Arsenal – On The Road from Colney to Cologne to Colne with Belinda Carlisle, Bratwurst and Burnley-itis
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Read Arsenal reporter Layth Yousif’s irreverent summing up of the last few days on the road from Colney to Cologne to Colne with Belinda Carlisle, Bratwurst, the Autobahn and much, much more...
Jack Wilshere is ready to start a Premier League match
The 25-year-old from Hitchin injected an urgency into proceedings after Arsene Wenger brought him on at a freezing Turf Moor as a 67th minute replacement for Alex Iwobi. His determination, passion and leadership allied with one of the finest techniques in English football and a will-to-win saw him influence the match after coming off the bench. His celebrations in front of the travelling support prove he does want to be an Arsenal legend – as he told me on the red carpet at the premier of 89 The Film. He has to start against Huddersfield Town. Even Wenger praised him after I asked him his views following the game.
Let’s hope Burnley-itis isn’t catching
Even Arsene Wenger didn’t know what type of illness Mesut Ozil picked up which stopped him playing at Turf Moor. Until we do let’s just call it Burnley-itis
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Tactics not Bratwurst
That was the line a Cologne fan told me about Billy Goats under-fire boss Peter Stoger. ‘He doesn’t know his tactics from a Bratwurst’.
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This correspondent was fortunate enough to be allowed into London Colney to watch a spot of light training before the team flew to Cologne. It’s safe to say Arsene Wenger wasn’t going to reveal any trade secrets tactically, Or, if, as many former players have told me, he never did - to anyone, as that side of the game was never one of his strengths even during the glory days.
But credit where credit is due, despite the unending Groundhog Day where the club pick up wins when the pressure is off only to falter when playing a bigger team with something riding on it, that said it was refreshing to note Wenger making a tactical switch that paid off.
Wenger made an adjustment in the second half pushing Sanchez further forward, to devastating results. It’s not rocket science of course, yet the decision helped push the Clarets deeper and deeper, culminating in the previously impressive James Tarkowski fouling Aaron Ramsey in the box in the 92nd minute. As, who else, but Sanchez slotted home the penalty, easy as Bratwurst.
Going to the match
The view from the Clarets press box is worthy of a LS Lowry. Snow dusted moors overlooking tightly packed terraced streets and mill chimneys on a freezing winter’s afternoon. It’s not the Holloway Road that’s for sure. I also loved the Park View pub sign opposite the ground with its very own take of my favourite painting, Lowry’s Going to the match, with the faceless matchstick men and matchstick cats and dog characters walking to the ‘Turf’ rather than the stadium the working-class hero actually sat and painted, Burnden Park.
Pasha is not a nightclub in Ibiza
I heard stories of fans leaving the ground long before the end to visit the Cologne version. Joining those who never left. Allegedly.
Germans are really cool people. Part 412
I had a nice moment when I finally caught up with my pals after driving through the night to Cologne and parking my car up at 4am near to the hotel and a 24 hour bar where they’d made some local friends. The German barman upon hearing I’d driven 500 miles came outside shook my hand and gave me a beer. ‘You English are crazy. Why drive when you don’t have to?’ He asked me incredulously. ‘It’s a long story’ I replied sheepishly. Five hours and many beers later as commuters rushed by I was asking him to translate the words to the Cologne Hymn while he gave us free schnapps that tastes like Nutella while eating a currywurst. You had to be there I suppose...
Cologne is heaven as a place on earth
The home fans thundered a Germanic version of Belinda Carlisle’s 1988 hit song Heaven Is A Place On Earth. When I tweeted long after I’d finished filing my copy and asking Wenger which youngsters impressed him, I was determined to find out the words they were singing, to Mike Francis, the man who started the Gooner around the same year, I wasn’t expecting a reply from anyone. However, when my phone vibrated announcing a new notification I nearly fell off my bar stool when we received a personal message from the former lead singer of the Go Gos – and a source of many happy memories when I was younger. But to the glory that is Twitter it was the wonderful Belinda asking me if I needed any help from with the lyrics. I was so shocked I could only reply in praise of her.
The Autobahn is incredible
As I was hurtling back at a silly speed a sleek German motor flew past me at a minimum of 140mph. No wonder we’re leaving Europe. Give me the good old 50mph speed restriction between junctions 18 and 19 on the M6 anyway that wasted an hour of my life on Sunday evening. Um, actually can I have a think about that...
Driving 1,400 miles in four days from Colney to Cologne to Colne is never advisable – even if you’ve only come to see The Arsenal
Looking for unleaded not liquid gold
137.9 of a litre of petrol on the motorway? No wonder an Arsenal fan tweeted me saying the price of fuel on the motorway is ‘legalised theft’.
Follow the Islington Gazette’s Arsenal correspondent Layth on Twitter @laythy29