Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Arsenal get the points against Chelsea or: The Cold War of Booze

Sunday was a wonderful footballing moment, as they say. You know the type. A simple turn and incisive pass that unzips the opposing midfield. A darting run to the corner flag. A looping cross to the middle that is then artfully touched down to an onrushing striker who lashes a violent shot - destined for the side netting - only to be pushed away at the very last by goaltender, stretched as he is.

I wonder, though, how often you consider the interconnectivity of the football moment?

Sunday morning, those moments spilled out into our football pub, The Highbury, in our little corner of the football world. And it included every last one of us. Arsenal supporters, Chelsea supporters (for what they're worth), Liverpool supporters, Bayern Munich supporters, Manchester City supporters (no, really), people who have no clue but wanted a drink, people who asked for clarification of the 'hand ball rule,' people who asked for clarification of 'extra time,' hip-hop girls who lost bits of their clothing at a show that we all were sorry to have missed (by the sound of it) from the night before, Kaiserslautern supporters, Celtic supporters, neighbor's sisters, swanky club owners, drunks, has beens, never will bes, three year olds, people who act like three year olds, people who just wanted to gamble, Sconnie girls, scoundrels, copywriters, football executives, club bartenders and a security detail the size of Gibraltar who deserve their own post someday.

Those of us there for the actual football brought it, and we brought it big time. It is, after all, an Arsenal pub, isn't it? So, while some of us (namely yours truly) were on the mat for a couple of weeks, letting the despair get the best of us, we (I) finally stood up again to be counted as an Arsenal supporter. In full voice from the start we let it be known to this entire assortment of people where we stood. They didn't, likely, realize just what was happening but they were, doubtless, going to come away with an experience. And it's what makes football, and what we have to offer those moments as they arise or as they are created, so special for all of us. It's what takes that fantastic footballing moment on the pitch and spills it out into a city at nine in the morning, some 3,000 miles away.

Doesn't hurt that this all happened in (and big thanks to regular Match Prick commentator Carl for this one) what turned out to be The Cold War of Booze. An escalation, bought on by a few, to carry an affect on the many. It started with one round for a few Arsenal supporters as they let their voice be heard. It turned into a statement of intent with a round for anyone and everyone. And it turned into a full-blooded cold war with alternating and escalating rounds of shots. Why? Hell, why not? Might as well pour fuel on the fire while it's raging, see what happens.

Fortunately for everyone involved, this happened to hit right around the time Arsenal decided that they were done looking like fools. They were all too close to getting run right off the pitch as Chelsea took early control. I thought we were in for another loss and we were contemplating the worst (it's times like those that the financial worries truly rear their head, when you think of lost European revenue, and even more reliance on teenagers to fill the roster in the coming seasons). It was then that Robin van Persie slid waaaay offside to slot home the equalizer. It was then that Adebayor, who has not been in his best form, had a simply beautiful layoff for van Persie who turned sharply to drive the winner past Petr Cech. Another loss at Stamford Beach for Chelsea, another two goals against (you're welcome Jim and our other Liverpool Match Pricks) and another ever-so-slight positive glimmer of hope to the edge that we've been standing on. Seven points back three weeks before the holiday fixtures is hardly an emergency. 

That it could have been disaster with a loss, however, means we're far from comfortable.


Brook said...

Highbury is NOT an Arsenal pub!

Joe thought the name was cool.

End. Of. Story.

- Flounder

Carl said...

This match was such a heavy weight off of my shoulders. Arsenal had been showing very lazy lackluster performances, with that said I will still support them even if they drop to the bottom of non-league play. I may be a relative newcomer in the football world, 10 years maybe, but I do know where my heart lays. I get a little disheartened when i wake up early to watch a match on sat or sun and the buoys in red and white look like shadows fleeing from the sun. Then to turn up against Man Utd and be the dazzling spectacle that I have come to associate Arsenal football with. I posted a few weeks back the agony of being a supporter. The team you love so much it feels as if it is a part of your family, that maybe a bit of singing or drumming or shouting is all it takes to get them fired up. Yes, I agree with Colin that on that specific moment last sunday was a moment of a truly interconnected event. Between the people that were watching with us may have not felt what I felt I tried to impart the sadness , anger at watching Arsenal gift a goal through just some sloppy play on the part of Almunia. I was a pacing sullen madman, without a drop of booze in me. All while the whole place is amidst the Cold War of Booze. We went to the half i went outside to get away from the Man Utd fans and the lazily sung songs, the Chelsea fan in blanket, Georginho who is a great guy just not on match day. I felt that This could be a day that my faith in what's right may be shaken. I went back in with my jaw clenched and my head held high because even in a loss I was going to show class. I watched while again pacing the floor like a caged tiger filling with despair at another loss and more points lost and further out of the title. I even made a joke about the Second Best Club Competition in Europe. When Van Persie slotted that dubious goal in I ran around joyfully triumphant because even if we drew that would be a point off of Chelsea at the Bridge always a hard task. Then when the next went in I lost it. How much did we need that? I think there was a collected moment of inner happiness. The jintao-denfrude was breaking. My civil rights were returned. When it was over i was sad that I couldn't stay to party with everybody, but in my heart i couldn't have partied harder.

MulderBurns said...

Great posts, guys. Sums up the totally unexpected nature of that win Sunday. I was watching quietly at home, nursing my annual Thanksgiving cold, and was pretty much resigned to a loss - and seeing us fall to 6th or even 7th in the table.

Then within 3 minutes - what a change! Must, must follow this up with another win, and then get a streak going and at least get within touching distance of the top of the league. I'd love to see the title race truly be a 4-way battle royale, right down to the end. We'll see.