Chilling with DJ Ourou

It is the pinnacle to my week. I look forward to it. I count down the days. I read and listen to every ounce of pre-match speculation. But do I enjoy it? Do I heck! I sit loyally at the Emirates, amongst the masses of fellow Gooners of one degree of loyalty or another, watching The Arsenal, and 99 times out of 100, I am a nervous, angry, tempestuous, high-blood pressured mess. As cult legend Danny Dyer once said, ‘me bum is flapping a bit’ during the majority of Arsenal matches, home or away. Yet on Saturday I experienced an entirely irregular sensation throughout the match. I believe it to be called relaxation. I have not experienced it at Arsenal for years, and presume that I will not experience it again for an equal amount of time. But while it lasted, it really was great.

Allowing yourself to relax at Arsenal, if at all possible, is a risky business. Just as you slump into a delicious haze of calm, watching sublime football tear apart an ailing opposition, then BANG, Almunia dashes 15 yards off his goal line and the moment has gone. I could give you a list of all the potential hazards that can come between you and a relaxing Saturday afternoon, but that would be tedious, so instead I’ll simply state the fact that it is almost impossible. Yet this Saturday I experienced a sensation that is to football as perceptive analysis is to talkSport, an absolute rarity. It brought me back to my childhood during which I watched a prosperous Arsenal destroy all that was before them at Highbury. The joyful arrogance I felt back then, watching the number of titles and FA Cups steadily increase, had returned, albeit presumably just for the afternoon. Perhaps ameliorated by my two pints of pre-match lager, Wolverhampton Wanderers induced in me a reborn ability to relax and watch Arsenal, simultaneously.

After last week’s catastrophe, which incidentally I did not ‘blog’ on for the simple reason that I had no words (and what is an article without words?), I thought I would never extract joy from watching Arsenal ever again. Although at the end of the 26 minute rout I prematurely believed I had rediscovered the ability to gain only pleasure from Arsenal, even when the 1st Newcastle goal went in, let alone the 3rd, I remembered that that was not possible, and metaphorically scolded myself for momentarily believing so. What happened in the interim period between the 26th and 95th minute has since been wiped from my memory and will never be spoken of again, thank you very much.

Back to Saturday, and well my tranquil state certainly had good reason. As much as we were sublime offensively, this aura of peacefulness was built upon the calming presence of Johan Djourou. Not only does Johan individually improve the nature of our defending tenfold, but the way in which he completely transforms Laurent Koscielny is remarkable. Alongside the Swiss, Koscielny is assured, organised and seemingly capably of nullifying even the strongest opponent. Awarded with a call-up to the France squad and lavish praise form manager Laurent Blanc has been in no small part down to his partnership with Djourou. Paradoxically, alongside Sebastian Squillaci, the very un-able deputy, he looks shaky, haphazard and positionally naive. When everyone asks “Why was Koscielny so shite for a while and now good again?”, the answer is simply Johan Djourou. And another exemplary performance from both Centre Back’s on Saturday ostensibly stemmed from the seemingly unerring confidence Djourou’s teammates have in him, expressed by Van Persie in his post-match interview.

Djourou was the nucleus of my sense of relaxation. From this, a fully-functioning multi-celled organism was created, as Arsenal stepped into a beautifully unhindered and fluent performance, or in the more succinct patois of Mick McCarthy, “a murder”. After Fabregas oddly had a goal disallowed so a free-kick could be awarded our way, Van Persie soon opened the scoring with a display in the beneficial utilization of one’s chocolate leg. Fabregas swang over a left-footed cross onto the right-foot of Van Persie, who duly scissor kicked the ball in off the upright. It was like watching football in a mirror- mysterious stuff. As is customary at home matches, Arsenal went on to miss a host of chances, all of which you’ve probably seen by now, but if not head over to www.arsenalist.com and click on one of the various links. The best of the bunch was a tie between Theo’s 3 efforts. Apologies for sitting on the fence there but all 3 were pretty great chances. Though this was a day where criticism went out of the window, so Theo, don’t worry about it mate. Remember, I was relaxed, we are Arsenal, they are Wolves, I knew the 3 points were coming, and this is how it always should be.

My one qualm from the day’s performance was Jack’s desire to avoid scoring at all costs. Arsene suggested he is lacking confidence in front of goal, though confidence has never seemed to be an issue before. The way in which he glides across the pitch with such elegance and, it would seem, arrogance, makes you wonder why he doesn’t smash the ball into the net once he’s ambled into the opposition penalty box. Instead he tried to set up someone else, twice, and both times the chance was squandered. I’m not one of those fans who shouts shoot whenever we get the ball purely to act as devil’s advocat to our way of playing, and this is because I love watching beautiful and precise football. Nevertheless, Jack, next time you’re through on goal, please just have a go. You never know, you might score.

The killer blow came when a scything counter-attack, including a sumptuous pass from Cesc Fabregas, culminated in Van Persie’s 12th goal in 12 games, or 10th in 7. A rich vein of form indeed, though that is all I am going to say on the matter. Getting carried away with Robin Van Persie’s goals is a mistake I’ve made far too many times before. It ended the game as a contest. Though, of course, this day was special. The game never was a contest. Johan Djourou saw to that, and Wolves never posed any threat or did anything to make my heart rate go into overdrive, as is customary. Honestly, I could get used to this.

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One Response to “Chilling with DJ Ourou”

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