By Walter Broeckx
As you may have read I was not able to do my usual life match report. The reason was that we had a supporters club meeting straight after the match. And as I am the president of the Arsenal Belgium supporters club I had to be there of course.
But I must say that it is not easy to get torn between two loves like Untold and Arsenal Belgium. As I had to let down one of them and this time I chose to let our readers down. The reason… The Curse. But more on that later on. You will need to get to the end of this article to find out about the terrible Curse and the Paradox.
Arsenal started in attacking mood and a first shot from Alexis that was first touched by a Theo and then by a defender went just wide. The ref gave a goalkick when it should have been a corner. Then Theo was given some space by Alexis but his shot went wide. Not the easiest of angles.
For the rest it was Arsenal going forward and Burnley defending in numbers with only one player at the halfway line and all the rest around and in their penalty area. Where is Giroud (injured) when you need him? And it looked as if too many of our players had trouble in controlling the ball. Amazing how many times players like Özil, Santi and Alexis had terrible poor control and misplaced passes. Iwobi joined in with them and I think Theo was the only attacker who did his usual job. The rest were having a collective off-day.
A half chance fell for Burnley when Vokes was completely unmarked but headed wide. For the rest Burnley mostly hoofed the ball up field when we lost the ball. Playing the ball past such a packed defence is difficult and to do this you need to have all your players having a great match. And as I said before most of our attacking players had a complete off day. Effort enough but it just wouldn’t work out as they had in mind.
The atmosphere in our pub went a bit: oh no, the Curse is striking again….. We felt staring miserable and guilty. Why had we picked this match to come together? We knew the Curse…. Not much to report for the rest of the first half so a 0-0 score was the result of the efforts we made.
Arsenal kept on trying to play through the packed Burnley defence and nearly got there but the Burnley keeper made a good stop on a low shot from Alexis. A shot from Özil was blocked by defenders when he had a good shooting chance. Burnley just defending and defending. But suddenly they got a chance out of nothing and Cech had to palm it away for a corner.
Alexis at the other end had a volley that shaved the outside of the post. At the other end Burnley nodded a corner against the crossbar. Refs may I urge you to pay attention to the fact that it is illegal to put an attacker in front of the keeper who then moves in the path of the keeper to block him his movement. Burnley did this each time and a ref should have kept an eye on this.
A Burnley player committed a clear handball in his own penalty area but the ref seemingly didn’t want to give any handball decisions in this match. But for the rest it was again a match when too many Arsenal players played below the level they showed the last weeks. Maybe a bit of fatigue after two excellent matches in the last week?
Arsenal broke away after a Burnley corner and the ball ended up in front of Theo but his curled effort curled just wide of the post.
The 90 minutes were up. A minimum of 2 extra minutes would be given. Only two minutes????? No punishing the time wasting by the Burnley keeper then….
I turned to Marcel our treasurer who was sitting next to me. The Curse is still there I said.
So “what is this Paradox Curse?” you will be shouting at me by now. Well for the past season and a half we have had a pub that we can call our home. It is situated in Leuven, Diestsesteenweg 109. So if you ever are in Belgium and want to see an Arsenal match you can go there and ask Yann if he can give the match on one of the 5 screens. Mind you only matches officially broadcast in Belgium can be seen there. The name of this café (= pub in Dutch) is Paradox.
And since we have made the Paradox our supporters club home pub…. we haven’t won a match when we had an official meeting in this club.
So we bowed our head in despair… F*ck why did we have to arrange a meeting here again? We knew it would bring bad luck. Never again… we had in our heads. Next time we would meet in Antwerp, Ghent, ….anywhere but not Leuven (Louvain as you know it in the UK and in French.)
Deflated and full of guilty feelings we sat there… it was all our fault that we would drop points. The Paradox Curse had stricken us again.
Oh look we have a final corner with 15 seconds or so on the clock. They take it short. Alexis turns… a cross… Theo heads it on…. OMG Arsenal players bundle it somehow over the line….. what the f*ck…. is this real…. is it really a goal…. yes it is given…. the Arsenal Belgium supporters in the Paradox go wild, my bottle ends up crashing on the floor, who cares,…. My god the ref ends the match…. We won…..
A very, very ugly win. One that you only see from time to time from teams who have a chance to win the title. We kept on going and got rewarded.
But the most satisfying thing about this day was that finally after some 6-7 attempts Arsenal won their first match when we gathered in Cafe Paradox.
Finally the Paradox Curse had been broken. The owner of the pub, Yann, came to me after the match very relieved…he feared we would leave him as we couldn’t in at his place.
No need to fear that anymore, Yann. Because you know once a curse is broken the balance suddenly shifts to the other side completely. Well that is what we hope of course. From now on the Paradox will be known for bringing us the luckiest win in a very, very, very, very long time.
A big win and 3 big points. And a curse is broken in the most strange way. Going from completely being out of luck for one and a half seasons it all turned around in those crazy seconds right at the end of the match.
PS: For those who want to know about the validity of the goal…. wait for the referee review. For the moment and in the pub we really couldn’t care. We have had difficult moments enough over there in the matches before (the Dean/Chelsea win one of the most painful in the Paradox) to just enjoy the change of fortune for now. From tomorrow on it will be time to examine the goal in detail.
PPS: Looking back at last season and the Curse… it was us using the Paradox in those cursed days that cost Arsenal the title. Not the refs, not the players, not Wenger… it was The Curse I tell ya. It was The Curse!