Weekends where both Arsenal and the team I play for, Border Wanderers FC, win are priceless. Winning a semi final on penalties is a damn good feeling. Especially after a 0-0 for 120 minutes! I of course slotted my penalty away without any issues into the top right and we won 4-3. Quite brilliant. After the celebrations died down I frantically made my way back to the changing room and located my phone. “What was the Arsenal score!?”. I scrolled through my Twitter timeline as I couldn’t help but live the encounter as it happened – checking the score then and there seemed not quite romantic enough. 2-0 at HT was where I got to, feeling pleased about life, shortly followed by 2-1. It felt like penalties all over again. Nervously scrolling through seeing chances go begging for Newcastle and finally to the final 4 minutes of added time. Now I was really sweating. I kept scrolling and got to the conclusion. We won. This is what perfect weekends are made of. Thank God! My drive up the M25 following the afternoon of football filled phantasmagoria, which really did have to be seen to be believed, was made a lot easier.
Anywhoo. From the various highlights pieces around it looked as though we bossed the first half and should really have been at least 3-0 up, as it was it was 2-0, which isn’t too bad either but a dangerous score line nevertheless. We took our foot off the gas and were made to deal with wave after wave of Newcastle advances. We held firm though and as we enter the final phase of the season it’s good to see that the grit is still present in the side. We will need that a few more times to get through and keep the challenge for 2nd alive. I say second as the Hull v Chel$ki result was key in rekindling any title hopes we had. Had it been a draw and presuming Chel$ki won their remaining game in hand there would have been an 8 point gap to overcome. Man City were able to close the same gap in 2012 so the hope would have been there, especially as we have them to come to the Emirates in a few weeks. They however found what was required and kept everyone at arms length. United winning keeps the pressure on us and if we beat Liverpool next time out I think that would sew up a top 4 finish, but the battle for 2nd and 3rd will continue to the end. Although Gerard had a big part to play in that. His quite ridiculous stamp along with the Skrtel one late on were both worthy of red cards. Costa did the same vs Liverpool and got banned so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens to Skrtel. Fair play to Gerard for speaking to the media afterwards but had that been a non English player, he would have been slaughtered by the press. Players like him are given too easy a ride for their actions as they are ‘not that type of player’. Added to that all that Jamie Carragher could talk about afterwards was him winning the FA Cup on his birthday. After a stamp! The media will love their favourites no matter what.
Moving on…Beating Liverpool has now become a necessity in order for us to distance ourselves as much as possible from a 4th place battle as that’s a precarious path to be on. All in all a pretty good weekend as far as we are concerned as we gained ground on one of the teams chasing us. A special mention really needs to go out for Giroud as he has been nothing short of brilliant for us since his return from injury. Another 2 quite brilliantly poached goals from the big man is adding to his tally for the season, which now reads 17. And that’s with 3 months out. Well done sir, well done. He’s well and truly brushing the game against Monaco aside as a one off, an exception rather than the rule. He’s one player that I don’t think was phased by the occasion, he just had an off day. He’s too confident for anything like that to affect him and it looks like he’s relishing the challenges that come with the big games. Bravo Olivier, Bravo.
Now the main focus of the blog today will be on the contractual situations of our ‘young’ Theo as well as Sterling of Liverpool. It looks as though the summer transfer saga of the grandest magnitude has begun. And by grandest magnitude, I mean petulantly personified. Here are 2 players who owe everything to the club they are currently at, as that’s where they made their name. In our case we have a guy who’s missed a year of football and wants a pay rise! The arrogance of his ‘political’ party of douchebags is quite simply ridiculous. Let’s all try taking a year of work and ask for a 30% pay rise and see if it works shall we? No we won’t, because that’s not how it works. Theo is clearly feeling a little frozen out, he’s not our shining beacon of light anymore and it seems to have got to him. Now I know he’s had a year out so hasn’t had much time to work on his pressing and defensive game but that is something that he will need to do if he’s to be able to demand parity with Alexis and Ozil. Eden Hazard, one of the most talented footballers in the league has been asked to work on that and has done, so why does Walcott think he’s above it? He’s not and needs to show some fight if he’s to make progress both in his footballing and financial life. Sterling is also kicking up a fuss and wants the big bucks before signing, I mean what really are these clowns going to do with all the extra cash? Yes, money is nice but the footballers of today are well and truly being put on a pedestal way to early in their careers. Walcott will find the same situation no matter which club he joins, if he decides to leave. People say Liverpool as a direct replacement for Sterling but they play a high intensity closing game and he doesn’t fit that profile. As for Sterling a move to City is being mooted. There have been plenty of young players who have ruined their early careers by making the ‘big move’ to early. All he needs to do is ask Daniel Sturridge. It really winds me up when these guys think they are above the club they play for. Sadly it’s the way it goes these days, fickle players, fickle fans and fickle boardrooms. Money makes all of their worlds go around more than is necessary. This relays directly to England as a national side. The players have a distinct lack of belonging and oneness with their clubs which makes for a much less passionate national team. We’ve seen the decline over the years of the importance of England vs Club side support. There’s a reason for this and the above is a big part of that reason.
This brings me to my next point. The fickle fans part. The clown ‘super fan’ Piers Morgan was on the famous Talk Sport Drive show spouting his ‘factual’ Arsenal analysis. People like him pluck stats from out of the air in order to convey their own opinions. Apparently Sir Alex Ferguson increased his players potential by 20% exactly. Not 1% either way. In a world where data and stats are becoming more and more looked at this clown has picked an intangible point of debate and whacked a figure on it. There’s no doubt that Fergie raised his teams above what they may have been technically capable but there’s absolutely no way to measure it. Now add Adrian Durham to the debate and you have completed the full circle of moronic analysis. Thank the sweet Lord that I listened to only a few minutes before turning the radio off in disgust. How have these clowns got a platform to discuss their opinions on?! How!?
The last thing I want to talk about is refereeing standards again. It was obviously poor and there was a lot of discussion around Rugby v Football in that same breath. We have a sport where the players address the referee as ‘Sir’ and video technology in no way slows the game down in relevance to serial complaining that we have in the Premier League yet we choose not to follow Rugby’s fine example and make life more difficult for the officials. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that both tech and a more authoritative position taken by referees would be a long term benefit to the game we love. Alas, we all now controversy sells papers and generates punditry debate, which is why it will be a long time before we see it happen in football.
We now have a 2 week international break. Time to start praying for an injury free fortnight!
Have a great week folks.
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