For me that was the most important match of the season so far. And probably the most exciting one to be at, too. This was end-to-end stuff, punctuated by some excellent goals and moments of real drama. (Check out the big ol’ steel balls on Arteta to stick that second pen away. I’m surprised he can get them through airport security.) As Dave, my companion for the day and fellow podcaster, noted towards the end of the first half, it was the kind of game in which the time “just pishes away”.
Well, that was fucking awful. And, unless you’re on some sort of Kevin Costner in Field Of Dreams tip, it was probably also the end of our title challenge/tease. We have built it. They have not come. After the match, Arsene described the result as a “massive setback”, and you’ll find no argument here. Perhaps we – he and us – shouldn’t look so surprised. Arsenal haven’t won in the league at Stoke since Ramseygate. Though we tend to cuff them routinely at the Emirates, we’re yet to find a way up there.
Having let’s say semi-successfully negotiated the first horror run of fixtures, the end is almost in sight for Arsenal’s 2013-14 season, and silverware remains a real possibility. As does an arguably even more ‘exciting’ set of matches. So, as you would expect, Tim, Dave and Elliot ‘YankeeGunner’ Smith are in even more chipper mood than usual.
This will have to be a short one as I have an intimidating-looking visa application document to fill in. Not that much needs saying about what proved to be the sort of walk in the park that’s usually accompanied by bluebirds singing on your shoulder. Such was the pace of the game that the Arsenal players probably could have passed the ball around while chatting with cartoon wildlife.
When you come up against a bully, they best thing you can do is give him a swift punch in the nose.* Tonight, Arsenal faced the biggest bully in Europe and gave him a proper jab to the proboscis. But this German bully recovered, with a little help from the referee, and proceeded to give us a bit of a beating in the end.