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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, 6 October 2013

The Wizard of Ozil leaves Napoli spellbound

Pie haters
I was really looking forward to the visit of Napoli to North London on Tuesday night. I remember well what was possibly the greatest period of Diego Maradona's career when he took the club from the poverty stricken south of Italy to a brief period of national and European glory which hadn't been repeated before or since. 
Despite the rather unwelcome headlines created by the actions of one section of the Napoli support when they indiscriminately smashed up Piebury Corner which has fast become a new Arsenal landmark on the Holloway Road, the Italian fans passionate support contributed to a great night at the Grove with the football taking centre stage.
From the start the confidence garnered from a long unbeaten run was self evident as Arsenal momentarily played keep ball before launching an opening blitz on what hitherto this season had been an invincible Napoli side.
The Gunners' forward play continually threatened the Italian goal and the two goals that ensued in the first twenty minutes effectively won the game. Attacking the end at which I was sat high up above the penalty spot, the opening goal created one of those transcendental moments which make sport special. As Aaron Ramsey's pass found Mesut Ozil on the edge of the penalty area, the German magically controlled the ball and simultaneously directed it with power under the cross bar but beyond the dive of Pepe Reina. Like Richard Pacquette's winner against Hayes earlier in the season it was a moment that froze you to the spot as you witnessed something you weren't expecting.
The score soon doubled when Ozil fed Olivier Giroud for one of the Frenchman's trademark close range finishes. At this point Arsenal seemed to be poised to thrash Napoli but instead opted to lock down the game, the tough tackling of Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky snuffing out any hope of a comeback, reducing any efforts to long range shots which in no way troubled Wojciech Szczesny.
All the Italians could do was to back their team vociferously until the final whistle. Conducted by a man with a chest that qualified him for page 3 the Napoli fans engaged in much fist pumping and orchestrated chanting until even the Arsenal fans caught up in the second half with the North Bank and Clock End engaging in old fashioned call and response which echoed around the stadium. Thus the match ended with the ground en fete. Who knows where it will lead but the promise of great things to come was in the night air throughout.

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