Arsenal Divide And Conquer: Mine's A Meat Dansak

So that’s what laughter felt like! For the last two weeks I have been a grumpy, miserable wretch, bent on making those around me feel the same gloom with snappy remarks to quite plausible questions or requests. With victory over Liverpool, my easily goaded bout of blues (turned hostility) was lifted, and laughing again felt extremely liberating. Even James May, a guest on a repeated episode of Have I Got News For You last night, had my cheeks rising. Now it seems I’ll laugh at anything.
I’ve just started a new book called Born in Blood and Fire, a concise history of Latin America and a decent read too. After encountering one another, Spanish and indigenous people spent many years trading, and for the first-half yesterday, Arsenal and Liverpool enjoyed a similar relationship with a game slow paced in subsistence. Passes were exchanged and nobody really questioned the other’s reason for being there.
But just like the imperialists, Arsenal lost interested in doing business come the second half, and instead began to take what they wanted – in this case all three points. Cesc Fabregas’ troops even used an old tried-and-true manoeuvre practiced by the Spanish when trying to overcome the Inca warriors: divide and conquer.
To divide and conquer was to deprive the indigenous defenders of leadership. Taking away emperors could leave a whole tribe discouraged – something like a physiological victory – and Arsenal managed to nullify Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard to a very low-key game by his standards. OK, Rafa Benitez had come set-up for the draw, but by thwarting Gerrard, Arsenal were generally able to play pilot.
In the last two games Arsenal allowed the most threatening players too much room and gratification. Wayne Rooney wandered around the Emirates like it was some kind of organic farm. Ashburton Grove must be a slaughterhouse where the space is cramped. I’m all for intensive farming if the results are right. Didier Drogba, the deadliest of predatory animals was also given to much freedom, so last night it was pleasing to seeing Liverpool’s biggest threat and Inca emperor scrimping around for chicken feed.
The win was a quality one, although nothing for Arsenal to begin writing new gospels about. For the first 45 minutes all manner of things produced classic examples of Arsenal playing without much inventory. The game was about Arsenal climbing back into conversation though. Fortunately on the night, Chelsea lost to Everton and Manchester United were held at Villa Park, meaning Wenger is now at least, able to nuzzle back into the title-cashing circle of friends.
A win in any shape or form was crucial, because now Arsenal should have their eyes set on looking up the table, rather than peering at the mess behind. By collecting just a solo point in their last three games, Liverpool and Manchester City were tapping on the Gunners shoulder like an annoying child. For the sake of the season, Arsenal must have their eyes glued firmly on what’s ahead of them.
Wenger has never ruled Arsenal out of the title race, even after defeat at Chelsea on Sunday. He recognised the difficult challenge but also proclaimed repetitively that the big teams will drop more points this season. He was, and is right, and I suspect the man had a wry smile upon his face last night as he slipped into his Arsenal hooded towelling robe for bed time.
One thing is for sure, Wenger’s mind is not divided or conquered when it comes to Arsenal’s title hopes, in spite of how the fans have parted ways on the ‘In Wenger We Trust’ philosophy. The media do a good job of ruling out the team who wont win the league, yet are pretty thin when it comes to making bold claims as to who will win it. There are 20 teams in England’s top flight and only one can be champion. To call who wont win it is also a lot easier than calling who will.
I can remember Saturday nights around my uncle’s place as a young lad. Ordering the Indian take-away was always such a trial and a household ritual, as my aunt would flick through the entire laminated menu informing us of what she didn’t want, while my uncle flew into fits of rage at what he called her “negative dialogue”.
Nobody said selecting a curry was easy. I’m always screwed up deciding between King Prawn Pathia’s, Chicken Tika’s, Lamb Dansak’s, Balti’s and Bombay aloo. Anyway, my aunt is a good example of how humans prefer to rule against, rather than make a bold and lasting decision, and personally I’ve had it with the press and all it’s negative dialogue, as my uncle put it.
All I’ve heard so far from the pundits is that Arsenal wont succeed, although I can’t remember any of them picking a champion. It’s just like the ordering-an-Indian saga. Arsenal are a good curry. Chelsea and Manchester United are worthy curries too. But like my aunt, it seems nobody can make a decision on which curry to choose because they know it could be the wrong choice. That’s how close a season it’s been.
The performance wasn’t a great improvement last night but the job was done with a clean sheet. Having Nicklas Bendtner back and Abou Diaby gave some much needed height. Strangely though Arsenal didn’t pump half as many crosses to the great Dane as they did in the last two games where he didn’t start. Thankfully, the killer goal was a pin-point cross and one that brings Arsenal back into contention … for now.
So I will laugh like a crazed scientist plotting his next world endevour. On the way to work an old dear stacked it on a thin sheet of ice. Over the last week I probably would have shown concern but not today. Instead I laughed all the way to office, and I hope you are laughing again too.

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