Goonerdom On Fire


The Dalai Lama walks into a Pizza Parlor, walks straight up to the counter and asks the cashier: “Please, can you make me one with everything.”

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That FA Cup Final made us all, every Gooner, “one” with every other Gooner. I have never experienced anything like that before, connected to the 4 corners of Goonerdom for 24 hours, 48 hours, and counting…

You must, YOU MUST, look at this piece of brilliance. Unfortunately you will need a laptop to take it in. But do not make the mistake of NOT watching this.

Eruptions

This is US, captured, simultaneously across the planet. A fire starts in North London and spreads to the 4 corners of Goonerdom, lighting up the internet when Ramsey made it 3-2. But you need to click on it to see the time-elapse animation. It’s magical.

Check out the explosion on 19:21. That would be the reaction to Ramsey’s goal. 3-2. Goonerdom melts down.

Check out the 2nd explosion on 19:34. That would be the fulltime whistle. Goonerdom melts down again.

This hypnotized me. All of us connected in a way that wasn’t remotely possible for any other trophy we have won in the last 126 yrs. Perhaps this is why the club stalled winning the next trophy. The technology to collect and capture it all, to “leverage” it, wasn’t yet fully in place. I smell Arsenal’s Marketing Department at work:

At an Arsenal Marketing meeting to discuss commercial strategy:

“When the shit hits the fan, we need to be ready. Here is what we need before we authorize winning another trophy:

1. The internet

2. Every Gooner is on line and on Twitter

3. New Arsenal Website in place

4. Parade bus booked

5. Gunnersaurus on a diet and in the shape of his life.

Check. Check. Check. Check. And……………Check. That last one took a lot longer than expected. 9 year to be precise, the fat bastard.

Also, we are going to need a classic moment. We would recommend a Cup Final, the most historic cup on the planet would be our suggestion…The FA Cup. One climactic moment. One giant Gooner Climax. A Tidal Wave of Climax. A…well, you get the idea.

Errr…boss, some bad news. Just seen that we have indeed reached the FA Cup final. But we’re playing Hull. Not exactly Arsene vs SAF and Keane vs Vieira locking horns. This is NOT the ingredients of a budding classic.

Hmmm. How to make a Hull match-up interesting??? How to make it a thrilling classic??? Hmmm. *Drumming of fingers.*

Any one got any ideas how to put some lipstick on this pig?

Errr…boss…how about we spot them a goal early in the match.

You’re crazy, my friend. Crazy like a fox. But…you’re thinking too small. And that’s why they made ME the boss. We’ll spot them 2 goals! And then we’ll slowly reel them in. That’ll give us the final to talk about for an age, a platform to re-launch Arsenal around the globe, to turbocharge our Puma deal and every other commercial contract we’ve got boiling in the pot.

Let’s get our money’s worth. 120 minutes, not 90. But we’re not going to penalties. Too risky, and they’ll all say it’s a fluke, like they did against Wigan. We’ve done penalties. This one we claw it back over 120 minutes. Grit, character and a final moment of brilliance from none other than Aaron Ramsey. Are you writing this down, Shaun?

I am boss but the script sounds a bit corny, to be honest. Don’t you think they’ll all know?

Did they know in ’71 and ’79? Nope. Let’s light a fire and burn down the world.

Shaun, take a note: “Dear, Arsene, is there any chance you could possible see your way to maybe letting Hull…”

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And what a bloody amazing match that was. What a classic.

I’ve seen some accusatory stuff, slamming how we started. Ok. That’s one view of it.

Here’s another. It was a duel at dawn. Each side chose their weapon. Hull chose an axe. Arsenal chose a rapier. One side had nothing to lose. One side had everything to lose. I heard a commentator say that Hull wanted it more. No. Arsenal wanted it too much. The start of this match was always going to be Hull’s. They had the simpler task. Come out all guns blazing. 100%. Win every challenge, press high up the pitch. Compress space, give no time on the ball, close down, press, press, press. Force mistakes. Push for set-pieces in enemy territory. Free-kicks. Corners. And hope to get lucky. And they did. 2 goals in 5 minutes with lots of luck stirred in. But to be fair they started brilliantly. Yes, they pressed like Atletico but their passing in the first 10-15 minutes was like Barca.

But could they do that for 90 minutes? No. And that was the gamble we took when we picked out the rapier.

Our job was now to stay calm. Restart our passing football. Stay patient. Believe.

Excruciating as it was to watch, to start charging around the pitch while trying to out-hustle Hull would have reduced this contest to a violent mess of 2 axe swingers. And that was not the weapon we chose. We chose the rapier because that is our way.

Gooners across the globe checked their underwear after going 0-2 down to find that we had not in fact shat our pants. From what I can tell, we all believed…believed that if we could avoid conceding another goal, a very big “if” after the first 5 minutes, then we still had enough to peg them back.

One goal. It all starts with one goal. And so, up stepped Ooo Ooo Santi Cazorla. I was taken by that steely look he had in his eye. And then he struck a ferocious arrow of a shot. It tore into the goal, bursting through fingers and squeezing under the bar to bulge the back of the net. And oh what a magnificent bulge it was, the like of which was being replicated in Gooner shorts across the globe.

McGregor, who would have spent the night before the final, tossing and turning in his restless dreams, fending off Podolski raspers, was fooled by Poldi’s dummy just before Santi struck. I have often wondered why they bother with those dummy runs. It fools no one. But it cost McGregor a yard for a shot that would come down to millimeters.

It was on! 1-2. We were back in it with 70+ minutes to go. And 30 more after that, if we could just get it back to 2-2. Without conceding.

Hull couldn’t play like Atletico and Barca rolled into one for 90 minutes. No one can. And so the imperative was to believe. To believe.

The players confirmed what we all knew about Arsene’s halftime speech. Arsene told them to believe, to keep playing their football.

A great swordsman doesn’t swing a rapier like it’s an axe, to imitate his attacker, even when he’s been wounded, even though his life is in the balance. He parry’s, he thrusts. He works the contest onto ground that suits his footwork.

But without width and speed, we struggled. We were the “better side” but we weren’t yet good enough. We weren’t pulling them around, making them vulnerable.

At 60 minutes, Wenger pulled Poldi off the field and sent on Sanogo. He did NOT wait for 70 minutes. Sanogo changed everything. Giroud’s ability to link with other players, to give us tactical flexibility should not be overlooked, and he should have no fear should we sign another striker this summer. His movement and working of the channels and his ability to express himself seems to increase with a second striker on the pitch.

And for those who said we hadn’t wanted it enough, I give you Koscielny’s goal. On a corner, Koscielny peels off and away from the incoming cross. And lo and behold finds a open space, practically a picnic area. This is the man who bet on himself to replicate his feats of scoring our PL season-clinching goal. He can sniff out a truffle, this fella. It’s a French thing. When everyone else ran toward the ball he ran towards the space. Sagna won the header. Koscielny put his body on the line and struck.

2-2.

With minutes to go, these were precarious moments. Better for us to try to win it in an added 30 minutes than to throw all caution to the wind at the end of 90 and throw ourselves to cruel fate. And, remember, it was in the script.

After 105 minutes, where we were clearly the better team, the referee had made it clear, he was not giving us a penalty. Not unless he witnessed a rape-and-murder homicide in the box whilst having the chance to re-watch it on loop on a mega screen. We were going to have to win this the old-fashioned way. With a touch of brilliance.

On 105 minutes, Arsene’s delayed substitutions come to pass. Cazorla and Ozil come off for Jack and Rosicky who enter the fray. Just ponder that. That’s the definition of midfield depth. Energy and fluency now amped up. And Ramsey’s Perpetual Moton Engine continued to defy physics. Run after run after run. And almost as many wayward shots. But to those of us who know, it told us where his head was at. He would win this, he would make the difference. All he needed was the right ball.

And with Sanogo and Giroud up front pulling the flagging Hull defense this way and that, the holes in their back line grew wider. The veil was rent in twain…Ramsey dives in to a tackle to win the ball back right inside their half. It’s like he knows any turnover at this stage could be invaluable. We must win this in extra time. He sprints forward heaven knows how but over-runs the ball – tired legs. Seconds later he drives again into the box as Jack knocks it to Sanogo, the ball squirts out to Giroud who hears Ramsey shouting for the pass. But Giroud’s heading in the wrong direction into the corner. A brilliant backheel into the path of the on-rushing Perpetual Motion Engine, a first time strike by Ramsey rips into the near side giving McGregor no chance..

Believe. Stay calm. Play your own football. It will come.

A movie ending within an unbelievably corny script. Starring Aaron Ramsey, supported by an all-star cast.

You couldn’t write this stuff. Could you? I’m looking at you, Arsenal Marketing Department.