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Wednesday 1 February 2012

Many A Slip Betwixt FA Cup And Lip

Hi folks,

I neglected to post this on Monday and it suddenly occurred to me that I'd better get it done before heading off to Bolton, as the thought of having to write that the gap between us and Spurs has been extended to thirteen points would be positively mortifying.

Please don't let it be so


I don’t think one can over-estimate the significance of the seven, magical second-half minutes that resulted in the Gunners turning Sunday’s game on its head. Sadly our enthralling comeback is no guarantee of the imminent reversal of our silverware-starved fortunes, especially against a weak Villa side that we should’ve wiped the floor with in the first place,.

Yet with rumours that Jack Wilshere will be out for the rest of the season, coming on top of the three successive defeats that have not only put a dampener on any remaining Premiership pretensions, but have left us lagging a seriously depressing ten points behind Spurs, an unacceptable FA Cup exit could’ve been the straw that broke the back of many a despondent red & white dromedary.

Trying to put a brave face on things, as the Arsenal trudged off at the break, with the disapprobation of the “not so faithful” ringing in their ears, I sought solace in the thought that a defeat would at least mean I’d avoid an arduous (Wear- or Teeside) awayday in the next round and the prospect of being brought back down to earth by a North-Eastern sandwich of matches, either side of the midweek glamour of our Milanese outing – seven days in Feb that are assured to separate the men from the boys (both on and off the pitch)!

I suppose I should’ve known better than to write our chances off at half-time but with the Gunners playing such predictably unpenetrative football, it was hard to imagine how we were going to drag ourselves back into contention. Although having witnessed the blur of incisive energy and inspiration that resulted in such a dramatic reversal, the big question is why we had to wait until we were two goals behind to be able to produce it?

Moreover, no sooner had we pulled our socks up and got our noses in front, rather than maintaining this momentum to go on and put the result beyond question, we let them slip again, reverting to the same meandering keep-ball that left us fretting about the rare counter-attack which might result in a regrettable replay.

Still I would’ve bitten the hand off that had offered us a replay at half-time, with a three goal turnaround being more than I could’ve hoped for. It’s a fickle old mistress football. Instead of heading home, wringing my hands in misery, in time to the Wenger knockers, bleating on about Jack Wilshere’s fate, with nothing to look forward to, other than the palliative comfort of a post-match pie, suddenly the Gooner outlook isn’t looking nearly quite so bleak (as evidenced by the 89th minute introduction of Bakary Sagna).

Obviously Arsène sent Sagna and Henry on to run down the clock, but after the furore over his inexplicable intervention last Sunday and with le Gaffer having spent most of the ninety firmly ensconced in his seat in the dug-out, like a sullen professor, determined to send out a message to his disenchanted pupils, it seemed as the substitution of Oxlade-Chamberlaine was deliberately designed to demonstrate that teacher still knows best.

Considering the majority of us had put all our eggs in the basket of clinging on in there until Wilshere’s eventual return, it’s going to be hard to come to terms with the possibility that he might not play again this season. Nevertheless with our best full-back returning to the fray and more to come, mercifully it’s not all gloom and doom. Despite the potential for further slips betwixt FA Cup and lip, dragging ourselves back from the brink of Sunday’s disaster proved a real fillip.

What’s more, off the field, there’s plenty of mileage to be had in Harry Redknapp’s courtroom shenanigans. I’ve heard conflicting informed opinions that suggest he’s banged to rights and that he’s bound to walk. But as they say, it’s not the result that matters, but the taking part and either path spells misery for my Spurs mates, whether Harry ends up holidaying temporarily at Her Majesty’s pleasure, or permanently as England manager. They’d be happiest if he ends up punished with a tag. Although a curfew would put the kibosh on midweek KOs and it would be highly amusing to see Harry standing pitchside at the Derby game at the end of the month, his ankle adorned with a shiny new Peckham Rolex

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