Some things stay the same and some things change a lot. Firstly, the time and place of the Arsenal V MZ fixture changed so many times it remained a mystery up until almost the last minute. This has always been a problem in Ukraine where a fixture once even appeared at the wrong time in the morning's papers and the officials at the club weren't sure when the game would start. On that occassion we ended up missing all 3 goals in a CSKA win as we turned up at half time.
Anyway, on this occassion we found that the game was at Stadion Kolos in Boryspyl at 3 o'clock and I met up with Ewig which was good, as I think I was forcing him to miss some important family stuff to come to the game, which was typical Ukrainian hospitality, as was the fact he turned up half an hour late, but I shouldn't grumble about such trivial stuff.
Some things at Arsenal and most of them for the worse. Firstly, having a game on Easter Sunday was a stupid idea and moving Arsenal's home games to Boryspyl was even more stupid. A total lack of fans meant we weren't exactly fighting to get on a Marshrutna to the stadium. Gone are the days when there was a family atmosphere at Arsenal with 'entertainment' and free stuff laid on in abundance.
The reason Arsenal are playing at Boryspyl is that Bannikov, which is situated near the centre of the city and with better facilities like under soil heating and floodlights costs 3 times as much cash to rent out than Kolos in Boryspyl (Obviously I am also biased to them using Bannikov as it is situated a 5 minutes walk away from our flat). So Bannikov sits dormant and Boryspyl attracts about 25% percent of the fans that playing the games in Kyiv would. It seems to me that a compromise needs to be made and it seems that the officials at Bannikov and Arsenal board are both intent on cutting off their noses to spite their faces.
To the football. We arrived at the stadium in the third minute of the game, but we could have arrived at half time and not missed much. The first half was a stalemate with neither team looking interested. The current metaphor in vogue with the tools who talk about football on the TV in the UK is to say that footballers put a 'day in at the office' ( which is a bit of a paradox from the usual transfer of metaphors from sport to business). If the first half was a day at the office then the players in this game showed as much enthusiasm as office workers being forced to go into work on Easter Sunday.
The second half faired much better and Shatskhi - that's right MAXIM SHATSKHI - put Arsenal ahead on 56 minutes. It was his 100th league goal in Ukraine, but if you consider how long the wooden wonder was at Dynamo what took him so long? It took him 10 years and 9 months and 11 days to reach the 100 goal mark and put him in second place of all time Ukrainian Premier League scorers behind Rebrov who scored 123 goals and now his team mate Andriy Vorobei has joined the hundred club having scored in Arsenal's victory over Vorskla yesterday. Needless to say despite netting his hundredth goal Burratino was up to his old tricks for most of the game and was just a biot slower and older than he used to be.
In fact Arsenal has become a bit of a rest home of ageing footballers with Reva and Zakalyuka still there and being joined by Shatskhi, Vorobei and some old geezer from Spartak Moscow isn't exactly making Arsenal look like a youthful side full of potential, which they once did. That said Arsenal ran the second half and eventually ran out 2-0 winners with Bogdanov scoring on 82 minutes. It was good to be back in Ukraine and at a football match, but Arsenal really need to get back to Kyiv instead of playing at a stadium that couldn't attract enough fans for Borysfen and Knyazha and start rebuilding a fan base.