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David 1 Goliath 2 Andy 0


Dorset

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Or to it put another way, Theo 1 The Drog 2 Andy Zilch. Whilst it amounts to the same thing in terms of result, the billing of this new topic has a unique ring to it and who can deny that this Carling Cup final has not been marketed by Sky on an epically biblical scale. Such a shame (yeh, right) for Sky?s disciples, and Andy Gray in particular, that the scoreline and storyline could not be heralded as a triumph for the little guy. It spoilt everything that went before, every gut wrenching, awestruck, youth worshiping second of it, and left us to delight in Gray?s obvious discomfort, somehow epitomised in his latter day musing - ?You have to wonder what the training ground would be like if Arsene matched the 1st team against the young reserves? - followed by sharp intake of breath and hollow, self indulgent laughter.

At that precise moment the game was up, the brawl yet to happen, and dear old Andy was fresh out of Chelsea negatives to pass on to his audience, so he ?kind of knew? that this could be the sort of game Arsenal might lose, despite their dominance. In Grayland, where the young Gunners are sacrosanct, this counts as the first sign that all is not well and his unshakeable belief in their ability to succeed is beginning to waver. It tends to coincide with the last quarter of any game involving the tyros, when they begin to tire (oh how they tire-o) and there is no cushion of a goal or two lead. It is at times like these that I imagine an ecstatic Andy, clad in smock and running to a summit of expectation, suddenly realising that his young hillocks aren?t alive with the sound of music anymore.

By now the Chels were over the worst (and for the first twenty minutes there was an awful lot of worst), the Gunners didn?t look so sprightly and the Drog duly delivered as only he can - emphatically. Cue respect from the Gray corner? Not in a million years. Instead we had to suffer the petulance of youth, entirely red-based, without commentarial apportionment of blame. Apparently, all would be revealed after FA video evidence was scrutinised during the week and, whilst this had not stopped interminable slow motion playbacks from pundits like Andy in the past, it couldn?t be considered here and now. Just too revealing, eh?

Veil drawn swiftly over the fracas, Gray greeted the end of 90 minutes with exaggerated exasperation when not enough time was added on by a severely provoked referee. His unremitting bias was to extend the full 105 minutes (should have been more, though, Andy, shouldn?t there?) as he went back into muse control, speculating on the glory of a dying second equaliser and extra time salvation. The hollow laugh returns - is it meant to be cynical or is he really that much of a prat? - the ref blows for time and our expert takes a breather before the medals are handed out. Arsenal players receive theirs without comment, but, as soon as Mikel steps up to the very big plate, Andy can?t resist a parting shot - ?There was a time when a player who had been red carded couldn?t collect his medal? - a last opportunity to embarrass himself with a cheap shot and, bless him, he grabbed it with both hands.

Back in the studio presenters with the ability to think on their feet did so and fair play to Richard Keys for actually coming right out with it and proclaiming Chelsea deserved winners. Did I even detect a note of irritation, on Sky?s part, with the Arsenal team?s failure to bring it on home in the final stretch? Cameras strategically placed for behind the scenes scuffles picked up exactly the opposite as Henry, Gallas and Petr Cech fooled around with Didier before the coach trip home. Clearly, defeat didn?t mean that much to the Frenchman and why should it? Sacrificed by a manager hell bent on taking all the advantages offered by playing the kids - Media support, neutral support, underdog support - these two disassociated themselves from the defeat with an ease Sky quickly spotted and highlighted.

Pique on the part of all concerned and loyalties suffering disaffection in a matter of hours, thank heavens one honest to goodness fact can be relied upon in the game. No matter what goes on before, during and after, the winner takes it all and we did, didn?t we Andy!?

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