Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mr IQ Speaks and Suddenly All Is Clear

"My England Career is Purely to Benefit my Club Career"

The international break happened and someone said something that confirmed something that I knew all along and at the same time, answered one of the great questions that has been vexing football fans for years – Why are England so shit?  You would expect that the person who answered this question would be a genius of some description with a high IQ but the truth could not be further removed from that.  The person in question was a thick idiot with no self awareness called Adam Lallana and what he said in his press conference crystallized everything.  He was talking about Nathaniel Clyne and he basically said that if Clyne got in the England side that it would give him options, meaning options like a move to a Champions League club. On one hand, I was screaming ‘cunnnnnnttttt’ at him but on the other hand, he was being honest and illustrating the way the modern footballer thinks about the England side which tells you all you need to know about why England are shite. 

It’s not about the pride of representing your country any more or maybe actually doing well and winning stuff for the millions of people watching.  For Adam Lallana and countless others, it’s about getting in the England team and giving yourself the chance of a better club career… and by better, I mean more money.  It was so important to Adam that he spent the World Cup preparation time talking about it.  The England team is just a stepping stone and that my friends, is a fucking tragedy.  Adam Lalllana is undoubtedly a thick bastard who has no awareness of how he comes across but on the other hand, his lack of brain means that he’s honest because he’s too stupid to be anything else and in a world where footballer soundbites are usually completely bland and boring, I guess it’s not a bad thing.  He is assuming that every player is motivated by the same things he is but I still cling to the hope that some are motivated by something other than cash. 

So, there you have it – there’s motivation for a player to get in the England squad so he can get his ‘dream’ move to a big club but once he’s done that, the big club in question becomes way more important than the national team and that my friends, is one big reason why England are shite.  Of course, if we had a decent manager then we could kick back against some of this but that’s a whole other issue.  So thanks Adam for making me see the light.  Perhaps I’ll see if my son wants to put your picture back up on his wall now.  Rickie’s still up there but he took yours down (on his own with no input from me by the way) for some reason which is probably totally lost on you.

Talking of Nathaniel Clyne… which I was a while ago... well he got picked for the squad and then ignored for the team as the senile old goat Hodgson picked Calum Chambers for both matches.  This is a player that Arsene Wenger is going to play at centre back whenever possible so it fits that he joins Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and John Stones as centre backs that Hodgson has picked at right back whilst ignoring the best English specialist right back.  In two games against the football powerhouses of San Marino and Estonia, Chambers was distinctly average and offered next to nothing going forward against two sides where we had 80% of possession.   Who could possibly have predicted that?  Clyne is the better attacking full-back.  Everyone knows that and even if they didn’t before, 2 superb goals already this season illustrated it to the uneducated, except one man it seems.

There is a total myth that gets pedalled about that Chambers is a better defender and Clyne is a better attacker.  The fact that Clyne is a better attacker is beyond debate but he’s also a better defender, quicker, sharper in the tackle and hardly ever beaten 1 on 1.  Chambers is better in the air, mainly because he’s taller, which is why he’s now a centre back and that’s it.  It’s absolutely mind blowing that for two games against shite opposition, Hodgson picks Chambers.  I was prepared (a bit) to give him the benefit of the doubt after the San Marino game as we had 2 games in 4 days and I thought he might play them in one game each.  After all, with Kieran Gibbs and Chambers being picked at full back v San Marino, I assumed that the better pairing for Baines and Clyne were to be used in the tougher game against Estonia.... but no.   All this is just a debate over one position in the team and it’s before we even get to the rest of the side.  Anyway, Clyne won’t even get in the next squad as no doubt Glen ‘can’t attack, can’t defend’ Johnson will be back.

The inbuilt negativity that Hodgson has means that matches at home to San Marino and away to Estonia were treated with caution so he picked what in his mind was a solid defensive team.  He should be using these fixtures in the easiest qualification group ever to think longer term and develop a team and a style of play that might actually achieve something in a tournament.  Trying to finish in the top 3 of a 6 team group containing Switzerland, Estonia, San Marino, Lithuania and Slovenia is as close to a bye as you can possibly get.  Pick an attacking team you moron – Milner and Henderson in midfield against San Marino with Wilshere as the holding player? Delph and Henderson against Estonia with Wilshere again as the holding player? Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench for both games?  Ridiculous and we haven’t even discussed Rooney yet. 

All we need to say about out captain and leader is that he was slow, sluggish and shite in both matches, missed a load of chances but scored a penalty and a free-kick which the keeper should have saved.  He is going to be England’s leading goalscorer ever and Bobby Charlton is turning in his grave and he’s not even dead.  Rooney - England legend, my arse.  When Sturridge is fit again, we know that Wayne Untouchable will be fine and Welbeck will get dropped or moved to the left – that is, as long as Brendan Rodgers allows Sturridge to play.  The main issue from these games is that of Raheem Sterling asking to be rested for the Estonia game.... yeah, that wasn’t under instructions from Mr Smug Rodgers was it?  Club over country and here we are back where we started with Mr IQ, Adam Lallana.  He did well as a second half sub against the postmen and PE teachers of San Marino and he had a decent first half against Estonia before doing his usual and fading out as the game went on.  He was probably saving himself for his next Liverpool game.

So England were turgid and shite and won both games, 5-0 against the PE Teachers and postmen of San Marino and 1-0 against 10 man Estonia whose star player is a sub for Blackpool. Beyond pathetic but that’s what we’re dealing with now with Hodgson in charge.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Premier League Game 7 - Tottenham 1 Southampton 0

Nearest Covering Defender is the Out-of-Focus one in the Background

From the depths of our meltdown, it’s now been recognized that we are a decent side and we do have some decent players.  This good news has obviously travelled to Europe as three of our players got their first ever call ups to the senior squads.  Graziano Pellè is in the Italy squad for the first time at the age of 29 and at one year older, José Fonte has got the call from the new Portugal manager.  To be fair, he had a better chance under the new manager as this guy has actually heard of him.   The biggest miracle of all though is that Roy Hodgson called up Nathaniel Clyne having finally realised that after 2 years of evidence, he’s our best right back.  Clyney now has a chance to prove that he’s better than the injured Glen Johnson which he should be able to do, just by putting a pass to a team mate or knowing what defending actually is.  The call-ups for the other two are equally pleasing though, especially for José, having been with us from League 1 days.  Graziano is in despite having been written off by some of our more knowledgeable supporters a whole 6 games ago.

Today we travel to White Hart Lane to play against a Pochettino led Tottenham who are so far proving to be the same as always with aspirations of a top 4 finish which they won’t get this season as long as Mauricio has a hole in his arse.  Home defeats already by West Brom and Liverpool in a distinctly average start and the natives, not to mention Daniel Levy, won’t be best pleased if they lose again today.  A piece came out in a newspaper this week about the circumstances of his move to Spurs and it didn’t paint Pochettino or Levy in a particularly good light.  To be honest,, whether the article was true or not, I don’t give a shite any more.  Bollocks to them.  We’ve moved on and they’re welcome to eachother.

Team news and we are as we were with just the one chance to the squad from the QPR game with Florin Gardos replacing Jason McCarthy on the bench where he was joined by Corky and Shane Long and in his last appearance before we find someone else who can do something apart from run in a straight line, Emmanuel Mayuka.

As was the trademark for Pochettino’s last team, Spurs started well and soon won a corner as Rose tried to manhandle his way past Tadic.  The corner was met by Vertonghen who looped a header towards goal but Bertrand easily cleared off the line.

Our first chance came on 8 minutes as we worked down the right hand side and Pellè crossed low.  Naughton played an airshot and the ball fell to Mané but the full back got back to block his sidefooted effort.  The next Saints chance came on 20 minutes as Mané isolated the Naughton and ran at him, crossing low and Morgan and Graziano managed to get in eachothers way so neither got a shot in and the ball bobbled through to Lloris in apologetic fashion.

I quite like Danny Rose as a player but he’s a horrible little shit and he proves it by cynically scything though Tadic and picking up a yellow card.  Ryan Bertand, who almost seems too nice at times, is a fraction late on Naughton on the other side and gets the same but Naughton is unlucky and can’t continue to be replaced by Dier.

When Spurs got the ball down they were looking dangerous and Lamela and Eriksen played a 1-2 to send Lamela running through our midfield.  A pot shot from 30 yards was tipped wide by Fraser down low to his left.  With Spurs getting up a bit of a head of steam, we needed our midfield to shut things down a bit but every time Big Vic went near a player and muscled him off the ball, Mike Jones’ whistle went and Spurs got a free kick.  We were getting penned in a bit and personally I was hoping we’d get to half time at 0-0 but sods law says that as soon as you start thinking that way, it all goes tits up.  Rose lobbed a ball forward, Adebayor controlled and turned and galloped down the left, into Chadli, out to Eriksen and bang, through Alderweireld’s legs, bottom corner, no chance for Fraser, 1-0, fuck off.  It’s a good goal to be fair though if you’re being hyper-critical you may think that Alderweireld should have thrown himself at Eriksen to try and block it.

There was no time to worry about that as we lost the ball upfield and they broke on us again and Chadli picked up an Adebayor pass, bundled past Fonte and was clean through on Fraser.  As he fired past him we all waited for the net to bulge but we got lucky as the ball smacked the inside of the post and came back out again.  Having survived that we won a free kick through Manè up the other end and Tadic had a go from 30 yards but though his effort was on target, Lloris got down to save.  Later replays showed that some pace was taken off the free kick by a handball on the edge of the wall.  Never mind ref!  Half time and 1-0 down and not really playing well.  The free kick at the end aside, our set pieces had been bloody awful and with Pellè getting no service whatsoever, it was hard to see where we’d get a goal from.

Saints started the second half well and on 51 minutes, Steve Davis played a ball to Tadic who put Mané through with just Kaboul in between him and Lloris.  Across came Kaboul and won the ball with a strong challenge which wasn’t a foul in my eyes but the ref gave it which was consistent in his approach to the Big Vic challenges earlier.  He’s the last man so he has to go surely but the ref only flashed a yellow card.  Unless the rules have changed and I’m not aware of it, a foul with no covering defender, stopping a goalscoring chance is a straight red card for fucks sake.  It’s a law of the game and there’s no interpretation necessary.  Another defender who may be able to intervene is the only interpretation that a ref can put on it, otherwise it’s black and white.  Kaboul is the last man, he’s fouled him, there’s no one else near, he has to go. Like I said, I don’t think it was even a foul but he has to go once the ref has deemed it as a foul.  Harsh or otherwise, he has to go.  Saints have a tendency (which I don’t particularly like) of surrounding the referee and making sure he’s aware of the issues surrounding a foul on one of our players but we weren’t here, possibly because it was soft.  Kaboul though, should be off the pitch and the ref should be held to account because he isn’t.  Needless to say, we fucked up the free kick.

Spurs aren’t attacking much but when they do they look dangerous, either through the pace of Chadli or though the fact that Fraser is having a bit of a mare and everything is bouncing off him including an Eriksen cross which thumps off his chest and bounces to safety.  Just after the hour mark and we’re gifted a chance to equalize as Pellè’s flick from a throw in goes to Kaboul who produces a shockingly shit volleyed slice along the ground to edge of the box and Big Vic steams in, connects well but it’s too close to Lloris who palms it aside so another major stroke of luck for Kaboul.

For twenty minutes we huff and puff without producing clear chances.  Ronald has thrown the dice and brought on Long for Big Vic and gone 4-4-2 but most of the action concerns Sadio Mané.  Firstly he takes on Eric Dier and goes down holding his face when he’s been caught in the chest.  I fucking hate that shit and I hope someone has a word.  You’ve won the free kick so don’t be a wanker and try to get someone sent off.  Shane Long puts Bertand away on the left and he fires in a wonderful low cross to the onrushing Mané who only has to make contact but his right footed effort barely makes contact from 6 yards out and instead of a certain goal conceded, Spurs have a goal kick.  Fucking hell it’s bad.  It isn’t happening today and all that did happen in the last 10 minutes was Tadic getting booked for fouling Danny Rose who has been kicking lumps out of Tadic all game.  Oh the irony.

And so it came to pass that our 6 game winning run came to an end.  Bugger.  It was an odd sort of game in truth with plenty of midfield scuffling and short on goalmouth incident.  On balance of play you might say a draw would have been a fair result but if pushed to pick one team or other that deserved to win, you’d have to say Spurs.  Against that you could point out that we didn’t get the rub regarding the refereeing with the Kaboul non-red card being the most obvious of a few decisions we didn’t get.  It’s about taking your chances though and Spurs scored when they were on top and we had a solid gold chance to equalize during our best spell and blew it horribly.

The most disappointing thing for me was that we knew exactly how Spurs were going to play as per Pochettino’s blueprint but we didn’t take a leaf out of the book of the teams who were decent against us last year.  We didn’t break quickly when we won the ball and we didn’t turn defence into attack quickly through accurate long balls to the wingers or Pellè.  Koeman tried something different by going 4-4-2 but in my opinion it should have been Davis who came off instead of Big Vic as the big man and Morgan can maintain dominance in midfield on their own and Davo is hardly a goal threat.

Ronald was left to defend Sadio Mané in his post match interview which he shouldn’t need to do and he had a little comment about the Anti-Pochettino chanting which will of course get sensationalised in every article you see written about the game.  Pochettino for his part said all the right things but that’s easy to do when you’ve won.  Also, he probably meant something else but the interpreter wasn’t around to make sure.  For what it’s worth I thought Spurs were bang average but to be fair to them, the stopped us from playing and found a way to win.  So, it’s 5 one goal defeats from 5 meetings with Spurs in the Premier League – bastards.  Rest assured that I still hate Spurs and Levy and I still desperately want to finish above them but today has shown me how difficult that might be. Sing yer own fucking song though you dicks.

You won’t get any doom and gloom from me.  We’ve had an off game and we still could have easily got a point from it and we’ve dropped down to 3rd in the Premier League table with Chelsea, Manchester City and North Devon United making up the top 4.  It’s not a bad place to be.  Next up is the international break and following that it’s another one of our bogey sides Sunderland at home.  We’ve failed to end the Spurs jinx but it’s certainly time too end the Sunderland one and it’ll have the added bonus of annoying that arsehole Poyet.

Keep the faith.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Premier League Game 6 - Southampton 2 QPR 1

Another bad day for 'Arry Ballsack

Ah Mr Redknapp – we’ve been expecting you...

Mr Redknapp is a bit predictable.  The last time he was in the Premier  League with QPR he decided in time honoured fashion to try and buy his way out of the relegation zone in the January transfer window, spunking millions up the wall on past-it mercenaries and giving them ridiculous length contracts on ridiculous money.  They got emphatically relegated.    Naturally, when a tactic has completely failed and you’ve nearly bankrupted the club, it makes perfect sense to make your first signing of the new season, a 35 year old Rio Ferdinand who was gone as a top level player about 3 years ago but propped up by the last knockings of Alex Ferguson’s reign at Old Trafford.  He was found out big time last year but ‘Arry still bought him…. Because he could.

Another sortie into the transfer marked have seen Steven Caulker arrive who got relegated with Cardiff last season.  He’s a decent centre half when paired with a quicker one so the partnership of him and Rio is always going to work out great.  Loic Remy has departed to Chelsea and he was the man who scored the winner in the last meeting at SMS when QPR came into the game as underdogs and left with the win.  This had better not happen today.

‘Arry can’t understand it of course but we all hate him.  In a year when two of our players were dreaming of Liverpool when they were still our players, it’s worth remembering that ‘Arry’s ‘heart was never in it’ when he was manager of Southampton and whilst he was still our manager, he got himself a job at Portsmouth.  Oh.... he made sure we got relegated first.  No doubt the way he’d see it was that he set in motion the chain of events that saw us rise to where we are now. 

Since the Arsenal game we’ve been basking in the glow of positive publicity and now we’ve got some more good news in that Toby Alderweireld is back in training.  The questions today are Mané or Long, Toby or Florin and which two out of Big Vic, Steve Davis or Corky.  Come 2pm we had the answers that Gardos had a knock and so Tony Autoharold started, Big Vic and Davo were in midfield with Morgan and Long was benched again in favour of Mané.  The bench saw Jason McCarthy for the first time and Harrison Reed was there in place of the injured JWP.  The 7th sub, as in the sub that will be put on the pitch after Kelvin Davis has been given a run in midfield, was Emmanuel Mayuka.  QPR include Ferdinand and Caulker but there was no place for Frank Lampard and Jermain Defoe even though their triffic top top players and surprisingly, Jamie Redknapp was left out as well.  He was probably at home playing the Wii with Rosie the Dog.

Aside from injury speculation, since the Arsenal game, the only story that had emerged about Saints was that the players asked Ronald Koeman to cancel their day off as the senior players (led by José Fonte) decided they would be better for it.  A seriously good touch by the players.  Could you imagine some of the old school players like Mick Channon or Jim Steele coming in voluntarily instead of having a day off?

Good old Twattenberg is refereeing us for the first time since he was cleared of any blame for the ‘Lallana has changed’ incident at Everton last year.  Vindicated he may be but he’s still a very dodgy ref.  We make a decent start and within 30 seconds, Tadic is playing Mané away on the left and his cross is held by Green.  A few minutes later and Pellè and Clyne combine to sent Tadic away on the right but his attempted lob is well smothered by the onrushing Green, who has started confidently.  We really need an England v USA 2010 performance from him.

The fast start that we’ve made is stopped dead as Sandro and Mané compete in a competition to see who has the hardest head and Sadio wins. Sandro is out cold and as it’s a head injury they can’t move him off the pitch and so five minutes later, we’re still waiting as he is helped back to his feet and goes off to be replaced by Karl Henry.

The game become bitty and fragmented and that was down the Twattenberg and his bright shiny whistle which he wanted to make sure everyone noticed.  QPR were having some possession in our half but nothing really dangerous.  Saints should really have taken the lead and wasted three good chances.  Firstly Tadic got a shot away from the edge of the box and was unlucky to see it bounced off of Caulker, beat Green and hit the post and bounce away.  Then Pellè got played into the inside right channel and went near post instead of far and smashed it wide in what has to be said, was a pretty poor effort.   QPR were carved open again in the same channel just before half time as a 1-2 between Morgan and Mané gave the Frenchman a chance which he sidefooted just wide and so we arrived at half time at 0-0.  We’ve been the better side by a mile and you can see why QPR are near the bottom but as it stands, they’re hanging in there.

The second half starts I much the same way as the first half ended with Saints on top.  Mané tricks his way through and scuffs a shot at Green.  Ten minutes are gone and QPR are looking comfortable until Rio Ferdinand chips a horrible, casual, aimless ball into the midfield and it’s picked off by Morgan who feeds Tadic.  His cross is overhit and behind Mané but the new guy retrieves it, waits for Bertrand’s run and backheels it to him through the defenders legs.  Bertrand runs on and smashes it low and hard, under Green and into the net and the deadlock is broken and our other full back has scored, something that last years left back never managed to do.

Hoilett is on for QPR but Saints are looking for a second with Mané playing through Pellè on the left and his pull back is flashed at by Davis but the ball breaks to Tadic who is too close to Green who deflects it over the bar as Tadic tries to scoop it over him.  We nearly scored from the resulting corner through Graziano but out of nowhere, our profligacy in front of goal comes back to bite us in the arse as Hoilett cuts in from the left and feeds Vargas whose cross is brilliantly controlled by Austin who swivels and buries the volley.  Bollocks and is ‘Arry going to do us again?

Almost immediately, Shane Long is on for Mané and his first involvement is to cut inside and hit over a cross. Tadic heads it down and Graziano flicks it up before it bounces and overhead scissor kicks it over Green and into the far corner.  It’s fair to say that we went fucking mental.  What a goal.  Theirs was good, ours was better and you’re not singing any more is repeated back at the QPR fans tenfold.

Corky is on for Big Vic who has been magnificent today and Saints are hell bent on putting the game to bed.  Long is a pest down the right and robs Traore.  His cross is half cleared to Davis to curls a beautiful left footed shot past Green and smashing into the post.  Back come QPR and Austin should have done better with a free header but put it wide and it’s end to end as Davis slides Long clean through cutting in from the left but his finish is piss poor when 1v1 with Green and is more like a back pass.

Bobby Zamora, another relic on a fortune per week is on and QPR resort to hoofing it up to him and to be fair, it’s working.  He’s giving Alderweireld and Fonte a hard time and the ball is dropping down and in the absence of Big Vic, no one is picking it up.  It’s allowing Kranjcar to get on the ball in the dangerous areas and he’s their best player by a mile.  Graziano goes back to help out and does the opposite by bringing down the Croat who goes down like a sack of shit and Twattenberg buys it.  Up steps Kranjcar and it’s over the wall and crashing down off the bar and we’re all mighty relieved as Caulker gets to the rebound but can only loop it over the empty goal.

Up the other end we go and Hoilett decides to shoulder barge Tadic in the chest and give us a free kick in the same position as the one QPR just had.  Dusan is obviously told to leave it by Davis after an earlier piss poor effort and the Northern Irishman curls it over the wall and inches wide of the near post at crossbar height.  QPR are done now and leaving gaps all over the place and Tadic breaks away on the left onto Corky’s return pass and smashes his shot against the near post and away again before being replaced by Matt Targett who is making his league debut.  He slots in on the left, we waste a bit of time and Twattenberg brings the game to a close.

Tough game but another win to maintain our ridiculous 2nd place in the league table.  We made heavy weather of beating a very average QPR side but it’s all about the end result.  On another day, with more clinical finishing, it could easily have been 4 or 5-1 but 2-1 is more than adequate.  Goal of the month should be interesting this month as our last three games have seen screamers from Big Vic and Clyney and now Graziano tops the lot with today’s effort.  It’s a fantastic effort and the guy just seems to be getting better and better with a place in the next Italian squad beckoning.  As if being 6 foot 4, Italian and beautiful with a model girlfriend isn’t enough... he can also score overhead kicks to win a game in the Premier League.  Hasn’t got much going for him has he?

The goal is going to take all the headlines but for me, the stars of the show were Steven Davis, Big Vic and Sadio Mané.  Vic and Davo were everywhere in midfield, constantly winning the ball back and along with Morgan, forming an excellent midfield unit.  Steve Davis of course didn’t score again but at least today it was down to a bit of misfortune rather than crap finishing.  We notably looked more dodgy defensively when Vic went off as Corky wasn’t quite at the races when QPR started going Route 1 up to Zamora.  Sadio is going to frustrate at times but the unpredictability he brings is going to create a lot of openings for us.  He seems to have a brain as well as being quick which is good because as we well know, just being quick like Mayuka or Papa Waigo, really isn’t enough.

Ronald Koeman is finding this ‘managing in the Premier League’ lark really easy and his post match interviews  are all running to the same template.  He talks about his surprise at our great start and then talks about the latest worldy which has flown into the opposition net.  Hopefully the post-match interviews will run to the same template for a quite a while yet.

I think part of the problem with QPR is them trying to score in the specified minute of a game to make ‘Arry’s bets come up trumps.   His post match interview was along the lines of... “Charlie Facking Austin, don’t give me Charlie Facking Austin... I facking had him to score in the 72nd minute, not the facking 71st.... ‘ave a facking word saaaan. ... I mean Rio (twitch), great professional, great lad... gave the ball away....as instructed for their first goal but Pele, not bad for 72 with Viagra.... (twitch) nice goal saan, triffic, gave ‘im ‘is break at West ‘Am in the 80s, top top player,  like Trevor Brooking – he’s 60 but ‘ees a triffic pro, fit as a fiddle and I’ve offered him ‘undred grand a week... ee can still do a job.  I’m off to Sandbanks with Rosie the dog that I aven’t got and a text message from Steve G on the phone I don’t know how to use... (twitch) just me, Sandra, Jamie and the Wii and Louise made the tea saaan, triffic”.

Redknapp’s actual reaction was fair enough in that he talked up the world class goal and then it was all ifs, buts and maybe’s about QPR’s prospects.  He seemed a bit down did ‘Arry.  I’d feel a bit sorry for him if I didn’t think he was a complete helmet.

Next up we have a rather tasty trip to White Hart Lane.  Forgetting the dishonourable shitbag they have as manager for a moment, we really owe Spurs one.  4 games in the Premier League since we got back and we haven’t even got a point yet.  Two one-man-team-Bale defeats, a Gazzaniga / Hooiveld production and a capitulation from 2-0 up.  This is the one where that changes.  With Pochettino in charge, we know exactly how Spurs are going to play and we will know how to counteract it buy turning defence into attack quickly, either through the pace of Sadio Mané or by going more direct up to Graziano Pellè.  After an indifferent start to the season, a defeat at the hands of Southampton at White Hart Lane could see the notoriously fickle Spurs fans start to show some dissent at Levy’s latest manager.  We’ve put one former manager in his place this week and next week I quite fancy us to do the same again.

Mr Redknapp, you can leave now...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Capital One Cup 3rd Round - Arsenal 1 Southampton 2

Bastards! They Didn't Play Their Kids for Me to Look At

The Carling Cup has in living memory, been a glorified Reserves competition for the big clubs and for the last few seasons, we’ve been treating it as that was as well.  Pochettino certainly didn’t give a shit about any cup competition and the same was true of Nigel Adkins before him.  Maybe it was a Cortese thing but whatever the reason in the past, Ronald Koeman showed against Millwall that we are going to have a right go at it.  This new intent from the club has been noted by the fans and hence, we have 5200 people in the Emirates tonight.  It has to be said though that prices of a tenner a ticket which I assume had to be agreed with Arsenal have definitely played their part so fair play to both clubs.

I started guessing who Wenger would put in his side by looking at their squad.  How ridiculous is it that a club with that much money and resources and 100 consecutive years of Champions League qualification can only have 6 defenders.  I can’t think of any outside of Debuchy, Mertersacker, Koscielny, Gibbs, Monreal and Chambers.  Wenger has obviously done marvellous things as Arsenal manager but that is bordering on the negligent, rivalled only by the situation at Old Trafford.  Anyhow, with Debuchy being injured as well I really can’t see too many of the first choice defenders being picked.  Maybe a couple of the 400 attacking midfielders they have can fill the void – there’s an opportunity for us here.

Sadio Mane is picked to start and forms a front 3 with Pelle and Tadic with the prolific Big Vic recalled to partner Morgan and Steve Davis in midfield.  The defence sees Matty Targett picked instead of Bertrand and Florin Gardos comes in to partner Jose as Maya is still recovering from the Bony assaults at the weekend. The Master Child Catcher has caught some children from elsewhere other than Saints and they are all in the defence as predicted, along with Calum Chambers who I wish well in his Arsenal career but I hope he’s complete shit tonight.  Wenger’s defender issue has at least given him an opportunity to play a few games for his new club, unlike some of our other dearly departeds.  There are familiar international names elsewhere though with Wilshere, Sanchez, Rosicky, Diaby & Podolski, along with World Cup stars Ospina and Campbell.

It’s a fairly open game from the start and we carve out a great chance as Pelle knocks down to Tadic who clips a lovely ball into Davis who has broken from the midfield.  He gets there before the keeper but just pokes it at him and the chance has gone.  To me, he should have done better having got to the ball first but never mind.

Arsenal have some serious players up front and in midfield and look dangerous when they get the ball in and around our defenders.  Wilshere and Sanchez combine before Sanchez is breathed on by Fonte and hits the deck.  The ref buys it and the free kick is about 20 yards out, just to the left of centre, up steps Sanchez and curls it over the wall and into the top corner.  All Fraser can do it wave it goodbye.  It’s a brilliant free kick but it pisses me off that the decision is soft to say the least.  It’s also worrying for the rest of the game because you know Arsenal’s little midfielders are going to be diving around everywhere.

Sadio Mane has had a few darts at Coquelin at left back but he switches sides to have a run at Bellerin at right back who looks about 12.  Arsenal’s Academy players come from two sources, abroad or from Southampton.  Targett and Davis get the ball out to Mane who runs at Bellerin from the left wing and the youngster does well and stops him getting to the line.  Mane tries to head across the box and is heading away from goal when Rosicky comes flying in and catches him. Down he goes in slightly theatrical fashion and penalty given.   Definite foul regardless.  Rosicky is making that wasp chewing face and is waving his arms about but he hasn’t got any cause to, other than at his own stupidity.  Dusan Tadic is on the penalties and he calmly puts it down the middle as Ospina dives out of the way.  I must admit that I prefer the Lambert style of penalties where you’ve got a 99% chance of a goal even if the keeper goes the right way but it’ll do for now.

I like Alexis Sanchez.  He’s a great player and was marvellous for Chile in the World Cup but in my mind he goes from that to being a complete twat and figure of hate with one wave of an imaginary yellow card.  Big Vic has clattered him to be fair but keep your imaginary cards in your pocket you fucking twat.  The real yellow card comes out for Vic and the big man is going to have to be very careful from now on.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, imaginary card waving should get you a yellow card straight away.

Saints are creating the better chances still and Targett feeds Pelle who superbly puts Mane in again behind Bellerin but the ball seems to get stuck under his feet and Bellerin gets back to clear.  There’s another decent chance for us as Tadic runs at the right hand side of the defence.  The ball gets away from him but an Arsenal clearance hit Clyne on the knee and bounces loose to Pelle who turns and hits it an instant and grazes the outside of the post.

Our midfield are absolutely bossing it in there and feeding Mane whenever they can.  Another attacking run from the wide man wins us a corner and Tadic’ kick from the left is nodded clear by Chambers to Clyne.  He’s 40 yards out, one touch to control and bang!  GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAL!!! He’s absolutely leathered it and Ospina has no chance as he shifts his weight the wrong way and it rips past him into the roof of the net.  What a fucking goal. Have some of that then.

The most pressing task is to get back to the dressing room 2-1 in front and we have a good go at not doing that as Sanchez plays Podolski in but he goes near post and Fraser calmly deflects it away with his forearm.  One does not simply beat Forster at the near post.  The corner is shite and over everyone and so we are deservedly leading.

The question of whether we’d try and soak up pressure or go for a third goal is answered straight away in the second half as Mane releases Targett with a superb backheel and he swings it over to Tadic on the right who cushions a cross behind Pelle and Davis comes steaming in but hits it straight at Ospina.  Again, the ginger master of the baize really should have scored.

It’s all Saints again and Arsenal are beginning to show signs of desperation in appealing for a penalty as Campbell hits the deck having been brushed by Fonte.  Even though it’s never a foul in a million years, when you’re away at a Big 4 club, it’s always a relief when the ref actually doesn’t give something.  He give us a free kick however when Diaby has a shocking first touch, Mane nips in and Diaby hoofs him up in the air and truly looks like a player who is not in control of his legs.  The free kick is roughly from where Sanchez scored from and though Tadic beats the wall with a low drive, Ospina get across to save well.

Wenger is getting a bit frustrated on the sidelines.  The John Cleese silly walks are coming out and so are some big guns from the bench as Cazorla and Chamberlain come on, the latter to a largely positive reception.  Their arrival coincides with a bit of Arsenal pressure and Bellerin gets away on the right and crosses into Sanchez who toe pokes it but the ball hits The Bohemoth in the chest and is cleared.  Cazorla might be good going forward but he’s a liability if there’s a tackle for him to win and Tadic does him completely with a turn and we’re away again as the ball moves to Davis, to Pelle and finally to Mane on the left who shoots across the goal and it looks close but it goes for a throw so it can’t have been really.  It’s more or less the last contribution from the new man as he’s substituted and Shane Long comes on to basically be annoying.

Chamberlain makes his one positive contribution and skins Targett who seems to pull up but Fonte reads the cross beautifully to clear.  The biggest threat to us is that the ref is going to fall for a dive and Rosicky flops over an imaginary leg and buys one which luckily they waste with Gardos clearing.  There is classic Jack Wilshere a minute later as he runs headlong at the defence, knocks the ball too far and then launches himself into Fonte and dives on the floor.  He’s a little twat and the ref should book him but of course, instead of that he gives Arsenal a free kick right on the edge of the box.  If he’s dived a bit further they’d have had a penalty I assume.  Luckily it’s a bit too close and Sanchez can’t get it over the giant Pelle and Gardos section of the wall.

We should make the game safe with a great break down the left.  Steve Davis and Graziano combine to feed Tadic in the middle and he should step over it or poke it to the totally unmarked Shane Long but he seems to get caught in two minds, gets tackled and a great chance is lost.  We have another great chance as we win a corner and Davis swings it over.  It’s a totally free header for Graziano from 10 yards and he rises superbly and heads it over the fucking bar.  I’m sorry but that has to go in. Fuck.

The clearly struggling Targett has had a magnificent game but he’s cramped up and Bertrand is on.  I’m sure Matty was taking the piss a little bit but getting booked for not limping off quick enough is a bit harsh.  90 minutes are up and you just know that as we’re away at a big club that it’s gonna be at least 4 minutes despite there being no stoppages and sure enough it is 4.  Wanting the make sure that Arsenal have the maximum opportunity to equalize, the ref manages to book Fraser for time wasting and then rightly books Pelle for running back 30 yards just to grab an Arsenal midfielder round the shoulders.  We are in truth the only team who looks like scoring again and a Tadic break down the left results in a cross which cuts out the keeper but Long arrives just after the ball flies past and careers into the net.

The generous 4 minutes of injury time were up and then we had 90 seconds more but finally the ref got fed up with waiting for Arsenal to score and blew the whistle to confirm our first win at the Emirates and our first win away to Arsenal for donkeys. Marvellous stuff and totally deserved.  These are great days and every game seems to bring new positives to the table.  Today it was the exciting debut of Sadio Mane who though he gets shoved off the ball a bit easily, proved to be a right handful and seems to have a speed of though and movement which is going to hopefully means he doesn’t turn out to be another Mayuka.  It was also a full debut for Florin Gardos who was playing against Sanchez who cost £35 million and Podolski who has about 50 goals for Germany.  He played with a real air of calmness about him and didn’t seem rattled at all, brought the ball out comfortably and really looked the part.  With Toby Alderweireld also competing for a place at centre back, we can confidently say “off you fuck, Dejan”.  We got both of those players for about 60% of what Liverpool gave us for Lovren.

The defending as a whole was superb but the game was won in midfield where Morgan, Big Vic and Steve Davis were magnificent.  Big Vic in particular played well after his booking to ensure he didn’t give any Arsenal players a chance to dive and get him sent off and he looks more of an all-round midfielder, now he’s not limited to instructions which were basically “sit in front of the centre backs and don’t move”.  My only gripe is that we should have scored more as there was some wasteful finishing from Pelle and Davis and some chances butchered with a poor final ball.  Davis gets in positions to score 10 goals a season but his finishing is woeful.  The approach play to set up the chances though was excellent with Tadic at the heart of most things but Pelle is looking more at home as an attacking spearhead with every game.

Oddly, the two main ‘Meltdown’ merchants in the media, Neil Ashton and Ben Smith, both chose tonight to break with their usual bollockspeak and give Saints some praise.  To be honest, you can’t help but praise the start to the season we have made.  A win at Arsenal, albeit a rotated Arsenal, will make even a blind man see it appears.  Wenger gave Saints credit too which I felt was genuine but it also deflects any criticism away from him for disrespecting another cup competition and away from his players who in the main, didn’t do it tonight.  I’m sure there will be plenty saying Arsenal had a weak line up and all that shit but it’s Arsene Wenger’s fault that he has no reserve defenders who have any experience.   Him moaning about us committing fouls in midfield is a bit rich when all his midfielders do is dive about like little bitches to try and cheat free kicks out of referees.  They don’t need to do that as the players concerned are all better than that. He's probably just pissed off that with the exception of Matt Targett, we didn't have a team full of youngsters for him too salivate over.

Ronald Koeman was obviously delighted with the win and the performances of Targett and Mane and with the team as a whole but most pleasing for me was the insistence of ‘feet on the ground’ for the QPR game on Saturday.  Ronald knows that no one wants to lose to that twitchy bastard.  

And what about ‘that’ goal.  I’m sure Clyney will get picked for England now as the goal will be reshown everywhere and everyone will be talking about him.  In truth, the goal should make no difference to whether he gets in the England squad or not.  He’s the best right back we have by miles and that was true before and after the goal.  What a fucking goal though.  There is nothing quite like the ball hitting the roof of the net from miles out and a goalkeeper lying on his back, wondering what the fuck just happened.

So into the last 16 and the draw is being made tonight.  (Stop Press: We got a shite draw away at Stoke).  A bit of bad news came through that JWP has a fracture in his foot and is likely to be out for 10 weeks which is a bummer but on the upside, we have players to cover that position and it’ll maybe give Harrison Reed a chance to join the 18 and step up.  Now it’s back to the Premier League and come to us you twitchy bastard and bring Rio Ferdinand with you and let’s see what he’s like with Sadio running at him.  Come on You Reds!!!