Nutella, Arsenal and that Spurs-killing Lasagna
After you have your first jar of Nutella, you’re pretty excited about having another one and another one and here in India, it isn’t that readily available. So you go to the supermarket, spend quite some time there looking around for it, then you ask the store-manager if they have stock and he, with his ‘professionally trained’ English will say, ‘No, sir. One more week.’
And when you’re living with a roommate like mine, the pressure is always on you on bringing that jar home. You open the door, he sees the missing jar and an inevitable frown adorns his face and now you know he has dirt on you for when you snore in the night and wake him up.
Think of Arsenal’s midfielders as Nutella jars. After we lost Cesc Fabregas, Samir ‘I-love-Wenger-so-much-I-stab-him-while-he’s-asleep’ Nasri and Alex Song, we struggled to fill those positions with players we had but made a few signings here and then as paper over the cracks. Mikel Arteta came in, Mathieu Flamini came in, Santi Cazorla came in and then the biggest jar you can find, Mesut Özil.
We lost three quality players and replaced them with four. Then we looked into our cupboard and found a barely-used Jack Wilshere and a similar conditioned Aaron Ramsey.
But this season has been the consumption of a crate of Nutella! The beginning of the season was like our first jar. We amazed everyone with some incredible performances against the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund and other mid-table Premier League teams. Our passing was excellent, look at Jack Wilshere’s goal against Norwich and Tomáš Rosický’s against Sunderland and you’ll immediately see the kind of confidence that our team possessed.
It’s been a while since Arsenal played this beautifully, most recently in 2008 and almost on a consistent basis during the David Dein era. We had a sort of swagger around us and worked against the mid-table teams like Tottenham and everyone else but when we faced a title-contending team (apart from the Liverpool team we played during the early parts of the season), it was almost cringe-worthy how shallow our determination went.
A 6-3 hammering at the Etihad, a 6-0 thumping at the Bridge and a 5-1 humiliation at Anfield all but showed that we needed that awesome spoon Nutella sells where you can wipe clean the insides of the jar. That spoon could be anything to you; it could be a striker, or motivation or even some of that poisoned lasagna that made Spurs’ players puke.
We’ve fed so much on Nutella already that our inners are beginning to question the existence of other food. You start spending more time in the toilet for a few days claiming you had some of that lasagna but you know the truth, you’ve over-indulged and it’s taken a huge toll on you. You stop for a while, give your stomach something else, not very enjoyable sometimes, but it is different.
Then you realise you still love that brown paste and you go back it and that’s when you start seeing victories against the likes of Wigan, Hull and Newcastle. The moral here is, you have too much of something all at one time, you’re bound to suffer and that affects your team’s performance considerably.
This still isn’t a failed campaign, we’ve managed to get into the finals of the FA Cup, we’re on the brink of qualifying for the Champions’ League for the 17th consecutive time and we’ve got enough in our bank to make sure our new recruits are big jars.
On to you, Pietro Ferrero.