A pleasant evening in Lisbon for the faithful, and at an exceedingly agreeable time for kick-off. Most thoughtful of Mr. E. Uropa, benefactor of this competition, to have at least one game coinciding with cocktail hour, or near as dammit. One’s beverage of choice at 6pm is currently that Italian delight the Negroni, a blend of gin, sweet vermouth, Campari & orange peel. It is traditionally accompanied by some hors d’oeuvres, olives perhaps, some charcuterie, perhaps an almond or two. Yesterday’s accompaniment was a few slices of Sebastian Coates, the headbutting mountebank, and a few smoked chunks of Lisbon pride. Let us not forget that they had not lost a competitive match here since September 2017, and had won their last three European games at home without conceding.
It was overall a fairly indifferent performance, in a slightly queer shuffle of the pack; Shackleton at left back and the Wise Old Elf at right back. The last time I saw slower pair of wings was when I had just bagged a grouse on the Glorious Twelfth and the poor bugger was descending to earth. Victory came from a deliberate, non-arse ricochet goal from our number 23, Danielsan Arantes do Dat Guy Nascimento Santos Welvalho. How much sweeter is a goal from him that he knows something about.
We should also consider consecutive victory number X last Monday.That was quite something, was it not? As one often does after resounding victories, with an enemy vanquished, one begins reminiscing about comparable British military victories. I expect that I was not alone in recalling the Battle of Naseby on 14th June 1645. With Parliament (Arsenal) fighting with a New Model Army (Emery’s New Model Army), with its cutting edge supplied by Cromwell (Emery)’s Ironsides, cavalry with the discipline to rally after a charge and fight again.
It seems that if our first halves are our first charges, the chaps – on this occasion marshalled by Captain Orwell (General Sir Thomas Fairfax) – come out to charge again with the scent of victory in their nostrils. Naseby was decisive. It remains to be seen whether this blistering run of victories will prove anything long lasting but we should enjoy it whilst it lasts.
Let us talk for a moment on the performance of our very own General Sir Thomas Fairfax, Melvin Orwell. Consider his contributions: His delightful first-time finish for the equalising goal, which was such a pleasure to watch that number seven Henry MacMillan decided to observe it from a reclined position. The extraordinary Mesmertron pass, threaded with the delicacy and precision of a Jermyn Street tailor, taking out three defenders as if a friendly sniper had been positioned in the upper tier. Such was the hypnotic and perfectly weighted quality of the ball, it made England’s finest Harry Maguire look as if he had just been robbed by two street urchins on motorised scooters who had fled the scene in different directions.
The third was a joy, a wonderful move concluding in a flicked gentleman’s favour for O’Bannon that had Schmeichel Junior whinging and screaming to the referee much like his gallumphing father used to do twenty years ago. Orwell’s tally reads: One goal, one gentleman’s favour, four chances created, 93% pass completion, several lives ruined. His statistical diagram looks like a seamstress has dropped 1,000 needles on a green carpet. Mr. Maguire is currently receiving regular laudanum from Leicester’s doctor, Jonny Evans is taking a tablespoon of Batley’s Sedative Solution from his concerned mater, Daniel Amartey is glugging away on Mother Bailey’s Quieting Syrup and Ricardo Pereira is rocking back and forth with his thumb in his mouth muttering the word “how?”.
Considering the pressure Fosse put us under in the first half hour, this was a really meaningful and important victory. How many times in recent seasons have we capitulated in the face of pressure from well-organised mid-table sides? We were so good that their striker Vardy, who has the eyes of a shithouse rat at the best of times, ran from the pitch claiming a dose of the Tottenham quickstep but we know better. He was attempting to run away from the pain.
Another amusing pair of footnotes.
Firstly how I laughed at Radoslav Holdčević’s penalty area blatant handball going unpunished. Arsenal have objectively been on the wrong end of these sorts of injustices in the past, so it is exceptionally satisfying for these kinds of things to be finally going our way. And the last footnote: Mr. Orwell becomes the top-scoring player from Wandsworth in the history of the Premier League, beating Julian Kingsman of Middlesex Hotspur and Owen Ross of the Abu Dhabi Vulgarians.
Next, we have the SLD, the South London Derby, agin Mr. Hodgson’s Crystal Palace this Sunday. If they are dispatched ‘tis but two more victories – Blackpool & Liverpool – to match our all time winning run. October 28th is of course the feast day of Saint Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of lost or hopeless causes. This time last year we would certainly have been clutching beads and praying to St Jude; we were already nine points behind the Vulgarians.
It seems to be a different matter this season.