Wednesday, June 19, 2024

The Curse

Morning, all. 

Blogs is out of action so I’m covering this morning. 

As some of you who follow me on Twitter will know, I have a long-standing disdain for Leeds United. It dates back a couple of decades to a pub in Harrogate and an incident with one of their fans who labelled me, “Harry Potter Speccy Twat”. 

It’s fair to say, I didn’t take too kindly to that and I’ve been wishing the absolute worst for them ever since. And look, I’ve had a pretty good run of it…to the point, I’ve convinced myself I may have cursed them. If you’re going to get compared to a wizard, you might as well channel that energy. Right?

There was always something about Leeds I didn’t like. I reckon I suffered some form of PTSD off the back of all the FA Cup replays in the early 90s – no matter how many times you killed them, they just wouldn’t die – and then, of course, they fucked us twice during title run-ins in 1999 and 2003. Only after the latter, which happened the same year as ‘the incident’, did we turn a corner. 

When Leeds visited Highbury in April 2004, it was personal. From my seat in the North Bank Upper, I felt like I was conducting Thierry Henry’s masterclass. On the way to a 5-0 win, each of the Frenchman’s four goals crossed a line through my unwanted alias. Harry Potter Speccy Twat.

“Electrifying, electrifying” was how Martin Tyler described Henry. It really was. That win will forever be one of my favourites at Highbury. We played with the strut of a team that was on the verge of winning the championship and Leeds looked like a side destined for relegation. Their fate was sealed not long after and for 16 years they remained mostly out of view, at one point dropping down to League One and flirting with administration. Oh, how I laughed.

When we did have to face them, the scripts for cup games were similarly satisfying. Leeds thought they had us beaten in 2011 only for Cesc Fabregas to deny them a giant-killing win with a stoppage-time penalty. And then my personal assassin, Henry, did for them a year later, capping his return from America with one of the most remarkable moments the Emirates has witnessed. I’ve always sensed Titi hates Leeds too. 

As you can imagine, when Leeds returned to the top flight in 2020, I wasn’t best pleased. Worse was that everyone seemed to have forgotten what despicable cunts they were. Sure they played some nice football under Marcelo Bielsa, but spare me the weekly 5,000-word long reads about it, I thought. My only comfort was Covid denying their fans the chance to watch a half-decent team in person. 

When Leeds went down a year ago, I kept my fingers crossed for another tumble down the English pyramid. It hasn’t come to pass. In such circumstances, you just have to refactor your expectations. What would be the most painful outcome for them, I asked myself. 

How about squandering automatic promotion, making it to the play-off final and then losing at Wembley? That’ll do. 

All of which is to say, this morning I’m doing my best Nelson Muntz impression – pointing my finger in the general direction of Leeds and shouting HAHA

I was out of town yesterday, so I didn’t watch their showdown with Southampton, but as the result was confirmed and my train edged closer to London, it dawned on me that King’s Cross would be packed with miserable Leeds fans trying to get back north. 

Sure enough, as the doors opened, there they were. They came in all shapes and sizes but had one thing in common; the sadness in their eyes.

I couldn’t help but grin as I weaved between the white and yellow shirts on my way to the Victoria Line. Occasionally, one would let out a defiant roar, but his words would just hang in the air like a rancid fart. Nobody cared to join in. 

I’m a 41-year-old man. This type of thing shouldn’t make me happy. But it does. And it always will.

__

As you may have guessed, it’s a deathly quiet on the Arsenal front. After a week off many of the players have international friendlies coming up. I hope we’ll hear from some of them this week otherwise it’s going to be bloody quiet on Arseblog News

Elsewhere, the big story to drop yesterday evening was about Pep Guardiola potentially standing down as Manchester City manager at the end of next season. I’ll believe it when I see it, but can well imagine he’d rather be elsewhere should anything come of the 115 charges that have been levelled at his club. There’s talk of an independent commission reviewing the case next spring with a decision to follow a few months later. Who knows what that will bring? Carnage, hopefully. 

For the time being, all Arsenal can do is focus on themselves and, for me, that means tying down Arteta to a new deal and maintaining a level of stability that puts us in the best possible position to fill the void should they be penalised with a points deduction or more.  

As we know, Arteta’s current contract ends in a year’s time. Hopefully, we can sort that out sooner rather than later. 

Right, that’s your lot for today. As I mentioned, it’s a bank holiday here so I’m going to make the most of it by trawling some Leeds forums. 

Have a good one. Blogs will be back tomorrow. 🥸

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