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.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Mustard finish sees off negative Norwich

A funny day at the Grove yesterday which began with a massive sigh of relief when I discovered that the Maidenhead game at Dorchester had been called off at 2.45 pm. But for an early evening engagement, I would have made the pointless trip, but at least those that did could drown their sorrows with £1.50 bottles of Carlsberg.
As for the game in front of me, despite Arsenal's strong Spring league form I was full of worry about the result. I was sat in the North Bank where I rarely see Arsenal win, indeed I can remember watching Chris Hughton's last visit in 2010 when his Newcastle team won a dour game 1-0, shortly before he was sacked. Still at least the prospect of goals were on offer, having sat nearby when almost a year ago Norwich shared six goals in a great game of football, and also earlier this season when a late penalty missed by Mikel Arteta prevented the Fulham game being settled by the odd goal in seven.
The last ten minutes aside though what transpired was an awful game of football to match the miserable weather which even seem to dampen the spirit of the foam finger wearers and split scarfers. With Norwich struggling on the brink of the relegation zone, their approach to the game was entirely understandable putting ten men behind the ball. Arsenal's starting eleven was unable to break them down, with Gervinho lacking guile, Wilshire match fitness and Cazorla stuck out of position on the wing. With Giroud seeming to play in a withdrawn role (false nine? - cue joke), Arsenal offered little promise of scoring whilst the game remained goalless.
As usual it took an opposition goal from a set piece by Michael Turner to spark the Gunners into life, with at least Wenger having the option to bring on some quality attacking players in Walcott, Podolski and Chamberlain. With the first two of the three returning to fitness it was good to see the impact they had on the game and hopefully they will be deemed ready for selection in the crucial game against Everton on Tuesday night.
However Arsenal's salvation was late coming and in the time between the Norwich opener and the equaliser, the Canaries demonstrated some cynical gamesmanship to slow the game down and waste time. I have no problem with the goalkeeper moving the ball across the six yard box or waiting for an attacker to challenge before picking it up but I really detest the antics of Grant Holt who when on several occasions a throw was clearly awarded to Arsenal did everything to obstruct a resumption of play. Norwich were helped by a weak referee who acquiesced with their tactics as the temperature grew in the stadium with the boiling blood of the Gooners.
That the equaliser came from a controversial penalty made it all the sweeter although the controversy was somewhat manufactured as it centred on how far away the linesman was when he made the award rather than the actual foul itself. The game then threatened to descend into pantomime as the Norwich players refused to conclude their heated debate with the officials in the corner, and then goalkeeper Mark Bunn stormed off in a huff to leave an empty net. The referee would have had a lot of sympathy for allowing Arteta to put the ball into the unguarded goal but he waited for Bunn to return before the midfielder delightfully placed the ball just beyond the keepers reach in the far corner.
The last few minutes then made up for the dross that had been on show before with Arsenal taking the lead with what looked like an own goal claimed by Giroud, and Fabianski making a superb save with his feet from Howson in a Norwich move direct from the restart. Podolski then completed the scoring with the goal of the game, a computer style turn and Howitzer shot which gave the goalkeeper no chance.
Job just about done as the Gunners rise to third place in timely fashion, looking good to stay there with a lot of important squad members returning from injury.

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