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Arsenal In Manchester – Business As Usual

danny-welbeck-arsenal_3274739

I turned to Liz about twenty minutes before kick off and remarked on what a good day I’d had. First decent day in about two months in fact. Those who know me beyond the world of football will be aware things have been, of late, somewhat bumpy Chez Stew. Yesterday however we had seen a glimmer of light pierce the dark clouds and I was basking, just a little bit. It was about then I glanced at the clock and realised what time it was, what was about to happen and what I’d just said. How could I possibly describe Monday as a good day when there was such a potential game changer still to come? I tried to remember the lofty words I’ve often used to others. That old flim-flam about rising above the fray, employing some perspective and realising that in the grand scheme of things an FA Cup quarter final at Old Trafford was not really the most important thing in my life right now. It was merely a side show, a theatrical distraction to our real life drama, and regardless of the result I would still have had a good day. I forget the poet’s name but I think the quote I’m looking for is what a load of old bollocks. A defeat last night and my warm glow would have been swiftly translated into permafrost. Silly really to let the antics of a bunch of millionaire footballers undo all the good I’d worked for but in the end that is precisely what we sign up to isn’t it?

As it happened I need not have worried. Far from the dreaded and frankly unwelcome turd in the swimming pool, last night proved to be icing on an already tasty cake. We all saw it so I’ll spare you a blow by blow but for what it’s worth here are my impressions of the thrills and spills. Firstly, as George observed in the immediate aftermath, what a difference a decent performance from a referee makes. The players may have worked hard, really hard in fact throughout a tough match and eventually got their reward but the man in black was rivalled only by de Gea for his individual quality. We all know that back in the era of Ferguson and his horribly unhealthy relationship with the football establishment none of the yellow cards never mind the red would have happened. So credit where it’s due to Mr Oliver, and in a world of inept and probably corrupt officiating it is quite a joy to be able to say that. I have to add however that the final result had far more to do with resolute defending and a one dimensional approach from the home team than Di Maria’s stupidity. Per was back to his imperious best, Coquelin and Koscielny snuffed out Fellaini’s lumpen threat and the full backs, properly supported by the wide forwards stuck to their task impeccably.

Once again Arsène’s tactics were flawless, and it was good to see the players employ them effectively. Sent out to press and harass defenders who are drilled never to hoof away possession but always pass the ball even if that means going back to square one they did just that. This was surely the reason he opted for raw speed over assured insouciance by starting with Olivier on the bench. Eventually of course it was the pace and poaching skills of Daniel Nii Tackie Mensah Welbeck which made the difference. Just as the manager must have suspected it would. His substitutions were perfectly timed, even if one was forced, this being the only real blot on Arsenal’s otherwise pristine evening; yet another injury for Chamberlain. I am beginning to worry about that young man. The silver lining however was Aaron’s introduction to the fray. Some people have put forward the frankly ludicrous proposition that being injured for much of the season and not scoring ten goals a game means our Welsh maestro has somehow been a disappointment. Last night his calm assurance on the ball, his defensive work rate and his clever movement were vital in preventing United building a head of steam. I honestly thought they’d give us more of a headache towards the end of the match. I was bracing myself in my lonely room, waiting for the traditional United onslaught, but it never really came.

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The pundits, pub bores to a man, all tried to say it was a poor Manchester side that lost the game, but we know they would rather be buggered on live television by Carlton Palmer’s Doberman than give us any credit. The fact is their new manager has spent this entire season drumming into his charges the style in which he wants them to play and, most footballers not being conspicuously over endowed in the cerebrum, they’ve just about got the idea now. The problem was when they needed something different all they came up with was to stick their filthy Belgian fouling machine down the middle, bang it up high in his general direction and when that didn’t work then it was dive, dive dive. Sadly and unusually for the men in red the Das Boot routine failed them last night. What a glorious sight it was to see them finally get their comeuppance after years of cheating impunity. Still, it doesn’t do to gloat does it? Well, perhaps just a little.

So what of the future? The planets seem to be aligning to produce a repeat of the first ever cup final I watched as an Arsenal fan. Back in 1970 when I elected to follow the red and white having dallied with, bizarrely as it seems now, both Celtic and Chelsea, a perfect first season culminated with Bob Wilson in his green cap and Charlie George lying prostrate on the Wembley turf. It may not be so. Blackburn could do everyone a favour and cancel the Stevie G media love in, Reading or Bradford could prevent us getting to the ultimate game of the tournament. Never forget how close Wigan pushed us last year. There is indeed many a slip twixt the FA cup and the lips of our captain upon it. But given the form and stature of the teams left in the hat I bet you’d get great odds for a Villa versus Reading final.

marouane-fellaini

I apologise for the somewhat breathless ill conditioned tone of today’s blog. I am perhaps a little emotional still. Apart from anything else I detest watching us play at Old Trafford. It is literally the only fixture where I subscribe to the mantra of the nonsensical i.e. the only thing that matters is the result. Football is of course about so much more but I’ve become so conditioned to us losing there that I could have happily pressed fast forward to the final minute and just absorbed the score. Last night however things were different. As I said before the game I had a curious presentiment that we were due a change in fortune. I may not have expected it to be so dramatic with them missing from point blank range and their cheating ways telling on them so profoundly, but even though the match lacked free flowing sparkling football it had the right mix of tension and excitement to leave me restlessly unable to get to sleep. In short I’m glad I watched it, and you’ll seldom hear any football lover say that after ninety minutes in the company of Rooney, Fellaini and Young.

My final thoughts go to my mate Steve. You may think that the journey home from Greater Manchester would have been one of unbridled celebration but it wasn’t so for everyone. Steve is a coach driver. He drove all the way from Midsomer Norton to Old Trafford and spent the entire evening in the car park outside of the ground being so close that he could hear the game but not see one kick of the action. That’s not why I felt for him though. It was more the prospect of him then having to endure a four and a half hour drive in the company of fifty six miserable, disgruntled, moaning West Country Man United fans. Actually, thinking about it, that sounds like fun.

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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194 comments on “Arsenal In Manchester – Business As Usual

  1. Reflecting on the theme Gains it is very difficult to think of any United player, other than David De Gea, who has played well this season or shown any consistency.

    The Summer signings, di Maria, Shaw, Herrera, Rioja and even Blind ( who I thought started the season well) and Falcao fits into that group as contributing very little.

    Rooney looks their best outfield player out of a poor choice. Evans, Jones and Smalling are barely PL standard. Fellaini is sub League 2 standard. RvP has done as little this season as last and players who I would have expected more from such as Mata has barely made an impact.

    Its your mess Louis – sort it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. do you see them collapsing after this gains? can the ridiculous emphasis given to the clc backfire? are the tables turning finally?

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  3. Hehehe anicoll..not only luis fault in my eyes…does fergie have no blame….risking the clubs future for one final hurrah? after the 92 generation i dont remember anything coming out their youth system….. and other than carrick he didnt exactly sort out the midfield puzzle. then left it all for someone else to sort it out claiming ‘they were champions when i left them’ ….. too casual….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rooney was ready to go too…moyes kept him back…

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  5. if De Gea got injured then they would implode. It is amazing just how fragile they are. However 10 games is a long time in football and they have the potential to finish strongly. I hope when we are playing them in May they are still shit and we are on fire

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  6. great news that Hector has signed a new contract

    Liked by 1 person

  7. eduardo, I dont think Maureen has been in charge of chelski in 24 matches in the knockout stages so that stat is must be a little confused

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  8. Might it be 24 – inc. Porto, inter, etc?

    Not that I give a sh

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  9. Jose has managed Chels in eight knock out ties in the CL (16 games) , two seasons where they made the semi finals, and two seasons when they went out in the R 16

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  10. 10 games is indeed a long time, and there are tricky games wherever you look. Our next three: West Ham at home, Newcastle away and Liverpool at home will take some negotiating, especially with a trip to the Riviera to execute as well, so probably best at this stage to concentrate on what we are doing and let the others do what they will do. But it is tempting to imagine and hope for implosion and tantrums from red and blue. I have seldom enjoyed two games in such quick succession more.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. See we have van Gaal v Pochettino on Sunday. I suppose the result to hope for would be a draw.

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  12. george if you think that the cesc love in has abated you need to check out @HarringayBirder

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  13. It is the strategic v the tactical Mr T

    Strategically the draw would suit as it would cause our CL challengers to both drop points while ( fingers crossed) we crush the Appy Ammers on Saturday.

    Tactically though another doing for the Mancs has an attraction. Other than being good to watch there is the advantage that we return to Trafford Park in April and if they were used to a bit of regular humiliation by then, and whose CL hopes had receded far away, that would work for me.

    Decisions, decisions.

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  14. Some of you may remember the arguments I had with the experts at ACLF who were criticizing Wenger for not buying the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling. My “Manchester United supporters shit their pants whenever Jones and Smalling line up in defense” is as true today as it was four years ago when I first said it.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Mata had a chance to come to Arsenal and be a star. Now he’s sitting on the bench because Fellaini is in his spot. Isn’t that ironic?

    Liked by 3 people

  16. FH: “See we have van Gaal v Pochettino on Sunday. I suppose the result to hope for would be a draw.”

    Spuds next ten games:

    Man U (a)
    Leicester City (h)
    Burnley (a)
    Villa (h)
    Newcastle (a)
    Southampton (a)
    Man City (h)
    Orcs (a)
    Hull (h)
    Everton (a)

    Mancs’ next ten games:

    Totts (h)
    Liverpool (a)
    Villa (h)
    Man City (h)
    Chelsea (a)
    Everton (a)
    West Brom (a)
    Palace (a)
    Arsenal (h)

    I’d rather the Mancs beat them this week-end and struggle for the remainder of the season.

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  17. The ticket allocation for Arsenal fans (32,000) at Wembley is a joke. The stadium holds 90,000. Bradford or Reading will also get 32.000, crazy that clubs with such differing sizes of fan base will get the same amount of tickets, also stupid that nearly 30,000 tickets go to neutrals or should I say sponsors

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  18. something always worth remembering when talking about chelsea

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  19. where is fins? here mate read this …im at chapter: 1 Crying. enjoy :

    http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780007553044/the-special-one-the-dark-side-of-jose-mourinho/web-sampler

    was thinking if all this shaddenfreude would come back to bite us but fuck it….weve had to endure bullshit for a decade..lets enjoy our week !

    Liked by 1 person

  20. ———-

    The ticket allocation for Arsenal fans (32,000) at Wembley is a joke. The stadium holds 90,000. Bradford or Reading will also get 32.000, crazy that clubs with such differing sizes of fan base will get the same amount of tickets, also stupid that nearly 30,000 tickets go to neutrals or should I say sponsors

    ———–

    i am fully and totally with the idea of Arsenal given the same amount of tickets as Bradford or Reading. It just passes my head as to why the differing fan bases come into the equation here.

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  21. Cannon – I read that web sampler. Unbelievable really the sheer greed, duplicity and lust for power that abides in Mourinho and his cohorts. Football it seems is just a means to an end. No wonder he squeezes the life out of the game to realize his ambitions. The man is a megalomaniac. But he is being found out just as said in the old adage; you can fool some people some time but you can’t fool all the people all of the time. A defeat like Wednesday’s can really cause the wheels to fall off. You never know.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. the part when he is calling gestifude in pain and agony demanding to re-open talks with united….

    and then shows up here saying he is the /…happy one…

    ahahahahhaha

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  23. where he is bossed by a woman power broker/lawyer and decision on players are made by roman and where he needs to inhibit his players talents in fear of losing because he is nicking a level ‘selling’ a persona of – win at all costs in every club i go-. MUAHHAHA

    trashinio….

    oi chavs..those drops hitting you in the forehead..it aint the rain…its the rest of the world spitting on you!!!

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  24. Cannon: The part where he plays the same system year-in, year-out no matter the players at his disposal or the quality of the opposition, sacrificing world class talent for his system of two DMs, shunting Ozil wide right, no place for Modric. Whatever is left of Cesc Fabregas’ reputation will be completely destroyed at Chelsea. Mark my words.

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  25. arshavin the difference is bradford and reading don’t have a fraction the amount of fans Arsenal do, average attendances for Reading and Bradford combined would not equal Arsenal’s, so for me its all about rewarding match day going fans, as is the problem with 30000 tickets going to sponsors and neutrals. If possible clubs should get as close to possible to their average attendance or an equal % of their average attendance.

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  26. Matt Spiro @mattspiro · 2h 2 hours ago
    Yohan Cabaye to Diego Costa at full time: ‘You don’t stop crying even though you spend all your time dishing it out’ (L’Equipe) #CFC #PSG

    Matt Spiro @mattspiro · 2h 2 hours ago
    Lucas helped ease tension on #PSG bench in 2nd half by translating insults Mourinho was shouting in Portuguese at Willian (L’Equipe)

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  27. from Wenger’s press call today

    Arteta back in training today – but 3 weeks till ready for first team action
    Arteta may get new contract

    Bellerin has been offered new contract

    Flamini available for West Ham game

    Gabriel back in training on Sunday, should be available for Monaco game

    Wilshere and Ox out of Internationals, Ox out 3 or 4 weeks, Wilshere recovery is day by day, its about wound healing

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  28. Eduardo
    Thanks for putting up the moaner link. It’s awhile since I’ve seen that, and yet it’s fresh.

    canon13
    Oh, this book is gold! I read the sampler, chapter 12, then with some fiddling about, I’ve now read Chapter 1, and I’m hoping I can read it all.
    It’s possible that that man is much, much worse than I’d imagined.

    Thank you.

    Like

  29. I have ordered a second hand copy from Amazon for the princely sum of 1 penny and look forward to reading it. What is the background of Diego Torres to have led to him writing such a sharp critique?

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  30. Enough of this wallowing in the misery that is Jose, we have a football match tomorrow;

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  31. Samwise Allerdici rested Song (can’t have been that serious a knock if he was just benched) against Man Utd but I think it’s a fair guess that he’ll be starting tomorrow. It seems that old habits die hard for Biggus Sammus even though his old mucker has retired. Fortunately Valenica crocked himself at home this week so that’s one of their goal threats out of the game.

    My smart device is too smart for me and it will not let me read about the special one. I’ll have to wait till later on.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. ha anicoll5 …but he is worth it !!! ….tomorrow ill be at the che from 13:00 drinking…anyone going >?

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  33. i get it anicoll5 but look !!!!1 he is taking the time to answer back to souness and garragher…pffff lol….cant wait for arsenal gentleman or pimp to a review of the week…

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  34. I shall see you at the Che a bit after 2 !

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  35. Arteta is back in training!, that makes up a tiny bit for Ox being out.
    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150313/arsenal-train-ahead-of-west-ham-match

    Like

  36. What’s the Che?

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  37. The Che Guevara – its a pub

    (Dont ask me …..!)

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  38. its called //el commandante… on annette street …. before the tunnel if youre coming from tollington ..after the tunnel if yur coming from the george… i call it che cause the guy has posters of che all around…others too…. the only negative is they wont let you drink pints outside.you have to go at the back garden which is usually crowded…

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  39. The Che’s my favourite location to meet up with friends on match day. Alas, I can’t make it tomorrow *sobs*. Though my friends girlfriend was not impressed by the lack of equal pay when comparing pay for the bar staff and management. She wasn’t sure old Che would’ve approved.

    I hope you have fun my gooners (& goonerettes) in arms. Hopefully I’ll get to see all you next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. It’s telling how the talking heads on that clip about Abramovich tried to deflect from the fact that he had amassed his fortune through illicit means. The woman reporter even went as far as saying Chelski had put English football on the map.

    Like

  41. Wenger explains why Walcott has not been in the team since his return

    http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20150313/wenger-why-i-m-cautious-with-theo

    Like

  42. Wenger on strikers:

    That’s the key for us. They give you the tone, like in a symphony, and if that is right, the rest is right.

    The guru of George Weah and Thierry Henry thinks Danny Welbeck is a gem of a striker.

    Like

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