There is always something joyous about winning London derbies. Whether it’s the rivalry of playing some of your nearest neighbours at the highest level, knocking them out of a competition and generally abusing them for their mistaken choice of team, or whether it’s just for the local bragging rights and the consequent crowing and gloating that becomes food and drink for your footballing soul for the next few months. Our victories over Spurs year in and year out are a constant source of warmth and joy to me. These derby victories evoke in me the kind of warm self-satisfied and rather smug glow that one might wear if enjoying a rather decent glass of Rioja by the roaring fireside of a recently acquired lottery win-funded remote country cottage that you drove to in your brand new Bugatti Veyron, whilst being massaged in warm oil by Jennifer Aniston as in turn she’s lightly towelled off by a recently showered Catherine Zeta-Jones. The feeling is the same for victories over Fulham, Charlton etc., although to a lesser degree (maybe with Billie Piper and Helen Chamberlain instead).
But nothing comes close to the feeling of beating Arsenal on their home ground. Year after year I have lived with their smug Gooner faces taking the mick, singing about how we won the League in ‘black and white’. Year after bloody year after bloody year of living in hope of victory but never getting better than the odd draw. I got to the point where I would have even accepted relegation as long as we beat the bloody Arse just once! That’s one hell of an inferiority complex to carry around.
This feeling is therefore even sweeter in a season where we have already beaten them twice. It is merely the underlining of our own superiority. It is the rubber stamp on the contract of greatness awarded to holders of the Best Team in London trophy.
On Sunday, I did the very selfless thing of declining the opportunity to watch the game live. Just for this game I decided that Chelsea did not need my apparent TV jinx on them. I did what I have done in previous seasons and watched another channel. I left my mobile in another room to prevent the gentle click of Chelsea goal scored/conceded texts from disturbing my aura of calm and quiet contemplation. I removed my Chelsea boxers, my Chelsea ‘leisure’ shorts and my Chelsea poly-polo shirt. I became free of any Chelsea paraphernalia, liberated by the knowledge that the team would win because of my sacrifice! I know it’s not quite laying down my life for the cause, but you get my drift. They won because of me, my sacrifice, and possibly a little help from their own skill, determination, courage and tactical brilliance as well. I firmly believe my act of footballing martyrdom was the difference between the teams.
Having just completed a reasonable Guinness-induced hangover influenced game of golf my mood was upbeat. I knew, however, that just one glimpse of the game would send me into the usual TV induced angst of stress, screaming, frustration and general home-based football yobbish behaviour that generally threatens the existence of my TV and any other goods and chattels acquired over time. It also saves the children from having to ask me what certain Anglo-Saxon words mean, and why everyone not playing for Chelsea has a tendency to indulge in practices mistakenly believed to lead to short-sightedness and eventual blindness. I become a different animal when only able to view the world of football from my TV cage. In fact I become a caged tiger, starved for weeks, being ignored by those around me and ready to attack at the slightest sign of weakness or disrespect. I don’t make a good TV fan of Chelsea in live action. No, for me the beauty is actually being at the game, where, should things be going wrong, I can be surrounded by thousands of people who feel the same as me. It cushions the blow.
I watched the game later on and relished every second. Of course it affects your view of the match because decisions suddenly have less consequence; therefore Van Persia’s ‘goal’ becomes irrelevant. However the game did ebb and flow and when you consider last year’s 0-0 at Stamford Bridge, played at high tempo, with good spirit then Sunday’s definitely had some needle to it. Arsenal patently resent our new found wealth and success. Who could blame them though? Liverpool have for years suffered at the hands of poor teams and the knowledge that Fergie explicitly stated that his mission, and biggest achievement was “knocking Liverpool off their fucking perch”. Well, that’s what we have done to Arsenal. Against the power and might of Chelsea they looked disorganised, hesitant and defeated from the first minute. To their credit they rallied at the end, but the damage was done and the streams of Gooners leaving the Highbury Library 10 minutes from the end said volumes about where they are in this ‘transition’ period. They will undoubtedly be back when they move to their new home next year and we should be aware that all teams have to sometimes drop back in order to build for the future. Wenger is a moaning, myopic prick, but you can’t question his coaching ability and his track record.
My take on the key points in the game:
- Essien’s arm on Lauren — this was swan diving worthy of a part in any prospective Broadway stage version of Platoon. Shocking reaction from Arsenal players… with the notable exception of Terry Henry.
- Van Persie’s disallowed goal — Terry Henry was offside. Are you seriously telling me he wasn’t in some way interacting with the move… that Cech couldn’t see him and therefore wasn’t contemplating what to do if Van Persie played him in?
- Senderos on Drogba — a booking at the very least.
- Senderos on Robben — a sending off even without the original yellow he should have got.
- Robben’s goal — marvelous, simply marvelous and what a confidence boost for him that will be.
- Robben’s misses — he made two wrong choices, one to try and cut back to Joe Cole and the other to ignore Drogba. It’ll come back, but hey, a little greediness never hurt anyone. Ask Tel Henry, Ruud Van Horseface and Shrek Rooney.
- Cole’s goal — worrying, very worrying. He made Sol Campbell look a muppet. Perhaps Cole’s was just the start of a few that will mark Campbell as being wrong for England, especially as JT shines next to Rio, whilst never looking comfortable when paired with Campbell.
- Terry Henry’s performance — disappeared again as so often before on big games, but let’s face it, I’d have him at Chelsea. One obvious thing — he is now the captain after the departure of Vieira. Brilliant striker yes, captain no, Vieira… not even close to him in terms of influence.
And so my fellow Blue friends, we can now relax for a few days, drink the mulled wine, eat the Christmas fayre, open the prezzies (almost all of which are exclusively from the Megastore for me… new boxers anyone?), stuff the turkey, get lashed on Christmas day (that’s what it’s about isn’t it?) and then argue with the wife about going to football on Boxing Day, to hopefully see us dump another London team very firmly on their bloated posteriors. Yes, my wife says I can’t go, so here’s the cunning plan. Get wife drunk on Christmas night… very drunk. Get up Boxing Day, jump in mate’s car, get to ground, ring wife, hold phone 3 feet from ear, then laugh into it and say “whatchgonnadoaboutit?”. Watch game. Drink beer. Stop at pub on way home, drink more Guinness. Go home drunk, face flak. Then present her with new shirt with Lampard printed on the back. Accept grateful kisses and undoubtedly genuine platitudes on just how lovely I am. Smooth or what?
Happy Christmas Blues fans.