A tale of two cites this week. Or rather, a tale of one city featuring the Palace of Caserta, the Roman ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum and natural wonders such as Posillipo, the Phlegraean Fields, Nisida, and Vesuvius, and a town whose pride and joys are the Harlequin Shopping Centre and a centre-forward with a micropenis.
We shall alight on the first match, agin Watford.
The goal was something of a rarity, known as Fagin’s Delight, named for the fictional leader of a gang of pickpocketing children in the novel Oliver Twist by Mr. Dickens. On this occasion our playlet featured Mr. O’Bannon, in the role of the Artful Dodger, and Mr. Ben Foster as the distracted Victorian top-hatted gentleman at a street market. Mr. Foster stoops to examine something on a market stall, a piece of costumer jewellery perhaps, when Mr. Dodger O’Bannon swoops in and robs him of his pocket-watch, wallet, guinea notes and underpants, and is off down an alley before a peeler could be summoned. One nil to the Arsenal.
Now you may remember Mr. Troy Deeney’s comments following their 2017 victory over us, in which he accused us of lacking the testes to compete with Watford, and stated: “Whenever I play against Arsenal, I’ll go up and think ‘Let me whack the first one and see who wants it.”
This turned out to not be the first or last premature ejaculation of Mr. Deeney’s life. Just a few months later he failed at football’s prime ‘cojones test’, the penalty kick, when Harry the Helmet saved his effort in October of last year. So it was most agreeable when this highly unpleasant individual, who looks like one has left a waxwork of the rapper Mr. Drake too near the fire, decided to ‘whack’ Luke Terrier, the Winchester Wingnut, across his pan. Back in the good old days this would have been interpreted as nothing more than a friendly invitation to half a pint of mild and a couple of Woodbines after the match, but in to-day’s world, this meant Mr. Deeney was dispatched on the Shamble of Shame, leaving Watford to contest the remaining eighty minutes with ten chaps.
One might have thought at that point that the tie had come to turn the screw*, press home the advantage**, sneak a cake into the pocket***, help yourself to the beer pump****, shout up the stairs at the wife*****, send in the bailiffs****** etc., but no. No, no, no. Instead we decided to torture ourselves for the next hour and twenty, appearing to all the world as if we were the reduced side. Yet an away win is an away win is an away win, and it leaves us a point behind Hotspur of Middlesex with a game in hand.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once said ‘see Naples and die,’ but I don’t think the idea for their football team to expire when the Arsenal came to visit. But an assassination job it most certainly was. Such is the fragility of our backline, who among us felt that even a two goal advantage might prove insufficient when playing away at a stadium of a team second in the Italian league, and where they have lost only once this term, to the league leaders themselves? Yet we made a very troublesome tie look relatively easy. That is our season in a nutshell. Scrape past Teeny Weeny Deeney’s Watford and then make the second-placed team in Serie A look drab. Truly, we know not which Arsenal will emerge from the tunnel, Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Twat.
The goal that sealed the tie was the first direct free kick first Arsenal player to score in Europe with a direct free kick in Europe since Terence Hennessy against Roma in 2002-03. It made the Napoli glove butler, Mr. Meret, look as permanently baffled as their head coach Mr. Ancelotti. For one of the finest tactical managers in the world game, here is a man who constantly gives the impression that he can’t quite remember where he’s left his car.
This was a highly welcome win, especially in the light of the aberration in Manchester on Wednesday evening, and a masterclass from Mr. Emery, a manager who has surpassed Windsor and Chapman and Allison and Whittaker and every other Arsenal manager in terms of wins in his first fifty games.
*win a football match against ten men by playing the more attacking game
** win a football match against ten men by playing the more attacking game
*** win a football match against ten men by playing the more attacking game
**** win a football match against ten men by playing the more attacking game
***** win a football match against ten men by playing the more attacking game
****** win a football match against ten men by playing the more attacking game