And our friends are all aboard,
Many more of them live next door,
And the band begins to play.
- Yellow Submarine, The Beatles
I've been scanning the English papers for news about the Arsenal vs Villareal match, and I'm surprised no one's made a reference to the Beatles' song Yellow Submarine. Then again, Villareal gets in the papers pretty regularly now, so maybe they've done the reference to death. Or maybe the papers just think that psychedelic songs are embarrassing. Drugs and songwriting don't always go hand in hand, and I think Yellow Submarine is a case in point.
Anyway, by now the streets of Barcelona are flooded with semi-drunk, pallid Englishmen all speaking their best Spanish and trying to figure out where the hell Vila-Real is. They're sunning on the fake beach by the quay and rambling down La Rambla and drinking San Miguel by the crateful. I've never seen an English football crowd in all its inebriated glory, and I imagine it must be an awe-inspiring sight, like a flock of passenger pigeons darkening the sky, or a plague of locusts descending upon a wheat field.
Our friends are all abroad, and the band's about to play.
I'm really excited about the Villareal match. It's the next test for our young side. After the horror of our mid-season run, we're starting to see the genesis of a new team. Denilson and Song have made good progress of late. Theo and Cesc are back. Arshavin's an amazing signing, and Nasri and Vela will only get better after a season with the Arsenal. I'm eager to see how much progress we've really made, and how much more there is to go. And our two-legged tie against Villareal will be a good test for our boys.
And of course, we get to see Robert Pires again. He's 35 now and can't play a full game, but he's still an awesome player. I saw him a bit during the Valencia-Villareal match, and it was amazing. He's smoother than dark chocolate that's been dipped in Earl Grey tea, wrapped in silk and varnished with PVC. And that's pretty damn smooth.
We love Pires. Some of the greatest goals I've ever seen have come from his boots. Wenger erred quite a bit by not giving him that 2 year contract and letting him grow old in the pastures of London Colney. We wouldn't have fallen so far in the intervening years if we had his experience in the side. But that's in the past. In the present, Bobby Pires is alive and kicking and eager to play in front of the Arsenal once more. And at least he'll be able to trot out onto Emirates for the first (and last) time next week, and suffer the indignity of a 3-0 thumping.
It's the least we owe him.
Robert Pires had this to say about facing Arsenal:
"When I go out to face Arsenal, there will be a lot of emotion, that's for sure. It was my goal to face Arsenal at least once before retiring and say goodbye to the tremendous fans. If I'm lucky enough to score, I won't celebrate simply as a gesture of respect. But I'm sorry, if I can play well and eliminate Arsenal, then I am going to do it."
We love the Arsenal, but we love Robert Pires as well.