Meeting of Wandering Souls
Date: Wednesday 26th October 2011
The rumour was true - the first 11 Arsenal fans through the gates were to be given the chance to play for Arsenal. The unfamiliar lineup foxed even keenest Gooner-fan - fat frank from number 26, auntie gwen from out Chelsea way, the Tucker twins, Dwayne the visiting American, Nigel (who comes every day on the offchance there is a game), sarah (the groundsman's daughter) and her best friend from GCSE chemistry class - Natascha, Richard and Raymond (who only came to buy some stuff from the tat-shop - two Gunnersaurus head-cushions, as it turns out) and Brian - a confused old man who thought he was catching an aeroplane to Dubai.
Owen Coyle (not wanting to look as if he was taking the opposition too seriously) made sweeping (and indeed - wholesale) changes to the side that had so valiantly battled their way to a 2-0 defeat to Premiership front-runners, Sunderland, the previous weekend.
Much of the away-fans' attention was taken by the presence of a suave and urbane group of uber-fans who seemed to sum up everything good about the world. They included the dashingly young and cool Verbal, the wise-old owl Bobo, the (c)hunky man-about-town and all-round beer-magnet, Bruce. the dazzlingly gorgeous babe-totty, GG, the debonair and suave sophisticated babe-magnet named mummy, the tall and buffed triathlon hunk, Enfield and some doddery old religious buffer thay had taken pity on in the Drayton.
Small wonder that it took a while for the Bolton fans to realise that half-time had arrived and we were not losing. Some looked at their watches, tapping them in a puzzled manner, but it was true - and the first half highlights board showed Bolton slightly on top of the action - with a blistering Pratley shot to be proud of - some energetic huffing and puffing from Kakuta - some orange-booted enforcement from the Moo and a display of right-backery from Steinsson to make the laughing policeman weep! Arsenal had a couple of long-range shots which Bogdan decided to parry rather than catch becaue it makes a better photograph.
As sure as subtitles on a WtW matinee, the second half followed the first. But what's this?? A promising build up, and Moo has smacked it into the net. While others celebrated wildly, the doddery old religious buffer remarked to the dazzlingly gorgeous babe-totty that we had scored too soon - and he was right. Bishbosh and it was 2-1 to the arse, and most of us anticipated another four or five.
But this wasn't to be the case. Never one to panic into a formation change, Coyle panicked into a formation change - hauling off the industrious Tuncay and the woeful Pratley and (as a final desperate throwing of the genius-dice) bringing on the obvious saviourofusall - Robbie Blake.
Arsenal seemed to have lost interest, and once again we were on top but firing blanks. The one person you might have expected to smash home the three clear-cut chances that fell to Klasnic in the box - was Klasnic. But Klasnic has lost his scoring mojo - perhaps it is buried under the "put in a shift" ultimatum that he has certainly heeded.
So, a dalliance with 4-2-3-1 that many have been calling for - even if it was changed later on (the much-called for "flexibility"?) Certainly a more toothy display than of late, though one has to remember who we were playing (see first paragraph). If Wenger fielded this side in the league (as the also-present Puskas remarked) - they'd be relegated.