At the weekend I was in London with Chelsea Boy, who in honour of my upcoming birthday took me to stay in a swanky hotel by Regent's Park and out for a lovely dinner in Islington on the Saturday night. In honour of which occasion I bought a floaty backless sequinned dress in imperial purple silk chiffon (it was reduced from nearly £150 to £37, which is still far far more than I should be spending, but never mind) and dug out my Dorothy shoes, which are silver not red you'll be relieved to hear, since red and purple sounds like a football strip combination more than a classy outfit, but which are encrusted with big chunks of glitter very much as Dorothy's were. They have a 10cm heel and a black velvet ankle strap and are guaranteed to make me happy. And they matched the tiny silver sequins on the dress.
CB was commendably unsulky about the frankly poor 0-0 against Blackburn Rovers earlier that day. It was my first trip to Stamford Bridge, which I rather liked as a stadium (square not round, independent and non-identical stands) notwithstanding the shocking hotel complex. The game was uneventful apart from a few moments of Joe Cole genius and the wrongly disallowed goal from (I think) Kalou. Incidentally, I'm finding the Chelsea thing a bit hard. Perhaps readers who have had relationships with fans of clubs they once despised can advise. How can you maintain a healthy hatred and contempt when you also want the object of your affections to be happy? Even as I type, Chelsea are 0-1 down to Rosenborg and I am getting a steady flow of grumpy text messages. Where once I would have been revelling in the scoreline, now I am anxious and conflicted. What to do?
Anyway from my point of view the weekend was an unmitigated delight, not just personally but footballingly. Arsenal came back from 0-1 down at Spurs to win 3-1 with a storming performance from Fabregas and two goals from Adebayor. I won't say Thierry who, 'cos it's both unoriginal and may tempt fate. Then on Sunday Roma won comfortably if inelegantly at Reggina.
Seeing as we were right by Fitzrovia, we went to watch the match in a rather famous Italian football bar, Italia Uno on Charlotte Street. I'd never actually been there for a game before, just walked past it (and recommended it to others on the basis of its reputation).
It is, as you can see, a relatively shabby looking establishment. As you enter you are greeted by a bank of four TVs in the main room, where a friendly if harassed family serve excellent panini with a variety of straightforward but authentic good quality fillings (no pesto chicken mayonnaise here) along with a choice of 2 or 3 primi of the day. They have a good range of Italian soft drinks, too, should you be pining for Chinotto or Aranciata Amara. There's a room beyond with another three TV monitors, of varying sizes, ages and picture qualities. Along with a third downstairs space, this allows them to show, each Sunday afternoon, every single Serie A game simultaneously. You pay £7 to watch the match(es) with a sandwich and drink of your choice.
It's chaotic. In the room we were in, Reggina-Roma was the main game, with the volume on the (Italian language) commentary turned up. Sharing the space were Palermo-Torino and (tinged with scarlet and rather fuzzy) Inter-Catania. Fans of the first 5 named were all squeezed in, perched on wobbly black stools (IKEA, £9; I have one at home myself) and with barely room to gesticulate. Not that this stopped anyone. Next to me was a lad in a Boys Roma tshirt and an accent you could slice carciofi with, and a number of other romani were there. Behind us in the bar a large number of Viola boys had turned up, and though Udinese's goal at Juve drew plenty of cheers there were a sprinkling of Juventini too. Dialects of all kinds were whizzing around in a confusing fashion. And it's very odd when you're focused on one game and people around you start cheering or shouting abuse in a way which bears no relationship to the match you're watching.
Oh, Chelsea have equalised. Shevchenko, I do so want him to do well since despite being the adored protégé of not one but two stinking rich objectionable cunts who are undeniably forces for evil in both football and politics, I quite like him. And though CB won't be pleased (Rosenberg... hmm) it's better than losing, obviously. I shan't try to cheer him up, since there is no real consolation for football disgruntledness other than Just Doing Better Next Time.
Anyway we started with a Giuly in place of Mancini once again, and Aquilani in midfield instead of Pizarro. Albertino is making himself undroppable, giving us the pleasant and novel dilemma of how to fit everyone in (you can't exactly drop De Rossi either...) But really we struggled in the first half, not enough width (Giuly likes to cut inside too much) and frankly I wondered whether Vucinic might not have helped out by actually getting into the box a bit more. No-one was getting on the end of crosses (though the crossing was pretty hit and miss too) and Reggina were causing us all sorts of problems down both flanks with Modesto and especially Vigiani. Cassetti looks weak defensively and however good he is going forward he isn't my idea of a proper right back. So the first half was a bit meh, Reggina were organised and disciplined and it was all fairly tight and a bit uninspiring. We looked slow, unfocused, a bit vague.
Then after half-time it all went off at once, we started much more brightly and in under less than ten minutes were rewarded with a goal, an unlikely volleyed finish off a Totti free kick from Brazilian centre back Juan, on his debut. Then Reggina had a man sent off for a rather clunking studs up tackle on Perrotta and it should have been simple. Instead we decided to spend 30 minutes arsing around, creating chances to waste, giving the ball away pointlessly, threatening endlessly without producing anything and generally frustrating the hell out of everyone. And things got a bit snarky towards the end, a few needless challenges and a hilarious dive from one of the Reggina players who was rightly admonished for it. Finally the game was sorted by Totti (who else) after a lovely cross from Cicinho and a sneaky dummy from Aquilani to put it through to Er Capitano. So 2-0, 9 points from 3 games, top of the table, happy fucking days as my norn Irish pal would say. And much cheering and shouting from those assembled in the bar.
Dynamo Kiev tomorrow, bring it on. And then follow Juve (H), Fiorentina (A), Inter (H) and Man Utd (A). How's that for a run of games?! *excited*