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Monday 2 April 2012

Rangers' Rodents vs Musophobic Gunners

Hi folks,

Watching at Loftus Road on Saturday, I couldn't escape this image of Oxlade-Chamberlain running amok out wide instead of Ramsey, leaving their defence for dead as he danced his way through an immobile Nedun Onuoha's legs! I'm sure there wasn't a single Gooner in the dilapidated School End ("my garden shed is bigger than this") who didn't wonder why, with two wingers twiddling their thumbs on the bench, Wenger continued with the unfathomable choice of playing Aaron out of position.

Yet unlike more arduous awaydays which tend to be the exclusive domain of the religiously faithful Gooner, the proximity of London derbies always seems to attract a liberal sprinkling of the sort of fickle glory-hunters that sadly we've been forced to become accustomed with, due to their proliferation at our place.

My advice to them is that unless they're going to get behind the team, please don't bother coming. I had someone hollering his disgust at Wenger's team selection in my ear for the entire 90 minutes. But while I was no less incensed, I have to believe that le Boss has his reasons, even if I'm not privy to his insight and from the moment they take to the turf, we're obligated to get behind whoever he chooses to wear the red & white and lend them our support.

That's why we're labelled "supporters" not "castigators" and at such a decisive stage in the season, in my book if you've not got something positive to contribute, then please keep schtum!

Big Love


Whether it was the fault of the pitch, or the wrong studs, the Arsenal players seemed to be incessantly slipping over on the Loftus Road turf on Saturday. It was therefore perhaps inevitable that one of these mishaps should result in Mackie finding himself completely free to put the ball on a plate for Diakite’s winning goal.

Thomas Vermaelen was so enraged at having given the home side such a helping hand (with both goals!), that for a while there he seemed intent on singlehandedly putting things to rights. But in all honesty, it was too little, too late and it was infuriatingly disappointing that the Gunners failed to demonstrate this sort of determination from the opening whistle.

The fact that I was almost relieved to go a goal behind, in the hope that this might at least inspire us to pull our finger out and exert some concerted pressure, is a telling indicator. Whether it was down to complacency, or maybe even a case of some seriously misguided arrogance (a fortunate seven game winning streak certainly doth not “the Invincibles” make!), sadly this was obviously a contest which meant so much more to a relegation threatened Rangers.

Never mind “the Verminator”, Thomas looked more like a musophobic pest controller, against Zamora and the irritating band of rodents who got the better of our defence all game long. Instead of whinging about having to take a little argy-bargy, Vermaelen needs reminding that it’s part of his centre-back job description to be dishing it out! However he was far from alone in his culpability for such a monumental cock-up.

It could be argued that we’d be better off playing two games a week, in order to keep our players honest. Having put our feet up for a week, following our stroll in the park against Villa, we seemed to have forgotten the formula for success and the sort of commitment necessary to ensure we end up on the right side of that extremely fine margin between triumph and abject failure.

“How sh*t must you be, we’re winning at home” rejoiced the Hoops fans, but in pouncing on our obvious discomfort at not being able to evade their physical attentions, within the tight confines of Loftus Road, Rangers literally rubbed our arrogance in our own faces and fully deserved their success.

From the lack of focus that resulted in our failure to follow up Van Persie’s set piece early on, to the constant buck-passing of a Gunners side that shirked their responsibilities at either end of the pitch, almost everyone in red & white was guilty of a hubristic & ultimately fatal “job done” attitude.

As a result, instead of slamming the door shut and reinforcing our hold on 3rd place, we’ve not only gifted Spurs with renewed hope, but we remain in serious danger of being dragged back down into a four-way fight to the finish, for the positively priceless reward of a Champions League berth.

Still hopefully it might prove fortuitous that we’ve been brought back down to earth with a bump, by this timely lesson in the basic principles of industry and desire, before Mancini comes a calling, mob-handed, on Sunday, with City desperate to drag themselves back into contention. After having wallowed in the euphoric pleasure of watching the Gunners drag themselves up by the bootstraps, the reverse side of this coin really doesn’t bear thinking about!

Still if the decidedly modest, but all the more intimidating environs of Loftus Road failed to inspire, one would expect the exact opposite to be true in a glamorous opportunity to rub salt in City’s wounds, by proving that no matter how high the mountain of wedge stacked up against them, the ethics of the team can still triumph over the talent of the individual.

That’s assuming we don’t remain hamstrung by Arsène’s insistence on playing Ramsey out of position - thereby denying us the width to ensure we don’t end up banging our heads against a resolute brick wall in the middle of the park - or his apparent inability to recognize Rosicky’s leaden-footedness beyond the hour mark.

It’s unlikely that Spurs will prove similar masters of their own downfall in their date with the West London wanabees. But if Barton’s cohorts can ruffle the Cockerel’s feathers and by doing so, save me from another long trip up North by securing their Premiership status, Saturday’s defeat will feel a whole lot more palatable. So long as it proves a best-forgotten blip, rather than the prologue to a devastating downward spiral!
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