Saturday, November 03, 2007

Early morning drama

I am afraid no film can ever come close to matching the emotional drama that surrounds an Arsenal vs Manchester United game. Most movies, no matter how good the intention, attempt to follow a script and an actor's performance is monitored by a director. Sure there are magical cinematic moments when the unexpected is captured on film. But for the most part, a film captures a director's vision. On the other hand, these Arsenal-ManU games follow no script and no one has any idea what will unfold or what emotion will come out.

For example, the following picture is an example of the unexpected emotional outburst that occurs in these games.

pic from: Daily Mail

It appears that Martin Keown is doing an impression of a vampire. But he is not. He is simply celebrating justice being done. The problems started when Ruud van Nistelrooy did his best impression of a swan dive and won a penalty. But justice was done when Nistelrooy missed his penalty. So Keown jumped up and down to let Ruud boy know what he thought of him. But as per the picture, Keown's raw emotion looks far more sinister. The game ended 0-0 and at the final whistle, more emotions spilled over resulting in a few Arsenal players getting banned for a few games. Despite that ban, Arsenal went onto remain undefeated that year and won the league.

More drama followed the next season when ManU kicked Arsenal off the ball to win 2-0 and stop Arsenal's unbeaten league game record at 49 games. It was truly a robbery in how Manchester cheated (another dive won them a penalty) and fouled their way to a win. Arsenal didn't recover from that defeat for almost 3 years. Things finally seemed to be getting normal last season when Arsenal beat Manchester on both league meetings. But the cost of that second win came at a heavy price. Robin Van Persie injured himself after celebrating his equalizing goal and Henry's last minute winner was the last time he would ever score a winning goal for Arsenal as he too spent the next few months on the injury list. Manchester won the league title and when Henry was sold in the summer, all looked dark for Arsenal at the start of this year's campaign.

But Arsenal's amazing start to the season has surprized everyone. And ahead of today's game against Manchester, Arsenal were unbeaten and top of the league ahead of Manchester on goal difference. A mouth-watering match lay in store.

Sat, Nov 3: 6 am. It was not difficult to wake up early for this game as I hardly seem to get any sleep when these two meet.

6:46 am: I reached the pub for the game but even though the game was only one minute old, I was late as the place was packed. A nervous 45 minutes ended in pure agony as Manchester took the lead.

7:48 am: Three minutes into the second half, Cesc Fabregas, the genius maestro, tied the game up. After every Cesc goal these days, the commentators have to remind the viewers that Cesc is only 20 years old and already he is one of the best players in the world in a position (central midfield) that requires experience and maturity.

pics from: Arsenal, BBC

But with 8 minutes to go, Ronaldo put Manchester in the lead and once again Arsenal were on the ropes. However, just like they did against Manchester last season, Arsenal scored a goal in injury time. The captain William Gallas tied the match at 2-2 and gave both teams a share of the spoils.

pic from: Getty Images, Soccernet

Overall, it was a fair result. The game contained plenty of drama and there were enough moments of quality football. Arsenal were the better team for most of the second half but could not convert their chances into goals. But that is how the game goes.

As the legendary German coach Sepp Herberger said "The ball is round" (the quote was used in Run Lola Run). Dribble. Pass. Shoot. Simple really. So what's all the fuss about?


ZC said...

It's going to be one hell of a title race this season, I think. Go Gunners!

Sachin said...


I had no idea you were an Arsenal fan :) I guessed you as a Liverpool fan because I came your page a few months ago when you had talked about the Liverpool Champs league final.

Finally after 3 years, Arsenal will be up for a title race. And just like the good old days, it seems Ferguson and ManU players have a lot to say about Arsenal now.

I am starting to believe again. There is life after Henry :)

ZC said...

Well, the pub I used to frequent for a lot of the early weekend games is a makeshift place for NYC-based Liverpool supporters, so when they were in the CL final I had to go there. I even admit that in neutral games, I have a soft spot for Liverpool. On occasion.

But Arsenal's my team! All the things that were supposed to signify doom at the Emirates (TH gone, low spending, no "real" wingers, Gallas as captain, the youth) just seem to be falling into place. And it will be brilliant to see them punish the contenders this season. I hope ...

Sachin said...

Actually I do have a soft spot for Liverpool as well. A good friend is a big fan of theirs and both of us admire each other's teams. Although at times, he has more faith in Arsenal doing well while I am worried that they will screw up :) Also I became an Arsenal fan with the game that cost Liverpool the title (1989), I feel both teams are somehow tied in some way for me. If Arsenal don't win something, I rather it go to Liverpool. But it is always Arsenal first :)

I saw Liverpool's game last night and am just amazed at their goals. Ofcourse that means now that they will not score any goals at the weekend and their game will end 0-0 :)