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armchair centre back :: ode to sleeping on the sofa

hey, remember that time i said that dom and i were ok cheering for different premier league teams because we knew not to gloat and then i posted a big picture showing how swansea [my team] had beat arsenal [his team] because i'm kind of a bitch if you scratch the surface a little? yeah. good times...


yup. that's right. we won again. i'm a little conflicted about this, because i'd love to see arsenal finish second, outgunning all but the team of evil, who have already secured the title of premier league champions, because there is no good in heaven or earth. i figured that at least if arsenal, the galahad to chelsea's mordred could finish as runners-up, it would mean that there was still a kernel of hope somewhere, like there is still the faint possibility of a better future, even though we know that there probably isn't.

the swans stopped arsenal's twelve game unbeaten streak, which is all that it takes to turn a lot of arsenal fans from "we are coming for you next year, chelsea bastards" to "we are shit and let's go out and kill the team". perhaps arsenal season tickets need to come with a prescription for lithium or something. [for what those tickets cost, they should come with all the prescriptions you want and a small home in the country for the off-season.]

but conflict aside oh my god swansea beat arsenal and manchester united twice in the same season!!!! those are huge clubs, and not many have achieved such a feat. and by "not many", i mean to say two. one of them [of course] was chelsea, while the other was scrappy little west ham. it's not just a matter of feeling punchy when you're a little team that beats the big boys, either. with the increasing financial disparity between the top three or four teams in the premier league and everybody else, it's remarkable that smaller teams can make a dent at all without resorting to the use of firearms. for one of the little guys to come up winners against two of the best teams in the world not once but twice each in a single season... well, that borders on the miraculous.

a lot of the time- hell, most of the time- watching professional soccer is like staring into the dark capitalist heart of the one percent versus the ninety-nine. the world's best players are snatched up by the same dozen clubs, with the crème de la crème going to an even smaller subset within that group. and that tiny subset win everything. they win their home leagues. they win their domestic cup competitions. the very best, which is to say the very wealthiest, dominate the champions league, which is where the cash dragons compete with one another.

you couldn't afford the sweat off our south american balls!

today saw barcelona, the soccer team with the second highest payroll in the world, qualify for the champions league final, eliminating bayern munich, who come fourth on that list. tomorrow will see whether third-spendiest real madrid will be joining them, when they take on juventus, who come a lowly eighth. that's right. juventus, who have already one the italian league by a country kilometre, one of the most storied and most vaunted teams in the history of the sport, juventus are the plucky underdogs in this race. [in case you're wondering, the largest payroll in the sport is that of manchester city, although they may have been overtaken by local rivals manchester united, depending on who's doing the numbers. neither of those teams is on track to win anything this year. so money isn't the only thing all the time.]

and juventus goalkeeper gianluigi buffon has won everything but the champions league, which makes him sad

so when swansea, with a third of arsenal's budget and a quarter of man united's, win all four matches in a season against those teams... yeah. it's time to strut.

at the moment, swansea are nestled in eighth place in the premier league [with the sixteenth largest budget]. but that's not how i see it. from my point of view, the wealthiest six teams- chelsea, arsenal, the two manchesters, liverpool and tottenham- will forever be dividing the spots among themselves. yes, another team may occasionally flit into their company, and qualify to play in a european league, but they'll quickly be crushed under the burden of having to play twice as many games the following year, because their budgets don't allow them to have world class talent warming their benches. so, in my mind, swansea aren't eighth in the premier league, they're second to southampton in the second tier of the league, with a realistic chance of coming first. of course, that might actually be a curse in disguise, since finishing one place higher than they are now could result in them qualifying for european play next season, which will probably see them stagger under that burden i mentioned earlier. but if they don't qualify for european play, there's a good chance that the lovely swans will end up having their finest feathers plucked by those who do, as happened earlier this year with wilfried bony, who is apparently happier chilling on the sidelines at manchester city than he was as a superhero for swansea. jockeying for league positions for a smaller team is like participating in a dance competition held on a minefield.

granted, those chairs look comfy

this is one of those moments where i wonder why i follow this godforsaken sport.

then i remember that my tiny swans have been giant-slayers four times, including the opening day where they ruined big spender louis van gaal's highly anticipated debut at old trafford, that they have set a record for the most points they've ever accumulated in a season, that they have a good chance of their highest-place finish in the league and that they managed to shackle a team that hadn't been beaten since in twelve games. furthermore, they've done all this with the youngest and least experienced manager in the league, a guy who was a player on the team until the middle of last year, but who, if the team does manage to overtake southampton in the final days of the season, is a very likely candidate to be named the league's manager of the season.

so there.

that's when i start beaming again and strut directly to our living room, where i will be sleeping on the sofa, until dom has forgotten all about this blog post. 

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