Thursday, 13 February 2014


It all seemed a bit moribund: the once titans of the Premier League playing out a goalless draw as if the minds of each team was focused elsewhere, or could that be the minds of the managers?

Lacking in pace or real bite both sides seemed to be content, as the game progressed, in what became a foregone conclusion. For the arsenal it appeared to be a case of responding to Saturday’s debacle by not losing, for United there were shades of just wanting to steady the ship. Man for man both sides lacked cutting edge and the game bore little resemblance o the vital clashes of old. Perhaps that’s a bygone era, certainly for United it’s a new experience. For us it’s something that, to an extent, supporters have become accustomed to.

If, by dint of team selection, our manager doesn’t take the FA cup tie against Liverpool seriously it could be goodnight Vienna: as I said before we are talking about a tournament where we know that one of Chelsea/City are going to be eliminated and that we are in a position to knock out the other real threat on Sunday.

If a priority is made of the Champions League game at the expense of progress in a winnable tournament I feel many will reach a point beyond frustration. If the Manager thinks we have bigger fish to fry when he fields his starting XI on Sunday he may be left with nothing in his keep net come May.

Monday, 10 February 2014


Wining the 'rematch'
Knock Liverpool out of the FA cup in, what is almost a rematch and, given that one of Chelsea & Man City will exit this weekend, the Cup may very well be up for...well you know the rest of that oft quoted adage. Beat Manchester United on Wednesday and we can confirm that this team has the ability to bounce back consistently, and apply some pressure on our competitors while psychologically brushing aside the club that, under Ferguson, were our long term nemesis and putting another nail in what many see as United's current coffin of broken dreams. The Bayern fixture? who knows but I maintain that at present, the Champions League is beyond us, therefore this game is something of a barometer.

Which brings us to Saturday afternoon's debacle: many have summed things up far more eloquently, and others with extreme hysteria but what is undeniable is that for Liverpool that first 20 minutes could not have been better. Team selection prior to the game showed a distinct disregard of Liverpool's qualities, substitutions during the game highlighted those errors in selection. Yes we had (as always seems to be the case) injuries that restricted us somewhat but with Flamini's suspension it seemed obvious that energy was needed centrally.
Putting another nail in the coffin

We lost, we move on. My view on the manager's part in this loss can wait for another day but I think it's fair to say that a tactical approach has never been in Arsene's armoury and in that fact lies our problems against the teams with which we are contesting the title. If Manchester City and Chelsea have better squads, and of course given their expenditure they should have, a tactical approach is needed to nullify their quality and options: defying the odds if you will. Same for when playing a good team on form with a World class striker away from home, but our way is to play our game and not concern ourselves overly with cancelling out the opposition.

I guess my bottom line is that I don't think this approach works when it comes to the crunch fixtures.

To borrow from Boxing: a fighter who is out fought can often win by ensuring their opponent is out thought.

Defying the odds

Monday, 3 February 2014


Yes we have to play Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, but hold up a minute: they've got to play us! Manchester City are gaining all the plaudits and in terms of goal scoring, yes, they are performing splendidly, but we need to look at the fixture against them as a chance to put a massive dent in their seemingly inexorable rise to the top. Chelsea, with whom we drew earlier in the season, are certainly ready for a psychological blow of a home defeat, why can't we be the team that delivers it? We beat Liverpool rather comfortably at the Emirates and should have no fear of a trip to Anfield. Arsenal v Manchester United still retains an intensity and with this game at home we should feel that we can add to their woes.

Who knows what tonight's result will be in the City Chelsea fixture, but one things for sure: gaps will be closed.
One thing I've always believed in is that you have to play all comers if you want to win anything and the thing of it is that  looking at games as an oppotunity to strike a decisive blow against your competitors (the classic 6 pointer) is a far better approach than bemoaning tough fixtures: being tough is what competition is all about surely.

We must look forward to these fixtures with anticipation and not dread, opportunities not obstacles.

Bring it on I say, bring it on!

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