It is an old adage but this nugget of wisdom still rings true. I must confess, before the Arsenal versus Tottenham Hotspur match, I was scared. “Kukwata Bhora!” to borrow a football phrase in the Shona language.
I have a soft spot for Arsenal, The Gunners. M love for the team was planted during the Ian Wright era. I loved Ian and the way he enjoyed scoring goals and celebrating them. I also loved the kit, JVC, it was iconic.
This love was cemented with the arrival of Dennis Bergkamp, Nwako Kanu and Patrick Viera. The football reached dizzy heights with the Invincibles and since then, I have been a keen follower of the team.
I remain a committed Caps United fan but there is indeed a red corner in my heart for the Gunners. In the whole of Europe they are the team which can give me palpitations if things are not going according to plan. The others I just watch and enjoy.
So when the North London derby came on Sunday, I felt that it had come at the wrong time for the Gunners. I confessed to my fellow Gunner Cad Abbito, “Ndiri kukwata bhora iri..!”
His assurance, “It is a derby, anything can happen in a derby..” he said. That gave me some small comfort although I was not entirely convinced.
I looked at the Spurs attack. Gareth Bale seemingly back to his swashbuckling best, Son, hardworking and unselfish, Moura, determined with bags of tricks to the mix and yes Keane. What can I say about Keane? Everything he hits seems to get in. He scores for fun and he loves to score against the Gunners. So dear reader, you can understand why I was scared.
This quartet on its day can tear a team apart. I also know from past experience that the Arsenal defence is prone to pressing the self destruct button. They can shoot themselves in the foot with some generous defending. Some of the blunders are hard to contemplate
So as i sat down to watch, I expected some fireworks from Spurs.
To my surprise, they sat back, they waited for Arsenal to make mistakes. It was a strange tactic. A team with Bale, Moura, Son (limped off injured) and Keane sitting back. That defied all football logic. What was the plan? I wondered. One friend who always fights in the Mourinho corner, Innocent Mupatsi said.. “They are controlling the game without possession.. It is a special tactic..!” Mmm, they sounded a bit like football propaganda.
Arsenal to their credit took the game to Spurs. They created a highway on the left wing, Tierney the Scottish International was having a field day. He combined well with Smith Rowe the upcoming English future international. Spurs had no answers.
The 1-1 score at halftime was not a true reflection of the match. Jose Mourinho said.. “We played poorly, my big players were hiding..!”
That was a damning assessment but it made me realise that my fears had been unfounded. In football anything can happen and there is no need to fear.
In the end Arsenal deserved their victory. There was the mandatory derby red card and the controversial penalty. Lamela scored a cheeky goal which decorated the match, but overall the better team won.
Indeed cowards die many times before their death. Arsenal were brave and they got their due reward. The feared Spurs attacking force did not turn up. In the words of their manager, ” they hid..”
This was a well earned victory for the Gunners. They took the game to Spurs!!