“Let’s not predict too far ahead. Let’s see how we go into the next game.”
Wise words, Arsène, because in the next game is Tottenham at Wembley. Be ready to see that free-kick over and over. Tone’s header may surface but 1988’s 4 – 0 drubbing? I doubt it; that’s before football was invented. So was Gazza’s free-kick but national treasure and all that.
The euphoria of Saturday’s first-half swirls in the air which is all well and good. Why not enjoy a scintillating spell of football, especially in a season where drudgery has been the byword. Don’t get carried away; no corners are yet turned. The suggestion they are is mostly made with tongues inserted in cheeks with the same firmness Piers Morgan planted his head up Trump’s rectum.
Arsène faces a tough week. Wembley is an unforgiving place to lose, even more so when the swamp-dwellers are hosts. Their draw at Anfield came in the divey-est of circumstances.
Is that how you spell divey-est? I tried diviest – to make it seem like a proper word – but pronounced that more as an old-school playground taunt; Oi, Moss, you div! Don’t guess for penalties! From a Liverpool perspective, the defending was the diviest seen for some time so…
The Arsenal backline has been forewarned. Kane will go down at the slightest hint of a breeze while kicking an opponent may be gratifying but when they collapse in a heap, it’s a penalty. Yes, Lamela went looking for it but that was a brave thing to do given Kane’s previous penalty, a spot-kick Petr Cech wouldn’t have saved though.
We bemoan how easily other players collapse under a tackle but turn a blind eye to our own failings. Being a football supporter is a wonderful example of human hypocrisy and we don’t care.
Concrete and Clay
Wembley hosting a league match is a curious situation. Does it diminish the aura of the national stadium? For me, that dimmed when the twin towers disappeared; the modern arch is all very, well, modern but not awe-inspiring. Don’t get me wrong, the new stadium itself is light years better than the old ground but there’s no real history there. No sense of attachment.
The Emirates has the same problem and maybe a few trophies will change that but I don’t think so. New stadia are designed to make the supporter experience so much better while ensuring airflow makes the pitch a carpet.
Well, old grounds didn’t care about that; they wanted as many supporters in as possible and close to the pitch as space was at a premium. It’s better for the atmosphere but that’s where the disconnect is: the whole package. We’re more comfortable now but soulless. That may come with time and trophies but I don’t think so; it’s not part of the modern game.
Anyway, Wembley for a league game inflicts the same damage through familiarity as the semi-finals being staged there. I didn’t agree with them being played at old Wembley either before you ask. It diminishes the cup final experience. I don’t think as fans you ever become complacent on Cup Final Saturday but shifting kick-offs and what-have-you’s dulls the event. Maybe that’s me and romanticising my youth; I’m willing to accept that as a genuine thought.
But a league match at Wembley? It worked for Tottenham and the FA – financially – but for the stadium? Some of the awe disappears. I’m sure Newport County will love their cup replay but it’s not the final, is it? Our Champions League games at old Wembley didn’t sit any more comfortably with me before you ask.
Good Bloke, Bad Idea
Despite this being their home ground, it doesn’t give any advantage to Tottenham this weekend. We’ve played there almost as many times as they have in the past few years. It’s almost a home game for us.
Thank god David Dein was over-ruled on that one.
Arsène spoke about his bafflement over our away performances being so poor. The pitch is the same size he said and the surroundings don’t matter. However, I think it must do; we surely practice a little differently in the build-up to the game? We rarely if ever, come flying out of the blocks like we did on Saturday when we’re away from the Emirates so while it’s correct to suggest it’s in the players’ heads, it’s also in the manager’s noggin as well.
And that may be the biggest issue to overcome. Good weekend to solve that problem, I think.