1. Out of position. Around half the team in the first half were playing off the position you’d normally find them in. Djourou at right back, Silvestre at left, Arshavin up front… All part of the fun presumably – but I wonder exactly why.
2. Rosicky – captain, smiling, and certainly not pulling out of any crunch tackles, wonderful flicks, powerful runs, full of speed. I’ve been wondering for a long time if the Arshavin-Rosicky thing can work, and this says yes. Of course I’d also like Van Persie and Eduardo in the same line up, but this will do for a starters. He looked so happy, and that was good news. We were happy too.
3. Luke Ayling. 7 years at Arsenal, and it shows. He put on an absolutely brilliant second half performance without a foot wrong. Our new central defender for sure. It is hard to believe how these young players can have the confidence and maturity that they have so early on. Forwards are easier to understand, because you attempt everything you can, and if one goes in you’re a hero. At the back everything has to work, and for Luke Ayling it did.
4. Coquelin was the surprise of last summer – and the year has given him strength and maturity, an eye for the ball, a style that is removing some of the edges of that strange shuffle he used to have and which now makes him a commanding central defensive midfielder. He’ll be a key to the Diddly Cup team, and might, just might, make it through this year if there are our normal crop of multiple injuries. But if we finally shake ourselves free of the disasters, one more year and he will be getting his place on the bench and pushing for games in the first team. He’s not like Denilson in style, but he is in the sense that if you look at him, you can’t believe it’s going to work.
PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING SECTION MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL. TO FIND OUT WHO I MEANT PLEASE SEE THE CORRESPONDENCE. SORRY
5. Lambert – oh what a talent, oh what a waste. Whenever I have seen him he seems to be full of brilliant football and a snarling temperament that makes me think, “will someone just get a decent psychologist to this kid, and sort him out.” We’ve seen him do some wretched tackles in the past, and be sent off. This time he lashed out an arm at a tackle he didn’t like, swore and snarled while others were just getting the hang of the game. Wenger put him on for the first half – which says – up and coming for the first team. But unless he can sort himself out, he won’t make it through a single game.
6. Barazite – looking sharp, scored a wonder goal – having had the odd venture into the first team squad he must now be at the core of the Diddly Cup squad, and looking for a place on the bench. (We are going to need a bigger bench.
7. Vermaelen – terrific first display, calm and organised, he was given the role of playing the whole game (the only one who had to), and keeping the kids together for the second half. Did that as well as he played the first half. Looks to be as good as everyone said he would be.
8. Mad Maria and her photographer chums. Three ladies sitting just to the right of me in the main stand, all clicking away endlessly with their big lenses, interspersed by Maria’s single woman chanting of “we are the Arsenal girls” and the awful “You what you what you what” when Sanchez Watt got the ball. Her chums sat in their headscarves, peaceful as peaceful could be – it is a strange combination. The guy next to me – a charming gent, season ticket holder at Barnet for years – told me that on occasion the sound man has asked Maria to shut up at Arsenal reserve games, because she’s overloading the recording devises. (Incidentally on chanting, there was a new Adebayor chant which ends “and show him the door”. What was the line before that?
9. The Mad Underground. Maybe this had to be the time for closing half of the Barnet Underground car park, which is used by fans for Barnet games. But if it had to be, maybe there should have been
a) A notice to say when it was full
b) A patrol to stop people parking cars in such a way that it made it virtually impossible for anyone to drive in or out
c) A consideration of how, when people had parked, they might actually be able to walk out of the car park without being run over.
It’s a tiny point (unless you are run over) – but it is just gross administrative incompetence. All it needed was one guy on duty – just like they have at Cockfosters for example – to say, right that’s it, it’s full. We arrived at 1.30 and it was full by then, and it took us half an hour to get the car back out of the car park to go and look for somewhere else. Meanwhile a queue of cars built up trying to get in – not realising it was full.
10. Ground safety. I’ve left this to last, because it just seems irrelevant to so many people, but somehow for me, being safe in these environments is vital. Maybe I remember the crushes of the old days too well.
Barnet closed the exit at the north west of the ground at the end of the game, so those who entered that way, could not get back out. But they didn’t tell us, and so there were people pushing both ways – some trying to get to the exit, others coming back realising it was shut. Stewards mingled, and did nothing to resolve the situation. In the end we were funnelled back past the area that players move across to get from the tunnel to the pitch. About 30 youngsters stood there, hoping to get autographs, and so effectively blocking the exit.
Of course everyone was calm and peaceful, and we all waited patiently to squeeze through one at a time. But it would have only taken one event to spark off the pushing, and from there we had no way out – we were straight up against a mesh barrier.
When will clubs learn that you have to think, you have to give out information, and above all you have to say to stewards, your job is not to stand around in groups nattering to each other on walky-talkies. I’ll be on the phone to the appropriate authorities tomorrow – for no reason other than the fact that by doing so I might actually save a few serious injuries at some time in the future.
Barnet – nice little club – very friendly. But you cannot behave like this.
(c) Tony Attwood. If replying to the this, and you haven’t written in before, please write Ref Barnet at the start, so I can see it is not a cut and paste job from elsewhere.
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