……..is just one of hundreds of footballing clichés that we are exposed to on a near daily basis. Even more so if you are unlucky enough to support Stoke City. And over the last couple of decades, these illogical and often nonsensical phrases have not only become commonplace in our everyday language but seem to account for over 90% of a Brendan Rodgers post-match interview (when he actually manages to hold down a job). Whether you love them or hate them, they have become as much a part of modern day football as drunken hotel orgies or corrupt FIFA officials and I am certainly guilty of using them on a regular basis, often without even realising it! But one cliché in particular has been getting more column inches than any other this season and that is the belief that the Premier League has become an unpredictable “rollercoaster of emotions”. Despite the fact that pundits have been making this reference for years, particularly when either Man Utd or Chelsea unexpectedly lost a game, this season it may actually hold some water. The simple fact that Claudio Ranieri, at the ripe old age of 61 and having had more clubs than a baby seal, is on the verge of winning his first ever top flight title with Leicester City should in itself, be proof enough. Couple that with the fact that Spurs also find themselves in an unexpected title hunt and this statement may be leaning more towards fact than fiction. At the end of the day, it has become almost impossible to predict any of the results that we have witnessed so far this season. Everyone is beating everyone with increasing regularity…..except for Aston Villa of course, who would struggle to even beat Rihanna at the moment. Quite literally, there is no such thing as an easy game anymore.
But I would like to focus specifically on this “emotional rollercoaster” cliché. As a Spurs fan, I feel like we have always been riding a rollercoaster of sorts. Except that more often than not, it is one of those low budget rollercoasters that occasionally come to town with a bunch of delightfully stabby and unwashed carnival folk in tow. It goes pretty fast and has a few fun turns but it never really goes very high or lasts very long and generally leaves you feeling increasingly empty and unfulfilled every time you go around. But on occasion, we have been lucky enough to enjoy one of those Vertical Drop rides, where it takes an eternity to climb to the summit and after a brief stop to admire the view, you plummet back down to earth and find yourself right back where you started. I suppose this would best describe the Harry Redknapp era. But this season feels different. This season it feels like Mauricio Pochettino has found a hole in the fence at Thorpe Park and has managed to sneak us all in, giving everyone unlimited access to all of the rides we have previously only read about in books…..and even though we may get kicked out at any moment, we are loving every minute of it!
Almost poetically, no game this season has encapsulated this rollercoaster of emotions better than the recent North London Derby. With Arsenal having already achieved their yearly objective of reaching the last 16 of the Champions League, you could be forgiven for assuming that they had nothing better to do than launch their annual “Wenger Out” social media campaign and construct a variety of passive/aggressive banners to display at their brand new, slightly bigger and slightly more Middle Eastern library. Which all seems rather negligent when you consider that they are currently in the midst of another outbreak of what the NHS has now classified as “Arsenal Choking Syndrome”. One of my mates is so worried about it that he got his girlfriend to learn the Heimlich Manoeuvre, just in case. Nevertheless, it was still a six pointer, so I dealt with the nerves in the only way I knew how…..I got drunk at lunch time. Although this has worked wonders for me in the past and has made funerals/job interviews/driving tests far more manageable, it only succeeded in heightening my emotional state prior to kick off. On paper, we had the better team and we dominated possession from the off. But predictably, in a rare sign of attacking intent, Arsenal got their trademark stroke of undeserved luck as Aaron Ramsey, whilst in the process of tripping over his own feet, managed to divert a wayward shot past Hugo Lloris to give Arsenal the lead. It’s a funny old game…..apparently. In my drunken state, you would have been forgiven for assuming that my dog had just died, such was the depth of my despair at this point. As far as I was concerned, our title dream was dead and St. Totteringham’s day had just been bought forward…..or had it?
Whilst we are on the subject of Aaron Ramsey, I am sure that most of you will now be aware of his ominous record of inadvertently killing more celebrities that recreational drugs. Believe it or not, every time he has scored a goal over the last few years, a high profile celebrity has died almost immediately. So far, this curse has already accounted for the likes of Steve Jobs, Whitney Houston, Paul Walker, Robin Williams, Alan Rickman and David Bowie to name but a few. And it will come as no surprise that when he bundled the ball over the line against Spurs, he callously sealed the fate of former First Lady of the United States, Nancy Reagan. It is safe to say that at such a young age, Aaron Ramsey has more blood on his hands than a back alley abortionist. And although this goes against every moral fibre in my body, part of me really hopes that he will go on a scoring spree, just to see if the curse becomes strong enough to take out Piers Morgan……because let’s face it, some things are bigger than football.
Anyway, back to what I have managed to piece together of the North London Derby. Having had a good cry at half time, I came back for the second half with slightly renewed optimism. And thankfully it paid off as dirty, dirty Arsenal had Francis Coquelin sent off for another incident that Arsene Wenger somehow didn’t see. This changed the entire momentum of the game and within minutes we had scored not once, but twice! Toby Alderweireld lashed home a loose ball from a corner before our very own masked crusader, Harry Kane scored another contender for goal of the season. After Dele Alli capitalised on the fact that Per Mertesacker has the turning circle of a second hand Volvo, he provided a cheeky little back heel to Kane, who proceeding to curl an unstoppable shot past David Ospina and in off the far post. In this frenetic couple of minutes, I had gone from total and utter despair to the sort of unbridled joy that can only come from witnessing something magical and unexpected. As we all know, goals change games and I was now very much of the opinion that we could win the title and finish above Arsenal for the first time in decades. But as you would expect, Alexis Sanchez (who has been admirably feigning interest in the Arsenal cause of late) managed to scuff an equalizer into the bottom corner and the game ended 2-2. It was the metaphorical game of two halves and I know I’m not alone when I say that this draw, although not devastating to our title hopes, felt more like a defeat. I had run the entire gamut of emotions over 90 minutes and by the time I finally dragged myself to bed, I barely even had the energy to beg my wife for sex….barely.
But on the flip side, the inconsistent and erratic nature of the Premier League this season means that everything is still very much to play for. The run of games from West Ham to Dortmund to Arsenal was easily the lowest point in our season so far. But the boys showed great bouncebackability with two very convincing wins against both Aston Villa and Bournemouth, in which we kept two clean sheets and scored 5 goals before almost single handedly beating World Champions, Germany in Berlin last weekend. With only 7 league games remaining, it is definitely squeaky bum time for us Spurs fans but as the footballing Gods continue to remind us, a lot can change in the space of a week. And although the 5 point gap between ourselves and Leicester City may seem daunting, just remember that it isn’t over until the fat lady sings…..and luckily for us, Adele is a Spurs fan!