Trips to Villa Park have been fairly good in the recent past. I can’t recollect losing to the Villains, since I started supporting the Gunners. One particular game, though sticks to memory for various reasons! Enjoy!
Aston Villa 2 (Barry 65 (pen), Knight 92) – Arsenal 2 (Denilson 40, Diaby 49)
Paul ‘Gascoigne’ Knight!
It was a typical December evening. Hot, humid and very very sweaty. Oh wait! It was just after the semester exams, and after Christmas. So, I was all in holiday mood. It wasn’t all that rosy. My uncle came visiting. A glory hunter mind you.
Now, the man didn’t know the ‘f’ of football. And, hey, he was a fair weather Manchester United supporter. So, that sums it all up, I guess. A cricket buff, and barely watched a Manchester United game.
But, since his arrival, and a brief discussion about where my career lies, we suddenly started talking about football, and soon enough, to Arsenal.
Glory Hunting Uncle – But remember, you should take your career seriously..rumble..rumble..rumble. .studies..rumble ..engineering.. marks.. grades..rumble.. money.. rumble.. career.. football.
Me – Huh? What?
GHU – You know, do you watch football?
Me – Er, yes, I do. How come you ask this all of a sudden?
GHU – Simply. You know Manchester, don’t you.
Me – Yes, there are two.
GHU – Manchester United I mean.
Me – Yes, what about them, uncle?
GHU – They are brilliant, aren’t they. I saw them a few days back on Sportscenter, decimating some team. And I hear they are European champions or something. They won the English Premier League, too, didn’t they.
Me – Yes, they are good. But c’mon uncle, Arsenal beat them 2-1 couple of months back.
GHU – I am sure they handed the game to them. Man U never lose. They are winners.
Me – (Clenching my fists, but restraining myself) How come this sudden interest in football, uncle.
GHU – Man U of course. They are brilliant, aren’t they. I watch them on Sportscenter. They play once a month or something, don’t they. When’s the next game?
Me – Tonight. They play Stoke City.
GHU – Stoke City? Never heard of them. Anyways, let’s watch the game.
Me – Oh yeah, sure. Later,there’s Aston Villa vs Arsenal on Star Sports. I will be watching that. And uncle, Arsenal are my favorites. Maybe, you should watch them play too.
GHU – Yeah right, I am sticking to my choice. Man U never lose. They are winners, you know. Their manager, what’s his name, Fer…fer…bu son, right?
Me – Alex Ferguson, uncle…It’s Ferguson.
GHU – Yeah, him. What a man.
Me – Do you know a single player from your Man U.
GHU – Beckham. I remember this Irish family, who stayed next to us in Muscat. Their son had a Beckham Man U jersey.
Me – (Facepalm) Uncle, he left Man U like 6 or 7 years ago.
GHU – Ah, doesn’t matter. Man U are winners. They will win tonight, and I am sure your Ars a nal will lose. HAHAHA (Evil laugh!)
***Stoke vs Man U, 20:30 IST***
There was very little to talk about really in this game. It was the pinnacle of horrendousness. The zenith of boredom. Stoke were excruciatingly poor to watch. They didn’t have the vision, movement. Heck, they didn’t even have football players. All they did all night was kick Ronaldo all over his body. And my GHU. Yeah, Man U fan, my arse. During the two hours of the match, he finished reading the ‘Times of India’ twice, took a nap and even had time for a loo break.
And, he comes, when it is about 80 minutes.
Me – Told you, uncle, they can’t beat a shit team like Stoke.
GHU – Maybe, they are just playing like that on purpose.
Me – They don’t do that in football uncle.
And suddenly, boom. Tevez pokes the ball home, with 82 minutes on the clock.
GHU – (like Arnold Schwarzenegger removing his cigar, removes his cigarette from his mouth) Told you!
Me – That was a crap goal against a crap team, which is down to 10 men!
GHU – Let’s see how Arsenal fare then.
***Final whistle goes at Stoke. Aston Villa vs Arsenal, 22:30 IST***
Well, there was really little to talk about the game, Arsenal wise at least. There was no Fabregas, there was Silverstre. So, you know, that’s a disaster even before the game started. Arsenal had 3 central defenders, in the starting lineup. Gallas, Toure, Silvestre.
Aston Villa had enough about them to trouble us. James Milner, yeah. He had some pace then. There was Agbonlahor, who would always put his A-game against us. There was the despicable duo of Ashley Young and Gareth Barry as well.
And, Aston Villa started in earnest, attacking Arsenal right from the start. I think they had like a gazillion shots on target. My uncle was sporting a smirk, looking at the hapless Arsenal defending. Silvestre almost scored a brilliant goal. Own goal. Almunia had to make the save of his live to prevent it from going on.
My GHU was having the time of his life. And then, out of nowehere, Denilson, yes, Denilson scored. It was completely unexpected, and having resigned to the fact that this could be a standard away 2-0 Arsenal defeat, we were suddenly leading 1-0 at Villa Park.
Me – See, I told you, Arsenal are great.
GHU – Bah! It was a nothing goal. That other team, what are they called, Rose Villa? They look like some local team, which I could have taken on in my prime. And they have just given you the goal, saying ‘Take It’!
Me – It’s Aston Villa. They are a Premier League side, and a decent one at that. And, again, no one throws away games in football.
***Half time whistle goes, second half starts***
4 minutes in, Arsenal are up 2-0. Diaby scored. I don’t remember how. But, he did. My uncle, by now, was positively getting bored. He hadn’t watched a single game of football his life, and now he had watched, sort of, two in a single day.
GHU – Chuck this, I am off to sleep. Congrats on your win! Good night!
Me – Told you uncle. Good night!
What happened next was unbelievable. Aston Villa mounted attack after attack. And, I mean, attack after attack. Arsenal looked like they could concede any moment. Villa suddenly won a penalty. My memory is hazy. I don’t remember how.
Gareth Barry smashed it past Almunia. Aston Villa 1 Arsenal 2. 25 minutes to go.
Arsenal’s defence looked so crumbly, like a creamless cake. There were bits and pieces all over. And, just when it seemed Arsenal were going to hold on to a win, the inevitable happened.
Zat Knight, yes, Zat Knight, found himself in the penalty box. And bang, he became Paul Gascoigne. He smashed one into the roof of the net. And, there I lay, devastated on my couch. Arsenal had blown it yet again. What do I tell uncle?
***Breakfast, 27 December, around 9 AM***
GHU – (Adjusting his specs, and newspaper) What happened last night by the way.
Me – Nothing much.
GHU – Huh?
Me – They drew!
GHU – EEEHAAHAHHAHA. (Devil Laugh) Told you so! Man U are winners. They never draw.
Me – What? They drew Sp*rs last week.
GHU – Well, you know they must have just given it away.
Me – They don’t do that, uncl…Ah, yes, maybe you are right. (This is when I realized I was talking to a moron of a brick wall, and they don’t come more stubborn than a glory hunting Man U fan!)
Arsenal let me down on the night. But, who the eff cares. I love this team. Doesn’t matter if these Man U supporting idiots keep bantering in your face!
My GHU occasionally visits, and I make sure, it is not on Matchday! Don’t want to fucking end up in an useless argument! 😀
Jai Arsenal 🙂
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