It’s 1970s Wednesday or it certainly feels like it anyway. Dave has wibbled on about The Good Life, leading a number of news outlets to refer to the sitcom. None, if any, have referred to Felicity Kendall’s Rear of the Year award but it can’t be far away.
That after Richard Kilty resurrected Superstars by challenging Hector Bellerin and Theo Walcott to a madcap sprint race, the Team GB athlete disbelieving the reported times both clocked over 40m, not least because their times suggest they are faster than the sprinter over any of the distances.
Kilty is so confident that he has stumped up £30k of his own cash to get all the publicity he needed. Sorry, to ensure that the challenge is met. Of course, if it is, there will be a national outrage about misuse of Lottery funding, even if he has genuinely used his own money. This is the 70s and by the end of that decade, the press were even less concerned with the truth than they are now.
It’s a serious misjudgment on the part of Kilty. Not in issuing the challenge, it’s a distraction but in failing to realise the 1970s forces at work. Bellerin’s football career is in fact a sideline and he is in fact Bez, sprinting to Arsenal glory have changed himself with his immortal line, “Size of a…cheetah!”
And then God bless him, Uri Geller’s popped up to give his beloved Reading the sure knowledge that whilst they may not be the best footballers on Wembley’s turf this weekend, they will be the best spoon-benders the FA Cup has ever seen.
All of which has sent a number of you scurrying off to Wikipedia to find out what the hell I’ve wittered on about and what drugs the Happy Monday’s dancer was on to think he could run like the wind. We’ll carry on, you catch up later.
And if you think that’s a spurious grasp of reality, it’s nothing compared to those who think Theo Walcott’s contract talks will begin in the next fortnight…
Geller’s intervention means the run-up to the semi-final has begun. All we need is Tarby to return to our screens on an FA Cup Semi-Final Saturday Special where all his showbiz chums are wheeled through the sponsors lounge at Wembley. It would be a bit of a short show as quite a few have had their collars felt by The Sweeney whilst the rest are worried that it’s a trap with Regan and Carter waiting to swoop the minute the celebs leave their island hideaways.
It feels very low-key, pre-match Wembley nerves are noticeable by their absence and the arrogance that we supporters naturally feel in these situations, is in full flow. Reading are not lambs to the slaughter, they’ve been kebabed ready to be cooked on the pyre’s ashes. Don’t forget Bradford or Wrexham or Walsall. Yeah, OK, because they are relevant.
Come on, let’s be serious for one minute. What planet do you inhabit if you think Reading will win on Saturday? Even the most loyal, ardent Reading supporter is aware of their abysmal record against Arsenal. Fifteen competitive matches and not even a draw to show for their efforts. It’s probably Arsenal’s best record against any club whom they have met more than ten times and whose ground is situated close to the M4.
Right, that’s set everything up nicely for a fall, hasn’t it? You’re expecting a couple of paragraphs on how complacency is dangerous and you’re right it is but not for supporters. The players are professional, train properly and will be focussed for this match. They are professionals, it’s their job to be prepared. We’re amateurs, it’s our role to assume arrogance and be condescending to the plucky little part-timers from Royal Berkshire.
In the background, the footballing gods are limbering up with their planks of 4 by 2 to smack across our faces before the week’s out…
I know people point to Wigan and the hard work we made of last year’s semi-final. Come on, that was an Arsenal side which hadn’t won in nearly a month; the six games which had passed since the drubbing of Everton in the quarter-final read, DWLDDL. It’s interesting to look at the side that plodded that sunny afternoon; five of the starting XI have left, six of the fourteen used and honestly, do we miss any of them? OK, Sanogo and Podolski will be coming back this summer have spectacularly failed in their loan spells but surely not on any sort of permanent basis.
Speaking after Burnley, Arsène noted that the recent run of eight consecutive Premier League wins was unexpected. I doubt it was; he did the same as us and thought it was hard to see points would be dropped aside from Liverpool’s visit to The Emirates. It’s the same as now, the fleeting thought is that we could quite easily lose two of the remaining six and finish fourth again. If he was taking it one game at a time then, there’s no reason to change that mantra. If it was good enough for Lena Martell, it’s good enough for us in the Premier League.
The FA Cup is different. For all the cock-ups we’ve made along the way, when it comes to losing to lower league opposition in the semi-finals, only Sunderland have managed it and then went on to overshadow their victory over Arsenal by beating Leeds in the final. Indeed, their win in the last four is completely forgotten by virtually everyone and when you think about it, their achievement was incredible that year.
Beating the eventual First Division runners-up (and a team that had been the previous two finals) in the semi-final before winning the FA Cup by beating the defending cup holders who finished third that season? It’s the equivalent of Bournemouth winning the cup now. Curiously, they beat Reading in the fourth round that season as well.
So where’s your arrogance now, I hear you ask. It’s here, undiminished, unbowed and I’m far enough away from Sonning for it to be unbent…