The Lead

I’m sure there’s some hackneyed Halloween-appropriate metaphor one could use in relation to Arsenal’s astonishing 7-5 AET win over Reading at the Madejski stadium last night in the *sigh* Capital One Cup™. I’m not up to it. I saw Ghostbusters recently so maybe there’s something in there? Arsenal crossed the streams to asplode the Stay Puft marshmallow man that was Reading’s seemingly unassailable 4-0 lead?

Anyway, someone has to play party-pooper here. First, let’s get the romance out of the way. That is what football should be, and because the Milk Cup is the fourth most important calendar date for the majority of Premier League teams, there is more of a relaxed sense of ease. The nervous, poisonous tension of say of a money-bags contest like Chelsea v Man United in the Premier League is gone. In its place is poor defending on the wings, some ridiculously bad goal-keeping, some incredible spirit (sure), and the most fun game you will see all year, if not in the next half decade.

But, um, back to that poor defending on the wings. And Koscielny’s own-goal. And how Arsenal gave up the ghost at the crucial moment in extra time after storming back from four goals down. Look, none of these things mean anything in and of themselves, so we should be wary of reading too much into those weak tea leaves.

However, that principle cuts both ways. So while many Gooners may want to believe, as Arsene Wenger framed it, this win will be the “spark” that sends Arsenal into the Premier League and European stratosphere, well, I can only say “we’ll see.” I don’t have the data in front of me, but I’m willing to bet that massive comebacks don’t always translate into trophies. I’m thinking here off the top of my head of Liverpool’s 4-3 win over Newcastle, a game that many thought would put the Merseyside club in pole position to overtake Manchester United. And that of course did not happen. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But the fact is part of what made the game great was Arsenal’s initial vulnerability. And so, if I’m Nate Silver, I don’t add much to my win probability percentage.

But hey, we don’t get these games every day. NHL lockout be damned amirite? That was a hell of a lot of fun, and football should be fun, as a rule, not as an exception.


So the running metaphor among the Toronto FC intelligentsia with regard to Paul Mariner remaining at the helm is that he’s “on the clock.” So there! [The Sun, CSN]. And if you want to know about their media day, read this [Waking the Red].

Have you ever left a football match early and come to regret it? [The Guardian].

Grant Wahl breaks down what to expect during the MLS playoffs [SI].

The LA Galaxy are ON FIRE! [Fox Soccer].

The Mark Clattenburg affair is officially a crisis! [ESPN FC].

AC Milan ‘crawl out of the mire’ in draw with Palermo [Gazzetta dello Sport].