By this time in November, the leaves are mostly down from the trees and have been bagged and picked up by the city. There is usually only one serious Fall emblem left by the week of Thanksgiving, the Bradford pear tree in front of our house still at bright yellow. The tree is visible through various windows inside the house, and I always enjoy that last bit of color before the holidays and winter begin in earnest.
I woke up this morning to snow, a lot of it. The leaves of the Bradford pear were still yellow, but notably coated in white.
I’ve mentioned in a few posts that my daughter is a high school senior, poised to start making some important steps into the adult world. She is not greeting this unreservedly, and has lately been notably nostalgic for childhood. When we started seeing forecasts for a significantly snowy weekend, she began trying to wrangle up a “sleighing” outing with the vigor of a 6-year old. Unfortunately, her brother had wrestling practice early this morning, and there was wrestling parents’ meeting that my husband planned to attend.
After enduring the International break, I was planning to cuddle up with my TV and watch Arsenal play West Brom, beginning at 9 a.m. I figured I was safe from a nostalgic date with sledding anyway, since my husband was usually the sledding chaperone of my daughter’s childhood memories. But my daughter would not be put off, so we agreed last night to a very early sledding excursion, at 7:30 a.m., so I could be back in time for the match.
Sunset Knolls, where the best sledding hill in town is, was quite deserted. We could see footprints and a few sled tracks in the snow, but the hill was mostly untouched. The snow was wet because the temperature was a bit above freezing but it was plenty deep enough and we commenced the job of going down the hill with our flying saucer and a toboggan-like sled to start packing down snow into a fast pipe. Every run down the hill we made was faster and longer than the previous one. Sledding was way more fun than I remembered it being. We sledded for about 40 minutes, just the two of us at the hill, and left our handiwork behind for someone else to enjoy.
That turned out to be the best part of the day. The match was a low-energy affair that had bad news written all over it.
One of the injured players, Hector Bellerin, was back, but he didn’t seem quite himself. Alexis came back from World Cup qualifying with a minor injury and fatigue having played 90 full minutes for two matches. He was moved from his normal position on the left to further right to make a rational place for Kieran Gibbs, normally a left back but playing again in midfield as he had at the end of the Tottenham match. They both seemed out of sorts at first. Alexis grew into the game, but Gibbs never quite did.
Francis Coquelin, our hardworking and effective defensive midfielder, was injured and had to come out barely 10 minutes into the match, replaced by Mikel Arteta. Arteta himself had to be replaced due to injury before the match was over. That was after he made a foul that led to a free kick that produced West Brom’s first goal over some dodgy Arsenal defending. It was also after he put a wayward ball in the back of Arsenal’s own net for West Brom’s second goal. Not a great day for Arteta.
But he was hardly alone. Santi missed a penalty kick, Joel Campbell flubbed a shot that seemed at first harder not to score than to score, and Kieran Gibbs had a few chances that went begging as well. Although we exhibited energy near the end to put pressure on West Brom’s defense and looked quite dangerous, you could just tell we weren’t actually dangerous. We ended up losing 2-1.
We looked tired and in need of reinforcements. Unfortunately, even the reinforcements that we look to have back in the fold later this week aren’t enough with two fresh injuries today and many upcoming matches to be played in a short time. The cavalry is not coming, and if they do, it’s just a few guys with snowballs.
Manchester City, with whom we had been tied for first place on points, also lost today against Liverpool but that is small consolation. As I’ve mentioned previously, the Premier League is very tight this year, with many teams grouped together near the top. Two teams that won today moved ahead of us. Leicester City now sits at the top of the league. I don’t think I could ever have anticipated typing that this year. Arsenal is placed in what has come to be known as its natural position: 4th.
The Premier League matches play so early in the United States that when you win, you have all day to feel happy. But when you lose, well, maybe everybody doesn’t do this, but I have stayed forlornly in the pajamas I put on this morning after sledding, with my Arsenal away jersey over the top. I even wore that to the grocery store.
Don’t tell my kids.
Arsenal almost always seem to have a slump in November and I’m pretty sure that there’s been no cause to have a Gooner Triumphal Feast this November.
Here’s hoping the guys find their mojo before the end of November to influence me to find mine. I can’t go sledding every day.