Football isn’t for the weak. Nor for the timid. The shrivelling blossoms of the world should stay in their gardens. Quake on their stalks. Petals blowing in the wind. The sickly and weak fans who want everything to come easy to their club should simply pack it in and watch another sport. If you can’t watch a match with your face in your hands trying to scratch your own damn eyes out, you should watch running, perhaps. Instead of Arsenal, Mo Farah might be better for you. If you can’t handle a 4-3 win with goals scored within seconds of each other, both teams trading blows, taking leads, losing leads, and crushing their opponent’s dreams, try NASCAR.
The Premier League opening weekend for 2017/18 had all of the thrills football fans have come to expect from good football. On Friday, Arsenal whetted our beaks with a thrilling 4-3 display. We knew what we were in for when the teams traded goals in the first 5 minutes of the first match of the season.
In the second minute, Arsenal’s record summer signing, Alex Lacazette, scored the first goal of the Premier League season with his second touch of the day – his first touch was the kickoff. A perfectly placed Elneny cross dipped over the Leicester defender and found Lacazette’s head and the Frenchman simply put the ball in the back of the net. It wasn’t that easy a shot, the Leicester defender missed his header and Lacazette had to stay focused on the ball.
Three minutes later, Arsenal conceded a corner which Leicester took short. No one came out to stop Albrighton’s cross, Arsenal’s 80 year veteran keeper inexplicably came out to watch the cross sail out of bounds, only to then watch helplessly as the ball was headed back in front of goal by an unmarked Maguire. Maguire’s rather hopeful headed cross should have been dealt with, since there were in theory nine Arsenal players defending the box (not a theory, there were actually nine players) and none of them had gone to mark Maguire, but Okazaki beat Arsenal’s Xhaka to the header and leveled the game.
This sort of back and forth crazy defending and attacking would become the norm for this game, for many of Saturday’s games, and we can only hope – because it would destroy Jose Mourinho’s fragile ego, and we all love to see Jose’s post-match meltdown – for Sunday’s game.
Arsenal wouldn’t be done with the comedy football, though. Arsenal kept turning the ball over in their own half and despite Leicester firing several early warning shots, Arsenal’s multimillion dollar midfielder, Granit Xhaka (hey, that guy again!) was pressed and passed the ball to open space. There the ball was collected by Albrighton who was again unmarked and put in another great cross. This time Arsenal’s makeshift center back pairing of Monreal (normally a left back) and Sead Kolasinac (normally a left back) didn’t communicate that one-time Premier League Player of the Year, Jamie Vardy, was running between them and Vardy scored.
Arsenal, of course, weren’t to be outdone. Nor were Leicester done conceding ridiculous goals! Arsenal leveled 2-2 when Sead Kolasinac who is normally a left back, who is now playing center back, but in the Arsenal system that’s really a center forward, passed the ball calmly to Danny Welbeck. The whole goal was much more hilarious than that description. See, it started with a pass to Lacazette, who turned and shot but his shot was blocked. The only players who followed Lacazette’s shot were Welbeck (a sort of center forward) and Kolasinac (a sort of center back). Kola picked up the blocked shot and waited for the Leicester keeper, who’s dad was famous, to commit and then passed to Welbeck. Welbeck is not legally allowed to score an easy goal so, he needed to be falling over when he took the shot. He scored.
Vardy made the score 2-3 when he was left unmarked from a corner kick. Wenger made a face like he was concerned or peeved. Then Arsenal threw on three forwards: Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, and Olivier Giroud. Ramsey scored a goal of astonishing beauty when he was left unmarked at the far post off an Arsenal corner. Leicetsr had tried to clear the Ozil corner but the ball fell to Xhaka, Xhaka used the outside of his boot to cross to Ramsey, Ramsey took a touch away from the defenders and toe-poked past the keeper with the famous daddy. 3-3.
Ninety seconds later, Arsenal won another corner and this time Xhaka put the ball on the penalty spot where Olivier Giroud was standing, being held, grappled like a greco-roman wrestler, really, but headed home anyway. It was Giroud’s ninth goal as a sub since last year. Long may he sub.
That was Friday!
The next day we all got to watch Liverpool and their greatest ever manager, Jurgen Klopp Kaiser of the Kop, give up 3 goals, just like Arsenal did. And we got to watch last year’s champions, Chelsea, give up three goals just like Arsenal did, and have two players sent off!
A wise man once told me “savor every minute.” He was telling me this before I got on stage to play guitar but it’s good advice in general. So Arsenal gave up three goals and looked like they couldn’t care less about defense for parts of this match. But hey, they scored four and won in dramatic fashion. And like I said at the start, football is not for people with weak mental or physical conditions. So, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.