March 1 — wary of the Ides of March

With the midweek calendar dominated by meaningless cash grabs from national FAs important preparation for national sides preparing for this summer’s Euros, it was unsurprising to see the angst, hope and knee-jerkism displayed by various hacks. The result of the night had to be in Genoa, where Clint Dempsey’s winner handed the Azzuri its first-ever defeat playing there along with the Americans’ first win over the Italians. Despite the result, Grant Wahl sounds some cautionary notes. I know the result will please Klinsi backers. By way of response, I’d like to remind them that Bob Bradley managed to beat Spain in a competitive fixture whilst they were reigning European champions. What it proves is the USA is capable of ocassionally bloodying the nose of the best European nations, something that puts them well ahead of England.

That loss will, no doubt, have a lot of the Italian sporting press wondering why Cesare Prandelli decided his squad would be better off with having Mario Balotelli making mischief, handing out money to random people, experimenting with his Maserati,  in the greater Manchester area as opposed to torturing Clarence Goodson. Talk about setting off fireworks. And, guess what? A capable replacement just became available.

On a totally unrelated subject, the Three Lions reverted to their default mode — inglorious defeat — for the first time since November 2010. Strangely, most of the red tops cast this as “progress” because the manager was passionate about his Englishness and could communicate with his players, who took his apparent instructions to defend like halfwitted schoolboys to heart.

Obviously, though, you can’t please everybody and guess what Steven Gerrard’s official biographer was moaning about after the match? Strangely, this sort of hypocrisy doesn’t show up on the Guardian’s official list of footballing hates from their beat writers. Gosh, I wonder why?

Another thing that didn’t appear on that list was Andres Villas-Boas, which is equally strange because most of London’s footballing press seems uncommonly united in their campaign to rid the Rent Boys of a Portugese manager who isn’t interested in making their jobs easier or causing them to swoon.

Even if Roman Abramovitch sends AVB packing when the Rent Boys crash out against Napoli, and footballing sage Jonathan Wilson thinks this is a terrible idea, I’m not sure it’s going to stop the rot in the west end. Today’s stories about David Luiz telling head boy Frank Lampard to do as he’s told confirm my theory of a divided dressing room, with the omelet maker’s Old Boys on one side and the Iberian/Brazilian contingent on the other. I sensed this tension has affected the club for a while and it’s given me some hope that Professor Wenger’s Holloway Road nursery might have an edge during the run-in. Last month, when (I think) Ramires scored and rushed over to celebrate with AVB, there was a curious lack of English players who joined in mobbing their manager. Ramires, David Luiz, Jose Bosingwa, Juan Mata and others joined in but I saw Ashley Cole — who is noted for his loyalty – peel off quickly from the pack surrounding the manager. With the omelet maker in town to house hunt and batting his eyes about his availability, there’s going to be plenty of uncertainty. Couldn’t happen to a nicer club.

That’s about it. A busy day ahead.

Wednesday

A muffled day on Fleet Street as assorted hacks and beard strokers quietly sharpened their pens and broke out their Big Book of Dutch Cliches for the inevitable slaughter at Wembley. A few miscreants tossed rocks at the interim England manager’s appointment of a captain for a meaningless friendly, although none of Steven Gerrard’s fans in the media were nearly as cutting as former teammate, rap star and occasional footballer Ryan Babel, who tweeted “See it already happen Xavi laughing in his mind standing infront of Parker before the game with the refs thinking “Who’s he?”"

OK, he loses points for committing atrocities against grammar but English isn’t his first language and his grip on the Bard’s language was worsened by his spell on Merseyside. But still pretty funny.

In news that has English journos knees going weak and hearts a fluttering, the omelet maker is apparently house hunting in west London, which Sid Lowe interprets as a gesture to his current paymasters at Franco FC.

Matthew Stanger thankfully ignores that unedifying slurping and composes a list of the 10 best Dutch footballers to grace England’s pitches. Sadly, no room for Winston Bogarde on this list.

And finally, Paul Marshall chronicles the feel-good story at Montpelier, who — once again — prove transfer fees don’t always provide a measure of a player’s value. It must be said here’s another club who developed a core of good youth players and supplemented it with shrewd buys. Centre half Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, in particular, looks like a fantastic prospect.

Tuesday

Apparently, the world of football has deemed this good day to be  Filthy Lucre Tuesday, what with the plethora of news and analysis on the subject of Mammon and its enslavement of clubs, players and agents.

Let’s start off with the good, shall we? And nobody reads a set of financials better than the Swiss Ramble — it’s like watching Pirlo or Xavi ping a through ball that cuts out seven defenders. Anyway, he looks at shiny new half-year financials of Holloway Road Properties PLC and answers five key questions.

The good news, I suppose, is the results generated by football most successful property developers are the envy of clubs such as Aston Villa, whose Q2 results were seven shades of ugly.

To Forbes, where the one per cent can enjoy Bobby McMahon’s piece on whether a Carling Cup victory will spark a revival at the People’s Club. Is there anybody else who sees an irony in the Romney crowd receiving a history lesson about Dalglish FC and working-class hero and socialist Bill Shankly?

From deft irony to stating the bleeding obvious, the Daily Telegraph’s Hugh Grant returns with some advice for Arsene Wenger. Hmm, want to know why our ‘enry is so big on RvP. It might have something to do with his sage preview of the demolition derby, where he suggested only the Dutch master would make it into a combined Islington XI. Idiot.

OK, we’ve gone from good to bad. Do we really want to rehash the ugly? Nah. Let’s bounce to Duncan Castles, who suggests AVB is dancing on the precipice in West London. Normally, I would mock this as speculative rubbish but Castles is pretty well connected and pretty perceptive. If true, there’s going to be no small amount of delight as it will continue to stall the tough decisions that need to be made with some of the geriatric Rent Boys, many of whom have shown they are well past their best-before dates.

AVB’s future appears to hinge on getting a result against the Neapolitans so he’d do well to crack the analysis of Michael Cox on the connection between the thrill-a-minute excitement of the Premier League and the abysmal performance of English sides in Champions League.

To the Continent, where Tom Williams sees Laurent Blanc’s Bleus struggle to find their identity. I’ll bet they recover it in time to beat the wheeler-dealer’s Three Lions nine shades of blue in the group stages.

To Africa, where Jonathan Wilson sees a tough transition ahead for a traditional West African powerhouse. Given Inter’s struggles since Samuel Eto’o's departure, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Indomitable Lions look toothless. One of the best players of the past decade.

Speaking of Italian giants, there’s all kinds of rumours that Paul Pogba has agreed to accept a large wedge of Agnelli cash and add some power to the Old Lady’s midfield. I’m guessing this news will be greeted with a shade of empurplement not seen in the greater Carrington area since journalists had the temerity to question Juan Sebastien Veron’s purchase price.

The second bit of gossip is in the German tabloid Bild and suggests Arsenal have agreed a fee of 19.5m for Koln’s Lukas Podolski. Make of that what you will.

Monday

It’s hard to contain your excitement when you see these kinds of results. Yes, it is a happy day in London as the board of Holloway Road Properties, football’s most successful property developers, as they announced PROFITS!!!! Oh and, by the way, they happened to win a football match, too, which, seems to have satisifed the ungrateful customers supporters who were not mollified with the board’s earlier big-hearted gesture to freeze prices of the highest tickets in the history of the sport. Apparently it had something to do with abject capitulation to Berlusconi’s lot in Italy and then a spot of bother up in the northeastern hinterlands during the previous week.

It’s interesting the board chose to announce the Q2 results AFTER the thrashing of the lesser lights as opposed to before the game, when the media narrative was all about Wenger being under pressure and supporters were wondering where the money went. Oh and how the media were droning on about how only RvP would make it into a combined Islington XI. Alex Song poured cold water on that theory by bossing the midfield on Sunday, unmasking Scott Parker as a pretender. Oh and outpassing Luka Modric, too. Still he wasn’t MOTM, which deservedly went to the Little Mozart. As for the match itself, I’ll restrain myself to six points about the Demolition Derby.

1. Gareth Bale is a diving cheat who would be on the back pages if his last name ended in another vowel.

2. Kieran Gibbs being caught out of position led to both of their goals. Without wanting to make excuses, he badly needs a run in the first team without being injured.

3. On the other flank, Bacary Sagna demonstrated why he has been badly missed. Oh and made a mockery of the notion he wouldn’t get into a north London XI. When fit, he’s the best right back in the Premier League. Full stop.

4. I wonder what Fabio Capello made of the wheeler dealer’s tactical rejiggering at half time. It certainly had a galvanizing effect. On Arsenal.

5. That much of the press chose to hail Theo Walcott — I’ve picked out Telegraph toothsucker Paul Hayward and David Pleat as examples — demonstrates why Arsene Wenger should have just flicked a V sign at the assembled halfwits in the post-match press conference before walking out.

6. Did anybody see whether Clive Allen got a postmatch handshake?

Tactics guru Michael Cox provides a fuller, better look at this match.

It capped a really outstanding weekend of football for me as I had caught the Milan-Juve showdown on Saturday. It was a match that had a little bit of everything, including controversy. Cox and Paolo Bandini give their takes. Sulley Muntari’s header was definitely over the line and in wake of some retrospective punishments being mooted for players, I wonder whether the officials will also be disicplined.

The weekend start with watching the Rent Boys ease past Bolton, which I watched to get a look at Ryo Miyaichi, who looked very promising. It will be interesting to see how he progresses during his spell in Lancashire. The win didn’t stop the pressure on AVB as Glenn Moore wrote a pretty interesting piece suggesting the young manager should have spoken with Graeme Souness rather than reacting to his criticisms. Iain Macintosh doesn’t see the grumblings against AVB in the Rent Boy changeroom as close to the revolts experienced by some managers, including Souness at Liverpool.

Talking of Liverpool, Jonathan Wilson wonders whether their Carling Cup triumph over Cardiff City will be a springboard for success. Alan Hansen believes his old club needs a Champions League place even more than a trophy.

42 comments
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  1. Ewtt-Don’t be jealous :)

    AG-Bale did dive but we’ve all seen players cheat to get an advantage. Just be happy that it happened against your team and you still won. And to be fair to the ref, that was tough for him to see.

    Hell of a game from Rosicky. And I couldn’t agree more about Parker. So ridiculous the plaudits he gets.

    Oh and Walcott shut up the boo boys….and hopefully Wenger too.

  2. Full disclaimer, I didn’t watch Liverpool get the cup. But I have been reading that they overcame their opponent to raise the trophy with lots of media hype. The problem I have surrounding the hype is that the opponent is Cardiff City -not a major contender in today’s standards. So my question, what is the hype about?

  3. It’s a Cup Final and a major one at that. Don’t think so? Look at how Arsenal was booed and slated for losing to NY in a preseason cup final. That’s where the hype comes from.

  4. Disturbance

    I’m not trying to make light of Liverpool’s cup. I am happy for them. I am questioning the people hyping the match up vs cup. I guess it’s all relative

    I think Arsenal being booed pre-season is retarded. Especially with Wenger at helm.

  5. “I think Arsenal being booed pre-season is retarded. Especially with Wenger at helm.”

    Yeah I completely agree. I think it says a lot more about the chicken little supporters that AG refers too than anything else.

    As for Liverpool I didn’t think you were belittling I was just explaining the hype. In any case, I didn’t really celebrate the win. I was happy for Liverpool but let’s be honest, top four is what we want.

  6. Dist:

    Giggsy 12. Gerrard nil. I’m jealous of Giggs.

    I just don’t like the correlation between the CC and it leading to some sort of progression. The notion is unfounded and ridiculous to me give the way the PL and football in general is structured. I was rather shocked after reading Wilson adopted the same rhetoric as well.

  7. Why are you so sure it doesn’t?

    Look at 2005. United wins the League Cup and Liverpool wins the European Cup for a fifth time. Look who’s had a better time since United won the League Cup and Liverpool won the European Cup for a fifth time….Five times.

    In all seriousness, I think if you want to equate this to American sports this is like winning a divisional title. Its not huge, doesn’t do much for ya but it guarantees you a playoff shot(Europe) and Liverpool can now just focus on improving their position. Something tangible, as Wilson astutely pointed out.

    So will it? Who knows. But it is something that CAN be a springboard and I think thats the main point.

    Btw United won the league cup in 2005 and in that same year Liverpool won the European Cup for a fifth time in what is considered the greatest European Cup of all time(even better than 99). Just in case you were wondering :)

  8. Can we talk about Charlie Adam again? Man was he poor against “lower” opposition(almost as bad as Jordan) and that penalty was bloody awful. AG I hope you are teaching your kids better technique than that!!!

    As for Jordan, just completely shut down. Can’t believe we paid 24m quid for the pair of them. All I can do is shake my head at this point.

  9. “Giggsy 12. Gerrard nil. I’m jealous of Giggs.”

    Is that the score of how many times each have had sex with Ryan’s brother’s wife?

  10. A trophy has been added that wasn’t there before despite the team having had arguably more impressive runs during seasons past. I’m pretty sure that’s his main thesis.

    I’d consider that winning something is better than almost winning something, regardless of relative merit of the trophy in question.

  11. Better than 99′? For a treble? I’m speechless…;)

    Giggs is allowed to shag who he wants. Your boy Stevie might want to take a closer look at a few of his kids.

    The development of Ronaldo and Rooney had more to do with where United went after winning the trophy than the actual act of winning the League Cup. I doubt strongly Liverpool have purchased anything that closely resembles the talent that those two possess.

    My point is simple. Take the trophy for what it is but leave it in its place. Your springboard is the CL. Simple as. That’s the way football is structured currently. Figuratively speaking, you don’t exist if you’re not in that competition. Oh sure, you’ll be well-supported, vocal crowds, packed house but you’ll be going absolutely nowhere (see Everton). You might not go down, but eventually you’ll have your brush with the drop (see Spurs). But if you’re mismanaged poorly enough, which happens when you depart from the pinnacle of the sport, you will go down (see Newcastle or worse…Leeds). Its sad but true lads.

  12. “Better than 99′? For a treble? I’m speechless…;)”

    Haha welll played sir.

    “Giggs is allowed to shag who he wants. Your boy Stevie might want to take a closer look at a few of his kids.”

    He certainly is though I would ask whats a bigger crime…oh nvm, I won’t re hash it :)

    “The development of Ronaldo and Rooney had more to do with where United went after winning the trophy than the actual act of winning the League Cup. I doubt strongly Liverpool have purchased anything that closely resembles the talent that those two possess.

    My point is simple. Take the trophy for what it is but leave it in its place. Your springboard is the CL. Simple as. That’s the way football is structured currently. Figuratively speaking, you don’t exist if you’re not in that competition. Oh sure, you’ll be well-supported, vocal crowds, packed house but you’ll be going absolutely nowhere (see Everton). You might not go down, but eventually you’ll have your brush with the drop (see Spurs). But if you’re mismanaged poorly enough, which happens when you depart from the pinnacle of the sport, you will go down (see Newcastle or worse…Leeds). Its sad but true lads.”

    Are you telling me you don’t see Henderson and Adam developing into those type of players?

    No doubt the CL means you’re safe, not only league position but money as well. And its where Liverpool ultimately wants to be and NEEDS to be. No disagreement. League Cup is supposed to be the springboard to that. Whether Liverpool achieves the CL, its up to each person to determine if that was the actual springboard for their success.

  13. Sorry for the late post today, fellows. Busy morning at work.

    @disturbance

    “Bale did dive but we’ve all seen players cheat to get an advantage. Just be happy that it happened against your team and you still won. And to be fair to the ref, that was tough for him to see.”

    Rob McNichol of Football365 argues Bale should be banned retrospectively. Given all the shit that Suarez and other foreign players have taken about this issue from the media this year, it’s nice to see somebody call it what it was.

    http://www.football365.com/ref365/7553734/Referee365

    “Hell of a game from Rosicky. And I couldn’t agree more about Parker. So ridiculous the plaudits he gets.”

    Glad somebody else sees it. Hopefully Rosicky can repeat this form for the rest of the year. Just imperious.

    “Oh and Walcott shut up the boo boys….and hopefully Wenger too.”

    Until the next match, when the selfsame gloryhunting, bandwagon jumpers will be out in force if he makes the wrong decision.

  14. @disturbance

    The irony is Adam is probably one of the better penalty takers I’ve seen up to that point. Maybe the occasion was too much for him.

    As far as Henderson goes, he’s still young so there’s room to grow. If I were a Liverpool fan, I’d be far more concerned about Downing even though he looked good on Sunday but has looked near useless in big games where they’ve needed him. It’s staggering they’ve paid 20m for a 27-year-old winger who is not going to get any better.

  15. Dist:

    My mistake. Apart from Henderson and Adam, Liverpool haven’t purchased anything that closely resembles the talent that Ronaldo and Rooney possess. Good catch…

    “Whether Liverpool achieves the CL, its up to each person to determine if that was the actual springboard for their success.”

    Absolutely. And if they miss out then people should clearly recognize that winning a second rate domestic trophy means next to nothing if you’re not a CL club. We’ll see…

    Hey, why does KK not like Dirk Kuyt? He somewhat reminds me of Fletcher in the way he brings solidarity on the pitch for them. Tireless, does exactly what’s asked of him, and has a knack for scoring goals at critical times in big games.

  16. I’m a big Kuyt fan, too. Very underrated.

  17. RVP out for friendly against England. . . awwww damn that is such a shame I was really really hoping he would be able to play that game!

  18. @Rico

    I suspect Pyscho will be relieved, though, as it probably limits the damage on the score line.

  19. EWTT, AG-Not quite sure why KD doesn’t play DK. Maybe similar initials?

    Scott Parker was brought in as Captain? Anyone else think that Pearce is playing for this position through the media???

  20. All of my sources (Twitter) suggest RVP is playing Rico…?

  21. Your right, only one half though, hopefully he is fine!

  22. Ah, glorious failure for the Three Lions, complete with an aborted comeback and slapstick defending. I wonder how Fleet Street will spin this to somehow blame Fabio. That will be our Taking the Piss winner for this week.

    In other news, the United States defeated Italy 1-0 on a goal by Clint Dempsey. It was the first time the USA has ever beaten Italy and they first played each other in 1934. It was also the Azzuri’s first-ever defeat in Genoa. So I sort of wonder if Prandelli is rethinking his decision to exclude Mario Balotelli.

  23. Surely the Taking The Piss award goes to this new group accusing Reina of being racist…

  24. BTW this is exactly what I’m talking about when it comes to over sensitivity. I feel the actual claim of racism is more of a slap in the face against gays and blacks than any negative statement could ever be.

  25. @disturbance

    “Surely the Taking The Piss award goes to this new group accusing Reina of being racist…”

    Well spotted and I think it’s going to be tough to beat for this week.

  26. Dist:

    You’re right in this case. The claim of racism for something like that is just ridiculous and overly sensitive without any just cause. It’s miles away from the Suarez thing but some balance and perspective would have helped from all sides in both these situations.

    England did what I expected them to do. United again is helping the country in a time of need with Welbeck and Young moving and combining nicely together. It was nice to see Smalling get a cap but he’s still learning that position. Hopefully he’ll be alright after that horrendous injury.

    Not too much can be gained from friendlies and I think Italy v. USA showed that. A little more discipline from the Azzurri and that’s a 4-1 scoreline. Easy.

  27. @ewtt

    In light of that performance, doesn’t omitting Balotelli put pressure on Prandelli, though? I recognize “discipline” and “Balotelli” are rarely used in the same sentence, but he certainly would have converted some of those chances.

    The England result is just deliciously ironic for me, particularly with the post-match spin from the media campaigning to rid itself of Capello. If Wenger left Arsenal, he’d be one of the names I’d want on the shortlist. A serial winner.

  28. @ag Prandelli has a strict ethics code. He seems to want his players to behave and act with dignity. Osvaldo and DeRossi have already missed matches under Prandelli due to this. However if Rossi or cassano do not recover in time for the euros I can see Balotelli a certain even if he starts drop kicking opponents. Prandelli’s 4312 looks labored without Cassano/Balo/Rossi occupying at least 1 of the forward slots.

  29. NE_RedDevil:

    I’m surprised he went with four at the back given the trend of most teams in Italy going with three. I thought it might be the perfect time to experiment a little but even so they still put a tremendous amount of pressure on the USA back line.

    AG:

    Balotelli would have converted a chance from 35 yards never mind some of the chances Italy created inside the penalty area. In that sense it was a mistake, but I suspect as NE RedDevil said, that no matter what he does Balotelli will be starting in Polkraine.

    If Wenger waits a few years there is an even bigger job on deck. Like Evra said…he can start managing men instead of boys ;). Fuck me, he really is a twat sometimes, isn’t he?

  30. @NE_RedDevil

    Prandelli sounds an awful like another manager whose principles got in the way of getting results. FWIW, Balotelli strikes me as immature rather than malicious. He’s got far more in his locker than Rossi or Cassano just because he’s one of those rare players that can win match by himself when the mood strikes him. I think they have to take him because his potential to create problems for any team that Italy faces at the Euros, Spain, Germany and Holland included. Unlike Messi or Cronaldo, though, he can also vex his own teammates and coaches as well. If he can grow out of that habit, he’ll be right there with the best.

  31. @ewtt

    “Balotelli would have converted a chance from 35 yards never mind some of the chances Italy created inside the penalty area. In that sense it was a mistake, but I suspect as NE RedDevil said, that no matter what he does Balotelli will be starting in Polkraine.”

    Very true. And he’ll likely drive Prandelli round the bend. I can’t decide on whether he’ll be more like Gaza or Cantona in terms of the over-under on bridges burned with managers.

    “If Wenger waits a few years there is an even bigger job on deck. Like Evra said…he can start managing men instead of boys . Fuck me, he really is a twat sometimes, isn’t he?”

    As I understand it, Wenger has a standing offer of a board seat as well as a DoF/Sporting Director position — along with a small ownership percentage — when he steps down as manager. Apparently he loves London. About the only job that would tempt him away from the club is the France national team but I get the sense he’s ready to stay in the dugout at the Emirates until he wins HIS WAY to prove a point. And I’m not convinced we’re all that far off, particularly if Jack Wilshere can come back fit and ready and the Ox continues his progress.

    The way Juventus has bounced back this year demonstrates clubs can narrow the gap quicker than expected with the right investment.

  32. Wow. A game Liverpool should’ve had well in hand. So on to my favorite whipping boys:

    -Why is Charlie Adam giving Kuyt any guff over who takes the spot kick? Christ Almighty, will Dalglish lose faith in this loser and get him off the pitch?

    -Downing had a great game and this game here proves why Downing has been so “lackluster”. FINISHING. Either we don’t get guys in the box for him or when he does make good balls in, players don’t finish them.

    -Why on earth doesn’t Adam play in Henderson? I know Henderson is terrible but its got to be a better option than kicking it straight out for a goal-kick, right?

    -This game also further questions Dalglish’s selections, or lack thereof, of Dirk Kuyt. The man is immense, does everything he can for the club and usually does the club proud. And yet he falls behind guys like Henderson and Adam.

    -Spearing had a good game passing the ball and was ok in the tackle. He was very lucky to escape without a booking, maybe even a red on that Rosicky challenge.

    -Now to the call of the penalty: There was contact. They clipped shinpads(both players’ moves). Seriously. I know it seems weak but its true. And a player shouldn’t be penalized for pulling out so he doesn’t get injured. So I thought, overall, it was a good penalty call.

    -How good is RVP’s finishing? Man alive, that was Torres-esque when he was our hitman at Anfield.

  33. Oh and I forgot to add Carra was the one beat on both goals. Glad he’s still getting a paycheck. Better off having Coates in there and getting burned. It would be a good lesson for him

  34. AG:

    I’ll take credit any time for predicting a mentally tough Arsenal. That was a typical United performance they showed today. Absolute shite for much of the match and still managed to come out winners. I’m disregarding anything ZM, you, or others might say about Arsenal’s tactics. They were terrible and still managed to win…that’s purely mental.

    Dist:

    That looked very similar to every other Liverpool performance at home this season. I thought the CC represents progression for teams who win it. Hmm…I’ll take credit for that too.

  35. @distubrance

    It was a penalty. End of discussion. Because you don’t need to make contact to commit a foul. Now I didn’t appreciate Suarez’s clutching his leg and rolling over after non-contact but there’s no argument from me.

    You won’t have an argument from me that Szczesny was about a yard off his line when Kuyt struck the ball, either. The linesman’s error is mitigated somewhat by the fact that he should have tucked in the rebound.

    Having watched Arsenal dominate a number of games and come away with nothing, I’ll definitely take this. That we didn’t deserve a point, let alone three, doesn’t really trouble me.

    I was a little surprised KK waited until the 88th minute to bring on Bellamy and waited until after we went up to introduce Carroll. I don’t know if they were hurt or something but he’ll be answering that question a lot this week.

    Diaby was subbed off as a sub and went straight down the tunnel. He’s our Owen Hargreaves.

    Wondering how badly Arteta is hurt and whether Wenger will have the guts to play the Ox in the middle. He looked pretty nifty in his cameo.

    Oh and RvP is a little bit good, isn’t it? Loved how he kissed Song’s boot in front of the Arsenal supporters. That was about Song’s seventh assist of the season. Not bad for a defensive midfielder who some of our dumbassed supporters have dismissed as not good enough.

  36. @ewtt

    AG:

    “I’ll take credit any time for predicting a mentally tough Arsenal. That was a typical United performance they showed today. Absolute shite for much of the match and still managed to come out winners. I’m disregarding anything ZM, you, or others might say about Arsenal’s tactics. They were terrible and still managed to win…that’s purely mental.”

    Yeah, there was some steeliness there, particularly after Arteta was knocked out. Koscielny looked petrified, though.

    Szczesny’s attitude reminds of Schmeichel. That’s probably blasphemy to you, but I’m now going freely admit he’s made me eat my words about buying a keeper. He has a bloody-minded mentality that really shines through in slogs like that one.

    I do think it helps having real fullbacks playing that role. It provides width going forward. I also happen to think Sagna dealt pretty well with Downing. I also think Sagna’s another guy with a winner’s mentality who has been missed on the pitch this season.

  37. AG:

    Szczesny’s distribution is the only thing that lets him down at times for me. I’m not sure that’s something he can improve upon but if he does he’ll be the perfect keeper in the modern sense. Comparisons to Schmeichel should be avoided where possible but I think you may be on to something here ;)

    Sagna played well. I don’t think he controlled Downing well enough in the first half but he got better in the second. Apart from the assist, I thought Song had a horrific match but I think he really needs a rest. Cameroon to Anfield and 98 min on top of that? Fuckin hell.

  38. Agree with your points about Szczesny’s distribution needing improvement and Song playing poorly yesterday. My guess is Song and a couple others will be rested for Milan midweek.

    After this weekend’s results, I’m reasonably confident we can hold off the Rent Boys and even bother the lesser lights for third place. Also caught a few highlights of the Massive v Bolton and Ryo had some nice moments in that match. Pretty much the perfect weekend for us capped by Abramovitch making another dumbassed short-term decision that pretty much guarantees they’ll have to put off the tough decisions for another year.

  39. A call to Arsenal fans… don’t forget to send your thank you note with flowers to Abramovich.

  40. @CIAO

    Shouldn’t Inter fans stump up for a nice gift form Abramovitch, too?

  41. AG
    Yes, but we have to wait and make sure Moratti does not f things up by not bringing AVB.

  42. Do you think AVB will be a better fit at Inter than he was at Chelsea? It’s not like Inter are built around the high line and pressing philosophy that AVB seems to favour. Not to mention the fact that they have almost as many aging stars as Chelsea.

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