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Monday, 27 October 2008

Oh When The Spurs, Go Marching Down

Hi folks

I received a slap on the wrist from the Sports Ed at the Examiner last week. He was worried that I was beginning to lose the self-discipline I've shown from the start of this season and that I was slipping back into my old habit of lumbering him with far too much work, by prattling on at such length and vastly exceeding the required number of words.

However, having renewed my efforts to please my Corkonian pals, I've ended up omitting several points I planned on making in the following piece. But you guys aren't so fortunate, as there are no such restrictions on my blog and so, work permitting, I plan on returning to offer my comments on last Thursday's AGM, the devastation of the Saturday fixture list by relatively meaningless UEFA Cup games, my displeasure at Carlton Cole's sending off and this worrying recent trend to try and rule out the sliding tackle and the possibility that perhaps events will prove we might have been better served by a draw that saw both Chelsea and Liverpool dropping points on Sunday?

Until then.....Come on You Reds
Nuff Love

PS. For the info of those who weren't present at Upton Park yesterday, along with all the amusement that was had singing "oh when the Spurs go marching down" (hilariously sung with the same elongated beginning to the chant), there were some relatively unsuccessful efforts to introduce "Theo Walcott. He's an Englishman at Arsenal" to the tune of Sting's Englishman in New York and I assume the fact that Eduardo is relatively close to a long-awaited return, inspired several choruses of "Eduardo Silva, Arsenal's number nine" (to the tune of the Fernando Torres song)

It was predictable that Spurs would ring the changes in advance of Wednesday’s derby. My closest Spurs pal has been so depressed that he’d done a bunk to Marrakech. Having texted him the breaking news on Saturday night, he phoned me back to tell me that he’d received my message in a restaurant, just as the belly dancer appeared. Thus for him Redknapp’s arrival at Spurs will be permanently associated with the sight of this dancer’s jiggling navel.

As wobbles go, the best thing about our neighbour’s plight is that it’s been the source of so much amusement on the terraces - doubtless you’ll hear our adaptation of “when the Spurs go marching down” echoing around our ground on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, it’s likely to prove a smart move (albeit from the same chairman who sacked Martin Jol!). Compared to “charisma bypass” Ramos, if there’s one coach with the personality necessary to arrest Spurs slide into oblivion, it’s likely to be Redknapp. He’s from the same mould as Venables, in his innate ability to charm players into wanting to perform for him.

However Harry’s appointment is indication of Spurs sudden shift in aspirations, as they’ve not plumped for this wily old campaigner because of any Champions League credentials, but because of his nous of what’s needed in a Premiership dogfight. Should Redknapp succeed, I can’t help but wonder if he’ll be the author of his own downfall, as no sooner will he have achieved mid-table security, than his employers are likely to return to setting their sights on the more sophisticated set-up, which might take them to “the next level”. Still, as genial as he may be, it will be hard to have much sympathy for someone who’s lived by the self-serving sword, should Daniel Levy end up disembowelling him with it!

Sadly we’ve been denied the sort of drubbing we might’ve meted out to Ramos’ despondent troops, but the circumstances should at least guarantee a rip-roaring atmosphere. I only hope the occasion inspires our lot to set about our neighbours with a little more urgency than we witnessed from the start of Sunday’s match and in other recent games, where it’s taken a goal deficit to really get us going.

Faubert might take a lesson from his teammate, as none of us Gooners standing behind the goal (the seats in Upton Park’s Centenary Stand are utterly superfluous, apart from being somewhere to park one’s bum during the break) could quite believe how Collins managed to clip the ball safely over his own goal some minutes earlier, from a position almost directly beneath the crossbar. Yet up until the French full-back inadvertently diverted the ball past his own keeper, it felt as if Rob Green was going to have one of those impenetrable afternoons, where, as time wore on, I envisaged the Irons nicking all 3 points from a single Bellamy breakaway.

I love going to West Ham, as on Sunday I was able to watch live coverage of the entire game at Stamford Bridge, not walking out the door until the final whistle had confirmed the welcome conclusion of Chelsea’s 4-year unbeaten home record, jumping on my motorbike at 3.30pm, scooting through the East London traffic and even with the detour due to Stratford’s massive Olympic development, I just made it into the ground for the 4pm KO. What’s more, with the missus away, I was able to make it back home again, before the dog had time to express her displeasure at being left alone, by taking a dump on the kitchen floor!

If I’d wondered about Wenger’s apparent interest in Alonso during the summer, the manner in which he and Mascherano bossed the midfield at the Bridge, demonstrated exactly why le Prof wanted the Spaniard as a partner for Fabregas. In a question and answer session with some of us only a few months back, Wenger vehemently assured us that according to his stats, Alex Song most definitely was not an option alongside Cesc in midfield.

I often wonder if Arsène’s approach is a little too scientific and if he might dispense with the endless stats, every now and again and trust to his instincts more. Song might not be the ultimate solution in midfield. It remains to be seen whether he can develop the mental poise, to match his physical power. However he’s appears to be a more compatible partner for Fabregas than the flyweight facsimile of Denilson and lends a more dogged steel to the heart of the Gunners side.

There was much consternation amongst us on Sunday when Wenger withdrew Walcott & Nasri, the two most likely candidates to conjure up an opening. But we were soon bowing to the boss’ far superior knowledge, as the appearance of Adebayor and Diaby resulted in Van Persie shifting to the right, which somehow seemed to liberate the ineffectual Dutchman, as Robin began to impose himself on the game.

Diaby might not have managed the same dramatic impact we’d witnessed in Istanbul but a fresh-legged Adebayor was a handful for Upson and Collins. If Bendtner keeps feeding the Togonator the sort of passes that set-up our second, they’ll soon be best of pals and as if to repudiate any suggestion of bad feeling between these two, there was a moment earlier where Ade hit the deck after an effort on goal and the Dane dashed over to haul his teammate onto his gangly, long legs.

I was surprised to hear that prior to Sunday, we’d beaten the Hammers at the Boleyn only once in the previous 8 years. But while the win and a rare clean sheet was encouraging, it bothers me that it took until the last quarter for us to begin to turn the screw. If we fail to demonstrate sufficient urgency in Wednesday’s derby, the longer the game goes without a goal, the more our guest’s confidence will grow, to the point where they begin to believe a result isn’t beyond them.

Considering the two teams’ comparative expectations, dropping 2, or even 3 points would be far more damaging to us, than a Spurs side who, up until their cockney Lancelot came charging over on Saturday night, would’ve been happy merely to avoid embarrassment. With big games coming thick and fast in the weeks ahead, as ever, consistency will be the key to a genuine title challenge.

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Anonymous said...

Great blog, one of the best around.

oldgunner said...

your blog is always my first port of call every monday morning and i think its one of the best around. always balanced, eloquent and very readable.

i dont get to the grove as often as i would like but i always manage to find one stream or another to get my fix.

one interesting statistic from yesterdays game was that we were caught offsides 0 times. i dont mean to denegrate ade's performance because when he came on he was the difference and the reason for our winning, i just wish he would work on that part of his game.

i, like you, was concerned about our soporific start to the game.i wish we would start games as we used to and put teams under intense pressure from the off. i read an interesting tounge-in-cheek qoute last week where someone suggested that we, the arsenal fans, ask the premier league to make arsenal start every game with a 1 nil deficit so as to galvanise the team from the start!

lets hope for another win on wednesday..

many thanks bernard