Date: 10th April 2007 at 1:48pm
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This shouldn’t take long should it? Having witnessed the Graham years, it would be foolhardy to call this the most boring game I have ever witnessed, but it comes pretty close. There isn’t really a lot to report to you, save for the fact that St. James’ Park has a worse atmosphere than the Grove. But something did become apparent on my journey home, I can finish better than Arsenal. Permit me to elaborate.

As we boarded the coach North at around 6.30 am, I completed a number of regular rituals. Firstly, having once again been first in line for the coach, I was once again able to bag the back seats for about the two hundredth time this season. In fact, even when we are not first for the coach, people just tend to leave those seats anyway such is the regularity with which we place ourselves there. I removed my faithful chum Mr. i-pod from my bag and, as is my custom for journies of this length, I was to begin reading yet another literary masterpiece. On this occasion, ‘We All Live In A Perry Groves World’ was to add itself to the literary canon that is my book shelf. So gripping, brutally honest and entertaining was it that I read the entire book in the duration of the journey. It is only the second time I have read a book (of considerable length) in one sitting. (The other was Iain Banks ‘The Wasp Factory’ for those that are interested- I thought not). Entertaining, endearingly honest (sometimes unendearingly honest) and hilarious, I thoroughly recommend it. Spite is not the only reason it has so consummately outsold Ashley Cole’s andrex offering. I stopped reading sportsmen’s autobiographies some time ago. As much as I was gripped by the offerings of Merson and Adams, something happened when I was 19- I read the autobiography of Malcolm X. After that, reading about some geezer what kicks a ball around seems a little trite. But Groves’s offering comes from a delightfully offbeat angle. With no particular reputation or commercial interests to safeguard, his is not the ego filating, self serving piece of **** served up by ‘enthralling’ pampered characters such as Rio ‘err, innit’ Ferdinand. (Groves at no point blames his misgivings on a 17 year old and, though he swerves a few cars off the road, none of them were Bentley’s). Get yourselves a copy, seriously, I guarantee enjoyment. (If I tell you there is an amusing incident with Colin Pates’ foreskin will that sufficiently provoke your intrigue?)

The fact that this report has so far consisted of a book review says everything you probably already know about the game. As you may have gathered from the title of the article, I spent the majority of the second half trying to work out which Smiths album is best (I just plumped for ‘The Queen is Dead’, but ‘Strangeways Here We Come’ was only denied by a superb stoppage time winner from ‘Frankly Mr. Shankly.’) It was a dire affair between two sides lacking energy, enthusiasm and, in our case, confidence. Abou Diaby played a withdrawn striker role which was not so much a tactical shift as a requiem for the Arsenal careers of Baptista and Aliadiere. Arsenal began brightly enough, with Hleb once more determined to open up the Newcastle defence, reassuming his positive link up play with Manu Eboue. Hleb charged forward and shuffled past Onyewu, but shot tamely at Given. Bar a goalmouth scramble which saw Dyer clast wide, that was about it. Shay Given had the right idea and decided to do one in the first half, Steve Harper came on in his place, but he really need not have bothered.

The second half played out, inexplicably, in an even more tepid fashion. Milner’s mishit cross cannonned off the bar, while Adebayor failed to collect a Fabregas pass which would certainly have seen him through on goal. Gilberto produced a stunning block to deny Martins. (Look, I’m even having to talk about blocked shots!) Not only is it painfully clear that our midfield just does not contribute with enough goals, but Hleb and Fabregas are clearly running on empty. Their efforts are manful, but both have really visibly run out of steam, and without these two architects the Gunners’ really do not create much. I won’t talk about Ljungberg’s ‘contribution’ to this game as I feel I have already laboured the point. With the two teams playing at an embarassing pace, it was left for the travelling Gunners’ support to mock Newcastle’s silence. How on earth they have ascertained this reputation as rumbustuous crusaders I have no idea. Just check the attendances for their UEFA Cup games.

With minutes remaining, Arsenal had their one glorious chance, but were denied by a superb piece of Nobby Solano defending. Eboue’s pull back found Gilberto, who managed to divert the ball goalwards, only for Solano to hook the ball straight back to the Brazilian’s foot. Bert scooped it goalwards only for Solano to clamber from the floor and head it over his own bar. It was a goal we did not deserve, but I did not concern myself with that as I took out my frustration on the back of Jon’s chair. As the final whistle sounded, there was a collective intake of relieved breath as were freed from the prohibitive shackles of this cure for insomnia. From our point of view, the build up play was o.k, the passing triangles in midfield were good, but there was just absolutely nothing going on upfront. Even Adebayor had an off day. It is difficult to see how we resolve this, as Henry and van Persie are not going to be back this season. Somebody’s going to have to take some responsibility in our next game, because the Bolton match is now of critical importance and I would really like to see Rosicky played behind Adebayor. If we do not win the Bolton game, well I don’t even want to contemplate that, but suffice to say, it would be time for panic on the streets of London. Arsene, please, please let me get what I want!LD.


27 Replies to “I Started Something I Could Finish”

  • how about rosicky behind Ade and just for one game Eboue on the right wing with Hoyte at Right back? Diaby and Gilberto in the middle. Hleb/Freddie/denilson on right wing. cesc rested.

  • How about bringing Diawara and Christopher Wreh out of retirement. Perry G’s book is top banana though.

  • I think it’s got legs on it gazzap, Eboue was top draw at WHL on the right. Diawara? Well he was good at finding the woodwork, which is slight improvement. Raphael Meade all the way.

  • Patience, LD, patience. We will look back on this season and say “That is where our great team started”!!

    Is your article available on CD (4 disk box set)? Little is more!

  • LD – what were the Arsenal fans reaction towards Hleb? I was disgusted to read that some Arsenal fans were actually giving him the w*&^ker sign at the West Ham game – how can you do that to your own player?!? Talk about being ‘supporters’. I have to also say that Aliadiere is definitely not up to being a first-team Arsenal player. And I reckon Wenger will keep Baptista. George Graham was in the studio and he got it right by saying that we’re not far but what we lack is a couple of players with more physical and mental strength.

  • The only bit of Groves’ book I really object to is this anecodte about when he was playing for Colchester reserves next to a guy in midfield who was useless and named Tim. He went on at length about how there are no good players called Tim, and that the name just does not suggest quality at all. The bar steward, at least I don’t share a name with a lounge singer called Como!

  • At Newcastle, Hleb received no such abuse, but he was widely jeered at home to West Ham. Utterly, utterly out of order. Particularly because he played well and tried harder than anyone.

  • To be fair to the ginger genius Jacky, he does say at length how shocking his name is at the beginning of the book. He really does seem like a top bloke, you wouldn’t believe how much ‘action’ this guy saw for a little ginger rascal.

  • I’m going to a Q & A with Groves and Sansom at the end of April. Should be fun. Been to one before with KS and he was mullered.

  • For some reason (must have been, his name or his nick name) he is one of the players that i remember most fondly from my early days as a football fan!

  • Hatespur, a mate of mine was at an Arsenal game in the 80’s, sorry i dont know which one. There was a shout of Ziggy, Ziggy, Ziggy Give us a wave (for Ziggy Johnson? i believe) Perry Groves waved and someone shout “**** OFF Tin Tin”, ask him if he remembers that at the Q and A session.

  • Probably because he was an Arsenal player and he wasn’t very good. I remember having a soft spot for Vinny Samways and Nayim……the last one changed very quickly!

  • Vinny Samways. Great name, again. Even better “mini microphone” hair cut. Sod all these superstars. the late 80’s and early 90’s were what its all about!

  • I will ask him Jacky. My brother got the tickets from Danny O’Shea (Another great) so we have a private chat arranged in the VIP bar before it all starts. Should be a good craic.

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