Yesterday evening saw the first home game of the season at the Emirates, and it was nice to take in the atmosphere, cram my overlong limbs into my usual position, and see some familiar faces in the North Bank, all eager to support our lads.
As the atmosphere grew, and the half-packed stadium sort of filled, I was more than impressed with the Udinese fans, singing long before players had even begun warming up, and up there with the visiting Blackpool fans of last season in the volume stakes. I know that away fans generally make more consistent and condensed noise, but I couldn’t help but think us Gooners were largely muted – perhaps a combination of the general sale newcomers (not an insult), and a trepidation that failed to lift as we failed to stretch the lead.
Speaking of the goal, I’m not surprised that Theo scored, and nor am I bewildered by his apparently unfathomable inconsistency on the wing. The guy’s not a winger. He’s a striker. A poacher. A reactionary forward if ever I’ve seen one. So I’m more impressed when he does act like a winger than disparaging when he fails to make a cross or choose the right path on the flank. But that’s something for another time.
The game has been dissected to death by now, but very interesting outside of it was the big screen. We saw censoring last year at home during the Everton match, where Louis Saha was quite clearly shown as offside in the first replay, and then some clever editing meant that we didn’t see that ‘oversight’ again.
The opinionated chap who sits behind me mentioned that at other grounds you see the whole thing: the dodgy incidents and an ongoing live feed. I’ve not traveled away enough to know, but one incident yesterday showed me just how sensitive the video chaps at the Emirates certainly are.
During miscellaneous football ads of the type you tend to see on big screens in the build up to Champs League matches, there was one featuring Dean Martin singing ‘That’s Amore’. Abruptly, about halfway through, the advert stopped and – clearly queuing up whatever was closest to hand, we were treated to the second run of the advert we saw just before!
Why on earth? Well, I admit I’m putting 2 and X together to get 4 where the X might not be 2, but if I am right it’s absolutely hilarious stuff, and I actually laughed so loudly I caught a few rubberneckers.
I can only assume it was feared that the Udinese supporters would take offence to the song, but…why? Because the song is knowingly a smile and a wink at Italian culture, and mentions pizza? Italians do eat pizza. Because Dino Paul Crocetti (Dean Martin’s real name) was an American and so couldn’t possibly write any sort of song about the nationality of…both of his parents? Again, if I’m right, it was quite literally laughable.
If only such swift action was taken in the face of fans’ fears of the state of the playing squad, we all might feel a bit more confident about things.
You might think that a bit of an illogical jump in topic, but having been at a game where two substitutions were down to injury (Djourou going off within ten minutes of replacing Gibbs), and where the home bench included a player who may well be leaving (Bendtner); one for the future (Oxlade-Chamberlain); a young defender who can’t be expected to immediately perform, and whose constant backpasses were completely understandable (Jenkinson); a truly inconsistent ‘big player’ (AA23); an eager-but-raw midfielder (Frimpong); and a keeper yet to prove of consistent quality (Fabianski), says a hell of a lot.
Don’t get me wrong, I will support every person who wears an Arsenal shirt on the pitch (even the mascot, in the case of an ad hoc sprint-off), but to say that last night’s squad is the best we have available hints, at best, at a failure to finalise ongoing deals and, at worst, just a lack of priorities and foresight.
Still, I don’t want to grumble too much. Let’s look forward to Liverpool and hope that the club shows us some transfer love with the money that is available. Not that buying love is right…but it can probably be effective. Err, anyway. Dean Martin, ladies and gentlemen!
P.S: for an on the money match review, I’d recommend visiting Le Grove’s post here.