Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Premier League Match 16 - Southampton 1 Arsenal 1

Save This You Bastard
It’s Sunday, it’s stupid o’clock and it must therefore be a Saints match moved for TV, this time BT Sport.  Luckily, the clash with the under 14s team that I help run was averted by our pitch being underwater. Happy days, sort of.

Arsène Wenger has been manager of Arsenal since the 17th century and after the apocalypse and the destruction of the human race, all that will be left are cockroaches and Arsene Wenger who will still be the manager of Arsenal. They are going to finish fourth or fifth this year and next year is going to be the shit storm because Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will both have left. Having said it will be shit storm, I do wonder how much they will actually miss two players who are brilliant on the day but on other days, don’t seem to give a shit.

The main thing I’ve noticed from the world of football since our last game is Eddie Howe. Of course he spent all the post match from the game against Saints shitting on about the penalty when Adam Smith clearly dived.  He shat on about the apology they got from the ref who probably only apologised to stop Eddie’s moaning cos he wanted to go home.  They played against Crystal Palace yesterday and had two penalties awarded against them. The second one was missed but Eddie is still shitting on about it as according to him it shouldn’t have been awarded. Shut the fuck up Eddie you boring little twat. Unless you’re going to talk about the ones that should’ve been given against your team like Josh King’s assault on Wesley Hoedt at every single corner we had last week, then shut the fuck up.

So it’s the usual drill and I’m on the Itchen Bridge and I check my phone to see what the line-up is. I’m reading the 11 names and I’m thinking ‘what the fuck is he doing?’.  The surprise names are Stephens (who hasn’t even made the bench for the past few weeks) and Yoshida and the surprise omissions are Hoedt, Lemina and Boufal and to a lesser extent Jeremy Pied. Pied’s omission means there is no recognised right back in the 11 so who the fuck is playing there? If it’s 4 at the back then I guess it could be Stephens or Yoshida. If it’s five at the back then I guess it could be JWP. Either way, we are going to have someone playing out of position in the area of the pitch that Alexis Sánchez plays in. Okay then.

During the warm up I notice that the shooting drill is going on and with Austin, Tadic and Redmond are JWP and Bertrand which tells me that they’re going to be the wing backs or else why would they be there – so it’s obviously 3 at the back which will be our default formation against strong sides.

We start well and Arsenal look all over the place.  They’ve bought in Mertesackofshit to bolster their defence and he’s scuffs a dreadful clearance straight to Austin.  He plays it first time up to Tadic and he holds off mertesacker who falls over and slips a reverse ball back to Austin who controls and lifts it over Cech and into the net. 1-0, fucking easy and any complaints about Pellegrino’s line up can wait for a bit.

We’re all over them again straight away and Stephens plays a decent ball up to Tadic and once again, it’s a lovely turn and pass through to Austin running in from the right.  He pulls the trigger but Cech gets down well to save low down to his right.  Balls.  Another chance comes as Arsenal gift possession to Redmond and Austin brings another save from Cech but he was offside anyway.

We’re playing some fabulous stuff with Hojbjerg and Romeu ruling the roost in midfield against the shit Xhaka and the Ramsey, the rat faced little twat who is still presumably making videos about England failing to qualify for the World Cup… oh no that was Wales wasn’t it.  Away we go down the left with Bertrand and it’s a great low ball behind the defenders and Austin connects again and once more Cech saves, this time onto the post and away.  Needless to say, Austin was offside again so it wouldn’t have counted.

Arsenal have done nothing but then an overhit corner from JWP puts them away and it’s scary as it’s 3 on 1 at the back for us.  Luckily, the golden trio of Sanchez, Lacazette and Ozil combine to fuck it up and Hojbjerg makes it back to knock it out for a corner.  This boy really wants to stay in the team.

Now it’s all Arsenal with us defending deep with 11 players and Arsenal playing it around the edge of the box and not getting anywhere.  The concentration breaks though and Sanchez comes to our left and plays in a ball to Ramsey and the twat hits it well first time and it’s heading for the bottom corner but Fraser gets down with a strong left hand to push it out.  World class save right there.

We’re still only 20 minutes into the game and the rest of the first half is Arsenal attacking and keeping possession between the half way line and the edge of our penalty area.  They’re really not doing much.  On one occasion when they do get into the box, Lacazette

You know that the 2nd half is going to start much the same.  Wenger will stubbornly carry on the same way and Pellegrino will want more of the same from us as well.  The frist action of note is on 53 when Bertrand wins the ball in defence and we’re off with Redmond carrying the ball forward, playing a 1-2 with Tadic and then taking aim from distance only to smash it straight down Cech’s throat.

They’re having possession but we’re looking the more dangerous and a great passing move featuring Romeu, Hojbjerg, Bertrand and Austin ends with Romeu taking aim from 20 yards and Cech watching on as the ball pinged off the bar and over.  Yet another great chance is forthcoming not long after we break again with Bertrand finding Tadic and the Serb once more finding a ball back to the person who gave it to him and Bertrand holds of Koscielny and is suddenly through but as Cech comes out he dinks it over him but I’m sat directly behind the path of the ball and can see it going wide.  If he was a striker you’d go ‘wanker’ but the general mood is ‘oooh unlucky’.  We’re going to bastard well pay for these misses aren’t we.

Arsenal’s pressure is always going to lead to some chances and Monreal drills wide after a corner is cleared and Arsene decides what the game needs is a diving little twat to run into the nearest player and throw himself to the floor whilst he turns to the ref and throws his arms in the air appealing for a free kick.  Yes, it’s Jack Wilshere who takes the place of Granit Xhaka, named after a rock because he moves as quick as one.  Pellegrino’s first roll of the dice is to take of Redmond who has been pretty desperate and bring on Boufal who immediately starts committing defenders.

Up the other end Wilshere has a dive and a rant and gets nothing so the next time he tries it, Romeu hits him with a ‘this is a proper foul you little twat’ and bins him.  It’s 25 yards out and Sanchez is over it and it’s a throwback to The Emirates a year ago as it arrows over the wall and towards the top corner but Fraser’s footwork is good and he gets across to punch it away quite comfortably.  Can we do this?  Welbeck is on and so is bloody Giroud.  It strikes me that we should bring Hoedt on at this point but we don’t , we bring on Gabbiadini for the clearly blowing Austin and guess what happens with 3 minutes to go.

Sanchez who has done nothing all game finds himself out on our right and a couple of spaces buys him a yard and he clips it into the box to where Giroud loses Yoshida and before Virgil can react, he’s flicked a header just inside the post.  Fuck off!!!

We have no real time to do anything and it seems that both sides immediately settle for a point.  Steve Davis comes on for Tadic but there’s nothing of note in the last few minutes and so the points are shared.

And bollocks. A point against one of the big boys is never to be sniffed at but when you’ve been ahead for 85 minutes it is a little bit hard to take. The bottom line is that we should have buried them in the first 15 minutes and we missed chances throughout the game to win it. They really only created the one chance at the other end other than their goal but they managed to get a point from it.

With Yoshida and Stephens in the team, we were always going to be susceptible once they sent Giroud and Welbeck and it was a great header by the Frenchman as he ghosted in between Maya and Virgil and perfectly flicked a header into the corner. Suave good looking French bastard. The only thing at this current Arsenal side has in common with the good Arsenal sides of Wenger’s first eight years is the fact that they are called Arsenal. That’s it. Cech is still a superb goalkeeper as he proved today but there really wasn’t much else. The much vaunted front three of Ozil, Sanchez and Lacazette didn’t really do much. Sanchez pissed around and eventually chipped aimless balls into the box.  Ozil came alive are occasionally butand you can see why they get so frustrated with him and Lacazette did absolutely nothing. It was a shame that Wenger recognised this because if he’d left like it was out there and there is no way that Arsenal would’ve scored. Still it was good to see our old boys Theo Walcott and Calum Chambers playing for Arsenal, only they weren’t playing for Arsenal and they weren’t even on the fucking bench. In Walcott’s defence, he has just fallen out of favour. Chambers was never in favour but he still signed his new contract and he still doing fuck all with his career like the total Oxlade-Chamberlain waste of space that he is.

I have to begrudgingly admit that Pellegrino’s selection in the main worked. The three at the back worked well against Arsenal diminutive strike force but maybe it would’ve been good to have kept a substitute in hand and shoved Wesley on when Giroud came on.   Pierre Hojbjerg was man of the match without a doubt and you would think it would be really hard to Pellegrino to leave him out of the next game but don’t be surprised if he does. He is managing to leave Mario Lemina out of the starting line-up at the moment so anything is possible. The one thing that Pellegrino definitely got wrong was the selection of Nathan Redmond over Sofiane Boufal. Sure Redmond works hard defensively but whenever he got the ball he had absolutely no fucking idea what to do with it. If he had a choice of 20 options and only one of them was wrong, Redmond would pick that one.  He played well on the right against Bournemouth so just maybe playing the right footed winger on the right is the answer.  As I’ve said before, I know that this theory is a bit wild and out there.  I also know that Pep Guardiola thinks he’s a great player but the insane one would not have been impressed today.  Mind you, that is certifiable so maybe he would’ve thought the opposite.

A word from Dusan Tadic. I am not his biggest fan and after 18 months I feel that it’s about time we got some performances out of him and today he was right on it, causing all sorts of problems for the Arsenal defence. I do hope that Pellegrino perseveres with only playing one out of Tadic and Steve Davis. Tadic would’ve had more than one assist today if it wasn’t for Charlie Austin‘s tendency to be offside. Long may continue though and hopefully Austin can bring the best out of Tadic like a Graziano Pellé used to.

Other stand outs today include Fraser who was superb throughout, especially the save low to his left outside which was world class. He was also coming out for crosses as well and catching them all and he must be doing something right because the moron show have canned the ironic clapping and cheering.. I thought JWP did okay in an unfamiliar position. There were times when he drifted inside and the player on the ball had no option out wide on the right but he performed his defensive duties well in the main and it’s always good to have them on the pitch for set pieces. Jack Stephens again showed was composed player he is and three at the back formation really suits him.

Virgil - I don’t know. I find myself looking for mistakes from him now for signs that he doesn’t actually give a shit and today was one of those games where I thought it was sloppy.  He has got a lot of quality obviously so when he’s taking a free kick and it goes straight off for a goal kick and there is no Saints player within 30 yards of it, I wonder if he’s actually giving a shit.

Next up we have a visit of Claude Puel and Leicester City. Claude seems to have found a way of harnessing Leicester’s good attacking players which is mildly irritating because he never managed it with us. Maybe he’s just got better attacking players now. Anyway, the whole of the football world outside of Southampton who saw his sacking as being very harsh will be hoping that Leicester win . In the context of the run of fixtures that we have, this one is of course one of the more winnable ones, so we have to be at it from the first whistle and Pellegrino has to get his selection right. Boufal has to play and I would suggest that Lemina has to play as well. Bring it on.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Premier League Match 15 - Bournemouth 1 Southampton 1

Calm Down

Bournemouth away and another stupid Sunday kick off, this time at 1:30.  A short trip through The New Forest to the Vitality Dean Court Subbuteo Tiny Shit Small Ground which holds 11,000 people. Slightly surprisingly in this age of Financial Fair play that they can afford £20 million for defender and £20 million a week for Jermain Defoe’s pension fund. The good news for Jermain is that Bournemouth is full of old people and the funny smell around the town is the unmistakable musk of piss and Werther‘s Original‘s.

Regardless of the huge amounts of money that they’ve spunked up the wall, Eddie Howe has to be praised for the job that he’s done in keeping them up for two seasons and to be fair, it would be a shock if they didn’t stay up the season as well. I don’t see them progressing much from last season despite the investments they’ve made but they have too much to struggle near the bottom with the real shite of the division.

The FA did eventually decided that Pep Guardiola should probably be sectioned, or at least that he had a case to answer for the Nathan Redmond thing and so the FA charged him, probably because representatives from Manchester United on the FA Committee kicked up a stink about the fact that Mourinho only has the fart out of place and he gets charged and a touchline ban. I haven’t seen the outcome of any enquiry into Guardiola and his behaviour, but I would be willing to bet my house on the fact that fuck all will happen. The guy clearly thinks he’s a legend and the FA will clearly agree with that and as he hasn’t done anything to seriously piss them off in the past, he will get away with it, sure as Lukaku can volley Brighton player twice and not get banned.

Away from domestic football, we had the draw for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with England getting about as good a draw as they could possibly have got, being in a group with Belgium, Tunisia and Panama. It will be interesting to see how we can fuck that one up. I haven’t even looked at who we are likely to play in the next round if we finished second in that group because as you know with England, it never pays to think too far ahead.

So having had a good performance against Everton and having changed half the team and had a good performance against Manchester City, what would Pellegrino do today Well, I could kind of understand it but I wasn’t particularly impressed with the line-up. First of all, Charlie Austin was picked as a striker which absolutely had to happen. Behind him, Sofiane Boufal came back in as did Dusan Tadic and JWP. Then the issue that I wasn’t too impressed with. The two defensive midfielders were Oriol Romeu which is fair enough and the other was Steve Davis. No, just no. With Lemina and Hojbjerg both available, there is absolutely no way that Steve Davis should be picked in that position. To me it has to be probably one out of Davis or Tadic else we have not enough tacklers or not enough pace in the side. We reverted to a back four with Jeremy Pied coming in for the injured Cedric and big Wes was preferred to Yoshida.

We start the game on the front foot and are moving the ball quickly and looking dangerous with Boufal linking up with Bertrand and he played a great ball outside the full back to Tadic whose pull back towards Austin was poked clear by the lunging Ake.  With Pied playing his first game for a while it was going to be interesting to see if the delivery from the right was any good and the first chance he got was when Virgil strode out of defence and gave Pied loads to time and space to pick out a player but he expertly picked out the first defender though we did at least get a corner out of it.  Seeing as it was from the right, Tadic swung it over instead of JWP and up went Virgil with a free header and it slid off his head and just wide.  Shit – has to hit the target there.
We react to the near miss by sitting back and allowing Bournemouth to get a foothold.  I have no idea why we do this but we do and are lucky not to go one down as a cross from the left finds Smith on the right and his shot is deflected goalwards by Defoe and Fraser flinches up an arm and it pings off him for a corner.  Miracle save to be honest seeing how quickly the ball was moving and how close Defoe was.  From the corner, Ake gets in front of Pied and heads goalwards only for Fraser to parry it out and we get it away.

From the next corner Bournemouth win, it’s worked short to Smith and he runs into the box, toes it away from Boufal’s lunge and goes over.  Shit, that looks like a penalty, but the referee Jon Moss has given it as a dive and booked him and Defoe for arguing.  I’m watching on TV and the first replay looks like a foul but the second shows he’s on his way down before the tackle so spot on ref.

Serves You Right You Rat-Faced Cheating Fucker

Meanwhile, we decide that it might be good to get the ball up their end for a bit and JWP fires over a superb cross but Austin’s header is saved by Begovic and bounces down to Tadic whose shot is blocked by Francis’ elbow at close range.  All our players are appealing but no chance lads.  There would have been zimmer frames all over the pitch if that had been given having not giving the Smith one.

Having briefly been positive and having an attack, it’s back to defending and Hoedt makes a mess of a header and it rolls to Daniels who absolutely creams it with the outside of his left foot and it doesn’t miss the top corner by very much.  Hoedt’s dodgy few minutes gets worse as Davis needlessly gives him the ball when he could have gone forward but then Hoedt fucks around trying to beat King, loses the ball and Bournemouth work it from King to Surman to Fraser and with Pied nowhere near him, he drills it into the net.  Pathetic and that’s all she wrote until half time.  It’s bloody ridiculous – we are clearly better than them individually but we’ve allowed them to dominate the last 20 minutes – why?

The second half sees Pellegrino basically admit he got the selection wrong but it’s not Lemina coming on but Redmond for JWP.  Maybe Guardiola’s one call for the day from the Asylum has been to Mauricio, telling to put his man on.  Anyway, we start well with Boufal working a shooting chance on the left and Begovic saving well low down.  We have a go at being out of the game when some shambolic defending by half our team where no one gets a foot to the ball ends with King scuffing a shot across the goal and Stanislas being unable to turn it in at the back stick.

It’s a temporary foray for Bournemouth though as it’s all Saints now. A neat 1-2 between Bertrand a Boufal sees Austin get an effort on goal and saved by Begovic and another spot of pinball, this time in their box and Tadic’ shot deflected over the bar by Francis.  The corner is half cleared and Lewis Cook tries to run it out of defence but he’s hunted down by Romeu who takes the ball and feeds Redmond on the right and his low cross is expertly drilled low into the net by Austin.  His celebration of goading the Bournemouth fans to calm down was really quite funny – it was as funny as they are pathetic so yes, very funny.

Bournemouth fans Fuming at Austin

He should have been able to bring the celebration out again two minutes later as Boufal put Bertrand away and for once, there was no quality on Berty’s deliver and it neither threatened to goal nor connected with Austin who was in space and 6 yards out.

Lemina in on for Tadic but he goes deep and Davo is pushed forward.  Straight afterwards we have a scare when King shoots and Fraser again parries out and it hits Wilson and bounces wide.  Wilson has come on for Defoe who has done the square root of fuck all.  It should be the winner…. Romeu feeds Boufal who plays a superbly weighted ball to Bertrand on the left and he reaches it at full pelt as it reaches the goal line and the cross is met by Austin at the near post but he thumps it just over.  Fuck… needed a bit more of a deft one like the first against Everton.  Nothing much happens in the 3 extra minutes with the only real chance coming with the last kick as Smith’s corner is met by Ake who no one has bothered to mark but he gets it all wrong and heads miles over.

Final whistle and I can’t help but be a little bit disappointed that we didn’t win it but over the 90 minutes you have to say it was probably a fair result. Personally, I really don’t think Bournemouth are very good and if we played the whole game on the front foot like we played the second half then this game was there for the taking. To me, though they had a few chances, Bournemouth didn’t ever look likely to score unless we fucking handed it to them and sure as shit, that’s what we did with Wesley Hoedt paying the price for overconfidence. Having said that, Fraser Forster produced one of his worldy saves to keep out Defoe’s close range effort when he deflected a shot with his zimmer frame. The ridiculousness of Bournemouth giving a three or four year contract to an ageing Jermaine Defoe looks ridiculous at the moment. He was very very average today before he got substituted.

We had the Adam Smith penalty incident in the first half which got everybody talking and mostly talking bollocks.  I’m sorry, whatever you pundits say, that was a big horrible fucking dive and he totally deserve to get booked. What the fuck the referee’s doing allegedly apologising to him afterwards is beyond me. He was on his way down well before Boufal got there and though it was a stupid tackle to be going for, the fact is that the rat faced little twat was on his way down before any contact happened. How anyone can watch the slow motion replay and think he didn’t dive is completely fucking beyond me. Forget all that shit about him having a right to go down. Fuck off. If he gets put down then it’s a foul if he doesn’t get put down and he manufactures it himself then it’s not a foul. It really isn’t that hard to understand that.  He didn’t get put on the deck by Boufal, he got there completely on his own and he’s a fucking cheat.

As for TV pundits - I would like to see a promotion and relegation for pundits in the media. Phil Neville has proved to be a complete fuckwit so he is now relegated from MOTD2 to MOTD3 on the red button.   If he proves to be a fuckwit on that as well then he gets relegated to Radio talkSHITE alongside such twats as Robbie Savage and Joey Barton and the non-footballers who think they know what they’re talking about like Mike Parry and Adrian Durham.

So, back to why we didn’t win. I thought the team selection was very suspect today. Leaving out a fully fit Mario Lemina is questionable at best and leaving out Pierre Hojbjerg after the couple of games he has had is a bit strange also.  As said at the start, I feel that only one of Steve Davis and Dusan Tadic should be playing. I understand that the decision to play JWP after the Everton game, but he was fucking dreadful today and was deservedly substituted. Pellegrino got that one right though because Nathan Redmond had a good 45 minutes, with him setting up the goal for Charlie Austin.  Right footed Redmond on the right perhaps.  Mad ‘out there’ idea I know.

I’m changing my mind about Charlie Austin. He still looks cumbersome and he still looks like he’s drunk 10 pints before he plays but he’s given our team a focal point and we now look more like a team when we’re attacking, rather than like a collection of individuals not playing together and all being frightened to go anywhere near the penalty area. For someone who can’t run, he has a brilliant habit of finding himself space in the penalty area and he will know that he should’ve scored the winner from the Bertrand cross to the near post. Anyway Bournemouth fans, I thought we were your new super rivals But it seems that you can’t let go of your non-league mentality and have to reserve extra vitriol for the player who used to play for Poole Town.  I guess we can’t be too disappointed with four points from the last three games but it really should have been six.  Six would have been good, four is average.

Next up we have Arsenal at home and this Arsenal side is really no different to any other Arsenal side of the last 10 years. They can destroy you on their day but you know if you get about them, then they are flaky and it is an opportunity to get a result against one of the big clubs. It’s an opportunity that we need to take next week and if the manager gets the midfield selection and the mindset right, I see no reason why we can’t add a further three points to the total.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Premier League Match 14 - Manchester City 2 Southampton 1

Redmond Confronted by Asylum Escapee

Manchester City away free hit. They’ve been demolishing everybody with 12 wins out of 13 so far, easy progression in the Champions League group and no worries at all. It seriously wouldn’t surprise you if Manchester City won the trouble of Premier League FA Cup and Champions League this year. So, it’s a free hit.

We come here on the back of the thumping win against Everton which will have injected some confidence back into the squad. Having stumbled upon a winning formula, I fully expect Pellegrino out to change all that round tonight and pick up the players probably in three at the back formation which we saw a glimpse of in the last 10 minutes against Everton.

City are ridiculous this year, usually managing to put five out of Jesús, Aguero, Sané, David Silva, Sterling, de Bruyne and Bernardo Silva on the pitch at any one time. Yaya Toure doesn’t get a look in and nor hardly does Ilkay Gundogan. They have so many players that they paid so much ridiculous money for that it’s not actually a fair fight. It is fucking ridiculous. Also of course, they have Pep Guardiola as the manager. Now you can argue that he managed Barcelona in Spain and Bayern Munich in Germany and now City in England so in fact he’s had the most resources of any club in every league but he’s managed in. Regardless, he happens to be quite good at getting results with the cards loaded in his favour so no one can complain really. You can see the difference it is made in some of the players who have got much better since he’s been there with Raheem Sterling being the most obvious example. It’ll be interesting to see if the other English players that he has like Kyle Walker and John Stones improve massively as well. Ryan Bertrand was heavily linked with them in the summer and recently the rumours have been saying that they may be in for Virgil in January or in the summer. To be honest, with Guardiola as the manager and Sheikh Mansoor pumping ridiculous amounts of money into the club, who could blame them if they wanted to go to the blue side of Manchester.

Pellegrino surprises no one by changing to a more defensive line up.  In comes Yoshida, Lemina and Romeu so it’s obviously going to be three centre backs with a solid midfield.  Austin is rested for the Bournemouth game and Shane Long is picked, purely I would expect to to the Jack Russell thing and chase about after the City defenders all game..  Nathan Redmond has been picked to add a bit of pace as well but as we kick off, it looks like a back five, with four in midfield with Hojbjerg right, Redmond left and Long up front on his own.  All the lightweight players like JWP, Davo and Boufal are on the bench.

City of course have possession a lot and whoever has theball has about 7 options and there appears to be danger everywhere.  Fernandinho has the first effort which goes well wide.  We have our first break on about 5 minutes and it’s Hojbjerg up the right to Long who tries to find Redmond but we win a corner.  Over it comes from Bertrand, flicked on by Yoshida and Wesley meets it from about 6 yards, unmarked.  It’s an absolute sitter but he nods it onto the bar – fuck it.  Ah well, it would only have annoyed them if it had gone in – hang on, they’re breaking like lightning and Sterling sees his shot well turned aside by Fraser and Jesus gets the rebound on target by Fraser saves again.  Jesus is very much present for someone who doesn’t exist.

It’s of course going to be  massive effort in concentration and Lemina pulls out the skills but then loses it and Fraser has to pull out another save to deny Fernandinho.  It’s now like the Alamo with City playing ridiculous football.  Otamendi heads over and then Aguero forces a save and Gundogan hits the side netting.  The wek part of City’s side is of course the defence but you can’t bloody get to it often.  We doso when Lemina megs Kompany on the left ahnd side of the penalty area but runs out of room and con only poke a ball at Ederson.  Shane Long does soom to have Kompany rattled though and he breaks past him only for Kompany to take one for the team and just grab him for an inevitable yellow card.  Keep running at the old crumbly bastard.

Right on half time we miss another sitter – this time it’s a Redmond corner and Virgil rises unmarked, nods it down to Yoshida who is again unmarked and shins it over the bar from 6 yards.  As ridiculous as it seems, with our approximately 10% possession, we’ve had to two best chances.  Half time and a good half – digging in as well as possible and carry a bit of a threat at the other end.  I feel that Pellegrino has got this one right.

The concentration has to be maintained and it takes all of 3 minutes for it not to be.  City build on our right and when the ball gets knocked infield to Jesus, Yoshida runs up behind him and nails him to a fucking cross.  It’s a ridiculous tackle because he was facing the wrong way – just stand your ground and let him have it.  Anyway, incoming free kick from Kevin de Bruyne and he whips it near post, past our pointless one man wall and it deflects off of someone and flies into the net at the near post with Fraser having no chance.  City run to Otamendi but body language tells you that Virgil’s stuck that in his own net.  Bollocks.  Plan A has gone South so now what.

Plan B appears to be to let City put the game to bed as soon as possible as a loose ball in midfield gifts possession away and Jesus cuts in from the left, turns some bread into fish or somesuch bullshit and whilst he’s at it, curls one wide of the far post.  Instead of attempting to perform miracles, he could try scoring a goal as three minutes later he had a chance of resurrection when Maya fucked up and gave Aguero the ball but Jesus took the offering and saw Fraser save again.   Fraser is on it tonight, saving a long range blast from de Bruyne and watching on as Aguero put one over the bar.

Rather than just wait for a second goal to go in, Pellegrino takes of Hojbjerg for Boufal and immediately Saints look more of a threat.  With 15 to go something unbelievable happens with has nothing to do with Jesus.  Bertrand hoiks over a cross from near the corner flag on the left and Boufal shapes to volley from beyond the back post.  This is enough for Dlph to jump out of the way and defend like and 11 year old as Boufal instead, takes it down with a sublime first touch before pulling it back for Romeu to smash high into the net.  Fuck me, we’ve scored.

Pellegrino seems to think now that another substitution might get us another goal and Austin is on for Long.  The last 15 is all City as you’d expect but we’re holding out and wasting time like we’re West Brom after 3 minutes in an away game.  A cross comes in from oue left but Fraser is fouled and despite Sterling putting it into the net – no bother.  5 minutes extra….shit.  Cedric goes down injured and we bring on McQueen – I’m not sure what formation we’re playing – Bertand is still on the left in front of McQueen so it now is possibly 4-5-1 with Maya at right back.  Can we hang on… fuck it.  Sterling and de Bruyne torment us with the ball on our right as the clock ticks 95 and Sterling jinks across the top of the box, finds a bit of space and curls it into the far top corner in just about the only place where Fraser couldn’t reach it.  Sterling goes mental, City go mental, Guardiola is on the pitch, fuck off.  We kick off, one pass, whistle goes, fuck off.
For Fuck Sake. 96 minutes into a 90-minute match and we concede the winning goal. What an absolute pisser.  We deserved a point for the way we played and the effort we put in.  No complaints at all though and we come out of it with immense credit.

The first thing to say is that Pellegrino got it absolutely spot on today managing to find a balance between resting players for the game against Bournemouth and picking a side that least had a chance of upsetting Manchester City and we almost did it. If you take it the heroic defending and goalkeeping as part of the deal, you could argue that we really should of won it on clear chances as all three centre backs had good chances to score on our set pieces with Wesley hit the bar and Virgil and Maya putting very presentable chances over the top. It's not exaggerating to say that Manchester City are very much like Guardiola’s Barcelona side in that eventually they just wear you down and it's an absolute miracle if you can keep the levels of concentration and discipline needed to keep them out. Everything has to go your way and it very nearly did but today, unfortunately on 96 minutes, the luck ran out.

The fallout from the game has been very interesting. I was absolutely raging when five minutes was added at the end but it appears to have been acknowledged that we were wasting time throughout so perhaps five minutes was justified.  It’s funny how you don’t notice it when it’s your own side doing it.  The injury to Cedric meant that five minutes became six and it was in that last minute that Sterling scored the winning goal. It was a completely heroic performance by side today and one which would not have seen possible just a couple of weeks ago. Like I said, Pellegrino got it spot-on and for the first time, tactically showed that he is prepared to be adaptable to suit the situation. Let’s not kid ourselves that was three at the back. It was basically a five with four in midfield and one upfront with Redmond and then Boufal trying to give Long some support.

All of the focus after the game has been on the antics of Pep Guardiola are as the players left the field.  He has clearly been skipping his meds.  Not only was he celebrating like a lunatic and the kind of way that would certainly have got Jose Mourinho banned from the touchline, he then ran onto the pitch to talk to Nathan Redmond and was jumping around like a maniac and grabbing him and pushing him and yelling at him. Pep’s explanation was that he was telling Redmond what a good player he was and tell him that he should attack more as he is one of the best one on one attackers in the country. The media then tried to make out that Pep called him a wanker according to a mind reader and then Redmond himself cleared up the issue by basically saying that Pep’s version of events was correct and that Redmond replied that he was doing what is manager told him to do.  Pep has since admitted that he said roughly the same to more of our players – that we should have attacked more.  Well it would certainly be entertaining if he was our manager.  He had me until he said that Shane Long had quality – sorry Pep, that’s one thing he doesn’t have.  Pace and Jumping.  That’s it.

Here’s little challenge for any manager who is playing against Manchester City and the next next few weeks. Go up to Kevin De Bruyne and tell him that he’s decent but whay’s he playing so deep – he should attack more.  Grab him and push him around a bit as well and mention that he should basically not do what his manager has told him to do. Let’s see how Pep reacts to that. There has been a bit of criticism of his actions in the media but the mood seems to be that as it’s Pep and he’s a legend, that’s okay. No it isn’t. If I was Pellegrino I would be absolutely steaming about it.  Part and parcel of being a professional footballer is doing what your manager tells you to do even if you don’t agree with it. Years and years ago, I had a conversation with Jimmy Case in the car park at The Dell where he basically said that if your manager tells you to smash 80 yards up the pitch then that’s what you should do otherwise you’re gonna find yourself out of the team next week. It’s pretty obvious really. Guardiola has absolutely no right to talk to anyone else’s players and also for that matter has no right to complain about teams playing defensively at Manchester City. What the hell does he expect? He has 20 players at his disposal that all in the £50 - £100 million bracket and he’s playing against a team that has Shane Long upfront who scores goals with about the same frequency as Halley‘s comet turning up. It’s like bows and arrows against nuclear warhead. It’s unbelievable to hear so much sour grapes from the manager when his team actually won.

It’s not that we defended superbly well all match because there were times when I was looking at Virgil and Maya in particular and wondered if they never play football before as they were taking it in turns to dawdle on the ball will be caught miles out of position but somehow, we almost pulled it off. The main reason for this was of course the much-maligned big man in goal who was magnificent throughout and he really deserved better than to be on the losing side. The heavily armed midfield of Hojbjerg, Romeu and Lemina did what was expected from them and we really could’ve won this game.  However, there is no doubt about it but this City side is going to win the league by mile.

Saints go to the Vitality Dean Court Very Small Bag of Shit and Resentment Stadium on the weekend to play Bournemouth who have just lost at home to Burnley, checking their mini revival. If we can go there and get a result like we did last year then it would really set them back as well as propelling us up the table. There is real reason to be optimistic now as we seem to have been shaken out of our malaise for the dismal defeat at Liverpool and you can see now that we can actually look quite a good side. No doubt we will have the return of Charlie Austin, Steve Davis, Dusan Tadic and Sofiane Boufal for this game. The Moroccan only had 20 minutes tonight but showed sort what sort of form he’s in with the setting up of Romeu for the goal. What a touch that was to make the defender look absolutely stupid before he rolled it back to the big man to smash into the net. Come on then Bournemouth, what have you got?

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Premier League Match 13 - Southampton 4 Everton 1

Williams Decides to Jump, Two Seconds After the Ball Hit The Net

We all like to think that we are good at predicting things regarding Premier League football but the fact remains that most of us are complete shite at it. I am certainly in that category and so is anyone else who hasn't made millions betting on the football. No matter how shite you are at predicting outcomes, no one would be predicting that a game between fucking boring Southampton and absolutely crap Everton would be anything other than completely dull. There was a chance I guess that both teams would be so bad that it was somehow end up being entertaining as the crapness cancelled eachother out but it was unlikely. We can't score  and nor can they.

Everton's demise this season has been lamented by some but for the Saints fans with memories longer than 18 months, seeing Everton struggle near the bottom of the league has been fucking hilarious. To anyone who remembers the summer of 2016 when Ronald Koeman left to join Everton and anyone who was on the receiving end of the tirade of gloating and abuse that came down from Merseyside - it is positively delicious that they are crap and Koeman has been sacked. Everton had this reputation of being the “peoples club” and of being classy and of doing things the right way but the fact remains that as soon as they got with of massive investment from Fahad Moshiri, a lot of their fans forgot themselves completely and became no better than your average Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester City fan in basking in their wealth and talking like Billy Big Bollocks and losing any trace of humility.

The powers that be at Everton were obviously not ready to handle having loads of money to spend either, as they pissed it away. First of all they signed Wayne Rooney for sentimental reasons and then they signed Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea because they wanted to make a statement about how big the dick was that they were waving around these days so they overpaid massively and spent £45 million. It didn't seem to occur to anybody that Rooney and Sigurdsson play in exactly the same position and they also still have Ross Barkley and they also have Davy Klaasen who they paid a fortune for at the same time.  So, they signed 3 players to replace their best player who they didn’t sell in the end.   They of course sold their 25 goals a season striker and didn’t replace him.  Basically, they should never have signed Rooney because doing things on sentiment never works and once they had, they should not have signed Sigurdsson even though he is a decent player but the desire the wave the dick around was strong. Elsewhere in the team they overpaid for Michael Keane and they even overpaid for Cuco Martina even though it was a free transfer. Cuco is so shit that he is the sort of player he should be paying £2.50 subs a week in order to get a game.

After Koeman got sacked, they appointed David Unsworth as caretaker manager.  David Unsworth doesn’t look like the ex-Everton player of the same name but he looks like he’s eaten him.  Joey Barton, now residing in the media whilst his betting ban runs down, describes Unsworth as similar to a fat PE teacher it was basically not at all qualified to be in charge of a Premier League football team. No I don't always agree with Joey Barton but this description is pretty much spot on.

Everything has been relatively quiet at St Mary's during the week as everyone digested the full horror of the performance against Liverpool. There simply had to be changes this week as this game against Everton was absolutely vital with a sure-fire defeat against Manchester City coming up in just three days time.

So a Sunday at 1:30 PM kick-off. What a pain in the fucking arse that is. My commitments as coach to my sons Under 14 football team meant that I was in Chandlers Ford for a 12 noon kick off.  In theory, the game should be finished at about 1:20 and then carnage to get St Mary's to see hopefully some of the first half.  In the event, I managed to blag a lift and we left Chandlers Ford at about 1.25pm, radio on and here is the team news. The name of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was the first one that jumped out as he been picked to cover for the suspended Oriol Romeu. The other headline news was that Charlie Austin was given his first start of the season. To be honest, he's not looked great in any of his substitute appearances so far this season but with the team having a lack of goals, why the fuck not? Nathan Redmond had dropped to the bench but bombproof Tadic had survived again despite an absolute shithouse of a performance up at Liverpool. Also, at long last, it seems that Pellegrino has decided to ditch the centre back rotation and so it's double Dutch with Hoedt partnering Virgil.

With JWP in the side you at least always feel that there is a chance from a set piece and that’s the first action as he swings one in and it causes carnage, hits Jagielka and bounces off forcing Pickford to save.  Another set piece, a corner this time and the ball drops to Austin who volleys over on the stretch

(I’m in Stoneham - "what's the best way then?")

Saints are trying to play at a higher tempo it seems with Hojbjerg putting himself about strongly.  We’re also playing with confidence and zipping it about which brings it’s own dangers and so it proves when Tadic attempts to pass first time back to the midfield and succeeds only in giving it to Lennon and the ball eventually gets worked to Mirallas who fires wide.

(Swaythling by-pass, North – “what’s the speed limit down here?”)

In the main though it’s all Saints with Hojbjerg and Davis ruling the midfield against Gueye and Schneiderlin.  Hojbjerg sprays a ball from left to right to Cedric who plays a give and go with JWP.  Cedric is 2nd favourite for the return ball but he uses every bit of his 5 foot nothing, 7 stone frame to shove Sigurdsson off the ball and cross to where Austin slides in, like a bloke desperately trying to make last orders before the pub shuts and diverts it onto the post and wide.

(Empress Road Industrial Estate – “I bet the bastard train gates are down”)

Everton attack through Jonjo Kenny on our left and Boufal is working back strongly to win the ball off him near the goal line and play it out to Hojbjerg.  He eventually gets it to Austin, back to Bertrand on the left as we break and Bertie curls a lovely low first time ball behind the defence to Tadic who sorts his feet out and rolls the ball through Pickford and into the net.

(Mount Pleasant Train Gates – “where’s the fucking train”, “come on for fucks sake” etc)

The nearest defender to the opening goal was Leighton Baines who I’ve always thought was a crap defender but he’s pulled up so he has to go off and replaced by a really crap defender in Ashley Williams.  Old, slow and shit and not going to the World Cup.  The Everton reshuffle gives them 5 at the back with Lennon playing right wing back sort of. 

(We now arrive at the stadium – a steward outside has to unlock a big door to let us in.  A whole row has to stand up to let us get to our seats – my son is a full kit wanker in match kit – I think people understand why we’re late)

Meanwhile on the other side, a decent Saints break ends up with Davo cross and Michael Keane playing basketball as it bounces down off his outstretched arm.  I don’t know all the nuances of the handball rules these days but his arms are way away from his body and that should be a penalty.  The rules have been unclarified so many times now, the powers that be have succeeded in confusing everyone so no one gets angry any more.  We should score again as a JWP corner, won after Schneiderlin dallied in possession, skims off the head of Virgil and wide.

44 minutes and out of fucking nowhere, we overplay at the back, lose it on the left and the ball gets fed into Sigurdsson who turns away from Virgil and then arcs a superb shot over Fraser and it hits the bar, then the post, then bounces up onto the underside of the bar and then drops into the corner of the net.  Fuck off… great goal but they’ve done nothing to deserve that and the only reason he was there and not stranded out on the left was because Baines got injured.  Lucky bastards.

Half time and it’s disappointing to be going in at 1-1 but none the less, we’ve played well and it’s light years better than the Burnley performance to name but one.  All I want at the start of the second half is for us to come out with intent and that we do and it takes five minutes to retake the lead as we build down the left and Boufal pulls out a lovely lofted chip to put Bertrand in on the left behind Jagielka and his cross is met by Austin in front of the near post but he flicks his header back and it crashes off the underside of the bar and in before Pickford can move.  Get in there.

There is no response from Everton and we carry on looking dangerous, again bulding down the left which seems to have ground to a halt as Tadic fannies about with it but he gets a lucky break and is in again behind Jagielka and he has time to put over a delicious left footed cross and Austin has once again evaded the defenders and this time it’s a simple header down and into the net, so simple that he didn’t spill his pint at all. 3-1 and we might be onto something here.  Crosses into box to striker who can head the ball.

Over the next fifteen minutes or so, Everton have their least pathetic spell of the game but we look strong at the back with Hoedt and Virgil looking commanding and even Fraser looks confident.  Tadic and Austin are eventually subbed for Lemina and for some reason we’ve decided to play with a false-striker as Long is coming on.  Long has been brought on because of the extreme anti-pace in the Everton back 4 and it nearly works as Hoedt hoofs a clearance out to the left, Jagielka fucks it up and Long burns him up, cutting in from the left and actually getting a curling effort on target which Pickford pushes wide.  He should have passed to JWP who had a tap-in but never mind.

With 5 to go, Yoshida is on for Boufal, meaning we’ve gone to 3 at the back which is interesting for future plans and we put it to bed in the last minute as JWP plays the ball to Cedric on the right, takes the return pass with a superb bit of control and sends it in to Goal Machine Steve Davis who takes a touch and then rips a right footed shot across Pickford and into the net.  It’s all a bit surreal, 4 goals from open play and Davo smashes one in from the edge of the box.

I haven't had many opportunities for a while to write about an enjoyable game but that was really an enjoyable game, even though I only saw 65 minutes of it. I saw more enterprising attacking football in those 65 minutes then I've seen in every game I've watched for the last year. We really were excellent all over the park with a higher tempo and some threat at the end of our build up play. At the centre of it all was Pierre Hojbjerg who totally bossed the middle of the park, winning tackles headers and basically never wasting a ball. It makes me laugh to think that two managers have pissed around trying to make a defensive midfielder out of Steve Davis and JWP, when we've had Hojbjerg sat in the wings, waiting for a chance.  The biggest compliment I can pay there is that we didn't miss Romeu or Lemina at all today.

Now Charlie Austin isn’t everyone's cup of tea and I still have a few reservations about the guy but he is the most suitable forward for the way that we play. Its fucking obvious but if you are going to put crosses into the box that you need someone who at least has a decent chance of heading the ball and hitting the target. Charlie certainly knows where the goal is. His first goal was a brilliant almost instinctive header and the second goal was easy but it wouldn't have been easy for either of our other strikers so full marks to the big guy and let's just hope we can stay fit and get fitter.  I've said before that when he comes on as a substitute he looks like a drunk lurching around an empty pub at closing time but starting the game seem to have some sort of psychological effect on him as he looked like a proper player from the first whistle.

Another fringe player who got a chance today was JWP and he had a superb game on the right hand side both helping the defensive effort and getting good crosses into the box. Every time I see him taking corners and free kicks I think that we simply have to find some place for him in the side because he said he's delivery virtually warrants that on its own. Whilst he didn't score or directly assist, Sofiane Boufal played like a genius and the run of games is certainly benefiting him.   The little touches and flicks were spot on and, the best of which being the deft chip over the defender to help set up the second goal.  It was an improved performance as well from Ryan Bertrand at left back who created two goals, was a constant threat and most surprisingly, actually looked happy to be out there.  Cedric on the other side of the pitch certainly looked very determined today never illustrated more than when he barged Sigurdsson over before putting over the which Austin hit the post with.

The slight caveat to all of this praise is that Everton were fucking atrocious. It's not that they've got bad players… actually scrap that… they do have some bad players like Ashley Williams who is fucking garbage but the main problem seems to be their organisation and lack of effort.  They've got a couple of youngsters in the side like Jonjo Kenny and Dominic Calvert Lewin and they need to senior players to step up to help them but none of the senior players did a thing. Chief amongst those was Morgan Schneiderlin who looked an absolute pale limitation of the player that left Saints to join Manchester United three years ago.  It's a shame and it wasn't one of the more predictable ones, but he's gone backwards as a footballer since he left Southampton.

The best laugh with Everton was that defence. Trying to play 70 minutes with 48-year-old Phil Jagielka as a kind of right back, the slow and shit Ashley Williams at centre back with the slow and extremely overrated Michael Keane and a right-footed 18-year-old at left back. If anything, you would have expected Williams and Keane to be decent in the air but the two goals that Austin scored both featured hilariously bad defending. On both goals the cross came in, Williams got caught under the ball and Keane didn't come across far enough or do anything at all so in both cases Charlie had a free header, Goal, thank you very much.

So it was a good day for Mauricio Pellegrino. Though I was a little unsure when I saw the team, you have to say that he got it right. He now has one of those nice problems in that he has a starting 11 putting in our best performance of the season and neither Romeu or Lemina were in it. Who plays and who gets left out? It was also interesting to see that we went to 3 at the back for the last 10 minutes when the game was already won. Maybe that was a little practice with the game at Manchester City coming up on Wednesday. That game is absolutely free hit as they have one all bar one of the games this season. Ironically, the only team that I've taken a pint of them are Everton.

We’re up to 10th in the league and it’s remarkable how much better everything seems.  Hopefully, the shocker at Liverpool had the desired effect to make everyone wake up. This was one we had to win and we did so happy days.  The almost inevitable defeat at City shouldn’t bring us down too much and so we’ll go into the next big game against the Dorset Powerhouses in good spirits.

 David Unsworth - Sorry, Wrong Fat Manager