How to waste time

Bazunu quite rightly at the feet of Jesus—although like John Wayne,
he could do with more Awe. And I’m no theologian, but shouldn’t it be Jesus who saves?
Of course, headline writers licked their lips when Jesus took a penalty for Man City
against Burnley, who had Nick Pope in goal:
Pope saves from Jesus
For many more such headlines, see Jesus jokes.

Arsenal have been keeping everyone guessing recently. Against Southampton last Friday night, they had a cunning plan: going 2-0 up in the first half in their two previous games hadn’t worked out for them, so why not try going 2-0 down instead?

Walking home from the pub after the first half to follow the match on the Guardian live feed, it wasn’t so much that I gave up on them; rather, I just couldn’t stand the anxiety. Back in 2005, like most people, I did give up on Liverpool when they played AC Milan in the Champions League final in “the miracle of Istanbul”; watching in a central London pub, they were 3-0 down at half time, so I took the tube home disconsolately, but as I got home I switched on the TV aimlessly only to find (WTF) the match was still going on—they were playing extra time—AND LIVERPOOL WON ON PENALTIES!!!

Rob Smyth’s live comments in the Guardian are always drôle. Some gems from Friday night’s match:

54 min “To adapt a silly Terry Venables line,” * begins David Howell, “there are two ways for Arsenal to win the title this season. One is retroactively via City getting an FFP sanction, and that’s the only way.”
[*original line: There are two ways of getting the ball. One is from your own team-mates, and that’s the only way.”]

With Southampton ahead, their goalkeeper Bazunu (who I wasn’t quite expecting to be called Gavin—cf. the classic nickname for Kiki Musampa) engaged in serial time-wasting:

59 min A ricochet almost runs kindly for Jesus in the six-yard box, but Bazunu pounces on the ball and then whips out War and Peace to read another chapter before kicking the ball downfield. He still hasn’t been booked.

68 min Ward-Prowse, Bella-Kotchap and Caleta-Car: the double-barrelled goal that may have put one right between the eyes of Arsenal’s title challenge. [Cf. Compound surnames in Chinese and English.]

Just as well I’m not a hardcore Arsenal fan, more of a Wenger nostalgist with a penchant for Jesus jokes. Maybe tomorrow night they can lull City into a false sense of security. I bet they regret not signing me now—a Zimmer frame can be jolly dangerous in the 6-yard box.

Strangely, this is part of an extensive series on sport, ritual, and gender (rounded up here)—including posts on the haka, Ronnie‘s astounding 147 break, and a fabulous world music playlist for Emma and Leylah

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