A guest post from @anicoll5.
I can remember few games in which we found the opposition performance so tepid and toothless, in football terms at least. I can remember few Sunday afternoons during which, from the first peep of the referees whistle the game was so tilted in our direction and the result was never in doubt. It is untypical for me, and I suspect I was not the only one yesterday, to be not just glancing at my watch midway through the second half but wondering whether the battery had failed.
But let us be clear my Sunday sojourn was not the result of the opponents arriving at the Ems as a bad side. This is the same Stoke who beat us fair and square at the Britannia a month ago and made us look very ordinary that day. This is the same Stoke who have won at the Etihad, the Lane and run Manchester’s second side ragged at Trafford Park since September. I anticipated a difficult afternoon, I really did.
No this almost entirely one sided contest was the result of our mastery, I shall say that word again loudly for dramatic effect MASTERY of every aspect of the game from first to last.
Santi, Tomas and the Ox fizzed, buzzed, clipped, probed and punished. Le Coq was entirely tidy, stayed up right and negated any threat through the middle. A more complete midfield performance is difficult to think of. Creativity in a spiral of energy. Was Bojan on the field yesterday ?
Our full backs, all three of them were excellent going forward and resolute on the back foot. Monreal looks twice the player who started the season. And our centre backs made Crouch and Walters look amateur for 90 minutes.
Ospina’s two ‘saves’ I suppose kept the man awake in what for him was probably quite a disappointing PL debut. With so little to do it was not a stage to show his wares to best effect. What he did do however he did well.
And that brings up on to our attacking pair of Giroud and Sanchez. Olivier had a fine game and will be disappointed not to be among the scorers. For Alexis the superlatives are just about exhausted. Another MotM performance from the Chilean. Even if everyone else had just about settled for the 3-0 he was still at it in the final two minutes winning a ball on the edge of the Arsenal box and haring off up field with it to set up Theo. It is not a question of what is in his batteries it is a question of what is in his head !
Because I am of a sporting disposition I invariably try to say something at least conciliatory about the opposition. It is a weakness I know but there we are. At the outset Stoke I think came with the notion of trying to play football. After the first goal went in, and Begovic was keeping them in the game, they recognised that would not work and turned petulant and nasty. When that did not work they gave up. Accordingly, and other than their keeper, I can give them no kind word. They may not have arrived a bad side but sure as Hell they left the Ems as one. Diminished, flattened, embarassed.
A solid few days of hard work in prospect before the contest at the Etihad. These are the games to enjoy our treasure. To prepare ourselves for the contest, to renew our commitment to the club, to this exceptional group of players and our manager I attach below a suitable text for Positivistas to reflect upon this week;
“No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Toodle-Oo for now