Sunday, November 26, 2006

What's that coming over the hill - is it Anelka ?

Bolton Wanderers versus Arsenal. Saturday in late November 17:15.

I almost didn't go. Didn't really appeal - the idea of driving 30 miles to sit around a field in the freezing cold to watch Bolton try to stifle Arsenal.

But I have a season ticket and it would have been a shocking waste not to go, and Mrs Stan and Stanetta had planned some girl-time at home. And the pies at the Reebok are excellent ...

And it was a classic game. Flawed, brutal, skillful, passionate. And the pies really were good.

Bolton's Kevin Davies should have been sent off for pushing Eboue for having the nerve to complain about being half-tackled, half-assaulted previously. It wasn't just a push. It was the biggest push I have ever seen on a football field. Everyone in the ground - Bolton fans and staff included thought he should have been sent off. The referee disagreed and just booked him.

Theo Walcott, the Arsenal teenager showed outrageous other-worldly pace. He is going to be outrageously good real soon.

But the real highlight of the night was Nicholas Anelka. He has underperformed since expensively arriving in Lancashire to say the least, and the pressure must really have been getting to him. But that night he played like a god. His first goal was awesome. All alone up-front, boxed in on the left wing, takes the ball a few steps to his right and puts it in the roof of the net from 25 yards with pace and enormous bend. Short pause for the Bolton fans' chins to hit the floor and then utter bedlam.

From that point on, the stadium was jumping. For the first time in ages there was an atmosphere in the big unlovable place and I haven't enjoyed football this much in years.

Next game : home to Chelsea on Wednesday night. Bring it on !

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