Arise, Sir Lino

I’m popping Ibuprofen like they’re Maltesers at the moment. As any male of the species knows, when Man Flu strikes you’re in trouble. And I am in trouble.

Not that, when the fairer half suggested perhaps I ought not go to the football yesterday due to my burgeoning Man Flu, I took the blindest bit of notice. I’d need someone to steal all my limbs and lock me in a trunk before I missed that one.

Can anyone explain to me why, when you buy a bottle of water at the ground (£1.50 for 500ml – bah), they insist upon taking the cap off? I went to buy one moments before the game started and off came the cap. The conversation went a bit like this:

Me: “What are you doing?”
Vendor: “We have to take the cap off.”
Me: “Why?”
Vendor: “We’re told to take the cap off.”
Me: “But I don’t want to drink it now, the game starts in three minutes, I’d have to down it in one.”
Vendor: [struck dumb] “Sorry, but we have to…”
Me: “Well I don’t want it then.”

What a job lot of piffle that is: there’s nothing stopping you taking a boiling cup of tea to your seat, why the bottle cap fascism?

Anyway, digression.

It was, in the end, a cracking game, with the nerves totally shredded as the final whistle went. I know we like to leave it late but that takes the biscuit.

In the first half Arsenal were a bit cagey, and I felt Man U were marginally the better side. Their back line is experienced and solid, and with just Adebayor up front I did wonder whether we’d create enough chances. Our only shot of note came from Gallas’ header, which landed right at the feet of their keeper. It should have been 0-0 at the break but a slack piece of defending meant it was 0-1.

Fabregas, oh Fabregas. His eleventh goal of a quite mesmeric season came minutes into the second half, a cool finish that he seemed to take hours over, slotting it adroitly into the only corner of the net that was unmarked. Pandemonium: game on.

We had a period of ascendancy and were the better side right up to the point Man U went back ahead. And it was another shambles of a goal from a defensive point of view, even taking the lovely reverse pass into account. Almunia shot right out of his goal, which meant, when the ball came to the scorer, the goal was unguarded. He did it again, too, rushing out to the right of his goal and only just getting back in time. Worrying decision making from him, I have to say, and I maintain he is not our long term number one. He has improved but he is far from world class.

So 2-1 down after 81 minutes, and I really thought that was that. But this side is far more resilient than it was a year ago, and they just upped the tempo again. The equaliser came after a heart-stopping game of ping-poing across the goal. From where I was sitting I thought we had cocked the chance up, but everyone started going bonkers and it became apparent the lordly and eagle-eyed lino had spotted what I had not; that Gallas’ shot was several feet over the line. Fair play to him – the referee had not spotted it so he deserves enormous credit.

So our run goes on – unbeaten in 25 matches. A fantastic achievement.

The last week has proved that we have what it takes to compete for the title, but it’s going to be tough. Despite a near flawless start to the season there is little leeway at the top, and let’s not forget there are still almost seven months of the season to go. But with a fighting spirit like that we give ourselves a fighting chance.

Have a good Sunday. I’m off for good cough, followed by some self-pitying moaning.

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