By Walter Broeckx
After last weekend publishing the fastest match report in history I now will be the writer of the slowest match report. As most of you know I was in the Emirates this time in person and with coming home only very late at night and having to do a match as a referee on Sunday afternoon I couldn’t find the time to do it earlier.
As I was sitting in the North bank this time my first reaction was once again: what an amazing stadium we have. I have been sitting in each stand almost now and no matter where you sit the view is perfect. I think this is something that should be taken on board whenever high prices are mentioned. Not that I would mind cheaper tickets of course. But at least I know I can have an unrestricted view wherever I will sit.
The word slow once again comes to mind when I look back at the first half. Burnley to their credit didn’t do the kick them off the park trick. They did the time wasting trick and their keeper who was excellent and kept us from winning with a high score managed to do some of the most extravagant time wasting I have seen.
At one moment he slowly walked with the ball between his feet. Stopped. Was thinking to himself: well I am bit thirsty. Left the ball behind, went towards the crowd where the Burnley supporters were and ordered one of them to get him a cappuccino. As we have heard however from Tony his complaints for years it’s not an easy thing to get a cappuccino in the Emirates. So the Burnley supporter had to wait for the right person to push on the right button for a while. After a long wait the keeper got his cappuccino at last. Drank it up, slowly of course as it was hot.
Then he realized the rest was waiting for him and he slowly walked back to the ball. Thought about where to exactly put it for another two minutes. Found a spot that seemed decent enough. Bounced the ball a few times to make sure that there still was enough air in the ball. Finally placed it on the spot he first had selected.
Slowly turned around to the goal line. Slowly turned himself. And then he just stood there for seconds. As if he was one of the statues outside the Emirates. Just as I wanted to throw a coin in the basked I thought I saw in front of him (they usually move when you do that) he seemed to wake up and kicked the ball away.
I know the cappuccino part is a bit exaggerated but for those in the stadium they will have seen that he actually stopped a goal kick for having a drink. That was really awful time wasting and once again the ref failed to spot it and sanction it. And this will have gone unnoticed if you sat in front of your TV at home as it will have been the moment to show one of the 4 or 5 occasions when we should have scored.
Alexis could have had at least two goals himself in the first half but each time the keeper denied him or his shot went centimetres wide. Santi Cazorla worked his socks off but once again the goal seemed to be too small. And Welbeck went on a fine run passing all and everyone only to see his shot blocked just in front of the line by a defender.
You felt that whenever we turned up the speed we played with we hurt them. Burnley didn’t create much at all. In fact I don’t remember anything apart from a shot from distance that went well over.
In the second half the same scenario. Arsenal doing some shooting practice without success at first. Crosses came in from right and left but with some 10 Burnley bodies packed in their penalty area it was always going to be difficult to find that little gap needed. But you felt that once we would score that first goal the floodgates could go open completely.
And when the goal finally arrived it was no real surprise that it was the amazing Alexis was the one to provide it. A pocket striker scoring a perfect header. Out jumping both central defenders after a Chambers cross fell right between them. From then on it was a real floodgate.
We hardly were back in our seat when we got a corner. And the ball bounced around a bit after a Per dummy, Welbeck had a shot saved on the line by a defender and the keeper (his story of the day) and the rebound came to Chambers who made no mistake. 2-0 and you knew more goals would come if we would keep playing.
And we did with the arrival of Theo and Podolski. At least I will be able to say I was there when Theo really came back in the Emirates. He left us with us being 2-0 up, he came back with us being 2-0 up. Against another opponent but it looked symbolic for me.
We kept on bombarding the Burnley goal. Podolski will still wonder how on earth the keeper kept out his half volley from 6 meters out after a corner. And I hope the ground staff will check the woodwork before tomorrow’s match as his volley was as hard as can be. He really was unlucky and I would have loved it if he had scored at least one of those efforts.
Meanwhile Theo showed some great skill and looked still a fast boy, even out strengthening a defender to get ourselves a corner. And if it wouldn’t have been for the excellent Burnley keeper he would have scored a goal at his comeback.
The final goal did came right at the end. Another nice move and a low cross from the left from Gibbs was found by Alexis. A few quick touches and quick feet moved himself past the defenders and an easy shot which the keeper couldn’t stop this time.
3-0 and all went home satisfied. I think even the Burnley supporters. They didn’t get the 6 or 7-0 drubbing they could have had if we had finished a bit better and if it wouldn’t have been for their keeper. I don’t think any Burnley supporter will claim they deserved anything from this match.
It was a completely one sided affair. We could have done with a few goals more but I hope we kept them in the locker for the next two matches. It’s better to win 3 times 3-0 than to win one time 9-0 and then fail to score in the next two matches.
It was a great match to be in the stadium for my first visit to the Emirates. And it tastes for more….
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton: the club that gets cards at over twice the rate of Arsenal
- Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers: where will each team finish?
- Arsenal v Lens: what we found, what we felt, what they did
- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
- Arsenal v Lens: they had a poor start but are now flying