At half-time yesterday, I said to the missus: "Don't worry, we'll win 3-2 and Thierry will score the winner". Two out of three right is pretty good going, even if I do say so myself (and proceed to pat myself on the back, buy myself a drink, and plant a big sloppy kiss on the nearest bit of exposed flesh).
Every football match is a game of two halves (well, except for the Situationist three-sided game, which naturally has three halves), but this was an example of why the phrase, "It's a game of two periods of 45 minutes or slightly longer each", was first coined.
Words must have been said at half-time. As Arsene is notorious for rarely losing his rag (peeved and withering are more his style), there are suggestions that RVP may have let rip, however I suspect the motivational fireworks may have been limited to Pat Rice noting: "You do know their manager is Alex McLeish, don't you?"
I saw McLeish in a pub just off Oxford Street a while back, a few months before the Wembley Carling Cup debacle. You don't get the impression that he is physically imposing when viewed on TV or on the touchline, but in the confines of a low-ceilinged pub it's clear why he was known as a player as Big Eck. He's not Peter Crouch tall, but he does stand out. Mind you, that may be partly down to his beacon-like head.
Naturally, he has decided to deflect attention from Villa's failings on the day ("Two nil, and you fucked it up", was the accurate view of the Emirates crowd) by demanding that RVP be arraigned for an elbow to nose collision. I didn't notice it live (Cuellar didn't go down), and the TV replay was inconclusive in terms of intent. What was priceless was McLeish's comments: "Look at my nose, it is a result of elbows all my career", followed by "I don't like to point the finger at players".
Having seen him in the pub, I can confidently confirm that his red nose, like his mentor Ferguson's, has more than one cause. I am happy to point that finger.