That’s nice! Really nice! We’ve had our fair share of dud results this season and after a while you begin to worry: how come this imbalance in the order of the universe isn’t righting itself? How come karma hasn’t kicked in yet? We couldn’t possibly be responsible for any of this misfortune ourselves could we? But before any such nonsensical introspection has time to take hold, BAM! 2-1 at home against Man U. Really nice!
Is that naive? Maybe. Am I deliberately forgetting some things and highlighting others? Almost certainly. Like all football fans, my memory has been likened to that of a goldfish, or a sieve, or a goldfish in a sieve, flapping about erratically. But so what? Last night’s result was excellent, and here’s why:
That Clattenburg decision. Now even though I have the memory of a goldfish I still remember that decision. (This may be because the goldfish in question supported Spurs and was living in a bowl in front of Sky Sports, but that’s incidental.) Nani McPhee handballs, acts daft and inexplicably Clattenburg allows the goal. Naturally it was only one decision in a whole season, but it seemed to signal something. It said, even when the rest of the country can see the folly, Man U still walk away with the points. It said that Man U are a force you can’t fight, a message which breeds confidence in a team, weariness in opposition, and goes a long way to generating good results. Last night we popped that bubble. We played Man U, we played attacking football and we played with confidence. They lead, we won. And we revealed their vulnerability to the Premiership.
David Luiz. Don’t worry, Torres will have his day, but last night was all about David Luiz, or D-Loo as I think he’s now called. D-Loo had an awesome game. Frenetic, frizzy, fearless… He looks like a defender who relishes the Premiership fight, who sees top quality opposition forwards bearing down on him and thinks bring it on! I’ve often wondered what sort of person chooses to become a defender, or even a keeper. If memory serves it was the kid at school who’d bought the kit, as a sort of back door way of getting in the team. And yet, it’s occurred to me that if you measure levels of involvement in any given match, it’s more than likely the defenders, and the goalkeeper in particular, have a much more exciting game than the strikers. That moment of adrenalin championed by adverts and computer games, that one-on-one, may happen once a game for a striker, but the defender gets it every ten minutes. There’s no margin for error in defence, and in the Premiership D-Loo looks like a player who’s finally found his home.
Attacking mentality: It’s one-all, we’re on the up, we’re looking tasty, but we need something new, something fresh. Who do you bring on? Salomon Kalou. Ah… Was that the sound of the opposition filling their shorts? Nope, not really. That was the sound of the opposition saying, meh, Kalou. Too often this has been the case. Good old Kalou. I like him, but he’s not really the game-changer you might want in those situations… Last night, same scenario, and who’s stretching out on the sidelines? Yeah, that’s right: Didi. Buckle up, bitches.
European message: The most important consequence of last night’s result is the statement it makes to the Champions League. We still win the big matches. It doesn’t matter who you are, we’ll beat you. And we’re not even at full strength yet.
Lastly, and this is on a personal note, what’s really nice is to screw up Man U’s title charge a little: Yup, it’s petty, and it’s counterintuitive, since their nearest rivals are Arsenal, but I’m fed up with Man U. Especially this Man U, mutedly riding on the coattails of the genuinely exciting, attacking side of the past few years. I don’t want this Man U to win the league, and we’ve just put a spanner in their works. So what if that tacitly endorses ‘an’ Arsenal? I have the memory of a sieve, which doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten old rivalries, just that I remember rinsing broccoli under the cold tap a lot.