The break nearly broke me
I try – lord knows I try – to get enthused by watching England, but unless itâ€™s a whopper of a match I just canâ€™t. This fortnight has been triply hard. Firstly because England have already qualified and could dance a naked jig on the centre circle while waving wet haddocks for all it mattered. Secondly because – big fan of the Baltic republics as I am – it was not a pulse-racing double-header. No pulses were harmed in this instance. And thirdly because weâ€™d just turfed Man Utd right out of the Emirates without so much as a by-your-leave.
Which reminds me…
Was that performance really two weeks ago? I like to record such victories on this blog, but I got a bit waylaid on Sunday evening by, erm – thereâ€™s no other way to put this – beer. We had a loosener before the game, then we powered down a beer-flavoured plastic Emirates pint at half time to dry the agitated throats. It all went a bit wrong after that, I confess. We retired to a hostelry after the match to chew the cud of a fantastic performance and to let the crowds dissipate, but we slightly misjudged the whole crowd-dissipation thing and drank too many beers.
Itâ€™s not my fault. If we performed like this on a more regular schedule, we wouldnâ€™t need to treat it like New Yearâ€™s Eve. But we donâ€™t and we did and well, you know. I went to work on the Monday in the fug of victory and it was worth it. I bet I wasnâ€™t the only one.
But what does it all mean?
Alan Davies on The Tuesday Club said it elegantly, and Wenger has since reiterated it: we have to go for the title. On the one hand it seems absurd to state it, because Arsenal should be â€˜going for itâ€™ every year – but football is a fickle mistress. On the other hand, despite the summer transfer stasis and the opening day hoop-la, here we are in mid-October in the thick of it.
Whoâ€™s going to take the league by the scruff of the neck? You might scoff at it being us, and to be frank I do too because Iâ€™m an epic cynic, but all the contenders have lost twice and the team that is the least â€˜work in progressâ€™ is probably us. Consistency of performance is the key here, and that’s where we’ve fallen down in the past. But that Utd game… can they keep it up… it’s the hope that kills you.
The AGM left me with mixed feelings
Two good write-ups from Tim Stillman and Angry of N5. I think the whole Â£3m fee was obfuscatory in the extreme and the silence from Kroenke was a bit embarrassing. Why bother coming if you donâ€™t engage? You get the feeling heâ€™d scrap it in a flash if he could.
But because he canâ€™t take the club private he canâ€™t do that (I hope I have understood this right). And thatâ€™s mostly because ofâ€¦ Alisher Usmanov who owns 30% of the club. Were it not for him Kroenke could and possibly would hoover up everything in his path and do whatever he likes.
Why am I torn? Without Usmanov, maybe even this level of transparency would not happen. But itâ€™s Usmanov. So yeah.
Thereâ€™s a game on
Of course there is. Weâ€™re at Vicarage Road tomorrow and I canâ€™t wait. Superhuman Alexis seems to be fit, which is both baffling and brilliant. Heâ€™s scored three in two for Chile, six in three for Arsenal – so nine in five – and all with a dicky groin and a foggy jetlagged head.
Is it any wonder thereâ€™s talk of a new contract? I think footballers earn too much (what is it, 71p in every pound of revenue to the player?) but Alexis is so totemic, such a one-man whirligig, that all scruples go out the window. His skill and energy and dedication and sheer bloody-mindedness do not grow on trees. Heâ€™s the best player in the Premier League at the moment, and one of the best in the world. Even when neutrals buff off my Arsenal bias Iâ€™m not far off the truth in saying that am I? Heâ€™s incredible. Where would we be without him?
Who are the legends of today to match the Adamsâ€™, the Wrights, the Bergkamps, the Vieiras and the Henrys of this world?
We will look back at Alexis in that bracket. You know it.
Letâ€™s corral the jet-setting rabble and get ourselves three points tomorrow.
Because weâ€™ve got to go for it, and that starts tomorrow.
Come on you rip-roarers!