Turbulent is the only way to describe our last 7 days in football. After a harrowing and pretty awful defeat to Southampton that we rectified with a good 2-0 win over Bournemouth. The defeat against Southampton was one I was hoping against all hope to avoid as even a draw would have been something I would have been pleased with. It was a result that I thought would be most likely in terms of points but not one by such a manner or margin. We were always going to be struggling to put in a performance without rotation following the big effort against Man City. I just thought that we looked as though we weren’t quite at the races. We didn’t quite have the squad that day to cope on that level as Southampton are always about the high press with power through the middle and pace in behind. Never were we going to get away with a halfhearted performance and we got exactly what we deserved. Granted the first 3 goals had faults in them (offside, foul, not a corner) to which Ronald Koeman seemed incredulous to the thought that any of his teams goals were in any way incorrect. Arrogance always comes back to bite you later on and for that I say thank you West Ham. We followed up an abysmal performance by a much more assured one with the majestic Mesut Ozil leading the orchestra. Another goal and assist to add to his incredible season. Drawing comparisons to Dennis Bergkamp isn’t an easy thing and one that is most definitely warranted on current form. He’s brilliantly being the talisman we need him to be in the absence of so many others. Lest we forget we are missing Alexis Sanchez, Santi Cazorla and Francis Coquelin who are 3 certain starters for us. Thankfully we can soon welcome back Alexis Sanchez for the Liverpool game with any luck.
Other results over the course of the Christmas weekend didn’t do too much damage and the draw between Leicester and Man City leaves us top at the half way point. A happy place to be but a long way to go. We really do have a chance this year but a lot depends on 2 things. Firstly, whether we can welcome some of our injured party back sooner rather than later and secondly whether we do the right business in January. Apparently we are closing in on the fabled DM that we all craved over the summer, a man by the name of Mohamed Elneny. Scouting reports and YouTube videos suggest that he looks like a decent player. Rumour has it we are also after another, potentially a striker. We all know that Giroud and Walcott are playing brilliantly at the moment, Giroud with goal after goal and Walcott with work rate that not all the stats show. But I just feel that we are so close at the moment that these 2 signings could be the ones to propel us toward some trophies come the end of the season.
The two most prevalent things this past week have been the self-righteous clowns that exist in our fan base. There are plenty within each and every fan base, especially those a part of the ‘big 6’. That’s inclusive of Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea, Liverpool, Man City and Sp*rs. This week social media revealed the best of a few of that selection. Arsenal fans baying for blood after essentially bottling the title after a bad result. What has any football club done to deserve the right to win EVERY single game? We haven’t won at Southampton since 2003 and that’s not to say the result or performance were acceptable by any means and disappointment should be and is a part of the game. But to label the team as chokers or call for the management or wholesale changes is beyond ridiculous. These people have obviously been born with silver spoons in their mouths. We are a club that was languishing in mid table mediocrity until George Graham came in to restore the glory days of the 70’s and previous back into the fore. Even then the style was something that was always missing to a degree. Boring, boring Arsenal came from somewhere after all. We then came into our biggest leap in the Wenger era and if you look at the evolution of the club, it isn’t something that is created and maintained over a weekend of football, it’s something that takes a monumental amount of time to imbibe. I saw some people demanding a refund from the game as if we have a God given right to win every single game. The plastics, as I’ve said many a time before, are always going to be around through social media but they are the complete antithesis of every football club. Then there’s the United fans or should I say ‘Unted’ fans with the Mourinho scarves outside the ground before their game v Chelsea. Idiotic, disrespectful and above all petulant. United have a richer history than ourselves as a club and are monstrously big club globally, once again in comparison to ourselves, so one can understand the anguish surrounding the club currently. The class of a club always shines through in times of difficulty and it is well and truly a club that is showing its true colours at the moment. Lots of phone ins have highlighted some more silver spoon fans exclaiming things such as Pellegrini not being good enough, or their players not being good enough on the day (Everton fans calling in to
lament the fact they have John Stones and his form not being good enough) to which thankfully Rio Ferdinand called in to respond to. So many fans sat on a perch of glory it really does make you laugh when it all goes awry and they star losing their proverbial $4!t.
The best part of the last week has to have been the fact that we’re beginning to hear some sound analysis from rival fans stating that there is no way that we will win the league because it is inevitable that we will fall away and that other teams will punish us if we aren’t clinical with our finishing. Bournemouth may have been forgiving however the likes of Man City, Man Utd, Sp*rs and Leicester are less likely to be forgiving. Oh wait, we’re half way through the season and of the aforementioned teams we’ve only taken the 10 points from the 12 available. It’s brilliant. The funny thing is that I’m hearing and seeing this stuff from United and Liverpool fans in the majority. The reason it’s hilarious is that these are fans of teams that are so unsure of where their clubs will be, come the end of the season and their only outlet is to cling to the failure of other teams. It’s music to my
ears as it shows real worry on something that would compound the misery of their seasons. The fans that aren’t so loud are the City or Leicester fans. City purely because they realise it’s a 3-way fight and Leicester because they seem giddy at their position but at the half way stage even Ranieri has begun his battle cry. Thus far the mantra was one of “We need to get to 40 points” which after the City game has turned into: “The title is for big teams, but we can still fight”. A real change and it’s because they’ve played everyone and are now level on points at the top. The players will now really begin to believe it and it needs to be reinforced in the right way from the manager, which he is doing well at the moment. The next 5 games will be key for Leicester as maintaining their great start is what the league or winning the league at least is about. It feels like a real Harchester United moment from Dream Team and if they were to make the Champions League it really would be something special.
As far as we are concerned, we are top at the half way stage. The right additions to the squad and getting some players back from injury will be key if we’re to be successful this year. Another home game vs Newcastle is a must win before the fixtures become a little trickier.
Have a great New Year folks.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.