Tuesday, February 3

Shall we read a book for you?

Arsenal 0 West Ham 0

Middle class football fans, eh? Never mind Nigel’s dinner party in Isleworth. Our pre-match lunch is round at my Finsbury Park gaff, featuring pumpkin soup, Brie and walnut bread and the finest wines known to humanity.

Fraser has taken my Fonz comparison to heart and is now wearing a black tie and shirt plus a brown jacket, while Matt and Lisa wonder if Ken’s Café might expand into sales of the fine claret we’re supping.

We walk down Drayton Park and enter the Emirates Stadium. We’re shocked to discover that there’s no reference section or daily papers. The West Ham fans busy themselves with cries of “It’s quiet in the library!”, “Can’t buy an atmosphere!” and “60,000 Muppets!”

Our bench displays a worrying lack of depth, featuring Savio, Boa Morte, Tristan, Sears, Lopez and Spector. Now that Gustav Flaubert has been loaned to, gulp, Real Madrid, you worry what will happen should we suffer another injury crisis.

Arsenal (or more accurately Collins under pressure) hit the top of our bar after a couple of minutes and it looks ominous. The Gunners play the ball around nicely in midfield but in a strange game nothing really happens. We defend well, but produce little up front until just before half-time, when Collins’ header is cleared from off the line. The Irons fans content themselves with some more chants of “My name is Ludo Miklosko, I come from near Moscow!" and a rather lewd ditty about Behrami’s wife.

In the second half Adebayor’s overhead kick is cleared off the line by Collins. The same player has a free header but places the ball too close to Green. Carlton hits our first shot straight at the grey-shorted Alumnia. The mighty Collins heads another Arsenal effort wide. Collison mysteriously fails to shoot after good work by Cole and then Arsenal break down the right for Adebayor to slice wide.

Parker is superb in midfield winning every tackle and Behrami covers an incredible amount of ground too. Upson and Collins have big games too. Di Michele has been anonymous though, Cole has struggled against Gallas and Toure and Noble and Collison have not produced any of the intricate passing of Wednesday night. But we’re drawing away at the Emirates and it seems almost easy. That’s progress.

“Shall we read a book for you!” we chant at the Arsenal fans, followed by “We can see you sneaking out!”

The whistle blows and West Ham are unbeaten in eight games. We head back to my gaff for a right royal north London knees-up to celebrate drawing away to Liverpool, Chelsea and now Arsenal and consolidating our position in eighth place.

“None of the Big Eight have won today,” remarks Matt, watching Sky Sports News and sipping yet more vintage claret.

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