News is filtering out today, that the Premiership Managers Association has finished collecting funds for the giant gold plate they are planning to buy Alex Ferguson. Arsene Wenger was the only one not to chip in for the 24 carat gold platter-size plate which people say will be decorated with bits of diamond encrusted unicorn horn. It is supposed to be the plate they hand wino Fergie his Premier League title on, helped by a dismal Liverpool today, but not if Arsenal have anything to say.
It’s annoying the way Liverpool rolled over and asked for their tummys to be tickled by Manchester United. I wont rabble on to much, but why Rafa Benitez persists in leaving Yossi Benayoun on the bench with useless players like Lucas and Maxi Rodriguez guaranteed to start is beyond me. Not only do they look like burn victims but their creativity is at the level of some crappy one-hit teen-pop sensation. Let’s hope Bolton put up more of a fight.
The point though, is not to get frustrated. There is plenty of time for the others to drop points. It can be nervy seeing the chasing pack pass the 30 games mark but Arsenal are the team now pushing hardest. Like Liverpool, West Ham didn’t offer much even with the extra man and Arsenal ran out comfortable winners while displaying quality pass and move football. I guess I expected more from Liverpool playing their biggest adversaries than a team pitted against relegation, that’s all.
Perhaps West Ham looked every part their position in the league equates for. Still, what I love about Arsenal this season is their marathon-man attitude to slug through tough situations. Right now, every game it seems throws up a new testing challenge, like something from a wuxia style martial arts film where the hero faces massive plights to come out victorious. Ashburton Grove, the Emirates or the House of Flying Daggers?
Yesterday the ordeal was overcoming the ridiculous decision to send off Thomas Vermaelen. Franco would have needed a ladder and a mop to reach the bouncing ball which was never once under his control. The outstanding Manuel Almunia who has never once been rubbished by the Arsenal fans saved the resulting penalty, the confidence of the Arsenal players grew and the euphoria in the Emirates could be heard down Seven Sisters.
This is what happens when a team manage to answer every trial thrown at them. The belief grows that anything is possible and points can be won under the thorniest of circumstances. These are the stories of championship winning sides. Stoke, Hull and Liverpool away have been some of the gruelling chapters on the road, and at home, West Ham was the latest chapter to follow Everton, Aston Villa and Bolton.
Yesterday was one of those games where I couldn’t really remember exactly what had happened for being caught up in the rhapsody of the buzzing home fans. I’m sure the kid next to me was watching his first Arsenal game. By the look in his eyes he was a little shocked at the noise coming from my mouth and the hole it burned in the air, but when his dad looked away I could see fleeting glances of joy and a wry smile.
The atmosphere at the Emirates is recognisable at the moment. People know there is a change happening to end this baron spell of trophies. Something is definitely stirring and it’s the closest I’ll probably get to understanding what the hippie movement of the 1960s was like. It feels that big anyway and has certainly been a reason for sliding the noise volume up a decibel.
Sure, we will need some help from the teams Chelsea and United play. Earlier, Blackburn showed exactly what is required to upend the big boys. It was classic Prem; heads clashing to win crosses, three or four bodies slamming together to meet the ball first, shirt pulling and one quality fan who could be heard singing “CHELSEA RENT BOY CHELSEA RENT BOY”!
The Emirates has that touch of hostility to it at the moment and it’s working. In my own game today at Becton Pyramids, the players had to flee when a wild horse came charging onto the field. Quite strange. Now nobody is expecting horses at the Emirates, but if each player can become such an obstacle like they were yesterday then I’m confident the remaining games against Wolves, Man City and Fulham will be won.
The away games are a different question. There is one little fixture which could prove tricky but might also be the real clinching moment in this season. That will come around soon enough, so until then I have another question: Does anybody know what I ate on the way home last night? I vaguely remember getting chunky chicken, but have a feeling I also nabbed a whopper meal based on the empty bottle of Tropicana next to me when woke up. Oh how I needed Fergie’s golden plate last night! THE ARSENAL

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