Monday, November 06, 2006

take that! and that! and one of those

Hammers were full of piss and vinegar yesterday, matching the Gunners move for move and grabbing an unpretty and well-deserved victory at Upton Park. It was a match nowhere near approaching the level of ugly rancor attained in Chelsea v Barca, but scrappy nonetheless and flesh-thumpingly physical.

Few came away unbruised. Blood spilled on yellow kit (I'm looking at you, Zamora). Jonathan Spector had his plate full trying to mark Robin van Persie--nobody's favorite player on the pitch today, I think--and never backed down, proving himself no physical coward and giving as good as (better than?) he got. To prove the point that van Persie was winning no popularity contests, an ill-tempered coin flew from the crowd and nailed him on the touchline. In my favorite bit of reportage for the day, Matt Scott wrote in the GUARDIAN: "He fell to the floor clutching his head, further enraging the crowd." My boy, do not muck around with West Ham fans. (I make fun of it, but it made my skin crawl. One craven fellow with a bad mood and a pocket full of pound coins and the Irons could find themselves back in the relegation zone.)

My personal guilty pleasure of the day: Teddy Sheringham shamelessly bodychecking Jens Lehmann. (Oh, what? He's twice Sheringham's size. It was raffish and picaresque,--if I may borrow Mourinho's word,--and Ted's a lovable scamp.)

The game remained scoreless until literally the last minute, but it's a credit to both teams that there wasn't a moment in it that I didn't expect a goal on the far end of every next pass. Harewood broke his long dry spell in the 89th minute when he blasted Etherington's hard-won cross past Lehmann and celebrated by getting a yellow card. (I don't understand goal celebration yellow cards. Celebrate, by all means. Just keep your clothes on. It's two minutes until the game is over, Marlon. You can run around shirtless then. In fact, that's a good idea, as it'll give you something to do besides trying to pick a fight with little Cesc.)

It was after the game was ended that the real machismo fun began, and we at home missed the bulk of it. Cesc Fabregas apparently had words with the ref, which somehow culminated in a squabble with Harewood. Lehmann retaliated against the scalawag Sheringham by squirting him with his water-bottle, which led to the Arsenal physio wrestling the keeper to the ground (I'm not making this up, I swear), which led to Wenger himself tackling the physio. What I would give to have watched that live and uncensored. It's like an SNL skit, only better, because the strange and spidery Arsene is involved in a sort of dogpile. Then there's the whole Pardew v Wenger tangle ("This is MY personal space. This is YOUR personal space.")

It was an exciting day. My muscles ache just from watching. Everyone, Hammers and Gunners alike, will sleep soundly for several days, I think.


linda said...

I hate it when players get booked for celebrating. 19-year-old Carlo Alberto scores in the Champions League final for Porto, takes his shirt off because he's understandably excited, and gets booked - what? What's so horrible about a football player's naked chest?

Anyway, pet peeve aside, what's with little Cesc? It's not the first time I've seen him get aggro. Wonder if he's ever been sent off - if not, surely it's waiting to happen.

My favourite bit about the whole fight was the Arsenal manpile of Jens, the physio and Arsene. WTF?

Lisa said...

It seems obvious to me that shirtlessness is a positive thing amongst footballers. It would be interesting to know what rampantly indecent baring of the torso incident made the Football Powers decide that the rule was necessary in the first place.

And, yeah, I'm definitely going on a search for pictures of that scuffle. Priceless.