After waking this morning to the grim sense of realisation that, yes, the events of the previous night, an ignominious 3-1 defeat to Arsenal had actually taken place, I was left momentarily dazed. Punch drunk and reeling from a heavyweight knock out. The hollow feeling in my stomach grew in size and scale and it felt for a while as if Theo Walcott’s right foot had created a void, a chasm in my core that would never be filled.
My punishment would only worsen as the morning went on.
The front pages of the morning papers stared out at me from the news stands with glaring, venomous eyes confirming my humiliation. My pain absolute. The television screen at the gym transfixed me further. Charlotte Jackson taking on the role of siren, drawing me closer to the inevitable conclusion whilst replaying last nights horror ad infinitum. A loop of torture. Bound to the Ludovico Technique like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, I was unable to remove my gaze from the images of last nights battle as I trudged mournfully along the treadmill.
The men in blue on the screen I recognised in physical form, yet their movements were alien to me. Was that really Florent Malouda, stumbling across the turf at the Emirates? Conceding the ball on the edge of the box as my tormentor Walcott pounced. I was sure that Frank Lampard had returned fleetingly, but perhaps I was still concussed from the blow.
Saloman Kalou, John Obi Mikel and Paulo Ferreira’s vessel’s were also paraded in front of me for a time, but I believe they may have been mannequins borrowed from the club megastore, as they exhibited no signs of human life. Contrasted to the visions in red and white, a technical display of passing and movement. Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song in particular put forward a virtuoso performance of youthful enthusiasm, energy and skill. Great credit must go to them.
There was at least one authentic character on display, one who’s presence was there for all to see, John Terry, who played with such a vigour and determination that his performance put those other imposters on the field to shame. Even a late surge of excitement following Branislav Ivanovic’s well taken goal couldn’t mask the woeful levels of ambition on show.
To complement the mannequins and imposters on the field, I noticed a ventriloquists puppet on the touchline. A man whose every arm and eyebrow movement seems to be orchestrated by steely strings from a palatial town house in Belgravia. After the game, he spoke of the need to wake up but it seems that for a while now, he has been the one in a slumber. After the humiliation of last night however, how much longer will he be allowed to keep dreaming?