Nothing to write home about, but nothing to boo either

Arsenal 1-1 New York Red Bulls

I have been to pre-season games before. I stood on the terraces at Underhill one July afternoon and though the memory is a bit hazy now, I’m sure I have also paid visits to Borehamwood and Stevenage in my time. Solid pre-season turf on all counts.

Craning my neck further back, I even remember going to the Makita International Tournament at the old Wembley in 1988. It was about as full as it was hearted – that’s to say, around half.

But I’ve never before been to the Emirates Cup, so today was a new one for me. I’m not sure I saw it in its best light.

Once the game started – we didn’t bother with the first match because we didn’t want to push our luck with the attention spans of two small boys to consider – I was quickly reminded that it’s only when you attend one of these games in the flesh that you realise just how inconsequential they are. Maybe it was different against Boca Juniors, but today’s game, though committed, lacked the obvious competitive bite. The opposition was weak. The pace was slow. Quite frankly, and this is putting it mildly, the edge of my seat was at no stage being put under any undue pressure.

The materialisation of a Mexican Wave that rippled round the ground not once, not twice, but about eight times tells you all you need to know. We had been advised on the tannoy to do it in order to avoid deep vein thrombosis.

As a slickly-marketed money-making exercise, it’s a winner. The ground was full and the Arsenal shops were rammed with punters. I took my 5-year-old and two seats cost almost £50. At half-time I bought three hot dogs and two plastic bottles of beer (I’m a weak man: I’ve broken the merchandise promise I made to myself after the ticket price rise already) and it set me back £21. So that’s a £75 day-out. The outlay didn’t really match in the input, but there you go, it’s a pre-season game, not the European Cup final. All the same, I had hoped for a bit more excitement than we got.

Nevertheless, it was a pleasure to be there with a mate and it was a good opportunity in a benign environment to bring my still-learning littl’un.

But really, I find it hard to read too much into individual displays or the collective performance when so little was at stake, and it was so obvious that was the case. It was my first glimpse of Gervinho – he looked sharpish and direct. There was Wilshere’s injury and Chamakh’s form to ponder, van Persie’s goals-scoring prowess to marvel at, there were Afobes and there were Bartleys to assess, there was Henry to applaud to the rafters but the bottom line is, it was a pre-season game, and there wasn’t much else to conclude. Booing at the end? There was some. Amazingly, there was some. Not exactly a great portent, is it?

We’re off to Benfica next (what’s that one in aid of?) before the season’s start in two weeks’ time. What will the starting XI be that day? That’ll be when it gets interesting.

13 thoughts on “Nothing to write home about, but nothing to boo either

  1. I cannot believe there was booing at the end of a pre-season friendly. No wonder our players want to go elsewhere. some of these fans a just plain stupid!

  2. Can’t believe the booing; OK, you’ve paid your money and you have every right if you genuinely think that’s the way to express yourself (NB: it isn’t) but what will they do when it *really* matters, rip up the seats and set fire to the hot dog stand? Idiots.

    (Also, interested you took your 5-year-old; I am waiting for the right time to introduce mine to the “way of the gun”…)

  3. I did once see a hot dog stand set fire to, I think. But it was the early 1980s and in Grimsby.

    As for taking the nipper, I reckon it 5 is just about OK but only if he’s into football already. If he’s not it’s a long time to be sitting still… 

  4. Off the radar, but I follow France when I can: Gilles Sunu just scored a cracking opener against Columbia in the U20 World Cup (before France’s defense gifted 4 goals in a 4-1 loss to the host nation).  Sunu is not listed as a first team player on the Arsenal web site, but based on that goal (admittedly a small data set) he could be.

  5. I’m amazed that there was booing but I don’t think it was really in relation to the draw itself. It just reflects the frustration that everyone feels with Wenger’s refusal to address this squad’s issues. We all know that what’s coming this season……more of the same & all avoidable.

    Almost as amazing is suggesting that booing at the end of a pre-season friendly has anything to do with our players wanting to leave. They want to leave for the same reasons that people are booing….to suggest this is somehow the fans’ fault is just silly.

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