About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Decline and fall of Roman's Empire

Although the media focused on Arsenal's win as a landmark in beating one of the top two teams of recent years, in truth this game was all about the demise of Chelsea, the Gunners merely accepting the opportunities presented by woeful defending to comfortably take all three points.  The relief this win spread over the Emirates was tangible, in stark contrast to the tense beginning of the game and the desperate body language shown by all in blue at the final whistle.
Add in a dash of schadenfreude at the thought of what the group of Chelsea fans singing vile songs about Arsene Wenger on my tube ride up to Arsenal would be going through (ironically they got on at Russell Square, the seat of English education), and you had the makings of a perfect evening.
Not that this seemed to be in prospect at the kick off, with Arshavin dropped to the bench in favour of an initially ineffectual Walcott, his teammates only offering uncharacteristic hopeful long balls interspersed with one man cavalry charges forward in the opening stages.  In contrast, Chelsea, in front of a backdrop stating "play the Arsenal way", comfortably passed the ball across the defence and built steadily from the back. One such move drew Djourou out of position leading to a great chance for Drogba which went just wide.
As the half drew on, Arsenal remembered their pass, pass, pass mantra and at last looked the home team, scoring the goal of the game when Song, Wilshire and Fabregas combined in an intricate move on the edge of the penalty which eventually saw Song score and the hithero passive spectator to my right grabbing me in a huge bear hug.
This edge notched up the atmosphere which reached fever pitch in the first ten minutes of the second half when Fabregas and Walcott pounced on defensive errors to give Arsenal an unassailable lead although Ivanovic's instant response produced a few jitters, and Nasri, Chamakh and Diaby all spurned good chances to turn a win into humiliation.
All this left Ancelotti cutting a forlorn figure on the edge of the technical area, backed by a chant of "you're getting sacked in the morning".  However despite an ageing team fading from the title race, he's unlikely to follow Rainieri, Mourinho and Scolari into the Chelsea history books due to the need to avoid costly compensation payments adding to their outgoings as they attempt to meet the new Fair Play financial regulations in 2012.

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