Partying Like it’s 1999. Defending like it’s 2011.
Oh, wasn’t Sunday marvelous. There was so much to enjoy, and not least the fact that we, in Goonerland, saw ourselves as at least co-favourites before the match. Just take that in for a moment. We, reasonable, rational Gooners, all thought that a draw was a minimum result for us at the Etihad, knowing we were playing City, the League Champions, at their home, just weeks after the emotional roller coaster of the close of the transfer window. 29 victories and 2 draws in their last 31 home fixtures and we thought a draw was the least we should get.
My! How far we have travelled in a month. There was no surprise that we matched and outplayed City for long periods and that we came away with a result and could have had more. Well, it was no surprise for us, and I suspect, no surprise for City. Apparently, it would have been no surprise for Mourinho either, based on his most recent love notes to us.
But the Media are still stuck in 2011/12. Or at least they were. Some of them actually seem to have made it as far as the summer of 2012. And a few really have caught up to where we are at, even if it is in an oh so non-committal sort of way. But eff ‘em. It worries me when the Media start gushing about us.
And isn’t it sad that it takes Mourinho, all the way from another league and country, to wake the dumb bastards up to Arsenal.
But back to the match. There was so much to enjoy in that match, and much of it has been well covered elsewhere.
Due to me being in an altered state of consciousness brought on under the influence of cough medicine, I saw things you didn’t see…
Reason #37 to enjoy Sunday’s match:
For one night only, appearing before your very eyes, and by popular demand…Not Tina Turner, not Barbara Streisand and not a dug-up Frank Sinatra. …drum roll please…I give you…Last Year’s Defense. Well, for the last 20 or so minutes of the game anyway.
And I mean this in the most affectionate way possible. I’d missed it, you know. I can honestly say I had missed it. This year’s new defense with all its shape, it’s lower line, its discipline and its 4-4-1-1 and all its practicing before matches is all very well and good, but it’s a bit grey, isn’t it?
And rather like the Soviets, I miss the good old days. Sure, there was the whole Siberia thing and Stalin and the KGB and crap cars and all, but still I long for those happy and carefree pre-Glasnost and Perestroika days: vodka-fueled, Olympics table topping, banging on the UN desk with our shoe, let’s shoot a dog into space and if that works then a monkey ooops how do we get them down again hope no one notices times.
Note: Spudnik does not involve shooting a Spud into space, rather disappointingly.
But on Sunday, with about 20 minutes to go, it was like, fuck it, Let’s Party Like It’s 1999. Or more correctly, let’s defend like it’s 2011/12. We’re a goal behind, and WE ARE THE COMEBACK KINGS OF THE PREMIER LEAGUE.
Around the 70 minute mark I saw Koscielny starting to organize one of our old-style Indian Raiding Parties.
Kozzer knew it was “game time.” Control, patience, possession, defenders playing as defenders…we’d tried all that and we were still 0-1 down. They’d had their 70 minutes with their game-plan. They’d brought on their subs. Nada. The jig was up…
And then it starts…Koscielny on the ball can be seen insulting Carl Jenkinson’s manhood for not making a forward run for him. I believe the term is “remonstrating.” This presaged a return to our swashbuckling derring-do of 11/12. It was a gamble but…nothing ventured, no points gained.
Putting Together a Good Old-Fashioned Indian Raiding Party
“Lads, back 4s in a straight line are for sissies”
Now, Indian Raiding Parties are fun and everything, and I am personally all for them. In fact, above, you can see some snaps from a few of my personal favourite outings. Nothing quite as much fun as getting the boys together for a little horseback expedition – a Centerback, a DM-type and a Fullback, or even better, both Fullbacks. Hop on our horses and ride to our enemy’s camp to do a spot of rape and pillage and stealing horses or whatever is called for. In our case, usually a goal will suffice. The only problem is, if you send a big raiding party off to “surprise” your enemies, you also leave your own teepees, squaws, sprogs and horses wide open and with little to defend them.
And so it was with us. It was a raiding party attacking on one end followed by mad-cap 2 against 3 defending as the enemy returned the favour by raiding our teepees. But, oh, it was glorious fun.
Now having watched lots of movies, I know there are two basic types of raiding parties. The first is one OK’d by the Big Chief. The second is the one where some of the young braves decide the chief is a bit of a pussy and they sneak off in the dead of night to do what the chief no longer has the balls for, and they go and grab themselves some glory.
I think Sunday was the second kind, ie I’m not sure Bouldie was in on the Raiding Party plan, but I think the Big Big Chief, Wenger, would have smiled and approved when word came his way.
Granted, when the goal came, it was from a corner rather than one of Kozzers pitch-long cavalry charges with him yelping a blood-curdling Oolululululululu battle cry. But by the time the corner came in, Koscielny’s brain had been set to attack mode from multiple upfield forays and so when the ball shot out to Koz, he struck like an attacker, not a defender, hitting it hard and true, and straight as an arrow.
Of course, just like last year, when your defenders become attackers, they also defend like attackers, you know, like my wife is a hooker in the bedroom but also a hooker in the kitchen. Hence, mixed into the goal-scoring heroics, it was Kozzer who later failed to clear the 6-yard box and delivered a perfect pass to Aguero on the left edge of said box. Thankfully, Aguero did the decent thing and put it past the post. You can flick the switch on to attack, but it’s a buggar to flick it back off again. Kozzer started to defend like a hooker. You can’t get the genie back in the bottle.
But it was a jolly old war, all the same.
A Breakdown of the 2nd half:
Arsenal bossed the midfield in the first half. City bring on Rodwell for Sinclair to lock up the midfield which becomes a quagmire for us. The pattern is set.
47′ Corner to Arsenal is cleared
47′ Ramsey and Jenks tackle each other on right wing near ½ way
48′ FK to City high up on the City right wing. Ball in over top to Aguero on left, unmarked! Just outside 6 yd box, he skies it over Mannone. He will pay for mocking Gervinho’s shooting.
50-60′ City keep hitting us on the break. No penetration up front by Arsenal. Cazorla hugging left touchline for a few plays.
50′ City corner
53′ City on the break get a 3 on 2 attack. Koz vs Aguero, penalty? Gibbs gets back for block. All comes about because Diaby loses the ball again in a key position in midfield. He can’t be doing that in the 2nd half.
61′ Diaby gives the ball straight back to a dispossessed Silva on the edge of our box.
63′ Cazorla lazers a diagonal ball left-footed across field to Gervinho. Impressive to see just how ambifootsrous this guy is. The ball needed to be accurate and quick. Still, Gervinho spills it.
City have closed down midfield and any space between midfield and defense. Frustration abounds.
City’s best moves are aimed at Aguero who is in Kozzers pocket except when they get us in a 3 on 2 situation.
66′ Gerv skies one from near the right corner of the 6 yd box
69′ As if the City midfield hasn’t done a good enough job closing us down, Ramsey and Gervinho contrive to tackle each other and turn the ball over as they approach the City box.
Arsenal are stuck cycling the ball in a long semicircle around City’s midfielders/defenders
City are thinking to themselves: “This is going quite well. They’ll eventually turn it over and we’ll hit them on the break.” Smug bastards.
72′ Subs on: Walcott and Giroud for Diaby and Podolski. Oh, and Tevez is on for Dzeko.
City still see all our build ups coming. But to be fair, our subs do add energy and up the tempo for us, eventually creating some attacking opportunities,
74′ corner to Arsenal and cleared.
Kozzer is getting twitchy and looking upfield continually.
77‘ Kozzer remonstrates at Jenks to get upfield for a raiding party.
77‘ Kozzer amazingly appears in the van Nistelroy position, on the edge of City’s 6-yard box, goal-poaching, waiting for a cross that city intercept. City attack on the break and are about to get themselves into a 3 vs 2 attack. Tevez charges with the ball towards our half but not nearly as fast as Kozzer who appears from nowhere with his famous 6th gear cruising speed and puts Tevez in his other pocket. Dispossesses.
79‘ 3 vs 2 attack by City. Toure charges ½ the length of the field so that Kozzer is facing down Toure and Aguero single-handedly. Kozzer waits, then pounces and dives in on Aguera to put him off on a near post shot
80‘ Kozzer gives mouth to mouth to Agueros cramping calf.
81‘ Our team re-energized by the subs, carve open an opportunity from outside the box. Cazorla shoots from outside but it’s tipped over as it dips. Shame. Would have been a beauty. One of those will go in for him soon.
81′ Kozzer up for the corner. Lescott clears only as far as Kozzer who he owes one to, for the goal in the 1st half. Falling backwards Kozzer shoots! Lazer! Smashed it!
82‘ Human pyramid ensues. Inspired by stories of Pippa Middleton’s naked human pyramid escapades, Kozzer attempts to strip off at the bottom of the pile. The Arsenal team en masse resolutely pin him down to prevent the inevitable Red Card.
Scenes reminiscent of last year’s heroics, indeed.
A 2011/12 Pile Up versus a 2012/13 Pile Up
83‘ City’s cross is cleared, it’s pinged back in for Kompany, who bicycle-kicks it on target. Mannone’s save rebounds to Aguero, who puts his shot wide of the post by inches.
88‘ Kozzer intercepts Balotelli near our box, goes all Messi-esque with a flick off his heel, and starts another charge up field with Ramsey.
90‘ Arteta to Cazorla to Gibbs who feeds Gerv with his back to goal 25 yards out. Gerv turns and bears down on the goal. Nice so far. He blasts high and wide. Ohhh, noooooo! Was that a sarcastic response to Aguero’s earlier parody of his finishing?
90‘ Coq on for Gerv.
91‘ Jenks (£1m) hares up the right wing, smokes Garcia (£37m) but is rugby tackled to the ground when City were there for the taking again.
94‘ Nirvana at fulltime. Arteta and Santi make out in midfield.
Sometimes a draw is a win. Like today. Still unbeaten.
By the end, it was totally Thomas Vermaelen 2011/12 but with Kozzer playing the left CB, frequently exposed by midfield and trying to cover a 3 vs 2 and scrambling out to his left in a reckless dash to close off the attacker.
Man, that was fun. Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1999. Oh, and the hookers are baking the vol au vents.