Our Champions League goose is well and truly cooked. I felt that was the case last weekend off the back of the West Ham v Liverpool result as that is where I thought there may have been a chance of Liverpool slipping up. Alas it wasn’t meant to be and we will find ourselves in the second tier of European football next season. It feels weird and hasn’t quite sunk in yet and I think that the FA Cup final is to thank for that. The reality of the situation will well and truly kick in post that huge game next weekend. Pretty quickly if we lose, but maybe a week or two later if we somehow manage to beat the machine that is this Chelsea side. Our great enemy time will tell soon enough…
I was lucky enough to attend the game vs Everton with my Dad as a treat for his 60th Birthday (Happy Birthday you handsome, handsome man! He tells me he reads my blog, so hopefully he knows I’ve said Happy Birthday). I confess that I booked the tickets well in advance through a contact I have at the club and envisaged a send off for Arsene Wenger more than anything else. I wanted to thank the great man for what he had achieved at the club as I was convinced that he was going to be moving on. This was well before we found a route to the FA Cup Final and the game itself had a weird feeling and atmosphere to it all. The fans were well and truly behind the team, but there seemed to be a panicky/jittery almost nervous of the unknown vibe reverberating around the ground. I though to myself, a lot of the folk in here have known nothing but Champions League qualification as the worst case scenario. We started the game well enough and scored early on, and really could have been 2/3-0 up but for some poor finishing. Then came the moment of madness from Laurent Koscielny. He’s our best defender by a mile, however does have these moments of red mist that overcome his quite vanilla expression if I’m honest. I was sat in the Clock End and from there it looked to be a yellow card tackle. From having seen the replay I have no doubt that it was a straight red. He was not in control of the challenge and missed the ball, with his studs slamming into the side of the Everton man. The game was then littered with fouls form both sides and Ashley Williams was also booked. He could have gone for a second yellow however Oliver bottled the decision (twice!) almost to publicly state that he still had a control of the game. Terrible from the officials once again. We went on to score a second and really did look like we were bossing the game even with 10 men. They started to turn the screw deep into the first half, however we defended well and Petr Cech ensured we remained two goals ahead at the break. That’s when the news of a Liverpool goal started to filter through and our hopes began to fade. I’ve since seen that Boro were denied a stonewall penalty and what would have been a red card for Lovren at 0-0. It just wasn’t meant to be but just further highlights the level of officiating this season. I do think that the referees get far more stick than they deserve, however this season really seems to have thrown up more than a few massively incorrect decisions every weekend. On a side note, John Terry had arranged his very own guard of ‘honour’ for being subbed off in the 26th minute. It makes perfect sense that it was him who arranged the guard of ‘honour’ as well as for the ball to be kicked out in the 26th minute so he could have his moment. It’s the only way he knows. I don’t think it’s a massive deal that it was arranged in the first place really, but it’s that it was at all is what makes me chuckle. I think F365 journalist Nick Miller put it perfectly when he said that Sunderland facilitating someone else’s leaving do seemed an apt way for them to end their season. All a little bit over the top but for comedy value alone as well as to epitomise the narcacist himself I’m quite glad it happened. People certainly won’t remember him for his class and humility, which are the two things you look to in a role model as a footballer.
Back to our game and while Everton got back in it with a penalty (correctly awarded) Ramsey sealed it with a beauty at the death. There were many chants as follows: “Stan Kroenke, get out of our club” voiced over and over again in the last 20 minutes when the fans realised that City were 3/4 up and Liverpool were 2 up. Off the back of Usmanov’s offer, which is in no way ideal, the pressure is really on Kroenke to do something different. Going into the game today I really felt as though it was a win win situation for us as fans. If we achieved top 4, then great, especially considering the circumstances however if we did not then Kroenke may well be pressed to sell his shares. Not to Usmanov mind you, but there are other bidders circling and there could well be some movement on this front in the neat future.
Overall it has been a season that has flattered to deceive, one littered with disappointment after disappointment and yet we could well end on a high. It’s not the time to dissect the season piece by piece just yet. We just need to hope to end it on a true high, as I really think we’ll need a cup win if we are to keep our best players in Ozil and Alexis. One big game and our season may yet end in glory.
Have a great week folks.
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