Fun in the Sun….and the Rain….and the Wind!
Monday 11th August 2014
Be it scrabble, a pub quiz or even buckaroo I am competitive and want to win. Not at all costs, but I certainly don’t like losing. For that reason alone I wanted to win on Sunday. And a fine victory in any situation looks far better than getting spanked. Yesterday us Gooners enjoyed another fine day out at Wembley, it is as simple as that.
We have enjoyed a great Summer weather wise or I certainly have in my part of the country but with the slightly over emphasized remains of a hurricane due to hit on Sunday morning we all awoke expecting it to be potentially difficult to reach north west London for this country’s traditional season opener. Yes, it was a bit windy and yes at times it was a bit wet but without all the reports of how horrific it could be would we have really noticed? I don’t think so!
Consequently we reached our chosen venue for pre-match activities without fuss and it was time to enjoy the day, one graced with a totally different set of emotions than our previous two visits. Relaxation was the order of the day, a time to enjoy an afternoon at our national stadium without any fears, pressure or nerves. Of course, there was a trophy to play for and it is a recognised first class fixture so despite the fact it is thought by many to be a pre-season friendly it is more than nice to have another piece of silverware on the shelf.
With the weather improving it was a sundrenched Wembley Way we walked down and similarly to when we played Wigan in the semi-final, it was extremely obvious that we heavily outnumbered those supporting our opponents. It was the same both in Beijing and Helsinki in our recent pre-season encounters. Much has been said about that situation but to see so many empty seats at the other end of the stadium was surprising and dare I say embarrassing for what we are all led to believe is such a massive club. Not only that but those seats could have been offered to us, as when we played Wigan and this adds ‘disappointing’ to those words I have already used. Transport issues have been offered as an ‘excuse’ but I know many Gooners who travelled from all over the country on Sunday without complaint. If we had played Man Utd, Liverpool or indeed Everton would there have been so many empty seats? I am convinced the answer to that is ‘no’.
With our end a complete sell out of course, we all hoped it would be a day to enjoy, one crucial to out fitness levels and injury free. The situation remains to be seen on the latter, the benefits in the middle are plainly obvious, a good confident display and victory would make sure the former’s target would be reached.
We are started the game extremely well, looking dangerous, fast and fit as we dominated the half, Santi and Rambo providing two fine finishes to give us the lead our first half performance deserved. Thoroughly pleasing and entertaining and putting us well and truly in the driving seat when it came to trying to win the trophy. The next goal for me would be crucial and despite City showing a little bit more attacking intent early in the second period Olly’s absolute cracker pretty much tied things up. The whole of the massed red and white army doing the ‘Poznan’, might have been a bit obvious but it was amusing and a quite incredible sight. It was only a shame there were so few City fans there to see it.
Despite tiring a little as the game went on, we defended extremely well, the 3 nil scoreline impressive and hugely pleasing for all us Gooners. Those famous steps were climbed for the second time in recent months and Mikel held the shield high with pride. Lovely.
This week has seen Tommy Vermaelen move on to pastures new and we all of course, wish him all the best. Having struggled to break in to the starting eleven last season he has been truly professional and acted with the utmost dignity throughout. Not something that can be said for all our departing players in recent years. As always however, we must look to the future and all our new players looked to have fitted in extremely well.
So, another pre-season comes to a close and we all look forward to the visit of Crystal Palace on Saturday evening. This time last year Aston Villa came and that can serve as nothing less than a warning as to how we must be at our very best on the day. We are right to be optimistic. The time has come to prove the reason why.
Come on you mighty reds!