Arsenal At The World Cup

Watching the World Cup as an ardent Arsenal supporter is a funny old thing. It distorts the way you look at the whole competition, does it not? Which team do you want to win any particular encounter:

  1. Is it my National Team? No. OK. Onto question 2.
  2. How many Arsenal players are in each side? None? Damn it. On to Q3.
  3. How many “rumoured to be just about to be sign with Arsenal” players does each team have? Outer Mongolia has one?! Ok. “Come on Outer Mongolia. Beat my National Team, after all! You have my blessing.”

I jest. A little. I love the World Cup. I always have. So much passion. People deride its technical level compared to club football. But I see it differently. Each team has the same challenge: to quickly forge the best team from a group of players that only met last week. It’s a scramble. It’s a work in progress evolving before your eyes. It’s like an old-style car race that starts with the drivers sprinting to the cars, climbing in, and starting them up. Shit’s gonna happen and we get to watch.

And what it lacks in technicality, it more than makes up for in soap opera drama. It’s like tearing the bottoms off 18th century ladies’ dresses up to the knee. Sure it ruined the dress but look…you can see their calves and their ankles. They…they are…beautiful.

You can see the magical machinery that glides the woman.

And in a way, I don’t buy the technical argument either. Surely the bigger technical challenge is to build that cohesion on the fly. To see the gaps and the flaws and to watch the coaches scramble to fix them. You can see all the working parts moving.

It’s like having 2 chess grand masters sit down at a board after the first 5 moves were played by a couple of novices. That’ll shake things up. You’re going to see the masters having to improvise now..

So here I am in the great US of A. The Germany-USA match is to be played at noon and my company gives all the employees a 2 hour break to watch the game. (It’s actually a German owned company.) My co-workers assemble to watch the match in either Germany or US shirts. I, of course, show up wearing an Arsenal/Ozil shirt. What else? I field the many questions that come my way: “I WANT both teams to go through but I NEED Ozil, Poldi and Per to play blinders. That’s what I’m supporting.”

A few days before, I had to choose between watching Uruguay vs Italy in what became the Match of that round. One which had the Incident of The Tournament, courtesy of Mr. Suarez. Or I could watch what was basically a “dead rubber” match for England against Costa Rica.  It is obvious which match I watched of course. Who could miss that classic Italy vs Uruguay encounter which would decide the qualifiers. Answer: an Arsenal supporter.

You see, Richard Dawkins in the Selfish Gene explained a profound truth. Evolution is not about you or I reproducing; or you and I in a battle to see which of us is fittest to survive. It’s not about US at all. Though don’t tell your ego this. It’s about the genes stupid. And only about the genes. You are just a vehicle: to enable your genes to get from A to B ie to replicate.

And if your genes succeeding to replicate requires you getting your head bitten off after copulating with the female of the species, your own genes won’t be tipping you off beforehand. In fact, they’ll be roofying your drink in the bar when Miss Sexy Praying Mantis sidles up to flirt with you. And after you’ve done the dirty together, they’ll be tapping her on the shoulder to remind her it’s bite “shit-for-brains” head off time because the babies are going to need all the nutrition your noggin provides.

Don’t take it personally. It’s all about the genes. If they can find a way to replicate without us, we will become redundant. We’d be toast. Pointless.

And so it is for Arsenal supporters. The World Cup teams become akin to organisms that enable individual Arsenal players to thrive. Ozil is an exciting gene in the body of Germany. For Arsenal fans, the whole “point” of France playing is so that, in this long football drought between Arsenal seasons, we can at least see Giroud and Koscielny strutting their stuff. And even, to a lesser extent, Sagna, God forgive me. And Remy. And Benzema, though I’m no fool. And Schneiderlin who is almost as long a shot at becoming an Arsenal player

And let’s not forget pointless, pointless England: The team I watched just so I could see little Jacky Wilshere running around their midfield for 70 minutes, even though the World Cup’s greatest drama was unfolding on the other channel. No regrets.

And by the way, you got what you deserved, England. You crocked the Ox, you ignored Jack and you left Gibbs behind. Your purpose was to allow Arsenal players to flourish. You failed in this and you were punished.

Germany and France…be warned. Your only purpose in this competition is to allow these Arsenal players to shine. Without that, you become redundant too.

Yet, with a bit of luck, in the quarterfinals we may see Giroud, Koscielny, Poldi, Ozil and Per all on the same pitch fighting it out. That’s almost HALF an Arsenal side. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Yes, the body Arsenal has it’s genes replicated in the body’s of Germany and France and England and others. We can see Arsenal’s brown eyes in Germany’s, it’s feistiness fleetingly in England’s midfield, as well as it’s injury proneness. We can see Arsenal’s big nose as well as it’s ability to mark an attacker out of a game in France.

Arsenal is at the World Cup. And apparently there’s some kind of World Cup Tournament going on at the same time. Craziness!