on Wednesday. Now, do not get me wrong, coming away from West Ham with a point is better than coming away from West Ham with what you used to: Typhoid and an ear cut off.
And yet it was a deeply unsatisfying evening, dropping us to seventh in the table and without a win in three matches, making December the new November. The less said about the draw the better; but nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see West Ham playing Championship football in their massively subsidised new stadium next season and that still may happen, but I am just sorry that we could not have helped their highly amusing relegation.
Briefly then to our European draw, where we are to play a club called FK Ostersunds from Sweden. The only things I know about them are that they are managed by an Englishman, former Southampton defender Harry Potter, and they were only formed in 1996, just nine years before Chelsea. Perhaps the Europa League of Champions can provide some light relief fro our current travails in the Premier League.