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'If It's Football, It's Vital'

Andrey the Giant

Having not arrived back from Italy until the early hours of Friday morning, the Blackburn game appeared to come around all too quickly. It seems upon chatting to people pre match the focus from Italy was more on the violence than the victory. I should point out I did not see anything untoward myself, but the eternal city- whilst probably my favourite destination in Europe- is patently not fit to host a European Final. It is simply not expedient to move the final now as UEFA executives will be hard pushed to find five star hotels with sufficient vacancies at this notice, but UEFA really has to begin looking at their criteria for awarding such games in the first place and begin just at least pretending to care about supporter safety.

Anyways, with Wednesday's exertions having added a few deep seated lines to all of our faces, it is understandable that the boss wanted to rotate. Johan Djourou came in for Gallas to negate Blackburn's long ball tactics, Arshavin came in for van Persie- who had played poorly in Rome- and Song replaced Diaby whilst Walcott earned a first start for four months. The Gunners began effusively and after so much frustration in front of the Emirates goal, it was perhaps entirely predictable that the Gunners would trouble the net after just 77 seconds. Nicklas Bendtner played an excellent first time ball to Theo Walcott on the right, who showed great awareness to wave away the offside Alex Song, Walcott's low cross was aimed towards Arshavin and the ball pinballed off of the back of Andre Ooijer and into the net with a coccophiny of limbs strewn about the Blackburn penalty area. It was the sort of early goal that we could really have done with in the games against Sunderland and Fulham. It was also the sort of goal Aston Villa were scoring plenty of a few weeks back. As I have said before, there is no such thing as luck- it's purely probability taken personally. Still, it's hard not to feel as though the wheel is slowly turning our way. Or to paraphrase the manager, the boys are swimming with the stream now.

The Gunners might well have had a penalty soon after when Stephen Warnock rugby tackled Walcott in the area. In fairness, Phil Dowd- a referee I cannot stand- had an excellent game and did not tolerate Blackburn's cynicism for much of the match. However, upon seeing a replay he might question whether Diouf's disgusting studs up lunge on Almunia was deserving of a red rather than a yellow card. It was a tackle entirely in keeping with a team coached to be deliberately vicious by their perfidious manager. This is why you don't get the top jobs Sam, not because you're English, it's because you're despicable. Blackburn briefly flurried with some long balls, Blobinson providing the ammo as Pedersen's looping header forced Almunia into an impressive save. But the respite from Arsenal's four pronged attack was brief, orchestrated by Arshavin and Bendtner, with Nasri and Walcott pinning the full backs firmly to the edge of their area. It was Nasri who went close next with a gorgeous dipping free kick which rattled the crossbar. I make that two free kicks Nasri has taken for Arsenal from shooting positions, both of which hit the woodwork. Robin van Persie might have to accept some competition there.

If Arsenal had Blackburn on the ropes on the first half, they had them spitting blood and looking dazed and confused in the second. A minute into the second period, Nasri played the ball into Bendtner, who played an excellent first time pass to Walcott who placed his shot terribly wide with just the keeper to beat. Arsenal carved Rovers open again sixty seconds later, Arshavin playing Walcott through and his low cross found Bendtner in the area who thought too much about the finish and ended up scuffing horribly wide. But the football was ebullient again, incisive, natural, one touch stuff. Having an outlet like Walcott aids that, he is still rough around the edges and makes very elementary errors at times, but he penetrates. Bendtner looked confident, relaxed and while his ideas have always been right, his execution was coming off with his passing. Nasri looked a lot more relaxed now not tasked with being the sole bearer of Arsenal's creative crucifix. But the attack was neatly dovetailed together by Arshavin, who seems to have instantly lifted the confidence of his teammates. An instinctive sort of player who, like a snooker player, is thinking three or four strokes ahead. Instant, first time passes, drifting and finding pockets of space. His acclimbatisation period is still in its infancy but his class is effusive, effortless. What a shame he cannot play in Europe. There are still likely to be games he finds tough and we should be patient, but he has given this team a personality again going forwards. Wenger spoke after the game about Nasri imposing his personality on the game and I think that is largely due to the part Arshavin has played tying all the ends together.

The Gunners were again causing a rumpus in the Rovers area, Bendtner's shot was blocked by Ooijer and the rebound fell to Walcott, whose hooked shot was beaten out by one of Blobbo's chubby chippalata fingers. Arsenal broke again with Arshavin's ball to Bendtner, but he made a poor decision not to lay the ball off to Walcott. Instantly, the fans were on his back and his afternoon turned into a forgettable one as a result. With the fans fury still ringing in his ears, Arshavin once again but Bendtner through on goal, but one could see how the 'supporters' misplaced anger had sapped his confidence and dropped his head, the result was a panicky finish which Robinson saved as large sections of the crowd willed him to fail so they could once again vent their negativity. I do not understand why these people bother coming when they seem to enjoy berating this particular player and seek to actively harm the team. Bendtner must take the responsibility for poor finishing, but it's no coincidence that away from the Emirates last week, he was presented with much more difficult chances at the Hawthorns that he took comfortably. Booing a team after the final whistle is one thing- I do not hold with it but people are entitled to do it I guess. But to enjoy destroying a player's confidence so much during a game which you are winning reveals how unsatisfied some people are with their own lives. Credit to those who reacted to the malcontents by singing Bendtner's name loudly and credit to Kolo Toure who was quick to offer Nicklas some words of encouragement. But has it really got to the stage where we are creating work for our captain in a routine home victory?

But the air of discontent which was bafflingly circulating amongst people who enjoy moaning so much was soon lifted by a moment of genuine class. Denilson played an excellent ball out to Arshavin on the left, he jinked inside Danny Simpson on the touchline before squeezing the ball into the roof of the net from an impossible angle. A shot that put one in mind of Kanu and a piece of improvisation and magic in the final third that we have so lacked in 2009. Arshavin was Arsenal's 20th different goalscorer this season and those that sit in the North End of the ground have been treated to two very special goals in the last two home matches. However, they would once more be treated to Bendtner missing another sitter. The Gunners broke at speed from a rare Blackburn attack, Arshavin put Walcott away again, he cut the ball back to Bendtner in a sweeping move reminiscent of the Invincibles, but with all confidence drained out of him he scooped the ball horribly over. It was such a shame, he had started the game so effusively, so confidently and yet that all betrayed him as soon as the fans got on his back. Do these people not see the damage, or do they just not care?

With Bendtner departed it was fitting that Emmanuel Eboue would come on display his new found confidence. Sagna's right wing cross found Arshavin completely unmarked on the backpost, his volley was clawed away by Robinson's hot dog holders, before Eboue followed up to stud home the rebound. In the first minute of injury time, Carlos Vela's tricky footwork was too much for Martin Olsson, who felled him in the area. Eboue instantly picked the ball up and despatched the penalty before treating us to another of his elastic dance moves. It's amazing what a bit of confidence can do for a player. Something for the home support to think about? Blackburn were a poor side but a few poor sides have taken points from us this season, our play yesterday was more naturaland relaxed. Arshavin is a player who the players instantly recognise as someone they can trust with the ball and that has lifted some of the younger players, such as Song for instance, who has had a couple of marvellous games and looks so much more relaxed on the ball with more quality and experience around him. Nasri, Bendtner, Arshavin and Walcott formed something akin to a flying v, interchanging and rotating to devastating effect-and Blackburn could not handle the movement. The passing was quick and simple compared to the laboured, deliberate build up play that has been so easy to defend against. It's easy to forget that the Gunners were without any of their three first choice strikers yesterday nor their captain and lynchpin. Hopefully the sense of competition that is creeping back into the squad will help players to raise their games again in time to save our season.LD.




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The Journalist

Writer: Tim Stillman Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday March 15 2009

Time: 12:26PM

Your Comments

after one of Bendtner's misses, some people started chanting Robin's name, when he did not even play a part. it was not nice. It must be hard for Nik as he is desperate to do his best. Maybe he tries too hard for this unforgiving crowd.
Gael-Force
He is only 21 or 22 for god's sake.
Gael-Force
after one of Bendtner's misses, some people started chanting Robin's name, when he did not even play a part. it was not nice. It must be hard for Nik as he is desperate to do his best. Maybe he tries too hard for this unforgiving crowd.
Gael-Force
He is only 21 or 22 for god's sake.
Gael-Force
We just have to be patient with Bendtner, the finising will come, if he had even half the composure of Eduardo he'd have bagged 30 goals this season. His positional sense, work ethic and footballing brain are excellent, it's just his execution that is lacking, but that will come!! A word about Pederson ..... has anyone seen a more ridiculous dive in their lives?
Rocky7
We just have to be patient with Bendtner, the finising will come, if he had even half the composure of Eduardo he'd have bagged 30 goals this season. His positional sense, work ethic and footballing brain are excellent, it's just his execution that is lacking, but that will come!! A word about Pederson ..... has anyone seen a more ridiculous dive in their lives?
Rocky7
It was good to see a game where long balls from the back and hopeful, speculative high crosses from the flanks were secondary to playing the ball along the ground in, around and behind defenders. Arshavin, Nasri, Denilson and Song were all encouraged to do that by the movement of Bendtner and Walcott but then the greater creative instincts of Arshavin and Nasri encouraged the movement. The balance isn't quite there yet but we are getting closer to it.
Amos.
It was good to see a game where long balls from the back and hopeful, speculative high crosses from the flanks were secondary to playing the ball along the ground in, around and behind defenders. Arshavin, Nasri, Denilson and Song were all encouraged to do that by the movement of Bendtner and Walcott but then the greater creative instincts of Arshavin and Nasri encouraged the movement. The balance isn't quite there yet but we are getting closer to it.
Amos.
Add Fabregas alongside Denilson and we could be a top top class team. But I still think our back up players have a lot to live up to in comparison to Man Utd and other top teams.
Tom14
Add Fabregas alongside Denilson and we could be a top top class team. But I still think our back up players have a lot to live up to in comparison to Man Utd and other top teams.
Tom14
Fully agree with the praise for Arshavin. He is quality, real quality and well worth the hassle in Jan. Nasri & Arshavin swap positions during the game with devastating effect - keeps the opposition guessing as well. We need that unpredictability back. Also your comments about Bendtner are spot on. I felt sorry for the lad - his confidence was down and the crowd certainly didnt help. What I cant understand that he's certainly not the 1st gunner to miss easy chances, but this is the 1st time in recent years that I can remember a player being targetted in this manner. I guess the crowd hasnt learned from their Eboooing episode. Bendtner actually had a good 1st half, it was his pass that opened up space for Theo down the right for our 1st goal and he also had a difficult header that could have been tapped in by Theo if his position was slightly better.
prits
I don't know Tom, with a fully fit team our back up players would (arguably depending on who you think would be starting) Eduardo, Bendtner, Walcott, Rosicky, Eboue, Diaby, Song, Djourou, Fabianski, Gibbs, Senderos (?) ...... that's a team all in it's self!!!
Rocky7
GF, only 20! he's big, and I think people tend to forget his age due to his size.
ArsenalRob
Fully agree with the praise for Arshavin. He is quality, real quality and well worth the hassle in Jan. Nasri & Arshavin swap positions during the game with devastating effect - keeps the opposition guessing as well. We need that unpredictability back. Also your comments about Bendtner are spot on. I felt sorry for the lad - his confidence was down and the crowd certainly didnt help. What I cant understand that he's certainly not the 1st gunner to miss easy chances, but this is the 1st time in recent years that I can remember a player being targetted in this manner. I guess the crowd hasnt learned from their Eboooing episode. Bendtner actually had a good 1st half, it was his pass that opened up space for Theo down the right for our 1st goal and he also had a difficult header that could have been tapped in by Theo if his position was slightly better.
prits
I don't know Tom, with a fully fit team our back up players would (arguably depending on who you think would be starting) Eduardo, Bendtner, Walcott, Rosicky, Eboue, Diaby, Song, Djourou, Fabianski, Gibbs, Senderos (?) ...... that's a team all in it's self!!!
Rocky7
GF, only 20! he's big, and I think people tend to forget his age due to his size.
ArsenalRob
One player who I think we should see dramatic improvements to is Adebayor, when he comes back. He's not going to get into the team unless he starts to show some serious effort and form. Another thing that amazes me is how a few months ago we were dying for Rosicky to return, and now, if and when he does make a long-term recovery, he may not even make the starting line up. Things have swung round dramatically. We now seem to have some depth, too, when the time comes for Song to drop back to the bench. It will of course mean that Ramsey, Wilshere etc will have fewer chances, though. Imagine: injuries and departures aside, our pool off substitutes next season could include: Fabianski, Toure/Djourou/Gallas, Senderos?, Song, Walcott, Rosicky, Adebayor, Bendtner, Eboue, Diaby, Traore?, Vela, and maybe Ramsey/Wilshere/Nordveit/Gibbs/Botelho occaisionaly. I'd expect Silvestre to go, but I think it's fair to say that we're getting some depth to our squad.
ArsenalRob
One player who I think we should see dramatic improvements to is Adebayor, when he comes back. He's not going to get into the team unless he starts to show some serious effort and form. Another thing that amazes me is how a few months ago we were dying for Rosicky to return, and now, if and when he does make a long-term recovery, he may not even make the starting line up. Things have swung round dramatically. We now seem to have some depth, too, when the time comes for Song to drop back to the bench. It will of course mean that Ramsey, Wilshere etc will have fewer chances, though. Imagine: injuries and departures aside, our pool off substitutes next season could include: Fabianski, Toure/Djourou/Gallas, Senderos?, Song, Walcott, Rosicky, Adebayor, Bendtner, Eboue, Diaby, Traore?, Vela, and maybe Ramsey/Wilshere/Nordveit/Gibbs/Botelho occaisionaly. I'd expect Silvestre to go, but I think it's fair to say that we're getting some depth to our squad.
ArsenalRob
Ramsey and Wilshere, how the f*** did I forget those two? Shame on me.
Rocky7
Ramsey and Wilshere, how the f*** did I forget those two? Shame on me.
Rocky7
Because they have been pretty poor/not played all that much?
Tom14
Because they have been pretty poor/not played all that much?
Tom14
Agree Rocky, Pederson even had a chance to look back, he must have been a yard or more in-front and then did a dive that would have got him a ten at the Olympics. As for Diouf's foul I dont think they can change the yellow to a red but that just has to be a red. It was so bad, its lucky Almunia was not stretchered off. Top write up LD, agree re Nick; he will be a star for us, noticed Nasri offer him encouragement also.
alwaysgunner
Agree Rocky, Pederson even had a chance to look back, he must have been a yard or more in-front and then did a dive that would have got him a ten at the Olympics. As for Diouf's foul I dont think they can change the yellow to a red but that just has to be a red. It was so bad, its lucky Almunia was not stretchered off. Top write up LD, agree re Nick; he will be a star for us, noticed Nasri offer him encouragement also.
alwaysgunner
I wonder how the spuddies feel about being the instrument of Villa's decline and our ascendancy?
deledudu
I wonder how the spuddies feel about being the instrument of Villa's decline and our ascendancy?
deledudu
Arshavin. What a player. Big thanks to sp*rs for keeping us in fourth! Cheers boys! I almost don't want you to go down. Wait...what am I saying???
Gunnerman
Arshavin. What a player. Big thanks to sp*rs for keeping us in fourth! Cheers boys! I almost don't want you to go down. Wait...what am I saying???
Gunnerman
HAHAHAHAHAHA! Don't you just love the way the spudscum had to do you a favour today in order to save their own skins? OH THE IRONY. Can't stop laughing!
fifthcolumnblue
HAHAHAHAHAHA! Don't you just love the way the spudscum had to do you a favour today in order to save their own skins? OH THE IRONY. Can't stop laughing!
fifthcolumnblue
rocky 7, i believe, gilardino had done a worse one than that
carefreeblue
rocky 7, i believe, gilardino had done a worse one than that
carefreeblue
Booing your own team and your own players is never acceptable. All it does is destroy confidence, thus making a bad situation worse, whilst encouraging the opposition and giving their supporters a good laugh. At the game you are supporters, you can be critics later in the pub or on blogs like this one. Something about not washing your dirty linen in public? Great team performance and a great result.
norfolk dumpling
Booing your own team and your own players is never acceptable. All it does is destroy confidence, thus making a bad situation worse, whilst encouraging the opposition and giving their supporters a good laugh. At the game you are supporters, you can be critics later in the pub or on blogs like this one. Something about not washing your dirty linen in public? Great team performance and a great result.
norfolk dumpling
I agree nd, and the results were there for all to see on Saturday with Bendtner. It was cringe worthy when they started singing RVP's name. You have to ask what the final result would have been if Bendtner hadn't set up the early goal... I doubt it would have been anywhere near as comfortable.
Ezekiel
I agree nd, and the results were there for all to see on Saturday with Bendtner. It was cringe worthy when they started singing RVP's name. You have to ask what the final result would have been if Bendtner hadn't set up the early goal... I doubt it would have been anywhere near as comfortable.
Ezekiel
Bendtner had a blinder, apart from his finishing, and he a is a striker, you do the math. Thing is, hardly any of the home fans would've seen his goals up in the Black Country so don't know what he's capable of. The FA need to look at this diving stuff, MGP was ridiculous to say the least. If we can do Hull on Tues then it'll cap off week of the season by a mile.
shewore
Bendtner had a blinder, apart from his finishing, and he a is a striker, you do the math. Thing is, hardly any of the home fans would've seen his goals up in the Black Country so don't know what he's capable of. The FA need to look at this diving stuff, MGP was ridiculous to say the least. If we can do Hull on Tues then it'll cap off week of the season by a mile.
shewore
http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-bendtner-can-follow-eboue-s-lead Anyone else think it would have been better letting Bendtner take the pen?
MeetTheGunners
http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/wenger-bendtner-can-follow-eboue-s-lead Anyone else think it would have been better letting Bendtner take the pen?
MeetTheGunners
Pretty sure you're not allowed to let players that've been subbed take penalties, could be wrong though?
shewore
Pretty sure you're not allowed to let players that've been subbed take penalties, could be wrong though?
shewore
At the bar where I watched the match, Bendtner's misses reduced us to jibbering idiots only because his misses came so quick and fast -- how often do you see in the top flight of any top league, in a top class team, a forward given 3-4 gilt-edged, served-on-a-plate chances in the space of 2 or 3 minutes -- and he misses them all? So I can understand the frustration, but we did feel sorry for him, he worked so hard and was absolutely critical in winning us the game. If that had been an away game, I think he would've scored. He just doesn't have the same confidence at the Grove because of the miserable crowd. Hopefully he'll get it together, he's become more and more influential to our game, regardless of his misses. Pedersen's a lowlife -- this is the same guy who deliberately stamped on Cesc's head at Ewood Park last season. // Re Arshavin -- during his transfer saga, so many gooners and fans from other clubs said he was overrated, had only 1 good game at the Euros, yadayadayada. This guy is absolutely top quality, his intelligence and experience makes some of our other players look like the rookies they are. There were 3 superb goals over the weekend and his was one of them (the others were Pato and Bojan).
jaelle
At the bar where I watched the match, Bendtner's misses reduced us to jibbering idiots only because his misses came so quick and fast -- how often do you see in the top flight of any top league, in a top class team, a forward given 3-4 gilt-edged, served-on-a-plate chances in the space of 2 or 3 minutes -- and he misses them all? So I can understand the frustration, but we did feel sorry for him, he worked so hard and was absolutely critical in winning us the game. If that had been an away game, I think he would've scored. He just doesn't have the same confidence at the Grove because of the miserable crowd. Hopefully he'll get it together, he's become more and more influential to our game, regardless of his misses. Pedersen's a lowlife -- this is the same guy who deliberately stamped on Cesc's head at Ewood Park last season. // Re Arshavin -- during his transfer saga, so many gooners and fans from other clubs said he was overrated, had only 1 good game at the Euros, yadayadayada. This guy is absolutely top quality, his intelligence and experience makes some of our other players look like the rookies they are. There were 3 superb goals over the weekend and his was one of them (the others were Pato and Bojan).
jaelle
What annoys me is that when/if Bentner turns into a top class player and leaves because he does not like the fans, they'll all start moaning about how there's no loyalty in football. He's got 11 goals in 22 starts which is not that bad. He's just a bit short of confidence in front of goal at the moment.
PENZ
What annoys me is that when/if Bentner turns into a top class player and leaves because he does not like the fans, they'll all start moaning about how there's no loyalty in football. He's got 11 goals in 22 starts which is not that bad. He's just a bit short of confidence in front of goal at the moment.
PENZ
nuuuh. i'll get my coat.
MeetTheGunners
nuuuh. i'll get my coat.
MeetTheGunners
Arshavin goal was amazing, I so glad that I was there.
hackneyval
Arshavin goal was amazing, I so glad that I was there.
hackneyval
Arshavin showed his class against Blackburn. Could be a great buy for you, next season will tell though.
Thaibluefan
Arshavin showed his class against Blackburn. Could be a great buy for you, next season will tell though.
Thaibluefan
To be fair, on the sky full match coverage, there did seem to be several occasions when Bendtner's name was chanted by the Emirates crowd. I agree he had a good game and seems to have a decent understanding with Arshavin already, judging by some of the runs he made off the ball. All that was missing on Saturday was captain Kolo or someone else with the presence of mind to take the ball out of Eboue's hands and give Nick a chance with the penalty. Great report as usual LD.
VanPersie11
To be fair, on the sky full match coverage, there did seem to be several occasions when Bendtner's name was chanted by the Emirates crowd. I agree he had a good game and seems to have a decent understanding with Arshavin already, judging by some of the runs he made off the ball. All that was missing on Saturday was captain Kolo or someone else with the presence of mind to take the ball out of Eboue's hands and give Nick a chance with the penalty. Great report as usual LD.
VanPersie11
Regarding Bendtner: I sit in the front row behind goal near the red section, obviously people will groan when clear cut chance are missed as happened on Saturday, but I did not hear any booing at all from that area. In-fact the crowd started chanting and singing his name, which he appreciated, and acknowledged to them, for people on this forum to say that everyone was getting on his back is very misleading and downright untrue! As for the Arshavin goal, what a peach, it's nice to be in my seat when something like that happens, last week was the wonderful Ed flick, this week the lovely near post rocket fantastic, lets hope that Cesc comes back full of vigour, just think how much better we will be!
ukgooner
Regarding Bendtner: I sit in the front row behind goal near the red section, obviously people will groan when clear cut chance are missed as happened on Saturday, but I did not hear any booing at all from that area. In-fact the crowd started chanting and singing his name, which he appreciated, and acknowledged to them, for people on this forum to say that everyone was getting on his back is very misleading and downright untrue! As for the Arshavin goal, what a peach, it's nice to be in my seat when something like that happens, last week was the wonderful Ed flick, this week the lovely near post rocket fantastic, lets hope that Cesc comes back full of vigour, just think how much better we will be!
ukgooner
VP11, did you even bother watching the game? He was off the pitch ffs. Apparently on talk*****e collymore was crying about it, thing is, wherever u sit in le grove you're gonna have a different understanding of whether he was booed, ironically cheered, or cheered.
shewore
VP11, did you even bother watching the game? He was off the pitch ffs. Apparently on talk*****e collymore was crying about it, thing is, wherever u sit in le grove you're gonna have a different understanding of whether he was booed, ironically cheered, or cheered.
shewore
Nobody said everybody was getting on Bendtner's back, in fact, read the report, I mentioned the Red Section singing his name. But I sit upper tier half way line, since there's not much in the way of background noise there it's easy to get a good overall idea of the whole crowd and the fact is a lot of people were on his back and the original cheer when he was subbed was clearly an ironic one. The singing of his name and the ovation he got when he came off was a clear reaction to the morons who come to the game with the express intention of slating off certain players. I honestly cannot think of one rational reason why these people go to live games, it's insanity to me.
Little Dutch
Nobody said everybody was getting on Bendtner's back, in fact, read the report, I mentioned the Red Section singing his name. But I sit upper tier half way line, since there's not much in the way of background noise there it's easy to get a good overall idea of the whole crowd and the fact is a lot of people were on his back and the original cheer when he was subbed was clearly an ironic one. The singing of his name and the ovation he got when he came off was a clear reaction to the morons who come to the game with the express intention of slating off certain players. I honestly cannot think of one rational reason why these people go to live games, it's insanity to me.
Little Dutch
To tell their mates they've got a season ticket over Arsenal, remnants of Harry Enfield's ''soccer'' sketch, it's nothing more. 'ok yah i went to the Chelsea game', bit of board room banter, a status thing. Vile.
shewore
To tell their mates they've got a season ticket over Arsenal, remnants of Harry Enfield's ''soccer'' sketch, it's nothing more. 'ok yah i went to the Chelsea game', bit of board room banter, a status thing. Vile.
shewore
 

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