Are you a scholar of the playwright Sir William Shakespeare? Do you know of his work? If not, imagine that he is the Thierry Henry of words. He made up 1,700 words. He created the first modern play in Hamlet. He had a deep interest and understanding in the psyches of people from all walks of life, from Royalty all the way down to the criminal underclass we refer to today as Spurs fans. He made numerous observations on the nature of mental wellness and would have been exceptionally interested in the Woolwich Arsenal team of 2017 and in particular the game last Friday, agin Liverpool, which seems to summarise modern-day Arsenal in all its paradoxical, frustrating ‘glory’.
Indeed, young people frequently refer to a particularly outlandish transfer acquisition, such as that of Mr. Orwell from Royal Madrid as ‘a madness’. We could easily apply the term to the five and a half minutes in the second half. I have consulted my large tome of Sir William Shakespeare Quotations and seek now to apply them to the aforementioned match.
Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t – is one of his; Polonius in Hamlet. This cannot be applied to that match. There was, if anything, very little method at all, as we sank two nil behind. Oh, that way madness lies. Let me shun that, from King Lear. Could be applied to our defending in the first half; we could have been more than two down if it were not for the wasteful finishing of Messrs Mane and Salah.
From King Henry IV, Part II – Like madness is the glory of this life. Perhaps the definitive quote about those pell-mell moments when we soared from the mundane to the sublime and back again. And as the final whistle blew, what more apt a quotation could there be than Love is merely a madness from As You Like It. It certainly feels like a madness more frequently these days.
Another final line, again from Hamlet, came to mind as I watched Herr Klopp, the seemingly friendly and passionate manager of Liverpool, who likes to think he is everyone’s pal. I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw. Meaning that one should be able to distinguish one’s friends from one’s enemies.
And Herr Klopp is most definitely an enemy. Did you enjoy his hissy fit on December 11th when he was so outraged at the awarding a late penalty to Everton that his carefully constructed mask slipped, like the father who is a joy on social occasions but takes great pleasure in administering the cane when behind closed doors. Imagine the fragility that conceding three goals in rapid succession to Arsenal meant that you forked out 75 Million Guineas on a centre half. Imagine how much he would have paid it if they’d lost the game!
To Cwystal Palace then, home of Rotacism Roy, one of football’s lettered gentlemen, and certainly a manager who has been highly hospitable to Arsenal whenever we have met in the past. At Selhurst Park again he rolled out the red carpet, with Whizzbang Saunders scoring twice in one of his last games for Arsenal. Surely we will now bid him adieu on his way to the Abu Dhabi Vulgarians, this year’s Premier League winners, and I for one will be wishing him well.
We will continue with our great English literary heroes with a mention of Mr. C. Dickens. I repeat the following to myself before the referee blows his sliver snail to signify kick-off: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”
After three draws and one win from our four previous outings, it was vital to win if the fourth place Pewter Trophy was to be ours once more, especially after wins from Harry Kane FC, the Tromsø Mugsmashers and FC Chelsea 2003 in midweek. And yet again we had long periods of domination, with our tickety-tackety passing game in fine form but lacking in finishing.
Mr. Masterson, the Kilkenny Kaos, scored extremely neatly for one nil, but this was cancelled out by peanut-headed Harry Kane FC reject Townsend, player so execrable his parents named him Andrex. Yet that man Saunders, soon to be bundled onto a Manchester bound train, provided two goals, the second of which made possible by a Da Vinci of a pass from man of the match, our favourite Frenchman Jacques Wilshere.
The Eagles pulled one back but we remained resolute, and we are now level on points with super soaraway Harry Kane FC. With this latest Londinium victory in the South London Derby we have now won more Premier League London derbies (120) than any other side.
West Bromwich Strollers await, with their major irritant Mr. Pardew surely looking to both lift them out of the drop places and to avenge the defeat of his alma mater.
We should be prepared for his usual gamesmanship. As old Bill once said: “Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”