I was interviewed about the Carling Cup Final by BBC Radio London on Friday. There was to be an Arsenal fan and a Chelsea fan in a talk-in.
The producer phoned up two hours previously and asked whether I’d like to participate. She said – its light and fun.
So we start on air and the geezer compere says I want you to be nasty. So as soon as I mentioned the Russian oil oligarchy – he shut me up. “Enough about that,” he said. It made me wonder..
Anyway, Sunday was a strange day – have some work contacts who are Chelsea fans, and were driving down. Trains up the spout. So there were two Arsenal (including my son) and two Chelsea fans in the car down – in a spirit of co-operation.
Those on the motorway must have been confused with blue and white red and white in the same car.
But maybe not. Somewhat bizarrely – the Welsh road directions had Arsenal in blue and Chelsea in red.
Luckily the fellow travelling Chelsea fans don’t like the excessive money aspect of Chelsea – and think there should be changes. So we were of one mind on that.
So we arrived in the Chelsea car park – Cardiff Market – and onto the predominantly Chelsea coach – which was very bizarre. I’ve got nothing against Chelsea as a club. It’s just the excessive money which puts a question mark over whether football is sport etc;.
Any rate, the Chelsea section we had to walk through was relatively quiet. The Arsenal end was positively vibrant, heaving. There was a ball being kicked around the crowd – just like the Carling ad. And it didn’t look staged.
There was a giant blow-up around 50 feet, of Arsene Wenger on one side of the stands. One wag said: “yeah but he didn’t see it.”
One Gooner dad was pushing everyone away who went near his small child in a queue. A bit of an over-reaction.
The programmes cost £6. Wags shouted out to the queue: “It’s ten pounds.” So everyone was moaning about being ripped off, getting out their £10 and £20 notes.
The queue was much more orderly than the Champions League final though – where Gooners were pushing in – in front of fellow Gooners.
I accidentally dropped one ticket – face value £64, without realising. And this Gooner whoever he was picked it up and gave it back to me. Thanks whoever you are – I hope you read this.
The Millenium Stadium is fantastic. I wish the Emirates was more like it. It is enclosed and fantastically atmospheric. On TV it looks expansive. But being there the noise is kept in the stadium as it should. And the crowd is nearer the pitch.
Those curves on the Emirates look good architecturally and in the design sense – but some of the atmosphere seeps away out of those curves – and it is a low, flatter structure anyway.
Anyway the noise was so powerful pre-kick off it stopped my watch. It is not a crappy watch.
The way Arsenal started was fantastic. And Walcott‘s goal was fully deserved. Diaby was having a blinder. Fabregas controlling things. Traore roared into tackles – he would have seen red had his timing been off in two crunchers.
Denilson was tidy – sending one spectacular through ball to Aliadiere.
The Frenchman had a great chance to put Arsenal two up, but he dallied.
From where we were you couldn’t see whether Drogba was offside for the first goal. On Sky this morning – it is obvious he was offside.
So not only the youngsters were facing a massive financial and experience gap. They had to contend with dodgy decisions in Chelsea’s favour.
One Gooner phoned up Five Live and was having a go about the offside, saying the commentators were biased. Alan Green cut him off … which again makes you wonder…
Robben made the difference when he came on a half-time. He skinned Traore. Eboue replaced him.
Adebayor flexed, along with Hleb and Djourou in front of the Arsenal end – to the chants of Adebayor. And he came on for Aliadiere. Hleb came on for Diaby. But not before the Frenchman had a great chance – one on one with Cech. He opened his left foot which telegraphed his intentions, and the Czech parried clear.
We couldn’t see who was injured in the goalmouth melee. All we saw was Terry being taken off with a yellow neck brace seven minutes later. Mikel came on to replace him.
Towards the last 15 minutes and Chelsea were getting the ascendancy. A sloppy ball given away from central midfield saw Robben cross and Drogba beat Senderos [again, unfortunately] to head home.
The fist flying melee: can’t add to that. We saw what we saw. Missed the Bridge incident – which reminds that linesmen HAVE to be more active. But only if it is grounded in truth.
The bad thing is that Toure will miss the next three games – Blackburn, Reading and Villa.
There was some debate whether Adebayor will be let off – given his reaction about being sent off. On balance he should be.
Most of the Arsenal section had cleared before Chelsea received the Cup.
The strange thing was the celebrations were relatively muted among the Chelsea fans on the way back.
The Chelsea fan view: doubts on the long term Arsenal futures’ of Senderos, Aliadiere, Baptista, Hoyte [and Djourou].
We saw some obscene stretch-limos on the way out.
“That’s Ambramovich’s crew,” was one comment. On the way down there was speculation how Abramovich was travelling – yacht or helicopter.
During one international tournament, it transpired, the Russian invited players and WAGs to his yacht. The WAGs thought the opulent launch arriving to pick them up was the yacht.
Then the conversation turned to whether his third yacht will be the biggest in the world.
One radio phone-in had a non-Arsenal fan saying Chelsea is built on sand, and Man U have only one team.
“This Arsenal team will dominate for years to come.”