Monday, May 5, 2008

TWAG: The Joy of Six (Instead of the Joy of Cesc)

Six. That's how many of us there were for the Arsenal v. Everton kickoff on Sunday morning.

It was an irritatingly early start time, but that's really how heartbreaking this season was? Only six people—plus two more who wandered in about halftime—could be bothered.

Hell, Everton even had something to play for. One point would secure them a UEFA Cup spot. There's also the Gunner's 50-something game home unbeaten streak at the Emirates.

And fuck, there are only two games left in the season, then there's no more Arsenal futbol for literally months. Christ, shouldn't we all be squirrels out there collecting the remaining nuts no matter how shitty they might be because there aren't going to be any more for a while?

If nothing else, it was a chance just to watch and enjoy football. There were no nerves because Arsenal weren't moving out of third place. It was a rare opportunity to watch without having an irrational emotional attachment to every cross, every clearance. Lehmann could let another soft shot roll between his legs, and it would simply be a humorous and apropos farewell.

Turns out, though, detached spectating really is not that fun, even less so when it is compounded by massive disappointment of what might have been. Okay, it's a little fun when you are beating the shit out of Derby in a 6-2 scorgasm, and making them pay for a your season of second-half failure; but a listless 1-0 win over Everton where Song and Traore are maybe the best players on the pitch isn't much reward for fandom.

This must be what it's like to be a Tottenham fan. Before the games even kick off it doesn't really matter if you win or lose because when all is said and done, you're going to end up someplace mid-table, give or take.

But the shit does matter (or rather "matter" in a very relative sense—I can maintain perspective). That's what makes it worth dragging our asses out of bed when sane people are still sleeping off their hangovers (note to any European readers: fuck, it's hard sometimes being a fan of this game seven time zones away). Yeah, I'm still pissed at the non-call and the call in the Liverpool Champions League matches. And I'm even more pissed off at the shoddy defense after Adebayor leveled, but what's the point if you're not going to have strong emotional reactions? Sometimes you can't bring yourself to watch, but you can't make yourself look away.

There's a reason they keep score. And a good one. Meaningless matches are hardly worth it. Sure it's football, but it's like having drunk sex with an ex that you don't give a shit about anymore. It's slightly better than going home and rubbing one out, but it's not even close to what it feels like when you are nuts about the other person.

Plus it was a pretty lackluster match on both sides.

The best moment wasn't even on the field of play. At one point the Setanta cameras showed Helb, Fabregas, Flamini, and Rosicky all sitting right next to each other behind the bench. A fucking world class midfield—at least two of which have probably played their last match as Gunners—and all of them spectators.

I'd put even money down the camera man was a United fan having sadistic laugh. And he'd be right to.

Arsenal won. Yippee. Had the Prem still been up for grabs, the Gunners would have found a way to squander the lead and draw, though. Maybe that's the silver lining, had they still been in it a Sunday draw might have sucked the life force right out of me. But it's more of a sterling than a Britannia silver. When the expectations were low—much preseason punditry had the team finishing outside the top 4—Arsenal played loose and they won early and often. They didn't even drop a match until December 9, to 'Boro of all teams.

It wasn't until they Gunners found themselves five points clear atop the table that they began to look like deer, or rather fawn, in the Prem headlights and reeled off consecutive draws against (God this hurts) likely relegation fodder Birmingham City, Villa, bottom-halfers Wigan, and 'Boro.

Seriously, we only took one of six points from fucking Middlesbrough this year? I hope Gareth Southgate still wakes up with cold sweats reliving his missed PK from the 1996 Euro.

Even with all those dropped points, with a win at Stamford Bridge and a win at Old Tratford it was there for the taking and it was theirs for the taking. Instead Drogba decided to show up for the second half and give the Gunners a big "fuck you" for a going away present and Owen Hargreaves hit a ridiculous free kick nobody was expecting him to even take.

Credit to them. They beat us when it mattered. But it's also clear this Arsenal team didn't know how to play under pressure. That and they had to play Senderos probably a little too much to make anyone feel good. Maybe even Philippe himself.

So that's it. Had you told me before the season started that Arsenal would finish third I would gladly have taken it. But with only Sunderland left on the fixtures, I'm anything but glad. I will probably sleep in next week no matter what time kick is.

After the other Sunday match, I wanted to make myself feel better by taking a shot at the people looking up at us. For completely arbitrary reasons a buddy of mine adopted Liverpool as his EPL team to follow this year. I applaud him for trying to get into futbol by having a team to follow, but I also chided him for his choice. When I cracked on his pick in an email by calling them Liverfouth (which I admitted stole from some blog), he responded, "And how much worse is that than Thirdsenal?"

Ouch. The truth does indeed hurt... but only until the 2008-2009 season starts.


Keith said...

As a Villa fan, let me thank Arsene for getting the team to play.

/UEFA hopes not dashed despite losing at home to effing Wigan.

Precious Roy said...

Yeah, you're UEFA Cup hopes might still be alive, but Villa fucking destroyed my fantasy team.

Keith said...

Please tell me you didn't make Ashley your captain.

Precious Roy said...

No. No captains in the yahoo league, but I picked up Agbonlahor (and dropped Torres to do it) and Carson (in exchange for Fabianski). Carson went negative. Dick.

Keith said...

You picked up Carson? then don't get mad at me for your stupidity. . .the guy's kept 3 clean sheets all year, and makes the most basic of saves a camera spectacular. I'm glad Martin hasn't bought him outright.

Gabby wasn't an awful pick though- he should have had a brace Saturday, but Chris Kirkland is apparently Superman.

Precious Roy said...

Yeah, saw the highlights and Agbonlahor got robbed. Wasn't expecting a clean sheet from Carson, but crimony, it's Wigan. At home. That should have been a win with a few routine saves.

Had to say 'Goodbye' to any shot at 5th, but top seven in a 50 team league ain't bad.

Lingering Bursitis said...

Top 7 in the league is a goal that Spurs dream of, but will never reach. Ergo, you should be satisfied.

Mike Georger said...

the best part about carson is he is going to catch twice as much as hes worth because hes english

The Fan's Attic said...

The problem with Carson was that he went on these streaks where Villa was wonderful and he was getting great points, then it would go in the can bringing you negative points. The trick, as always, was to figure out when he was going to do well.

I managed to hit him on most of his big peaks, but I was always sticking with him a week or two too long.