Wednesday 9 October 2013

West Brom 1-1 Arsenal [Londoner, Dallas]

The Gooner On The Road winning streak has come to an abrupt end, but thankfully the unbeaten run continues.

Dallas - probably twinned with Glasgow
For those that have no idea what I'm talking about; I was at the Emirates to kick off the new season. You know, the one where we lost 3-1 to Aston Villa. After that miserable game I had set off on my travels and, up until yesterday at least, our boys in red & white had won every game. With the draw at the Hawthorns, the winning streak has been downgraded to an unbeaten run, a run which I'm not terribly confident will last much longer once the season resumes in a few weeks. But more on that later.

So, for all those that have been following my progress across the US, you will know I'm now in Dallas, the second Texan city to host me on my travels. The Dallas/Fort Worth area is absolutely huge, a radical departure from the 'small' college town of Austin.

Before having a chance to experience Dallas though, I was driven up to the city of Norman in Oklahoma to watch my first College Football match (or 'American Handball' as I like to call it) - and it really was a great experience. Some of you will remember I was fortunate enough to watch my first Baseball match at Fenway park, home to the Red Sox, last month. Whilst I enjoyed the atmosphere there (think Highbury with baseball bats), the game itself felt slow and I sometimes struggled to appreciate the rawness of the sport with all the statistics flying around the place.

Oklahoma Sooners American Handball stadium
American Football is different though, I felt it was more intense as a spectator sport and, despite the typical commercial-break overload you associate with American sports, it flowed better than baseball and had my attention for longer (it still lasted over 3 hours). And of course, to know that the sportsmen involved were giving it their all and NOT getting paid for it made me understand why the college sports scene in North America has such a huge following. There is nothing comparable back in the UK at all - is there an opportunity there that we're missing? I suppose the alcohol-ban in college stadiums might be a stumbling block for us...

The Dallas Gooner Society. Disappointingly only one cowboy hat.

The members of the local Dallas Arsenal supporters group, called The Dallas Gooner Society, watch their games at The Londoner pub in Addison. Barry, my host in Dallas, rushed us back from Oklahoma on the Saturday morning and we arrived at The Londoner with 20 minutes to spare to catch kickoff. There were probably around 40 Arsenal fans watching the WBA match and we were easily the majority in the pub. Most of us were happy with a point, given the possibility of our second loss of the season. Of course, a big bonus for us was seeing a poor Sp*rs supporter crying into his Guinness in the corner whilst he watched his team ship 3 goals (at home) to the Hammers. Good times.

Our display on Sunday was a bit lacklustre, and you could tell that we had an intense game mid-week. Yes it was a good test, we're still unbeaten and it was a good point away from home, but regardless we looked lethargic and, at times, out of options (Özil or not). The squad depth issue still needs to be addressed, because we are Arsenal FC, and Arsenal FC always has influential players on the treatment table. Yes, I know we bought the most versatile player in the universe in Flamini, but we need another defensive midfielder to take the strain off him and we could really do with a proven backup striker that doesn't look like a cross between a samurai and a hobo.

Still, why complain? It's good to be a Gooner - we're top of the league and will stay there over the international break. We're also on a good unbeaten run and we just picked up a double award for Player Of The Month and Manager Of The Month. When was the last time that happened?

Come On You Gunners!!!