Thursday, 9 August 2012

NorthbankAWAYgirl West Brom 3 - 2 Arsenal - A Thank you

Football, to me, is family and that feeling of belonging has only grown during this season.
I started the season with a small Arsenal 'family', half of which were actually related but as I look back on the photos from last game of the season, I see a weekend that involved twenty-six people having dinner together, going out and then rolling out of the hotel in the morning, fancy-dress and hangovers in hand.

Needless to say, my Arsenal family grew exponentially this year, and the West Brom game really showed that. Planned months in advance, when I barely knew half of the people I was going with, I was rather nervous about the whole affair, however once the game was closing in on us, despite the nerves around the potential score-line, I was rather excited.

This is just a thank you to everyone that has made this season so unbelievably fantastic.
I cannot wait for 12/13 to start now.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Stoke 1 - 1 Arsenal

I was quite gutted when I wasn't on the train up to Stoke on that Saturday morning with the rest of them, however when I was sat on my sofa in my pyjamas watching the match, it felt infinitely better than standing in the cold watching us struggle to get a point against the hateful, Ramsey-booing scum.

Once again we underestimated the opposition and failed to adapt our game to suit the opposition. Crouch's header from a long ball over the top showed our inability to deal with such threats; and despite a relatively quick response from the team we could not find that elusive second goal to take all three points from the Neander valley.

Due to family members who clearly have no idea of priorities, I will not be attending the last home game of the season but instead will be attempting Glastonbury-chic at a rather rainy Somerset wedding. When I bought my outfit for a wedding in May I really wasn't expecting it to follow the wettest April in this history of the world ever. Luckily I will be at the West Brom game, in my fancy dress, following what will no doubt be a very messy night in Birmingham.

Arsenal 0 - 0 Chelsea

Through circumstances beyond my control (namely a relative who didn't check the fixture list when planning her wedding) Chelsea was to be my last home game this season. My hope was that the blues would take an absolutely bollocking and the rest of the day would be an alcohol-fuelled blur. One of those things may have still happened.

Needless to say the highlight of the afternoon was not the 90 minutes inside Ashburton Grove where we looked uninspired and couldn't seem find it in ourselves to beat an almost second-string Chelsea side. I'd say the most joyous moment was being able to take my specially-bought waterproof jacket off and bask in the glorious day that took most of us by surprise.

It was a frustrating game where chances were made but not taken and some players just didn't step up to the plate. When attempting to look at this objectively, a draw against Chelsea in itself is not a bad result. However after dropping six points to QPR and Wigan, a draw became not good enough as it's put us in a position where we can't really come back from the cultural void of Stoke without all three points.

Whilst the plan was to 'take it easy' due to a Birthday party that night, there was a point in the Tollington when I had half a pint of Staropramen, a Jagerbomb and a glass of pink champagne - far more exciting than the football.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Arsenal 1 - 2 Wigan

I think we were all slightly guilty of complacency on Monday evening. Not just the players, but probably the fans as well. The atmosphere was already weird when the usual block of opposition colour in the corner of the clock end wasn't there. In fact it was only when they scored the first goal that I saw the thin sliver of celebrating fans that I even knew there were any Wigan fans in the ground.

Two silly defensive mistakes early on, compounded by the loss of Arteta to what seems to be a fairly serious ankle injury means that within eight short minutes we were two goals down, before a lot of the crowd had even made it from the pub to their seats. Vermaelen's goal soon after surprisingly brought that complacency back to the ground. It would be just like the Spurs game all over again, no worries, we can score another two, easy.

Obviously this didn't happen, as Wigan had "worked us out", so to speak, and after going two goals up they spent the rest of the game with every single player behind the ball, and time-wasting wherever possible. For most of the game Wigan had more players behind the ball than fans in the stadium.
This isn't a criticism of their tactics, however, if anything it would be a criticism of ours.
You cannot blame a team who are two goals up, away from home, battling relegation to do anything other than keep that lead.

It felt like we never turned up against Wigan. It felt like we assumed it would be easy despite the opposition's recent results against Man Utd and Liverpool. But it wasn't easy and after the game against QPR we should have known that it wasn't going to be easy.

Although it's not the end of the world it does mean that we have given Chelsea a sniff of third place just before we play them, which isn't really that ideal. Hopefully their Champions League game tonight against Barcelona will also give them a sniff at the final (but obviously not so much as to actually let them go through), so their minds would be in some way occupied on Saturday afternoon.
Three points are compulsory.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Wolves 0 - 3 Arsenal

I'm pretty sure that there's nothing better than watching a football game on an internet stream. Obviously by 'nothing better' I actually mean 'there are lots of things better' than watching a football game on an internet stream.

After rushing home from work to catch kick off, my parents, Lilly and I sat down to watch an already pixl-ated picture become rather more pixl-ated when blown up on our television screen, meaning it became rather difficult to accurately differentiate one player from another. When shouting at what appeared to be Robin Van Persie for missing an absolute sitter at one point it all made a bit more sense when we realised it was actually Aaron Ramsey. Despite the lack of visual clarity, the stream managed to withold from buffering during all three goals against the midland club and you could just about tell the difference between the yellow cards and the sending off. That's all you need really, right?

It's safe to say that we killed off the game against Wolves in the first fifteen minutes, with Benayoun's strike just making sure it was all alright in the second half; however this is in no way negating the vital (and only) two saves that Szczesny made to keep the scoreline at 2-0 and prevent the Wonderers from even getting a sniff at any sort of point.

All in all it was a fairly easy day in the office, with little really to talk about other than the fantastically audacious chipped penalty from Robin Van Persie, a couple of great saves, the ever hard-working Benayoun, and the proof that Walcott sometimes has a good touch, which leaves the cynic in me to think why sometimes it seems like he has no touch at all!

Because of the wonder of FA Cup fixtures and television scheduling, by the time Tottenham play their next league game we could potentially be 11 points ahead of them, as they don't play this weekend and our game against Chelsea in 8 days time is an early kick off. I will be making no jokes about 'minding the gap' right now as we should know better than anyone how quickly situations can be turned on their head. However, the position we're in at the moment is a strong one, for Champions League football and for the restoration of pride. The game on Monday shouldn't be underestimated considering Wigan's recent victories over Chelsea and Manchester United, however if this team has learnt anything from losses to the likes of QPR and Swansea, it's to never underestimate teams. If we take control of the game early on, and if the crowd continues to make noise like it has done in recent weeks then nothing less than three points should be on the cards.