The things I learnt on Arsenal’s night of perfection
I’m sorry, I know they should probably all be positive
1. I guess it isn’t something that we don’t already know, but it genuinely is beautiful. You can call it tika-taka if you like, but the one touch passing last night was a joy to behold. There are more successful, more effective, and more ruthless teams in European football, but Arsenal are the most beautiful. Laid up in bed with flu, watching through barely open eyes, it made me feel human again.
2. Cesc Fabregas is the signing of the season, bar none (even Milan Jovanovic). Many thought that even if the captain stayed at the club, then his head had been turned, and his mind wouldn’t be on Arsenal’s season. Last night this couldn’t have been further from the truth. On form, Fabregas is the fulcrum, he is the architect, he is the composer. His first touch is such that any pass is instantly attainable, and his vision and execution almost unsurpassed in world football. In his last two home games he has collected two Man of the Match awards, scored two goals and provided four assists. Arsene Wenger may receive criticism at times from fans of Premier League clubs, but fans of football should be eternally grateful that he persuaded Cesc to stay.
3. Clive Tyldsley is an awful commentator. Overlooking his use of mild casual racism and stating of the bleeding obvious, two things really grind my gears (and I am not in a tolerant state of mind). Firstly is the way that he sets himself up for epic lines, which he uses in every single broadcast match. I have a Dragons Den plan to make an I-Spy style game in which clichés can be ticked off. His favourite (and therefore my abhorrence) was used last night:
“Only ten minutes left for XXXX to endure… only ten minutes left for us to enjoy.”
Secondly, why the hell does is he insist on emphasising the last syllable of a name with an upwards inflection (for example Clicheee instead of Clichy). If you haven’t already noticed this then I can only apologise for when Diabeee, Nasreee, Ramseee and Van Perseee are playing together.
Still, we should probably be grateful that he didn’t mention the “hot, balmy night in Barcelona”. Manchester United won you know.
4. Jack Wilshere is going to be one hell of a player if he continues to be schooled by Fabregas, Arshavin, Nasri and Song. Those four players provide individual pieces of the complete footballer, and Wilshere would be foolish to not allow himself to soak up their advice and assistance. Keep out of the nightclubs and the papers young man, because you have an opportunity to craft yourself and be crafted into one of England’s greatest ever midfielders.
5. Portuguese women that go abroad to watch football are dreadful. Now I have been to Porto, and quite honestly the women were stunning. Fast forward that to the Emirates last night, and suddenly it was like a line up of the extras from Bad Girls. I’m not saying you need eye candy at football matches (especially not if a masterclass is being acted out), but maybe the World Cup just spoilt us.
6. I think that there are probably two types of viewer or Arsenal matches. Both love watching the skill, respect and adore the way they sculpt together a goal. One type, however, think that this is evidence that this will be Arsenal’s season. They are firing, they are swatting teams away like flies, and nothing will get in their way. The other type (which does include me, and maybe me alone!) just can’t help that nagging doubt at the back of the mind that says “don’t they always do this?”
It is the negative side of my football conscience. Last season Arsenal scored six times away at Everton and at home to Blackburn by the beginning of October. They crushed Porto 5-0 in the knockout stage of the Champions League. In 2008/9 they dismissed Villareal 3-0 in the Quarter Final second leg at the Emirates. The season before that Slavia Prague were spanked 7-0. Arsenal won nothing in any of those seasons.
I don’t want to be sensible and cerebral, but those nagging doubts remain. In the last two seasons Arsenal’s record against Manchester United and Chelsea in all competitions is as follows: Won 2, Drawn 1, Lost 8, Scored 8, Conceded 23. That sort of sticks in my head more than a trouncing of Braga.