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Pass The Sick Bag – It’s Man United

First up today is Steww

I’ll let you into a secret. Not all of us regard the North London derby as the biggest game of the season. I’ll go further. None of us should regard the North London derby as the biggest game of the season. In fact only Spurs fans should regard the North London derby as the biggest game of the season. For them, beating us became the holy grail. Year after year, season after season the dream of finally winning a match against Arsène’s Arsenal had them tossing and turning at night , feverish in their hopeless dreaming. They knew they would never win anything of significance would never join us at the top table with Europe’s elite, but would live forever in our shadow hoping that one day a lucky shot would bring them a brief transitory moment of joy which they could put onto a DVD and then masturbate in front of for years to come.

Before you rush to unfollow me on Twitter just hear me out. I know that for North Londoners there is a genuine local rivalry going back years, to before Spurs were even a London club in fact, and I respect that. But even if you all decided to take an unlikely interest in the fixture list of Welton Rovers I shouldn’t expect you to suddenly hate Radstock Town or Paulton Rovers. The people of Peasedown St John may be a hissing and a byword in the leafy lanes of lovely Midsomer Norton but I don’t expect the good folk of Hartlepool or Antrim to despise them just because we higher evolved people have an ancient rivalry with the thumbless mutants from up on Bath hill. The point is that nowadays Arsenal is supported on a global level, and while we all enjoy seeing a silly side like Spurs getting stuffed they aren’t the real enemy for much of the fan-base. The truly despised team for me has historically always been Manchester United.

There are some who have moved away from Man United, preferring Chelsea as the demons du jour . There are people who tell me I despise whoever is at the top of the league simply because that is a place I regard as rightfully ours, that my feelings stem from jealousy at another’s success. You can psychoanalyse it all you like but the simple truth is that along with huge swathes of the football supporting population I have never ever liked Man United and there has been a deep seated rivalry between us and them for as long as I can recall. When I used to watch matches on television, before being forced from that medium by the appalling one eyed agenda driven drones spewing their pro United bias from the commentary box, I would record the United game. This wasn’t so that I could rewatch it over and again but so that I could fast forward through any of their possession and thereby minimise my exposure to them and their horrible players. I have always struggled to watch them and as Ferguson’s grip on the referees and the British media and football establishment in general reached its apogee it became all but impossible for me so to do.

Of course post Ferguson they have become a whole lot more entertaining to watch. Granted there is still Rooney’s presence to turn your stomach and that grey haired old man they sometimes wheel out up front is an off putting spectacle. I still wouldn’t recommend watching them whilst eating, but they have shed the indigestive collective of Evra, Vidic, and Ferdinand in recent times and that has helped lessen their toxicity enormously. It doesn’t hurt that they can go out and lose to the likes of Milton Keynes either.

The problem is that even in their wildly unpredictable current condition they seem to exert some kind of malicious hoodoo over us. Remember Old Trafford last season? We had never been better set to humble them in their own home until a mystery virus meandered through our squad on the morning of the match. The home side were effectively playing against a team shambling about in hospital gowns – those that could be dragged out of bed to actually take the field did their best but the result had a horrible predictability about it once we’d heard of the contagion in our ranks.

This time around neither side is in the best of nick, either can lose to anybody but unlike us they don’t look really capable of beating very many teams either. At our best even in this stop start season we could take them apart. Unfortunately we could also dominate possession and lose to a couple of quick counter attacks, it’s an outcome which we don’t want to consider today. A lot of people are predicting a very open game based on both sides having a loose hinged back door allied to attacking mentalities. Of course that entirely ignores the fact that Arsène will want to tighten up the defensive side of our game having seen us pegged back from winning positions in recent matches. I’m excited at the prospect of Theo’s continuing recovery and were he not suffering with his groin, he might have been expected to start in place of Sanchez who will be eating his breakfast while the rest of the squad are having their supper. Or something. I take my holidays an hour down the road at Brean so I’m not all that clear on jet lag, what it is or how it affects people. With Welbeck knackered wasting his talent playing in a pointless international, Giroud not match fit, and Sanogo just back from injury I haven’t a clue who will start up front. Sadly it is atrocious luck with injuries which once again will define our season. Not the manager. Not the tactics, the training, the referees, the opposition’s spending power but pure and simple rotten luck.

It’s hard to bear but for today’s match it is rendered almost irrelevant as the opposition have had their fair share of injuries too. Nowhere near as disruptive as ours nor over such a long period but when you look at the side they cannot field today it does look as if the playing field may be a little more level than usual. The Mirror even goes so far as to provide us all with a graphic. Funny, I can’t recall journalists making such a song and dance about the way injuries have destroyed our title challenge season after season but then, Arsenal aren’t the media darlings that United have always been.

Today I shall be watching the entire thing from the kick off and I hope that we can stick it to Mike Riley, The FA, Sky the BBC et al and take their favourites to pieces. If Giroud really is fit enough to start and can hit the ground running I believe we have more than enough to beat them even with the players we will be missing. He has been the grease in our gears since he arrived, at the heart of so many of our best moves and very best goals. A massively underrated player, who has the prefect first touch, the vision, the selfless team play and a pretty good eye for goal but above all he keeps the ball moving. So much of our attacking play has looked faltering without him. Oh, and he’s pretty handy defending corners and other set pieces which I have to admit would be no bad thing.

So chin up Positivistas, today is, for me, and many other non London based Arsenal fans, the big one. Can we win? Of course. We can win any game, the script hasn’t been written yet and this Arsenal team hasn’t shown what it is really capable of yet this season. This evening would be a perfect time to start.

And now we have Andrew @anicoll5 , (don’t tell me this blog is on the decline !)

The cyber static clears, the media can break from its incessant clatter for a moment, the blogocracy can wind its collective neck in in anticipation, and that instant of hush caused by  another football contest, and one that is traditionally between the two biggest clubs in the country, and usually a highlight of the season’s fixtures for both clubs. While I rely on the figures produced elsewhere this is the 200th league game between the clubs, stretching back to a 3-3 draw between Woolwich Arsenal and Newton Heath on the 13th October 1894.

And into the silence, albeit a short silence until the noise starts up again,  I come with my three ha’pence worth. Let me illuminate the scene tonight, as I see it;

It seems to me a long time since the final whistle blew in South Wales. The opportunity finally arrives to right the wrongs of the Liberty, to set our compass for the Pole and stride onwards.  To open our eyes and our minds to the joy of football, and more particularly Arsenal football, again.

A wet day in London and likely to remain so to kick off and through the game. And what therefore can we expect to see as Mr Michael Leslie Dean, hops, skips and a puff of his shiny pink cheeks at 5.30 p.m. Our first meeting with the Wirral whistler this season I see,  which just goes to prove you can’t keep a good man down.

I shall not stray into the statistics that attempt to measure the event and predict the future based upon the arithmetical measurement of previous events. As Rich so eloquently explained this week( I think), statistics are right about 50% of the time, and wrong 50% of the time. I will not ponder who ill be deemed fit and remain fit until 7.20 p.m. , and who will not. We all have our favourite players and hypothetical starting line up, an infinite jigsaw of flair and steel. You are a well informed bunch and know enough to make your own minds up.

Both sides come into the game below full strength but with more than enough good and experienced footballers, particularly in the attacking departments to ensure that it will not end 0-0. I do not however ser a lot of goals. The handbrakes will be on, the result of paramount importance for both sides.

Both sides have had at various times in recent weeks, against the Belgians for us, against Leicester for our visitors, a dose of the ‘yips’ that embarrassed both clubs, players, manager and fans. For me that suggests that today there will be less concentration on the high pressing game we have tried this season, Mikel will tackle more and run less, more care taken of possession and no time on the ball or for self indulgence. Again that suggests the scoreboard will not click over more than once or twice.

I sense however it will be our afternoon. We are physically stronger this year, slightly cleverer, and at home. The Ems will rock, as it always does on big game afternoons. And it will bring our first win since Sunday 1st May 2011. What will make the difference, where does he spark of confidence come from  ?

 

“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.”

 

So said the immortal Vince Lombardi. It is wisdom and a message I think that our players have grasped and can put into practice in the undeniably tight contest tonight.

About steww

Arsenal, books, photography, bass guitar, dog walking, mountain biking, being on the radio, writing, talking too much, failing, making mistakes, buggering on regardless.

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73 comments on “Pass The Sick Bag – It’s Man United

  1. awful result, groundhog day all over again. Arsenal played very well, missed so many easy chances, then an og, chase the game, leave ourselves open to the second from a counter, fight back but fall short. So damn hard to take, we actually deserved so much more from that game

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Its the little things in tight games: chances not taken, moments of luck, brilliant saves, poor decisions, unfortunate injuries. We played very well and lost. I have seen us play pretty badly and win too. It is how it goes.
    We might put a run together that will make today seem a bad dream come April – and then again, we might not. The fun will be in watching us do whatever it is that we do.
    And it seems to me that if the players in your team are trying as hard as they can, then every time they lose is just one more reason to give them your unconditional support.

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  3. The tittle of this post is so apt that it hurts. How the narrative on TV is still “injury ravaged United” after we lost two more players is telling. Still, I’d rather be good than lucky. The season is far from over. Newcastle is in 5th place and we haven’t come close to playing our best football. Yet.

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  4. FH @ 9:36 pm “…then every time they lose is just one more reason to give them your unconditional support.”
    Throw in a bit of constructive criticism as well.

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  5. I dont suppose there is any chance of someone writing a post about that?

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  6. Just cut and paste PG 🙂
    When Rooney scored their second, I couldn’t watch any more – just too gutted – so I switched off and gave myself some space to get over it. Great that Ollie got one back.
    That was just so unlucky and some of the linesmen’s decisions today were criminal. Fellaini was certainly offside when that cross was played. Then there was the earlier one when RvP and someone else were both offside and they were given another corner. Arsene’s comments on afc.com are interesting. Apart from that, all that can be said has been.
    Ah well, it’s only a football match, I keep telling myself. We have another one on Wednesday and things are beginning to look better. We’ll be stronger with OG back imo. I hope Laurent and Debuchy can get fit again soon. Anyone know if Theo has had a relapse?

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  7. had not realized that Fellaini had pushed Gibbs into Szczesny, causing the injury and the goal. It was bad enough that the officials ignored that he was offside, but to also ignore his foul is awful but the pgmol will be happy

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I find it amazing that so many are blaming Szczesny for the goal.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m sad about the result, mostly because of how good I thought we looked, especially in the first half. The energy, the drive, the verve was back. Then, disaster. Poor Kieran. Football is cruel. So many what ifs in that game. What if Jack had chipped the keeper, what if Fellaini had been called for that foul, (what if Jack had punched his lights out…). But I’m encouraged, really. Because we looked better, and we get right back up on the horse on Wednesday. Now, please stay fit, Mikel. Because it is even more clear now that we need you desperately.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. anyone know what that knob Tim Payton of AST tweeted and then deleted that has many Gooners annoyed.

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  11. never mind I just found it. Amazing that the AST have this idiot as their head man, says a lot about them as a group.

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B3E7rNBCYAAsNiz.jpg:large

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  12. Tim Payton sucks wet farts from dead pigeons.

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  13. I’m still looking on the bright side. We are still only two points from 4th place, the boys can turn this season around. They played some excellent football yesterday and no single player can be blamed for the result. It was just one of those days.

    We’ll still finish above United.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. ha ha George, are you taking the piss?

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  15. No, I’m serious. I knew I was right about you from day one.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. It’s an interesting observation I’ve made about my own views on Wenger. For the first few years after the invincibles and our lack of silverware, I must admit I tended to be more critical. However, as these years of austerity and inability to win something have continued, I find myself supporting him more and more. Not sure what it’s about, but probably my innate sense of justice and supporting the underdog. I don’t like to see someone kicked when they are down, especially when they have done so much for us in the past.

    Liked by 5 people

  17. I expect Arsenal footballers to go out and to play with pride, energy and passion. They ticked all three boxes last night.

    Liked by 3 people

  18. You may well be right NB – I fucking loathe the pitchfork wielding mob, in football, in sport, in politics, I fucking loathe them.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Andyniccll5

    I would agree. I’ve just made a comment on another blog. That if AWs tactics were to instil passion into the side and get them to put Man U on the back foot, then yesterday it worked. What actually happened was pure bad luck, with the first goal. However, the boys then tried a bit too hard to get the game even, the passion and energy was there to win the game. But it just left us vulnerable. I’m sure some tweaking in training will rectify that.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. I watched the highlights on the Arsenal website this morning and we were better than I remember – or rather, I hadn’t properly appreciated quite how dominant we were up until their goal, such was the generalised anxiety I felt about the game. We seemed to be very, very good and certainly put their defence under a lot of pressure, but it was all very high-octane stuff. Lots of pressing, lots of attacks, but somehow all a bit frenetic. It’s almost as if we are trying to play in a different way, yet lack the poise (or the technical ability) to do it at that kind of pace.

    I can quite understand the criticism being rained down on the club and manager, because that seems to be the way of then world just now: we live in a blame culture, and we also live in a world of instant reaction. It would be naïve to expect a considered academic response from the majority of supporters, and their frustration is tangible. I just think that it is a pity, and hope that it doesn’t deflect the team from what they are attempting, because it seems to me that the side is tantalisingly close to achieving something quite special.

    But what is also apparent is that they are really quite fragile at the moment. A lot of the game was still left after we conceded, but we started to press as if there were only seconds remaining. The second goal was somehow inevitable from that moment, and it probably would not have been had the side possessed the confidence to keep on doing what it believed in. They were focussing on the result, rather than trusting in the process, and this is a dangerous place for any sportsman to be.

    It seems that for the last several years we have known the process that guarantees partial success (solid and mainly dependable defence, cautious build up, maintaining possession and only striking when the goal is almost open), but have now abandoned that in the pursuit of greater glory. As a result I think we are currently neither one thing or the other, and it will be really interesting to see what approach is adopted from now on. Returning players will help (as long as we don’t lose too many others in the meantime) and a bit of luck would be welcome too, but most of all we need the manager to gather his squad and remind them that if they keep on doing the basics right then the results will come.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Well yesterday was a bit of a Johny Nash,there were more questions than answers however there were also many positives from the game.
    As shrek said after the game manure set up to be compact, solid defensively and catch us on the break. Once again killing the myth that Arsene doesnt do tactics, as he had called this right and set up accordingly and even though all the pundits said manure had 3 at the back actually this in effect was a back 5 ( also confirmed by shrek).
    So we were in total control for the first 30 and manure policy of a sprung loaded front 3 galloping up the pitch just wasnt seen. Their only joy in the first half was when side show bon managed to find space down our left drawing keiran out to meet him. This was later to hit us hard and has been an area we have negleted before, the fact that our left back normally copes so well on his own has masked the failings of his colleagues infront of him.
    Sideshow bob was being outheaded by Mikel and Nacho ( who both had excellent games making irrelevent for this game both the arguments of only having 6 defenders and not getting the defensive midfielder) and outfought by the swashbuckling all action hooligan Jack. With bob having no effect and carrick having to defend deeper and deeper the manure front 3 were isolated and unseen tactics and game plan carried out.
    Going forward the pundits other blue eyed boy was getting gang raped by the Ox, Chambers, Aaron and Jack and de gea was working hard to keep us out surely it was just a matter of time before we scored the all important first goal. I say all important because I genuinely Thought with the set up of the teams the fist goal would have a bigger than normal effect onthe outcome.
    Well our front line and supporting midfielders done everything right except for final decesion making and execution and this is where we primary lost the game. Apart from the definate penalty turned down the game actually changed on two injuries. Firstly shaw who hadnt won a thing all day put to much of his considerable weight on his ankle and was replaced by the faster young who coped much better defencively and posed much more of a threat going forward. Secondly Jack who had been running the midfield was hit by mcnair and sideshow the former catching him badly on his calf and twisting his knee in the process. Of course the challenge went unpunished with not even a free kick let alone discipline for the player, although seeing the ref had ignored Jack headbutting sideshows belly it was not surprising. Santi was brought on instead of the more industrious Tomas and although Santi has flair to spare I feel this was a mistake. The first goal didnt come from a breakaway but from young crossing with a more hopeful ball than anything and weve all seen what followed with the officials again seeing no ships as it were.
    The disapointing thing from then on was our responce, we had 30+ to go and had been the better team and manure had still not had a shot on target we could of taken our time instead we ran headlong at the opponents with cannons to the left of us cannons to the right in the valley of death and although manure defending was at times more luck than judgement the counterpunch came. Even after manure went 2-0 up we still had time for Oli to score a screamer and if we had keep a bit more possesion a equalliser might have been on the cards but it was not to be.
    However at the the top of the post I said there were many positives and there were. The team as a whole played well, Arsene got his tatics right against one of the worlds top coaches, the two most highlighted players by the naysayers Arteta and Monreal played really well, even though manure might not be what they were we still dominated a very good side who were camped in their own half. The questions we have to ask ourselves are why have we not got the confidence to play our normal game when a goal down instead of over commiting. Why are Arsene and Bouldy not getting the message to calm down to the players, it cant be the noise in the stadium, and they fully acknowledge the problem in interviews. The second question is why have we gone back to the problem we had a couple of seasons ago of leaving our full backs isolated. Finally we have lost the clinical touch in front of goal with the shot or pass option being incorrectly chosen time and time again. Small corrections I know but its the difference between inconsistency and striking fear into the rest of the league.
    Lastly a word for the pundits, well they had an awful game yesterday from saying the game would be cascading goals oweing to the poor defences to the manure back three which as I said was actually a five. Also to cap it all off Stan collywobble even comitted the shrek mistake of saying manure had maintained a clean sheet. Now with shreks poor IQ and to a large extent non involement in the match he may be forgiven but for stan gives it to you straight collywoble surley its a resignation issue

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