Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Carling Cup Preview: You Are My Arsenal

I will freely admit that I came late to this party. It was only a few years ago that I started following Arsenal (I'm told that makes me a "Gooner"). There was no Simmonsesque process of elimination. Instead, it happened pretty naturally. Arsenal play beautiful football, their games were regularly on FSC, and I will freely admit to having a mancrush on a certain striker who used to wear the number 14 for Arsenal. If you're going to start following a foreign sports league, you might as well pick a pony to win, place or show (or, as the case may be with Arsenal recently, finish fourth). I bought my Arsenal scarf and kit, smiled at people on the street when they noticed them, and pretty much went about my business like any other fair-weather fan of a foreign sports team.

The only problem is that the closest bar in my neighborhood that shows football also happens to be home to the Spurs support club. Said bar is the home of Spurs supporters because, I'm told, they have been kicked out of every other football bar in New York. These supporters are not in any way like the chosen people they so like to align themselves with. In other words, there was no wandering through the desert looking for a home. You see, the Jews (of which me and a certain Dave Hirshey are proud members) are polite, well-meaning people. These Spurs supporters are nothing like that. No, I've learned that this particular tribe is rather loud and arrogant. And I'm still not sure why, other than it has to do with overcoming certain anxieties and lack of confidences.
It was in early September that I wandered into Floyd to see the much-anticipated Arsenal versus Manchester United match. As you may recall, Arsenal was at the top of table. The game ended in a hard-fought draw thanks to a last-minute Gallas equalizer. The late match was Spurs-Middlesbrough, so Floyd was filled with Spurs supporters waiting for their team to play. And wouldn't you know that the Spurs fans were cheering against me and the few other people wearing Arsenal gear. As impressive as it was that so many Spurs supporters could sing in unison, it was all pretty silly and frankly none of us who were there to see Arsenal play really cared. But, when the game ended in a draw, there was a huge cheer and songs and dancing and clapping and wagging of fingers. Remember, Arsenal were top of the table and they had just got a tough draw against Man U. Meanwhile, Spurs were deep in the relegation zone and, later that day, Spurs got the same result as Arsenal –- only against Middlesbrough.

Which brings me to today’s Carling Cup fixture between Arsenal and Spurs, and a point about disparate expectations. For Dimitar Berbatov, tonight will be the Spurs' match of the year. For Arsenal, it's just another chance to humiliate their north London rivals.
Hoo hum. How disparate are the expectations between these two teams? Such that injuries and African Cup of Nations absences mean that Wenger has to resort to starting first team members such as William Gallas, with Fabregas, Adebayor, Hleb and Sagna also having been named in the squad. That's right, Wenger has to change his game plan of letting the toddlers beat Spurs's starters. And it's really a win-win for Arsenal, no matter how much celebrating there will be if Spurs win. If Arsenal loses, they get to concentrate on the Champion's League, Premiership and FA Cup. If Arsenal wins, it's a trip to Wemberley for the kiddies. Oh, and another humiliating defeat to the Arsenal for those Spurs fans who populate Floyd.


ü75 said...

I hate Jermaine Jenas.

Also, according to soccernet, Denilson has pulled his "pork string". Can I get an Americanization on that, please?

Spectator said...

Like how I prepared for Arsenal's defeat today? I should be in politics for that jujitsu move. Although, Arsenal could still come back from two goals down (groan).

The NY Kid said...

Fuck Jermaine Jenas indeed. And what, 3 minutes in?

Poor Gallas is looking rough in the back today.

The NY Kid said...

Good lord, this is getting embarassing.

MoonshineMike said...

It is embarrassing. But I like your lack of simmons-esque breakdown on the sport. I Liked their uniforms, their style of play, their location, and the fact a good friend is a fan had nothing to do with it.

The Fan's Attic said...

i pulled my pork string once (ok, more than once, many times in fact) and it always felt good.

ü75 said...

Ouch. Glad I missed the 2nd half.