So after all the nonsense which meant a former Arsenal player stole all the limelight all week, a game of football broke out this afternoon.
It was a fine performance and a good result as far as we were concerned. Although Wenger was quite right to complain that Hleb was fouled in the build-up to the equaliser, the Russians did hit the post three times, and there’s no doubt we rode our luck in snatches. Overall though, I think we were good value for a draw. You have to say too, if you can bear it, that the goal that levelled it was a cracker. I remember Nutty and Silvinho scoring similar ones for us on the same ground. I also remember enjoying them slightly more than I enjoyed this one.
The result was especially satisfying given that both of our first choice centre-backs and our talismanic all-time top scorer were missing – that’s a lot of experience to be without, and at times today it showed. Senderos in particular had a very nervy game, as did, more surprisingly, Jens Lehmann, whose two fumbles could, and perhaps should, have led to goals for the home side.
He was also heavily involved in the game’s (rather pathetic) comedy moment, when Dogbra fell over in his usual histrionic way after a nothing push, and Jens stooped to the same level by doing exactly the same. It was funny, in a way, though it would have been less so if he’d got a red card for it (stranger things have happened). Old Jens really is as mad as a fish.
In the stands it was unpleasant songs all round, and perhaps predictably, the home fans responded in kind with the vile one about Wenger. The sour taste from the transfer itself, the sordid way it was instigated, and the feeble self-justification that followed it will take some time to dissipate – in fact, it probably never will. It will ever be thus, but while we sing unpleasant songs about him, rightly or wrongly we can expect them back.
A word too about Gilberto – he was magnificent today. He seems to love being captain, and you sometimes forget that, at 30, he’s one of the daddies of the side. Well played G-Man.
I’m happy with that.