I have witnesses.
Okay, witness. But before the ball was even kicked I said to Tuffy—yes, the Tuffy of Deadspin commenter pseudo-fame—"I have a bad feeling about this."
I should qualify, my bad feeling was more of a "It's 2-1 late and United gets a goal against the run of play to salt it away 3-1" kind of bad feeling. I really wasn't prepared for the absolute emasculation of Arsenal at the hands, or more accurately, the feet of the Mancs.
If my feeling had been that bad, I never would have bothered to get out of bed. Instead Tuffy and I were seated in the back room at Ginger's in Chicago with fear, loathing. and sweaters.
It's become my default viewing locale. It's not a chain and it's close. And the waitresses have started to recognize me enough to call me "Sweetie." What's not to love?
This: there was a $10 cover. Not the bar's fault I know, but, the staff originally had told early arriving patrons—otherwise know as
masochists Liverpool fans—that the United v. Arsenal match was only going to be on in the two back rooms (the bar is laid out almost like three separate rooms). This makes some sense as anyone can walk in to the front of the bar, so to have the game on there, Ginger's would have had to charge cover to anyone who came in. Not that there is any clientele walking into the place at 11 am on a Saturday who isn't there to watch fütbol.
So Tuffy and I had given up our prime seats at the bar and ended up in the back corner of the back room.
This was bad for two reasons:
1) The ambient temperature in the back room is about 20 degrees over the outside temperature. It was single digits on Saturday morning.
2) All of the good TVs are in the front room. It's almost all flatscreens up front. The back two rooms? Well they would have been kickin' in about 1985.
Of course not long after uprooting from maybe the two best seats in the bar, staff or management realized their grave error of their strategic ways and made the whole bar United v. Arsenal friendly.
I'd say things were starting off bad, but, like I said at least twice now already, I had a bad feeling before I even walked into the bar. So I saw it coming. Kind of.
What I didn't see coming that morning was the Liverpool loss to Barnsley. Worse I barely saw it at all. For some reason all but one of the maybe 6 small TVs in the back room was turned to the SPL. There is also a projection TV back there, but it's fuzzy and the color is washed out. It's like watching TV through a screen door.
So, the entire back room is focused on the one little TV.
We're cold. We're out $10. And we're all squinting at stoppage time at Anfield on this one small TV that has the bottom left corner of the screen washed out.
This was actually the high point of the morning.
I think the Mancs were mainlining Adderall in the locker room right before kick (you know while their grounds crew was watering the pitch... wtf?). At the same time, the Gunners were getting their pre-game pep talk from Franz Mesmer.
From first touch almost it was clear Arsenal was toast. And from a viewing perspective, there were two things that made this not the worst morning of my Newish Year.
1) It was over after United's second goal in, what, the 17th minute. This totally took the winds of taunt from the Red Devils' supporters sails. Really, who has the energy to laugh for 73 minutes?
2) As bad as I felt, every time I went to the bathroom I felt better.
Let me explain. I ordered coffee and had about 7 cups of it by half. That'll start to run through you after about cup number 3. So I had to go pee at least three times in the second stanza, but it wasn't the peeing that made me feel better, no.
There were two poor bastards sunk into a booth in the middle room. Every time I went to the loo, I looked straight at the two saddest of sacks ever seen since Phyllis Diller's boobs shuffled off this mortal coil along with the rest of her body presumably.
This isn't about another shot at the UF Scousers. It really looked as if the lifeforce had been sucked out of these two gentlemen, like someone hooked them up to that machine in the Princess Bride. They were lifeless, with only cheap pleather seats to help them fight gravity. As bad as my morning was, there was no way it was within 7 orders of shit magnitude of theirs.
For my beloved Gunners. It was bad. Really bad. Not losing to Barnsley bad. But still, really bad. At least I can delude myself with 10 solid rationalizations:
1) Sagna would not have had his wallet, girlfriend and pride all stolen by Nani the way Hoyte did. In fact if Barcary had played, I'm pretty sure that two of the crosses from which United scored wouldn't have even made it into the box.
2) That's the worst Gallas has ever played in an Arsenal jersey. He can't possibly ever play that poorly again.
3) Eboue and Toure weren't back mentally from the Cup of Nations where defense is totally an optional skill to employ.
4) The Eboue-on-Evra red card doesn't get flashed at any stadium named Trafford, new or old.
5) Lehmann played keeper. He sucks.
6) Rooney was well-rested after his suspension. This isn't likely to be the case when the two sides meet in April as United has more fixtures than the Gunners to play between now and then.
7-10) Some other things that I barely believe, but I believe enough to say that Arsenal wins the rubber match (the draw in October felt like a win) 2-1.
It's sheer coincidence that it's the same score that Barnsley beat Liverpool by.
Swear. To. God.
My brining it up one more time just for havin' a laugh, less of a coincidence.
But still, mark it down. I want there to be witnesses.