A painful performance, but Arsenal keep me smiling

It’s my first article of the new year and despite witnessing our agonising collapse at Craven Cottage last night, the Arsenal have still managed to put a smile on my face.
Even with a defiant cold/hangover that refuses to go away, the club have been able to keep me in good spirits. More on that later – I’ll get the depressing stuff out of the way first…
It’s always suggested that the Premier League is the greatest league in the world. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I don’t. Although for the majority, it’s proven that the marketing chiefs at Sky have done their jobs well, spreading the good word of England’s top league – AND IT’S LIVE!
Before I start the inevitable rant on Ray Wilkins, I best move on…
My word, what a week we’ve had. From Ji’s last-gasp winner against Manchester City, Villa’s sensational win at Chelsea and of course, not forgetting everybody’s favourite, Manchester United’s collapse at home against Steve Kean’s Blackburn. Our win over Queens Park Rangers wasn’t bad either!
But like we’ve all had to accept in recent years, things can change in an instant. After having the rare pleasure of a weekend of literally perfect football results, Arsenal fans were swiftly brought back down to Earth with an excruciating collapse at Fulham.
In an attempt to avoid sending you all into another furious frenzy, I won’t go into depth over the painfully-typical negatives everyone was able to pick up from yesterday’s match.
Not for the first time, we were punished significantly for making the very simplest of mistakes. Although a rare instance with Szczesny, we conceded after a poor goalkeeping mistake. Certainly though, I don’t think anyone can say we have anything to worry about there. If we play with our exceedingly-confident Pole in goal, we’ll be fine.
From an optimistic point of view, I thought Francis Coquelin is really showing his class in the team. Thinking back, throughout his entire Gunners career, he’s always been thrown into the deep end – usually without a paddle too, as at full back, he’s being played out of position.
For a young player that – apparently – is lacking experience, he’s proving to Arsene Wenger that he deserves a role in this team. He gets given chances and always performs very well, in my opinion. Even in the game which-must-not-be-named, I thought he gave an excellent performance. I can certainly understand why the dench-obsessed Frimpong went to Wolves on-loan!
At the end of the day, we allowed Fulham back into the game, due to our own 2nd-half demise. With the usual suspects still on the injury table, the fact that yesterday’s match was the third game in an incredibly busy festive period certainly didn’t help us out either.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming the busy fixture pile up for the loss. But no one can deny that it’s not an influencing factor. Lee Probert certainly played his part yesterday too.
I wonder what would have happened to Senderos if he was playing for us yesterday? I bet Johan Djourou has something to say about that! Although I will admit that if Johan had been given another chance, he probably would have ended up walking off 2 minutes later. Not many can handle the blistering pace of Kerim Frei’s – especially a fatigued Johan Djourou anyway.
Should the Premier League have a Winter break? That debate can wait until another day. Let’s all move on, look at we’ve got to do next and prepare for next Monday’s home FA Cup tie against Leeds United.
In other, much more heart-warming news, I spoke to the good people at Arsenal Football Club today. My grandad, who attended his first game at Highbury all the way back in 1929, will be celebrating his 90th birthday next month.
Sadly, his football-going days have been extremely limited in recent years. Since our move to The Emirates, he’s only managed to go to do one Emirates Cup tournament  – as well as a stadium tour. For the last couple of years, he’s always remained adamant that he’s unable to go again.
However, early last month, he expressed an interest and for the first time in years, said he’s got “one more” football match in him. I contacted the club a few days ago and they phoned me up this afternoon and to cut a long story short, we’re currently in the process of sorting “his day” out – and other special items to celebrate the occasion.
The Arsenal usually get a lot of stick – and based on personal experiences, it’s sometimes deserved. But I have to take my hat off to the club, for giving my grandad, a fan who’s been going regularly since the 1930’s, one last match. It’s not finalised yet, but tonight I will raise a glass to the club, thanking them for their incredibly generous gesture which will provide my family, especially my grandad, with a day we’ll never forget.

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