About Me

My photo
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.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Capital Punishment

As usual the League Cup provided a first midweek visit of the season to Arsenal and a new journey to the Grove from my new workplace in Southwark, one of those virtually hidden routes through London, up the Northern Line then a train from Moorgate. I could have alighted at Drayton Park, right next to the ground, but with time on my hands I headed onto Finsbury Park where I was met with a large crowd gathering to make their way to the ground. I joined them walking down St Thomas Road, past an endless line up of fast food vans. For me pre match victuals were waiting at the last one, although tempted bWojciech Szczęsny pointing me to Piebury Corner (wonder if he gets image rights), a trip to Arsenal is always enhanced by one of Fat Harry's foot long hot dogs.
Pausing to eat I was struck by waves of passers by bearing a slightly different character than usual. It was clear that the fact that tickets were cheap and freely available had attracted a crowd which was much more reflective of London. The benefits of Arsenal's continuing commitment to this League Cup ticketing policy were plain to see and later shown by a crowd of 58,351 with the only gaps to be seen in the top tier of the away end (Coventry being given the rare privilege of having access to virtually all of the Clock End). The attendance was in stark contrast to several poor figures in other ties but also a reminder of how popular football has become in the last 25 years as I can recall from personal experience a league match between the two teams at Highbury in 1986 a crowd not even half as much as this one to see Arsenal Reserves and the worst Coventry team in my life time.
With Arsenal lining up in a 4-2-4 formation which included a forward line of Theo Walcott, Olivier Giroud, Andrey Arshavin and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain a thrashing seemed inevitable for the Sky Blues but it seemed like there was too much congestion in the Coventry penalty area until Giroud scored with practically the first chance of the game six minutes ahead of the break. Much was made of the summer signing's lack of a goal, a usual desperate media angle as he was starting only his fourth game.
The expected onslaught arrived after half time with Arsenal who appeared to be playing 2-4-4 when going forward with the ball at last began to profit from the midfield industry of the impressive central pair of Francis Coquelin and Nico Yennaris (the team mascot the last time Coventry visited N5).
A penalty for a clumsy foul on Arshavin presented an opportunity for Giroud to double his tally, but before the penalty could be taken, events took a farcical turn as the referee stopped the game due to an unwelcome incursion from the stands. A Coventry supporter wandered onto the pitch at the other end, calmly disrobed and waited for the stewards to give chase. In the meantime he was joined by a fellow fan and it became clear it was the Stewards' development squad on show as they hesitated before sending on the eldest member of the team with the two pitch invaders seemingly deciding themselves when to leave the stage. All this led up to a Giroud penalty miss or rather a penalty save by Joe Murphy.
Nevertheless the Ox soon doubled the lead and soon it was 3-0 as Arshavin who had been showboating all night scored with a delightful trap and finish. The Russian stood head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch and although its unlikely he will find a way back into the Arsenal first eleven he will surely find a stage for his amazing talent sooner rather than later. Another player with his Arsenal future in doubt made it 4-0, and it was interesting to see Walcott left on his own to celebrate by the rest of the team. Callum Ball scored a consolation for Coventry before the classy Ignasi Miquel and another goal from Walcott completed the scoring to leave the result as 6-1.
As expected an easy night out for the Gunners maintaining my recent record of watching goal fests with 28 coming in my last four football matches, a record which surely can't continue this lunchtime in North London. An outcome which would leave me in need of the services of the shock Doctor, Chris Kamara.

No comments: