Dateline - March 2003
Jesus, I hate football, I really do. I mean honestly, who gives a shit? Well, millions of people worldwide, obviously, but bloody hell, I'd rather watch golf. Anyway, here's my report on Manchester United versus Arsenal - "the game everyone's been talking about", apparently. Why it matters to anyone outside the cities of Manchester or London is beyond me. Funny old world. For reference, this game was played on the 16th April at Highbury Park, and had something to do with the Barclaycard Premiership title. So there you go. I spent the first few minutes trying to work out which team was which, and eventually ascertained that Manchester United were playing in blue. I understand that they generally play in red, but presumably the home team get first choice. Meanwhile Manchester seemed to miss a couple of goals. This happened quite a bit throughout the game, but I stopped noting it down after a while. The first goal was scored by Ruud van Nistelroy in the twenty-forth minute (or about ten minutes into the highlights) when he got in front of the defenders and tapped it pretty firmly into the net, making it 1-0 to
Shortly after that Arsenal's Patrick Vieira damaged his leg and was replaced by someone called "Edu", and just before half time Manchester's Wes Brown seemed to have hurt himself. That was pretty much it for the first half.
Someone once tried to tell me that football was like ballet. Fuck knows why - perhaps he was drunk, or he'd been reading Nick Hornby or something. I think the point was that there's a certain beauty in the precision and artistry of the trained sportsman that parallels that of the professional dancer - hence the phrase "the beautiful game". It sounded like bollocks at the time, but with hindsight I can see that it really was. If football's any sort of dance at all, it's some sort of post-modern improvised jazz dancing. With a ball. And how hideous does that sound? Bloody football fans - if they're not smacking seven bells of shit out of each other they're talking consummate bilge.
Hey ho, on to the second half. Wes Brown turned out to be fine, bar two stitches in his head, and Manchester's O'Shea got replaced by Garry Neville. Don't know why.
A mistimed challenge for Manchester's Roy Keane brought down Ljungberg fairly early on, and was penalised Then there was a bit of a scuffle round the goalmouth before the equaliser, when Ashley Cole's shot bounced off the leg of Thierry Henry and past goalkeeper Barthez. Ten minutes later Henry put another ball into the net, bringing Arsenal into the lead 2-1. A slow-motion replay showed that Henry was offside, but the linesman hadn't noticed, so apparently it counted. Bloody weird if you ask me. How difficult would it be to give him an earpiece? Still, karmic balance was regained almost instantly, as a cross to Giggs was headed past Arsenal's Stuart Taylor and levelled out the score again at 2-all.
No more goals in the last half hour, during which things all got a bit aggressive. Ljungberg manhandled Giggs and sent him sprawling, which didn't go down well, then Sol Campbell seemed to elbow Solskjaer in the face. Actually, it didn't look so bad in the replay - more of an arm than an elbow, but the referee didn't seem to to think so and sent him off, so now poor old Campbell will miss the F.A. Cup Final. You see, there's one of the reasons I don't like this game - the rules are so fucking arbitrary. Still, screw it, eh? Didn't bother watching the post match yada, so that's the lot.
Final score: 2-all. Hardly worth bothering really, was it?