Stone Cold Friday: Yes We Can
Fire at Will! Poor old Will, why do they always fire at him…luckily he’s called Darius but he’s willing to put himself in the firing line…
One of the most ironic and hopelessly defiant images of recent times was the charade fronted by the comedian masquerading as a former Iraqi Information minister. The aptly named “Comical Ali” stood in front of the world cameras many a time on the onset of the Iraq war – with a straight face while trying to convince the world that all was hunky dory, and that the allied forces were being swatted away like the irrelevant nuisance they were.
And all this took place despite the undeniable evidence right behind him of cruise missiles being offloaded in his backyard faster than you can shout ‘Hail Mary’. It’s not that he could miss the carnage unfolding. These were the intelligent precision missiles that could navigate traffic lights and the rush hour, manoeuvre the cul-de-sac, and head straight for apartment 4C, taking care to knock and wait for the target to open the door before exploding.
Comical Ali’s defiance reminds me of the punditocracy and the general reaction to one of the most iconic nights in Arsenal’s history. A night that was a watershed moment for the club, for the players, and for the entire Gooniverse. The comedy was best captured in the press box at the Emirates where the majority of the hacks were already online starting to file their clichéd Barcelona arselicking reports before Van Persie rudely interrupted their flow and threw a monkey wrench into their whole program.
By the time Arshavin masterfully escorted Nasri’s ball past a hapless Valdes, the press gang were clearly flustered and hot under the collar. This was never supposed to happen and you could tell they were stupefied by the spectacular turnaround. The supporters around the press box did not disappoint with their well timed chants of “Rewrite – Rewrite – Rewrite”, pointing out the obvious and reminding them that their pre-prepared Barca loving copy will have to go in the trash.
It matters not that there’s a second leg at the Camp Nou in just under 3 weeks. It matters not that the face savers try to point out that Barcelona are going to ‘murder’ us when we visit for the return leg. What happened this week was monumental for the simple reason that the mother of all psychological barriers was shattered by this team; and it was shattered with a spirited performance that dared anyone to question what this team was capable of.
Listening to the fallout from the game, you would think that Arsenal actually lost the match. The Comical Ali’s from the media and pundit circles shamelessly continue to tell us that what happened at the Emirates was a freak result and all would be corrected in the return leg.
The problem for most of them is that they haven’t seen this team coming. It was only a matter of time before the different parts of the jigsaw clicked. It was only a matter of time before the belief in the team was cemented in a spectacular way.
What is not in doubt is that the team now has the belief and confidence that they can beat the best in the world. Despite what people say about the second leg, even Barcelona are not stupid enough to think that it will be a walk in the park. It certainly won’t be easy for us, but the pressure is on them and we are very capable of scoring an away goal to crank up that pressure 10 fold. Barcelona now know that Arsenal can beat them, and that’s the difference.
What’s more important though is what the win this week means for the team from here on. The confidence will be extremely high, and we will have learnt the lessons especially from Newcastle. What is also true is that our domestic and European opponents have no illusions about what we are now capable of. This is not a ‘nearly’ also-rans team. This Arsenal team has arrived.
The next few matches are very critical in augmenting the gains from this week, and the team must take these very seriously. The fact that we are playing Leyton Orient, Stoke City and Birmingham City next should not be taken lightly and the team should play with the same tenacity and spirit as they did this week.
With United likely to meet Chelsea a week before our return trip to the Camp Nou, there is a real opportunity for us to have lifted the first trophy at Wembley, for us to be in the FA Cup quarter final, and for us to be top of the league. The confidence that this will give the team cannot be underestimated, but it is not going to be easy and we must give each one of the teams we face their due respect.
Robin Van Persie took the time in his post match interview to specifically thank the supporters in the stadium; and Wenger and Cesc have also commented on the impact the supporters have. It is now also time for the doubting Thomas’s to fall in line and get behind this team.
Enough of the moaning and bitching; enough of the anti-Arsenal sentiments from those who call themselves Arsenal fans. This team has earned the right and the goodwill to be supported unequivocally and unconditionally for the remainder of this campaign.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re in the stadium, in a pub watching the game, with friends, at home or on the street. We all need to shamelessly stand as one, and we all need to be counted. Many doubted that this team was capable of crossing the threshold that they’ve now crossed; let alone win any trophy.
The answer to that couldn’t be more clearer. Yes we can, and yes we will.
I’ll save my final word today for a special mention. The team as a whole performed admirably and everyone is deserving of praise especially our big name players like Van Persie and Arshavin who came to the fore when their club needed them.
But two players in particular stood out for me. Laurent Koscielny and Jack Wilshere came of age. They announced their arrival and they announced it with style. They were not great, they were not excellent – they were world class.
The future is bright, the future is red and white!
Best get the shades out…’til Tomorrow
Posted on February 18, 2011, in Arsenal, Champions League, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Stone Cold Friday. Bookmark the permalink. 165 Comments.