You’d think I’d know better by now than to have tempted fate. On Saturday evening I was joking with my West Ham pal about his nephew’s angry reaction to Agbonlahor’s late winner for Villa and the fact that it left West Ham fans fighting amongst themselves outside Upton Park.
I fatally intoned the sentiments of Kipling, suggesting that at least age and experience has benefited us with the ability to meet with triumph and disaster and to treat those two impostors equally.
As we all know, these words came back to haunt me as I hollered myself hoarse spending most of Sunday’s encounter with the Scousers imploring our players to show more passion and urgency.
If le Gaffer appeared ungracious at the final whistle, compared to me Arsène was calmness personified as frustration got the better of me and I turned to vent my fury on the nearest inanimate object. At least I have an excuse for letting my emotions get the better of me, having never been schooled in the oriental ways of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
But I imagine we were both left regretting our reactions. I know I was as I limped home, after kicking the crap out of my €1,000 seat.
Possibly le Prof was left kicking himself for indulging the immature antics of Eboué again.
Manny might not find Arsène so forgiving after his latest faux pas, though. Forget the inevitable debate over the dramatic injury-time denouement, the most disappointing aspect was that during the drab fare that preceded it, the lack of fervour from the terraces and the uninspired football on the pitch left me feeling that too few were prepared to put heart and soul into one last roll of the Premier League title dice.
After Mancini’s billionaires finally brought the curtain down on the Red Devils’ treble dreams in Saturday’s FA Cup semi, Sunday presented the perfect opportunity to turn the screw.
As a result, and with Dalglish coming to the Emirates intent on trying to consolidate the Scousers’ burgeoning confidence, I would’ve much preferred to have witnessed a balls out statement from Wenger.
He should have risked a three-pronged attack or, at the very least, two strikers, on this all-or- nothing result.
Instead, Arsène insists on incessantly gifting away home advantage with his quasi-religious conversion to 4-5-1. Does anyone else perceive Van Persie as a potent lone striker?
Admittedly, Robin was effective earlier on in the season but opposition defences had to cope with the distraction of four midfielders bombing on into dangerous areas.
Perhaps my most repeated criticism of le Gaffer is his failure to tinker tactically to target opponents’ potential weaknesses. Considering the Scousers were depending on two teenage full-backs for most of the game, I was flabbergasted by our failure to exploit Walcott’s pace. It took Shava’s introduction late-on for anyone to probe the flanks.
Truth was, with Fabregas, Wilshere and Nasri all failing to fire, we looked a tired outfit. Considering we were viewed as the team most likely to slip out of the top four when the reverse fixture was taking place back in August, perhaps we’ve little cause to complain.
But I’d have preferred for our dead parrot of a title challenge to have expired in a bland scoreless draw, than to have experienced the crushing blow of the acute plummet from the all too brief euphoria of having our faint hopes re-ignited in those last few seconds only to be snuffed out again moments later.
Better still, perhaps if we’d blown all three points because we were hell bent on glory. At least this would’ve offered the comforting reassurance of a team who’s desire matches my own.
Forget the title, I will gladly settle for success on any terms against Spurs tonight so we might at least salvage some north London pride while giving Gooners cause to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our local rivals’ last league success.