I decided I was not going to write any more football posts for a while, seeing as I experienced so much anger when writing the last one but oh well, the circumstances have lead me into my present predicament. Now, I’m not so much of a football freak; I know the game, I enjoy the game, I enjoy its intricacies and the marvel that unfolds before your eyes when beautiful soccer is played but why go any further than this when the team you support does not live up to your expectation. Why stake your money and honour on the line when you are not certain that the team you love so much would perform as they are supposed? My passion is waning and my love is fading, I’m held on by a bunch of measly ties and they are breaking with every heartbreak the team deals to my heart. Oh Arsenal, what is wrong with you??!!!
So this week marked the return of the Champions League, the beginning of the round of 16 which followed last year’s group qualification phase. It is supposedly here that the men are separated from the boys; the real heroes of Europe have made it thus far and would go through strenuous tasks to reach the finish line (not that scrappy Liverpool that could not even qualify for the Champions League and now, they are not even in the Europa League which is really a consolation prize for all the seemingly mediocre teams in the European leagues). In December, the draw was made for the round of 16 and I already knew Arsenal was screwed even before it happened. Last year, we faced a very formidable Bayern Munich and even though we were lucky enough to escape with a draw and only lost out by away goals, I knew this Arsenal could not face any of the top teams and come out unscathed. However, it was to my dismay when I found out that we were paired with Bayern Munich once more. “Lobatan!!! E bee!!!” were the exact words that escaped my mouth. I knew it was over and only a bizarre miracle could help us come out victorious and that was even when Arsenal was on form and topping the league table. As the new year unfolded and Arsenal was hit by the January and February woes, I began to wonder even if the hands of God would even be moved to perform that bizarre miracle; the team was looking too lacklustre, injuries were hitting hard, our play-a-maker was being overworked and Wenger, as usual, was acting nonchalant to the plight of the fans. So when Wednesday came and it was kick-off, I knew we were done for. Now, this Bayern Munich has been playing very beautiful football since Pep Guardiola arrived, I mean real good possession football combined with their deadly, out-of-this-world attack. Guardiola trained them to play his kind of football, switching player positions, bringing in his own kind of players and making them pass; I mean he made Robben pass the ball which never happens. With the arsenal of players at his disposal and team he fielded, I knew Arsenal was done for.
The first half brought a bit of promise though, the team starting out wonderfully. They choked Bayern, gave beautiful passes and looked deadly; Yaya Sanogo ( a better replacement for that scam Giroud) impressed me, attacking the defence with vigour and making nice runs, amateur runs but they were better than the regular stuff we see from Giroud. But I knew this Bayern team was just settling in and that once they started, the eyes of Arsenal fans would stream down tears; the Arsenal fans around me shouted “Thank you, Jesus!!!”each time a Bayern attack was foiled but I knew they were just prolonging the inevitable. The pressure on the Bayern team paid off and Arsenal won a penalty. I jumped with joy and glee in my voice as the referee pointed to the penalty spot after a tackle was performed on Ozil but I was a bit shocked when Ozil stepped up to take the penalty; there was Cazorla or Wilshere there to take it, why was Ozil stepping up?! Then I saw the ironic twist, a German scoring against a German club, still it was not enough to justify Ozil’s selection. You could imagine the horror on my face when Ozil casually made a walk to the ball and kicked it in Neuer’s direction; sure enough, Neuer punched it away and then, right there in my heart, I knew that this team was not destined for greatness, I knew defeat was staring us right in the face. The rest of the half went on like a blur, Gibbs got injured and that calamitous Monreal was brought on, instantly Robben started to enjoy him and the right wing a little too much.