Exhausted 1-1 Frazzled (knackered after penalties)

FA Cup semi-final
FA Cup semi-final

There really is no need to tire yourself out over three or four hours by running a 26-mile marathon. You can do it far more effectively by watching Arsenal these days, and in half the time. I am exhausted.

We’re through to the cup final, and that’s the beautiful bottom line. But looking round at the faces in the crowd, as I periodically did, just confirmed to me that while football can be joy, ecstasy and bliss rolled into one, it can just as equally be about as fun as a trip to the dentist. There were blank faces, ashen faces, looks of fatalism, crossed arms of doom and wails of anguish.

It was painful to watch, for the most part. Seeing the team you love struggle so badly for form, for ideas, for pace. They looked leaden-footed; a very average side.

120 minutes of largely forgettable football, followed by the lottery of penalties. Fabianski has a good record with spot kicks – does he keep his place for the final now? I’d be a bit baffled if he did, given he’s off. It’s clear this team needs to win something to believe, and it’d be very harsh on Szczesny to miss out on his first chance to etch a trophy onto his goalpost. Those are the moments that make careers, the making of teams and players. Would it be harsh on Fabianski? Not really, he’s leaving.

We always hear how winning breeds winning, and I hope yesterday (though it was kind of a draw) goes some way to infusing the players with some confidence and belief. But with Arsenal, you just don’t know. We have the look of a team that wants the season to end now.

Overall though, the rapid ageing and hypertension aside, it was a good day. I woke up with cup fever and loved the atmosphere of the day, meeting friends, the cameraderie and the walk up Wembley Way. It’s remarkably evocative for a lifeless, tatty suburb, isn’t it?

We’re in the cup final. That feels good. There was an explosion of relief, of joy, but mostly relief when Cazorla scored the winning penalty. Then we all drifted out, spent. Dragging our tired minds and bodies with us.

“Why do we do this to ourselves?” I asked as I shuffled on the spot in a state of agitation, before the penalties.

“You said those very same words at Villa Park in 1999, shuffling on the spot” I was reminded.

Humans are silly creatures sometimes. We have an amazing knack of forgetting. And of coming back for more against our better judgement. That’s football but ye gods, it puts you through the mill.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. PDDD

    Hard to disagree with any of that. Awful stuff to watch. As at Bradford last year, is it encouraging or soul-destroying that our young players (Sanogo, Ox, Ramsey) showed so much more desire than their lifeless more senior teammates ??
    Very hard to see Arsene ever getting a better chance to go on a high than winning the Cup final. Pray we win it for him and he walks off into the sunset a winner. Watching Liverpool’s first half today shows us two things : a) we’re no longer even close to being the most entertaining team in the league (4th at best ??) and b) there are always other options out there. For two years all I’ve heard is ‘well if Wenger goes who would you get to replace him’ ? If we’d gambled on Rodgers two years ago (or even Martinez a year ago) does anyone really think we’d be worse off ?

  2. East Lower

    No, we lack power and pace badly. Such ponderous build-up. The contrast is huge.

  3. East Lower

    Also agree re: other managers. Maybe it would have been a gamble, but sometimes in football you need to gamble. I’d not be that surprised at all if Wenger left at the end of the season.

  4. Panther

    Indeed it wasn’t that great to watch but Wigan had one effort on target and that was their penalty. At the moment Arsenal lack pace with the loss of Walcott but it’s not as bad as people are making out. Without going into the transfer market for next season, Arsenal have Walcott and Joel Campbell to add pace goals and penatration. What Arsenal need is 3 world class or top top players, to add to what they allready have. A 25 goal a season striker, a specialist strong fast athletic ball winning defensive midfielder and a strong fast athletic quality centre back. Arsenal’s injuries have undermind their title bid YET AGAIN

  5. PDDD

    Look at the players both Liverpool and Everton has missing when we went to Merseyside for the two league games we got destroyed in.
    Yesterday, we were missing only Theo,Ozil and Koscielny from Arsene’s first-choice 11. (Gibbs, Giroud & Ches were available, just not selected)
    Those three were replaced by the Ox, Podolski and Vermaelen – all of whom cost over 10m quid.
    Are we really willing to keep blaming injuries ? It’s surely time to accept that we are simply not good enough ????

  6. East Lower

    We aren’t good enough. We definitely need strengthening. And yet here we are with £120m sitting in the bank. Pointless, really, isn’t it?

  7. PDDD

    Pointless. Maddening. Illogical. Pick whatever word you wish.

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