Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's about damn time!

That headline is a direct quote from my mother, who knew fully well the importance of an Arsenal win this weekend. To say nothing of the importance of getting one over the despicable Manchester United.

Apologies for my invisibility in the last week.  A heavy bug kept me from doing much but wallowing in my own self-pity. That and the fact that I've just been downright in dismay and driven by anger toward the Arsenal at the moment.

Nothing fixes that like a win over a top rival though, does it?

Arsenal finally produced a committed performance against Sir Alex Jintao's team of divers, cheaters, whiners and drugs-test missers. One of the many reasons my bile toward United is as strong as it is is the blind herd mentality that it takes to be a United supporter in the States. I was recently told that a major department store carries their shirts on its racks. This is not a department store known for sporting apparel - much less football shirts. And they certainly don't represent anyone else. No, just the massive global marketing machine of the Glazers and Sir Alex Jintao. Same goes for those louts at ESPN. Week after week after week, they'll have United up for show in the Champions League and highlight packages, not a whiff of anyone else. (Author's note: I'm trying to keep this clean.) So yeah, way to go to the kids of America. Ra ra ra, United! Yarbles to that, I say.

So when I see a parade of United shirts pouring into my football pub at 6:00 a.m. on a cold fall morning, I shake my head with pity. Yet only for a second. It's when they starting running their mouths with the damnedest of songs that the blood really starts to boil. And I'll really get going when I hear complaints about a goalkeeper being down too long when he's just been kicked in the face by a (ahem, no expletive here!) midfielder, ex of Spurs, ex of Hammers who should have already been sent off for a challenge from behind that spoiled perfectly flowing football.

I'll cut that here. Not the point. The point to sit on at the moment is that Arsenal finally turned up and held themselves accountable. 

Samir Nasri, as I've always said, was a delight. He showed, yet again, that rare commodity - balance on the ball. It is so valuable. And if ever there was a reason to find a small shred of this young man that actually did resemble Zidane, it's his balance. Little else beyond upbringing, to be fair.

Top marks for Gael Clichy again. That youngster, firmly rooted in the side for sometime now, had "The Great Ronaldo" in his pocket all day, as a friend from Liverpool commented via email not 30 minutes after the match. Ronaldo is such a poor excuse for class. I could say it all day long, he's got bags of quality yet absolutely no class. To see him continue to go to ground, and in such an important match, is laughable. It's utterly transparent.

Words for Rooney ... I won't even waste my time. He's a punk. Has he ever walked off the pitch at halftime without berating the official? Oh, and how much was he in Jintao's backpocket for this one? Shameful, absolutely shameful performance by the official. (Six Minutes!?!?!?)

Bendtner needs to show himself with better effort and finishing if he's to be considered in that position as a singular striker. We've lots of hurt men at the moment. Now is a big opportunity for the Dane. We've all seen his flashes but he'll need to be better on the big stage than he was yesterday morning.

I was happy to see Fabianski come in with as much confidence as he did after Almunia succumbed to injury. His distribution turned us up field quickly and again, that width and pass we've now got with Theo and Nasri is awfully promising. Gallas didn't screw it up, for that we can be thankful.

It's hard, after matches like that to discuss it without breaking down every unique performance or simple twist through the midfield. For the moment, I'm just pleased that Arsenal could be bothered enough to show some actual passion and try to get this thing moving again. 

And I'm pleased that those herd mentality United supporters got a kick in the teeth.

Finally, cheers to fellow Gooners Jamie and Carl for a great performance down the pub while I had to keep the mouth (relatively) shut to keep the cough down.


casey said...

I'd agree w/ you whole heartedly if ESPN didn't also show Liverpool. Not that I'm complaining on that front. But like em or hate em Man U are probably the most known team in the world. You can find their shirts on all continents.

Carl said...

Colin remember I will be the hammer to your anvil. With that it does seem that sometimes people sing just to hear their voices taking away from an enjoyable match. Now counterpoint to that I have been known to bring a drum down to the pub. I guess it is a hard decision to make to watch quietly or to be a raucous fool? I guess booze will be the key factor there. Also I would like to hear new intelligent songs versus the same old Karma Chameleon and bay city rollers followed up by nursery rhymes.

Jim said...

My issue with United is not that they are the most-known team in the world. That I can accept. They're THE winners of English football over the last 16 years or so.

No, my issue is what all those people do and say once they put on those shirts available on every continent. The behavior of many of their fans, in my experience, exceeds the obnoxiousness of people who have followed the "winners" in any other sport during my lifetime. Bulls fans in the '90s, Yankees fans about 8-10 years ago; Cowboys fans in the mid-'90s (and that's really saying something), none of those groups of people can hold a torch to how United supporters react.

I lost my head and got aggressive when Liverpool beat United this year, but it was a long time coming. I've been waiting for that day for a long, long time. With United fans, it just comes so close to crossing the line between friendly boasting and purely ugly, hate. It seems like that's just how it's going to be, but that doesn't make it right or good to experience.