David Hirshey writes regularly for Deadspin about soccer.
I blame myself. I fucked with my own mojo this week, and, in doing so, cursed Arsenal.
Sure, there are co-conspirators in the Gunners' epic collapse — Chris Douglas Roberts, Peter Frojdfeldt and a pub that shall remain nameless all come to mind — but mostly it's on me. Which is why I slouch before you today a broken man. Let me explain.
On Monday night I was one goddamn free throw away from winning $1,000 in my office NCAA pool and ready to spring for those Manolos that Leitch has had his eye on for months. (Ed. Note: Woo-hoo!) My delirium quickly turned to despair as CDR caused me to have CPR by clanging brick after brick in the final minutes of Memphis' epic collapse. In the end all that was left of my grand was the rubber band around the bankroll that I now plan to hang myself with.
At least I had the comfort of knowing that the pain of Memphis' clocktease would be eased the next day by Arsenal's triumphant passage into the semi-finals of the Champions League.
So seeing as this was the biggest game of Arsenal's season that had promised so much and delivered so little, what did I do to help the cause? I blew off the inebriated comfort of Kinsale for a pub closer to work, where I was told by my friend Bigus Dickus of Unprofessional Foul that the beers would flow as freely as Arsenal's attack. I should have realized right then that I was giving the finger to the Gods of Guinness and Footy.
"Your lot is going to score two goals," Bigus predicted, which, given that the last 132 games between Arsenal and Liverpool had ended in 1-1 draws, seemed hopeful. Then, chirping like the Norwich City dickus he is, he added "But you'll still lose on penalty kicks."
Close enough. Arsenal scored twice — the second goal resulting from an Maradona-esque 80-yard run by Walcott through four Liverpool defenders in the 83rd minute that had me high-fiving and hugging everyone in the pub — and it was a penalty kick that sealed the Gunners' sorry-ass fate. A penalty kick that could only have been called by a man named Peter Frojdfeldt, which my Swedish friends tell me translates into Blind Douchebag. Lest we forget, in Wednesday's first leg at the Emirates, Kuyt tugged Hleb backwards in the box and received only a wink from referee Pieter Vink, a fellow Dutchman.
Yesterday's call was, to my fair and balanced Gooner eye, nowhere near as egregious as last week's non-call. When Babel broke into the penalty area seconds after Wolcott's masterpiece, Toure was shoulder to shoulder with him and might have breathed on him, causing him to lose his balance. A bullshit foul with that much at stake.
Penalty or no, the truth is that a side that is on its way to the semifinals of the Champions League after 85 minutes and loses by two goals nine minutes later deserves to be eliminated. In other words, Arsenal are out of Europe, as well as excuses.
Arsene Wenger, which my French friends tell me translates to Cheap Douchebag, can rail all he wants about all those "dodgy refereeing decisions" that cost his team victory, but the fact remains that Arsenal wouldn't have been at the mercy of them had he opened his wallet. Yes, he's brilliant at spotting young raw talent and molding it in the Arsenal image, but at this level you also need depth and experience, which cost money.
Had Wenger not been so convinced of his own genius, maybe we wouldn't have ended up with a defense yesterday that consisted of Gael Clichy and The Three Statues. Say what you want about Senderos — and he's an ungainly Swiss twat who lost his mark on the first two goals — he's not the only one at fault. Gallas and Toure were routinely beaten for pace over the course of the Liverpool series and crapped their pants every time Torres ran at them. The Spaniard proved once again why, for my money, he's the most lethal finisher in the world when he swiveled around the ponderous Sendoros and lashed an unstoppable rocket into the top corner.
It should be noted that Wenger tried to woo Torres over the summer, but his counterpart Benitez was the one who was willing to pony up the shekels. Now, God willing, Torres will stick a fork in Chelsea in the next round, which I'll be watching at Kinsale, just so I don't fuck that up, too.
Believe me, I've learned my lesson. There I was yesterday, covering my eyes in shame as Gerrard lined up the penalty kick, when who should come skipping into the bar but Relegation Zone Mikey, which my American friends tell me roughly translates into Delusional Tottenham Douchebag.
As soon as the Gerrard's shot bulged the net, RZM launched into a taunting chant of "Your season's over, la la la la." Only not as clever as that.
As for me, at least I won five large (or as you know it, one whole
Lincoln) on Tennessee over Stamford.