A Kun and a Nasri
In the build up to the Manchester City game, the question I was pondering was “have I got over that fucking defeat by Aston Villa yet?”. For me the answer was a massive No but I guess the more important question was whether Saints had got over it. Not only was it a defeat but it had come at a cost with Big Vic and Nathaniel Clyne injured and out for today along with the longer term casualties of King Artur and Morgan Schneiderlin. Other fall out from the Villa game was Adam Lallana saying they were a bunch of mouthy twats who will get in when they play us next time. He didn’t actually say this – not out loud anyway.
City arrive at St.Mary’s with an alleged dodgy away record, having won their last away game at West Brom where they were 3-0 before knocking off early and letting in two late goals to make it look closer than it was. They are of course the complete opposite of us in that they don’t put any homegrown players in their first team and just throw £25 million around to buy whatever player they fancy. Since last year they’ve brought in Fernandinho in midfield, Jesus Navas on the wing and Alvaro Negredo up front, as well as di Michelis in defence who I don’t think cost as much. They do make noises about developing players through the club but as yet none of these words have translated to players being in the first team with any young English talent they do have being bought from other clubs (Scott Sinclair from Swansea and Jack Rodwell from Everton) before said players suffer career death and if they’re lucky, get loaned out or sold. I do admire their away following though which is always large in number and they’re here again as the Sold Out signs went up for the first time this season.
Other news has seen the World Cup draw take place and England ended up in a group with Italy and Uruguay which means that any out of our English contingent could be up against Dani Osvaldo and watched from the bench by Gaston Ramirez. So England will have to break the habit of a lifetime and actually win against a decent side in a tournament which we haven’t done since beating Argentina in 2002 if my memory serves me correctly. So, zero expectation from me.
The World Cup is for another day and the team news today is that Mauricio has decided that Dani Osvaldo’s goal and improved performance against Villa gets him in the team ahead of Sir Rickie who is benched. Jack Cork and Calum Chambers come in for the injured Big Vic and Nathaniel Clyne and Jose Fonte Baby returns in place of Maya Yoshida who may have to wait for a while for his next chance. Our team looks very light but it’s not too far removed from what played at beat City last year. I’m not massively confident of a result but you never know – Pellegrini has done us a favour by leaving out Navas and picking Milner who is the only player in the England squad who makes Tom Cleverley look like a footballer. Talking of England, we have 6 starters and Sir Rickie and Harrison Reed on the bench whereas City have Milner, with Hart on the bench. Good luck to the FA Commission trying to change that.
After a minutes applause to mark the death of Nelson Mandela which was immaculately observed with no one being quiet, the game starts with Saints looking decent but the quality of the opposition being obvious in the way they knocked it around. Saints created the first chance as a Shaw cross was half cleared and it bounced to Davis whose shot rolled down his shin and off his boot and wide.
City’s first attack produces a different result though as Fonte produces a poor clearing header and just plops it down into the midfield where City pick it up and feed Kolarov who has time and space to fizz over a low cross dissecting five Saints players and Aguero finishes easily to make it one nil – fuck it! It looked to me that Jose should have headed it back to Gazzaniga but maybe wasn’t confident enough in the keeper. Whatever the reason for the mistake though, it’s in our net and bollocks to it.
City put us under a bit more pressure and Gazza look nervous and is not coming for anything. He’s not as nervous as I am as it’s brown trousers time whenever City get near our goal. Our man attacking threat is through Shaw which is quite ironic as no doubt Milner, who can only be in the side for what he does when he hasn’t got the ball, is nowhere near him. First he crosses in and The Pirate plays an airshot under loads of pressure and then he feeds Corky who surprises everyone and hits the first on target shot of his Saints career and all those who put a spot bet on Row Z, Seat 435 lost their money and Pantillimon swallowed it up.
City unsurprisingly (as they’ve spent the budget of a small country on their players) look the likeliest to score again and we all fear the worst as Toure picks out Zabaleta who has powered into the box bedind a dozing J-Rod and laid it back to Aguero. Time stands still as one of the dealiest players in the league takes aim…. And smashes it over the bar in shite fashion. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Alvaro Negredo is the City centre forward and he revels in the nickname of ‘The Beast’. When he scores at The Etihad, even the stadium announcer gets in on the act and gives it the big one… “goal by The Be-eeeeeeeeeast” etc. To earn a nickname like “The Beast” I assumed that he must be a bit of a tough guy, a bit fierce, a little bit animal in his approach. So it was with great surprise and hilarity that he got hit with a man and ball tackle by Dejan Lovren and made a noise like a 5 year old girl makes if you take her favourite toy away and slap her round the head with it. It was highlighted by the fact that the crowd was quiet at that moment. The Beast got his free kick, Dejan and all the fans in the Chapel / Kingsland corner laughed at him and his nickname is now officially “The Pussy”.
We survive the free kick and are back on the attack with Chambers on the right who beaks past a powder-puff challenge from Nasri and crosses to Lallana who looks miles offside but he’s allowed to go on and wins a corner as he attempts to juggle it over the last defender. The corner is cleared and finds its way out to Lovren on the right who demonstrates ability that a centre half really shouldn’t have by skinning di Michelis and Kolarov on the outside before sending over a superb cross which is once again cleared for a corner.
Despite our attacking play looking decent, there is always the fear that City can score at will but we have a significant moment when Aguero shanks a cross shot and Gazza gets down to save. This is significant because even though he hasn’t hit it well and every goalkeeper at every level should save it, it’s the first save Gazza has managed since the moment King Artur broke his hand so hopefully he should now start playing with some confidence.
We are definitely the team in the ascendency now and Lallana sets off towards goal and feeds Shaw who sends over a great low cross which everyone leaves except Chambo at the far post but he can only head wide as Kolarov put him off. It’s unsurprising but he didn’t look like he had much belief he could score. Another break forward by Steve Davis sees the ball fed to JWP about 25 yards out but his shot is on target but not fierce enough to trouble the BFG (Big Fucking Goalkeeper) in the City goal.
We are certainly at our best when City are attacking and we nick the ball because superb though Toure and Fernandinho are going forward, they’re not so great when they turn the ball over and not particularly quick in reacting to the transition. I like using words like transition as it makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about.
Anyhow, the transition takes place in our penalty area as Jose slides in to win the ball and bin Aguero with a ‘win the ball or penalty’ tackle. Shaw plays the ball to Davis who set off and feeds Our Argie-Italian Rock ‘n’ Roll Pirate and in the time it takes to say ‘why the fuck isn’t Lambert playing’, he twists and turns, leaves Vincent Kompany on his arse before curling a glorious equalizer over the BFG and into the far top corner with the added touch of skimming it off the bottom of the crossbar. It’s a stunning goal – I didn’t think anyone would come close to Adam Lallana’s goal against Hull but I think this beats it. Quite sensational.
As half time approaches and we’re all still in an Osvaldo wonderland, we have a go at going behind again allowing Milner of all people to get in a decent cross which Nasri controls well before lashing it hopelessly over the bar. It couldn’t happen to a nicer horrible little shit and time for the half time oranges.
We seem hell bent on letting City in front again at the start of the second half as we allow Aguero a free shot from the right which he gets on target but Gazza gets down well to palm it away. We then fanny around when we should have been clearing it 70 yards and give the ball to Toure on the edge of the box who bulldozes forward before curling a powerful effort just wide. It’s one of those where it leaves his foot and you’re just waiting for the net to bulge and it’s a huge relief when it doesn’t.
We have a golden chance ourselves to take the lead as we approach the hour mark as J-Rod bursts through Kompany and Di Michelis but the last touch takes him too close to the BFG who saves at his feet. The rebound goes straight to The Pirate in roughly the same position where he scored from but his sidefooted effort is woeful and just keeps going up.
There’s a definite tactical switch by Saints to get it forward quicker and after Corky (usually) has won it, it gets pinged over Zabaleta towards J-Rod. It almost bears fruit a Shaw’s ball is controlled by J-Rod into the path of The Pirate but he drags his shot across the BFG and wide. There’s another chance as Steve Davis bursts past Toure and optimistically shoots but straight at the BFG.
Pellegrini didn’t get to where he is today by having shite on the pitch and so The Pussy (who had been complete shite) was replaced with Garcia and Milner is gone to be replaced with Jesus Navas. Note to the stadium announcer: I expect it’s pronounced ‘Hey-Zuss’ and not ‘Jeee-zus’, even as we approach Christmas. Christmas or not, Jesus or not, he’s powereless to prevent the next Saints attack as Lallana fashions an audacious scoop over the defence for The Pirate who wins a corner trying to pull it back when in my opinion he should have just lashed it goalwards. JWP’s corner picks out J-Rod who can’t get his header on target.
Either team could win it and I’m still expecting it to be them as Aguero gets a run down left and fires at the far post but once again Gazza is not tested as it flies wide. It’s substitution time as Sir Rickie comes on for a clearly tired Osvaldo and Gaston Ramirez comes on for the magnificent Adam Lallana and adds to Manchester City to the list of ‘teams I have played 4 minutes against’. City have brought on Dzeko and someone else who cost millions but the main action for City is nasri trying to get himself sent off. After hacking down Davis and getting himself deservedly booked he then arrives about a day late for another tackle and floors Chambers which was very cynical as he had no chance of getting the ball. It’s a second yellow all day long but the referee decides to bottle it and let the horrible little shit stay on.
I mention this from time to time and I feel the need to repeat it now. The game unfolding in front of us is a classic end to end game and there is a very real chance that we might win it and if we scored then the roof would be blown off and it would be one of the moments that you always remembered when you looked back on all the matches you’d watched. So, bearing all that in mind, why the fuck would you get up and leave on 80 minutes. Is getting home 15 minutes earlier really worth the chance of missing one of the great moments? I can’t understand it in any game really, let alone one where the scores are level and it’s a great game. You really should have a word with yourselves and there are a lot of you.
As we reach the 90th minute, Mauricio pulls a surprising one and sends on Harrison Reed for Steve Davis who has had a superb game. Scholesy gets stuck in a plays a couple of nice passes but there is sense that both teams have now settled for a point. It doesn’t stop Aguero who has clearly got frustrated with things and he throws the ball away in comedy fashion and gets booked. Did you know that if you add a ‘T’ to Aguero’s nickname of ‘Kun’ then you get ‘Nasri’?
It looks like we’re going to get a last minute chance to win it as Reed gets hacked down about 25 yards out and central but the ref bottles it again and decides to end the game instead, the git.
I certainly left the ground a lot happier than when I went in. We had gone toe to toe with a club with ridiculous resources and a fantastic set of players and got a point with 4 of our main players on the sidelines. Whereas on Wednesday, the replacements had all been quite frankly poor, all the boys who came in today were superb with Jack Cork and Calum Chambers competing with Luke Shaw and Adam Lallana for man of the match. All 4 players mentioned there are English as well and 3 came through the academy. It gives me a warm feeling.
Aside from the missing players, another source of negativity for a lot of fans going into the ground would have been the omission of Sir Rickie for Dani Osvaldo but today you saw why that choice was made…and how. What a fucking goal that was. I still say that Sir Rickie would lead the line better and get more out of the players around him but you can’t play both of them against the big guns so in future I think I’ll stop moaning and trust the manager, even if he doesn’t speak English J As an aside, I’d like to see Sir Rickie do an interview one day in his best Scouse accent with Mauricio’s interpreter stood next to him just repeating what he says.
It’s only a point but the change of mood is palpable. The players and the manager didn’t need reminding that Saints are a decent side but memory deficient fans did. From my own point of view it was nice to leave the ground with a smile on my face after leaving on Wednesday with Tourette’s syndrome and wanting to murder someone. Next up we have Newcastle away who have been on a decent run at home in particular. I see no reason why we can’t go up there and give it a right go. We know they’ll be quite driect about things as Pardew’s teams always are but as long as we keep the back door shut, have a bit of luck and we don’t have a shocker with the officials like we did last year up there, we could get something.
As for the league table – well we’re 8th and still above Manchester United. According to one article I read, they need to sign about 4 of our players to save their season. Then I noticed that it was written in crayon by Robbie Savage so I ignored it. If it’s true and Robbie is In the Know then they can have Lee Barnard, Aaron Martin, Tadanari Lee and Jonno Pace.