by Tony Attwood
I come from an Arsenal family – both my parents were north London born and bred Arsenal supporters, and so I followed the tradition. My grandparents were Arsenal too… I really had no choice.
And one of the points about Arsenal that I learned about from an early age was that Arsenal do things in style. So paying tribute to the Queen at halftime was very much in keeping with the club, I felt. I’m not a monarchist, quite the opposite in fact (again something taken from my parents) but there are times to campaign for change and time to be respectful.
Arteta doing no post-match interviews was right, in my opinion. So was the Arsenal statement that, “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen. Along with many of our supporters today, we will be taking time to mourn and reflect on Her Majesty’s incredible life and devoted service.”
It was well managed, and well handled and showed a style that not every club would be able to match. And so the game was played and we learned quite a bit. Such as the fact that Fabio Vieira is going to become a superb player as he gets used to his new environment. And the fact that Gabriel Martinelli already is a stunningly brilliant player and is getting brillianter (new word for the occasion) day by day. And in Marquinhos we’ve found another. Give him a year, along with another year of Martinelli’s growth and improvement and we’ll bamboozle every team on the planet.
Of course, I’d have liked to have had a more emphatic win, but we got the three points away from home, and that’s as good a start as we wanted.
So that is now one defeat and six wins so far this season, and now we can begin to think about the next Europa game is against PSV at home. And although PSV only sit fourth in the Dutch table this season they are by far the highest scoring team in the Dutch league this season with 23 goals in five games. Yes almost five a game!!! Largely thanks to knocking six past Excelsior and seven past Volendam.
And I did like the idea of bringing on the likes of Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard and Oleksandr Zinchenko to see the game through. Yes, more of that in Europa games and we’ll be happily into the knockout stages before the grandchildren can say Father Christmas.
Better still the defeat to Manchester U is something that has now been superseded. No chance of it being the start of a bad run. Eddie’s performances are not always gilt-edged, but he gets the goals. And in the end that is what counts.
Except now on Friday morning it seems we are cast into a realm of uncertainty as no one seems to be quite sure if all sporting events are to be called off as a mark of respect for the passing of the monarch. Football League fixtures planned for today have been postponed, but as I write on Friday morning no one seems to be clear if the weekend’s games can go ahead.
An article in the Guardian this Friday morning speaks of everything “depending on the public mood over the next 24 hours,” suggesting that “the Premier League and English Football League [are] set to meet at 9am to agree a final position. Some in the game are mindful of not taking up police resources or barriers, while others believe a longer period of mourning would be more appropriate. It could yet lead to the entire weekend of games being postponed.”
The Daily Mail is more certain shouting in a big banner headline “Premier League clubs expect this weekend’s games to be called off following the death of Queen Elizabeth as officials remain locked in talks with the Government.”
There is in fact a balancing act going on between paying respect for the passing of the head of state on the one hand and the way this season has been planned with the world cup in the midst of it leaving absolutely no room for postponements. As the Mail adds, “A cancellation of the entire programme would create fixture congestion later in the season as there are no free midweeks between now and the mid-winter break for the World Cup, which begins in Qatar just seven days after the Premier League pauses.”
Is there a balance between paying due respect to the passing of the head of state, or indeed to any individual whose life comes to an end, as all inevitably do, and the disruption of the day-to-day worlds of ordinary people who have paid out money and made arrangements? I’ve no idea. But of course, that doesn’t really matter as when it comes to arranging football matters no one ever consults the fans anyway.
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