Or Mortal Enemies?
The matches have been played, the goals have been scored, the referee decisions have been made, and Barcelona has progressed to the next round. Now all we can do is toast to a victory and wait for the hydrogen bomb size fallout that will inevitably follow the match. In any match that is as closely contested as this one there will always be close scrutiny of every tackle, of every decision the referee makes, of every instant. Whether van Persie’s red card was deserved will be discussed ad nauseum in the coming weeks, so I’m going to spare you for a little bit longer
The relationship between the two clubs (especially the fans) has been rocky at best over the last couple of years. The movement of players between the two clubs is something that has left a sour taste in the mouths of both of the clubs’ fans. Gooners weren’t exactly thrilled when their hero Henry decided to move to Barcelona, and Cules have been likewise annoyed by Arsenals capture of cantera players like Cesc, Merida, and more recently, Jon Miquel Toral Harper, who joined just last month. The Fabregas saga alone has been the genesis for countless arguments between Gooners and Cules.
When you look at recent matches between the two sides, the heartbreak has been all Arsenal’s. Mix this in with the player issues and heat it all over the flames of a relentless media and it’s hard to be surprised when the fans of the clubs start to fight. In the end it is too bad, as the clubs have a lot in common and should be supportive of each other in the current football climate.
Both clubs have a philosophy of playing speculative, attacking, entertaining football. Their styles are naturally different as they play in different environments, but the philosophy is surprisingly similar. Both clubs also rely on their youth to form the core of their team. Arsenal hasn’t been committed to the concept for as long as Barcelona has, and has had less success as a result, but that doesn’t make their attempts any less commendable. This is especially true when you consider the “buy high, buy now” mentality a lot of other top clubs have.
As the clubs have a similar philosophy both on and off the pitch it would make sense for them to support each other – to be brothers in the football world. Look at the Cesc saga – it reminds me of a time when my younger brother stole one of my shirts and when I found out I demanded it back, even though it didn’t fit me anymore. Brothers will argue, and fight, and compete, and get pissed off at each other. However in the end it is necessary to put those things behind us and remember that when push comes to shove, brothers stick together.
Arsenal has won my respect over these two legs. They gave us two great games and the vast majority of their players were classy both on and off the pitch. Lately we’ve had some extremely classy Arsenal fans visit the site, and I hope that continues.
(This post is dedicated to my brother, an avid Gooner who I’m sure is grieving right now)