It's The Least Wonderful Time Of The Year
I hate North London derbies.
I make no secret of that fact, indeed, if I were to go back through the Vital Arsenal archives I`d wager I find a similar article to this one on an annual basis. I just don`t like them.
I`ve never really been a squeamish football fan, I don`t have to turn my back when penalties are being taken etc etc, but the thought of a North London Derby does something to me, something not very nice.
About the time I usually decide to pen an article on this subject is about the same time my guts realise that game is only a matter of hours away (of course, technically speaking, all games are only a matter of hours away, just some a lot more hours than others) and they start to do funny things inside.
The only way I could describe the feeling would be to recall the days on the school playground and you`re in a situation where you`ve talked yourself into a fight only to discover that your assailant has brought his buddies along for a laugh and that you`re hopelessly outnumbered.
The "fight or flight" instinct kicks in and in the split second before you decide what to do you feel like you got a couple of pints of puke stuck half way between your stomach and your mouth.
Yes, that`s how I feel this morning.
Arsenal vs. Tottenham offers little joy to me, until the end of the season by which time we`ve usually gathered our wits and finished above Spurs, though to gloat 7 months after the game has finished seems a little … well … Spurs-like.
I`ve been a Gooner for 25 years and in that time I`ve been to many matches, however I`ve only ever attended one NLD. It was the first North London Derby at Ashburton Grove and despite the fact that we won 3-0, I didn`t enjoy any part of the day.
Of course I loved the fact that we`d beaten Spurs, however the feelings I felt in my 400 mile round trip we not fully rewarded by a 3-0 victory.
As I posted on Twitter this morning, my hatred of this fixture is based on the fact that risk/reward factor is disproportionate. It`s very rare that what happens in the game fully justifies the emotions we feel leading up to, during, and after the match.
Last season was one of those rare occasions when the game is actually worth the pain. To be 2-0 down (and effectively 13 points behind Spurs in the league table) only to go on to smash in five, yes FIVE unanswered beauties offers an opportunity that is all too rare.
Spurs fans, as we know, are stubborn creatures by nature, they have the ability to complete ignore history and what is right in front of their faces to obliviously believe that, even though they`ve been thoroughly walloped in front of millions of people, they`ll get us next time and finish above us in the league. It`s almost admirable.
My feeling towards this fixture are somewhat irrational, it`s just another game and another chance at taking 3, 1 or 0 points. What`s said before, during or after the game shouldn`t, and doesn`t matter. I don`t care what anyone thinks … usually.
Maybe that`s my whole problem with this fixture? That I allow it to control my emotions, which it makes me think and act irrationally?
Being an Arsenal fans presents many opportunities for us to say "and that`s why we love football", the way it plays with our emotions, the complete unpredictability of it all, and whilst the North London Derby should fall into that category, it just doesn`t.
Not for me at least. I hate it.
Of course I`ll be watching tomorrow. But I won`t enjoy it. I`ll just be happy when it`s all over.
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