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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Nasri Gets The Bird
But Sadly It's City Who Have The Last Laugh

According to Radio 5, Chelsea were booed off at the Bridge after getting beat by the Scousers in their Carling Cup quarterfinal last night. Remarkably, in light of the fickle reputation of the Gooner faithful in recent times (or at least our home crowd), there was no such overt expression of disapprobation after our 0-1 defeat to City.

Aside from the faint consolation that our early season misadventures and the resulting reduction in expectations, seem to have had a positive impact at home games, with the vast majority of our fans seemingly far less inclined to get on our own players backs the very instant they fail to perform and with most of us being prepared to be far more patient and supportive, as far as last night's game was concerned, I don't think there many present who presumed that our stalwart coterie of Carling Cup kids were likely to triumph in the face of the overwhelming odds offered by Mancini's multitude of petro-dollar dandies.

As a result, I'm sure that much like myself, the vast majority were well pleased by the performances of the likes of Coquelin, Frimpong, Oxlade-Chamberlain and a defence (even one which comprised Squillaci & Flappyhandski) that truly did itself justice by barely giving City's formidable front line a sniff of goal all evening.

Sadly our energy levels did appear to diminish in the latter stages, resulting in us dropping off and allowing the opposition far too much space on the ball, providing them with time to look up and pick the sort of pass which eventually resulted in the crucial goal. Yet City were no less prone to flagging somewhat as the game wore on and at the end of the day, much to my displeasure, the only telling difference between the two teams was that Mancini was blessed with being able to play the influential likes of Aguerro and Dzeko up front, while sadly our striking options were limited to Chamakh and Park, neither of whom, on the night, looked capable of scoring in the proverbial brothel.

Marouanne did at least try and put himself about a bit, winning the odd header and holding up the odd ball in the traditional manner. Albeit that the Moroccan's knock-ons invariably ended up at the feet of someone in Sky Blue and in holding up the ball, he only ever looked to lay it back, when a striker with any real goal-getting intent would occasionally turn and attempt to take on the opposition!

However, for me, the evidence (for whatever reason?) that Chamakh is devoid of the necessary drive and determination required of a centre-forward who's capable of making a match winning impact, was succinctly encapsulated in an instant only moments before the break, when I saw him turn towards our keeper, as Fabianski was about to release the ball. Marouanne waved his hands, in the manner which signaled our goalie to slow the game down; thereby suggesting he wanted Fabianski to hang onto the ball, indicating that Marouanne was more than content to make it to half-time with the game still all square.

When in truth I want a striker out there with the sort of mindset that leaves him hollering at his goalie to get on with the game, in the knowledge that there's every possibility the opposition are already thinking about sucking on their half-time oranges (or whatever it is that passes for the modern equivalent in the professional game, to refresh the parts that vitamin C doesn't reach during the break) and that the minutes immediately before the halftime whistle are the perfect moment to strike.

As for Park, to my mind the Korean striker looks a bit clueless. Obviously I appreciate that he probably needs to be given time to adapt, but our need for credible stand-in for Van Persie is right now! We had a taste of what Park might be capable of, with the goal he scored in the previous leg and personally I was disappointed that he failed to despatch home his solitary goal scoring opportunity during the first-half.

But as for the remainder of the game, Park's demeanour left me feeling that he's uncertain what he's supposed to be doing out there and where if someone like Van Persie isn't seeing enough of the ball, he goes looking for it, Park seems to lack the necessary self-confidence and as a result he lacks the movement and isn't nearly busy enough to get himself involved.

However considering how well the kids did, to hold their own for so long and to restrict City to only a rare glimpse of a goal threat (doing a great kindness to my blood pressure, by ensuring my heart remained in its correct cavity, rather than in my mouth for fear of what Fabianski might do), this only made City's 83rd minute smash-and-grab raid that much more painful. In fact as disappointed as I was to be deprived of being only 90 minutes away from the dubious pleasure of a return to Wembley this morning, I was even more devasted for the lads, after they'd done themselves justice with a performance that deserved better.

Especially in the case of Laurent Koscielny, who's 100 per cent committed attitude ever since his unfortunate Cup Final cock-up has been so impressive, that he more than most merits just such an opportunity to redeem his reputation.

Still as far as the Carling Cup is concerned, as they say, there's always next season and in the meantime, roll on the FA Cup third round on 7th Jan.

You'll have to forgive me, as with the weekend's diary missive being written for publication in Wednesday's Irish Examiner, it was a lot easier to post it out this morning, instead of amending it to send sooner and as you will read (if you've nothing better to do), in light of last night's disappointing result, I guess in answer to the question "who eat all the pies", sadly it wasn't me!

Big Love
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