Good outing for the Arsenal yesterday, winning the Barclays Asia Cup 3-1 against Everton in Singapore. Hot and humid weather in Singapore which, in solidarity, Chicago did its best to match. As noted in my last post, this Cup is about preparing for the season; a good chance to work on fitness and try out a few things.
Match analysis is not my thing, but the big picture is that Arsenal looked good, a little rusty. It is said that Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere don’t usually play well together, but it’s a goal to get them to that point. They were played together yesterday and again did not seem to connect. Our BFG, Per Mertesacker, did not play and wasn’t dressed to play. He seemed to limp out at the end during the trophy presentation; hopefully not a serious injury. That did present an opportunity to play young Calum Chambers in his place. Chambers hasn’t been on the field for a while, having started last season very well but losing ground, and his place, as others stepped up and new players were acquired. He had a decent game. Mikel Arteta, injured for much of the end of the season, also had some match time. Newly-acquired goalkeeper Petr Cech played the whole match and was strongly cheered every time he touched the ball by what seemed to be a pretty solidly pro-Arsenal crowd. Theo Walcott started well and it seemed that the team made good use of his speed. Good games from Mesut Ozil and Santi Cazorla. Chuba Akpom, the young star of the previous match against Singapore IX, had a somewhat comical outing.
Some highlights here.
Thanks to Gavin for supplying pictures from the match. I met Gavin during intermission at Les Misérables here in Chicago in February 2011, introduced by his wife who is a former colleague and current friend. He is a native of Ireland and a strong Arsenal supporter. He and his wife and family recently relocated to Singapore; her amusing blog American in Singapore inspired me to try to blog as well.
The day Gavin and I met, we were both filled with hope for the Arsenal season. Arsenal had been tied or close to Manchester United all season at the top of the Premier League and were soon to play the Carling Cup (now called Capital One Cup) final against weak opposition. And Arsenal were still in the UEFA Champions League having beaten Barcelona in the first match at home in the round of 16.
But things went south after that intermission at Les Misérables. Arsenal managed to lose the Carling Cup final match in a way known to us supporters as “Arsenaling it up,” with Birmingham City’s winning goal created by exploiting confusion between the Arsenal keeper and defender. (Coincidentally, the Chicago run of Les Misérables ended that same day. Doubly misérable.) And Arsenal went on in the Champions League to lose badly to Barcelona in the second match at Nous Camp, a man down after Robin van Persie was sent off for a second yellow card because he took a shot after an offsides call had been made. Finally, the wheels came off in the Premier League and Arsenal lost and tied enough games to drop from second into fourth. Following that dismal year, Arsenal also lost some key players.They couldn’t run to the door fast enough.
I’ve only run into Gavin a few times in passing since I met him at Les Mis, but those Arsenal ties run deep. I’m always surprised at how easy it is to meet other fans, and how you never forget which folks are “one of us” and stay connected.
To Gavin and all Arsenal fans everywhere, here’s hoping that this season is less Misérable and more Camelot.