Liverpool Tie To Prove Testy
I bite my nails. Always have done, ever since I was a little kid - knaw, chew, bite. I used to be able to chew my own toenails as a youngster, but now I'm older, that particular 'pleasure' has been denied me by old father time. As a consequence, I've got these gnashed, short fingernails that are ideal for frightening small woodland creatures, but rubbish for picking your nose.
And, my nails are not looking forward to wednesday night. They know they're going to get it bad.
Bloody Liverpool. Didn't you just know it would be them? Arseblogger called it right the morning of the draw when he said it was gonna be the scousers. Rumours abounded that the draw was a fix, with a liverpool forum carrying a post detailing the 'correct' CL draw an hour before it was actually made. Fishy. But no matter, he draw was made, and we were pitted against the house of scouse.
And I'm really not looking forward to it.
The thing about Liverpool is that, no matter how poorly they may be performing in the Premier League under Rafa Benitez, never mind how misfiring they are, or how disjointed they may look in their general play, in the Champions League they always seem to do the business. A glimpse at the past three CL campaigns tells it's own story - 2 finals out of 3 ain't bad, n'est pas? And they've accounted for Chavski en route to the 2 finals. Which I took great delight in - both times. Schadenfreude? So sue me.
This time round, they've got themselves a striker who's on a hot streak. I don't think anybody envisaged Fernando Torres making this kind of impact in his first season in England, but El Nino looks deadly. And he appears to have formed a very good understanding with Gerrard.
But if Gerrard isn't allowed the freedom to supply Torres, then he's going to find it hard to score, so let's hope that the Flamster and Cesc keep the 'pool skipper fully occupied.
I'm bloody glad that we came back to beat Bolton at the weekend too. After an all-too-lengthy winless league run, that victory at the Reebok couldn't have come at a better time. I feel much better going into the game on the back of a three point return from up north.
I'm also not sure what Liverpool will turn up in London. Will they be attacking, or will they stifle the game, try to snatch a goal and try to take us back to Anfield and go hell-for-leather up at their place? I just can't make my mind up. I can visualise all of those. It's unusual I find myself concentrating on the opposition so much, normally I am fully focussed on what we are going to do to the other team. But,, like I said, Liverpool concern me.
I'm waiting for RvP to emerge from his cocoon of re-acclimatisation. He scored at the weekend, yes, but that pen aside, other efforts seemed to speak of a player tuning up his aim. May wednesday night be the evening when the pieces fall into place for him.
If we should fail to take a lead up to Anfield though, fret not though, as we have the players to punish a Liverpool team that would surely be moved to come out and attack us, by a home support that will expect them to take the game to the opposition.
All the same though, as this game fast approaches, my nerve jangle with increasing volume. Bloody Liverpool.
After the 2006 final against Barca, I went up to 2 guys sporting Barcelona tops and congratulated them on their victory. There'd been talk amongst some spuds fans that they'd be watching the final, and proudly wearing Barca tops. The next morning upon waking I contemplated the fact that those guys might have been spuds, and it pissed me off. But hey, I'm a happy drunk. And that night, after we'd slipped behind to what proved the winning goal, what annoyed me more than losing was the way that the majority of Gooners in the pub where I was watching the game fell silent once we'd fallen behind - I redoubled my efforts vocally to try and raise the atmosphere amongst my fellow gooners (backed wholeheartedly by my fellow Gooner Ed, and Dave and Pol - two liverpool fans, who desperately wanted to see us win. They cheered louder than many of the Arsenal fans that night after the second goal went in against us). I was slightly embarrassed that heads dropped so rapidly after we'd gone behind. I recount this tale because I think it will be an incredibly tricky tie, but whatever happens, however we perform, and wherever you're watching the game, for pete's sake get behind the team, and stay behind them.
Finally, seven years on - RIP David Rocastle. A legend, who was taken from this world prematurely. Paul and Tim have both penned fine pieces on a man still sorely missed by all those who saw him play, be they fans of Gooners, Chelski or Leeds, and some of those who support other clubs. I just want to add my voice and my words (briefly) in tribute to a player who really got me on the edge of my seat whenever I saw him play. If more people were like David Rocastle, the world would be a nicer place. He always seemed to play with a smile on his face, and I hope his family have been able to pick up the pieces. If any of David Rocastle's family should read this, may I just say he will never be forgotten. The day he passed away, we lost one of our own. Rest In Peace.