• Albion 2 - 1 Arsenal, 04.03.2018

    Saturday night. I've spent two days coughing and wheezing, and shivering and sweating. Not eating, not sleeping. Zombified. "It's SILLY", she says. "Are you up to the (2 hours each way) drive? It'll be freezing. It's on TV. Do you really think it’s a sensible idea?"

    Tuesday morning, I'm sat at home typing this, on the second of two days off work ('deep seated bacterial chest infection' apparently) so she might have had a point. But romance and dreams weren't built on 'sensible ideas'. Anyway, the pills seem to be kicking in now – seems like that Fleming chap was onto something. I digress...

    Arriving at the game, we're dissecting the Gunners' line-up, and I'm struggling to completely embrace the positivity of many, that they’re 'there for the taking'. Adorned with stand outs of the Premier League era – Özil, Wilshere, Koscielny, Cech – plus Henrik Mkhitaryan and a frightening striker in Aubameyang, a player I’m very familiar with via my teenage sons’ insatiable appetite for European football. What I can cling to is the recent evidence of Cech’s decline – there’s hope there for something.

    I can’t shake the similarity with the swell of optimism ahead of what was ‘a great time to play’ Chelsea, off the back of a couple of poor results. And sure enough, from kick off, Arsenal are dominant – the Albion defending ragged. Five minutes of early pressure sees two Arsenal corners, an Iwobi shot charged down, an Özil strike just over the bar, and a rare moment of good fortune for Lewis Dunk, who swings a leg at a wicked Mkhitaryan cross, and deflects it over his own bar.

    Then some relief – Schelotto galloping down the right, his cross deflected behind. Finally a chance for the Albion fans to make themselves heard. And some. Pascal Groß inevitably swings a perfect corner to the far post, Cech wanders out and makes a half-arsed effort at punching, just as big Shane Duffy beasts him – heading the ball back across the goal, where Dunk is waiting to volley high into the net. Magic moment for Dunk. Bedlam around the ground, as the two big centre backs share a moment celebrating ‘their’ goal.

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