195 Comments

Arsenal Versus Sutton: Black Magic

wp_20170218_15_04_07_pro1

The way the match started took us by surprise. We exchanged a look which spoke volumes. It was one of those moments for which the footballing book of clichés was conceived. The home side kicked off, a long ball forward, three runners breaking from midfield, bewilderment and confusion shaking the visitor’s defence, a leg outstretched in the mêlée, the keeper beaten. Less than a minute played, the score was already one nil.

Surely we were in for a rare feast of goals. If the hapless defending and powerful, direct running of the home side were to be repeated a few more times this could be an embarrassing trip north for the Wells City team.

Little did we suspect as we glanced knowingly at one another that thanks to some truly inspired keeping from the splendidly named Ed Baldy in the home goal mouth, we had, in fact, already witnessed the decisive moment. The result would be one nil, Odd Down had secured the points in the first seconds of the match and in truth never threatened the visitor’s goal again. Nor did they need to.

There were some nice touches, some bruising tackles, one moment which nearly resulted in fisticuffs and we strolled home feeling our six pounds had been well spent.

We are both Arsenal fans but for the day we had decided to go along and support my companion’s local team. And you’ll never guess what? The experience, despite over ninety minutes without a sniff of another goal, was easily the most enjoyable football related afternoon I can remember for many years.

After the howling insanity which followed what was no more than a disappointing result last week, returning to the simple pleasure of football for football’s sake was the perfect antidote. It made me realise how little I now care for the ridiculous overblown pomposity of Sky’s Premier League and its attendant hysteria. I’ve had enough. I’ll never stop caring about Arsenal, that thorn is sunk too deep to be easily pulled, but I can’t be arsed with all of the bullshit that goes with it any more.

Thank goodness then for non league involvement this evening. Thank goodness for the eccentricity of the FA Cup which can still throw up Sutton United versus Arsenal in an important competition and with a quarter final place at stake. This game at least feels somewhat removed from the usual fandangle and hyperbole that has all but poisoned any hope of enjoyment in the Murdoch Money Go Round.

I suppose I’m referring to the much vaunted ‘magic’ of the FA Cup and my God we could do with someone to wave a wand and give everyone back a little perspective in these febrile days of shameful self flagellation. With one non league side already through and destined to face the winner of tonight’s tie there is certainly enough romance for softies like me to reaffirm our love for this venerable competition.

Lincoln, I imagine, are torn between which outcome suits them best. If Sutton do to us what they did to Burnley then they will face non league opposition in the quarter finals and have the best possible chance to progress to an historic Wembley semi. If we manage to avoid being the fall guy in the biggest upset in the history of the tournament then they get to visit the Emirates – one of the greatest away days for any team. It’s win win for them really given the way the draw has panned out. If they do face Sutton and beat them they would probably meet Chelsea, Man City or Millwall. One of those they will fancy beating and the other two they’d be happy to share a pitch with. It’s fascinating stuff and whatever the outcome this has been a wonderfully unpredictable competition.

I assume we will see a similar side to that which last played in the FA Cup. This isn’t weakening our team as a mark of disrespect to either the opposition nor the tournament. This is realpolitik in an age where footballers are like racehorses brought to a level of fitness so taut that they are at once fast and powerful, and yet balanced on a knife edge with every fibre and sinew stretched to near breaking point. With vital league matches and a huge return game in the Champion’s League on the near horizon players have to be managed, rested and rotated.

Anyway, as much as I want to win, it’s just another football match and the nonsense I’ve witnessed in the aftermath of the Bayern game has made me ever more determined not to get sucked into the debate nor the histrionics surrounding it. Shout and moan all you like and the circus will roll on regardless. You had just as well demand an actor get sacked from the film you’re watching in the cinema as demand this player be sold or that manager brought in. Either way you’re living in La La Land if you think your voice matters.

Positive or negative fans have a simple choice; watch the game, or don’t watch the game. It will happen either way and it won’t notice you. Unless you come and watch Odd Down FC’s next home fixture against Longwell Green Sports. The attendance would then go from fifty to fifty one and I can guarantee your voice would get heard. I wouldn’t yell abuse at any of the players mind you. They’re big lads, and I don’t think they’d be quite as restrained as the Premier League stars you swear at on Twitter.

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.

Comment navigation

Newer Comments →

195 comments on “Arsenal Versus Sutton: Black Magic

  1. No eddy

    They are a ‘team’ made up of individuals with far less ability than our players who performed to the very edge of the stamina and their quality.

    We are a group of 11 talented individuals, not much more evidence of a team than last week in Southern Germany, who did just about ok.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Half pace”

    Very good

    About as half pace as at the Allianz

    Like

  3. Poor as in Hull can be said to be comparitively or relatively poor!

    Shotts
    I was liking Ramsey and Xhaka. Only about 180 minutes so far, and only towards the end did the potential become obvious or palpable.

    Like

  4. I would not berate our team too much – this was always going to be a tough game in the circumstances. AFC low on confidence, playing on a tiny plastic pitch with everybody including a sizeable proportion of the so called Arsenal fanbase praying for an upset. We knew that Sutton would be allowed to clog their way through the match and to expect a feast of goals in those circumstances was unrealistic. If people are disappointed by the performance I think they have to look to their own expectations. I was terrified that we might slip up with this one. Thankfully the players on the night got the job done. Sometimes the result is more important as every victory and progression through the tournament helps to rebuild the fragile confidence.

    Shotta, I think your point about Santi has been made – there is really not much point keep going on about it. The team can, and have won without him and we have to accept he is not in a position to help us at the moment and just hope that the manager can find the right midfield combination to get us through the second half of the season.

    Liked by 6 people

  5. There are some miserable fuckers on here,

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Arsenal with one BPL game between now and the 18th of March, Liverpool away on the 4th

    Like

  7. Gaffer’s comments praise the opponents quality and stamina, relative to how it was for a division five team in yesteryear.

    A quality lower league team, full of players with good experience, from the region that hosts most clubs, has most registered players, and youth teams etc. but produces no referees…

    Like

  8. I would not berate our team Pass, tricky job dealt with but I find it difficult to accept the sour abuse of the opposition

    Ridiculous

    Liked by 1 person

  9. ah anicol I see, anyone who were critical of our performance v bayern where shot down, we were good, it was just that bayern were better, now we have beaten the mighty Sutton utd, we are not a team at all, just 11 individuals, we need to aspire to be a great team, like sutton, just not lacking in quality like them.

    Like

  10. No Eddy – Bayern were good and deservedly won – for the final 35 minutes we were woeful in Munich despite a decent first 53 – or did you watch another game ?

    Same as Sutton were good – they are part timers. What did you imagine was going to happen – they were going to take us apart ?

    Serious question – when you watch a game can you see both sides ?

    Like

  11. I agree Anicoll – there is too little respect of the opposition at times – win lose or draw you would think we are the only team on the pitch because it’s always about what we have or have not done. Sometimes the other team are better on the night. Even the cloggers can play out of their skins and surprise us. Football is a team game and less talented players who are playing as a team and executing a well rehearsed game plan can upset 11 talented individuals. We have seen it happen enough times not to be surprised about it. Thankfully, it didn’t happen tonight, but fair play to Sutton – they will dine out on ‘only’ losing by 2 goals to the mighty Arsenal. In time the game will be forgotten and the only thing that matters is that we won a potentially tricky game and progressed to the next round of the FA cup.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Anicoll

    You are the rock on which we build our support….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Sounds right to me Pass – non League teams eh – who’d have em.

    No doubt Lincoln will be up for it !!

    Like

  14. ah so anicol you understand that sutton are part timers, and are relatively speaking a poor team, you know full well that is exactly what anyone on here was saying when describing sutton as a poor team. No one was calling into question their commitment, their togetherness or even team work, it was purely directed at the quality of their players.

    Like

  15. Pass: I know I am guilty of over obsessing about Santi but I keep going back to the well because too many people misdiagnosing what is currently wrong with AFC. We are like Argentina without Maradona in 1986 or Brazil without Ronaldo in the final in Korea.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. If they were so poor eddy pray tell me why I – and fifteen minutes some pundit on the BBC – chose to gave Deacon the Man of the Match award?

    Anyone on here disagree with that ???

    Sutton do not have as good quality players as us – I should bloody hope not – but the proposition they were “poor” ?!?

    You’re off your head

    Like

  17. Pass and Fins,: The problem I am having with our central midfield is the boss has tried every possible combination and it is not working well. Xhaka looks like a player who is not fully acclimated to the league. The most hopeful sign is the growth in Iwobi and Oxlade Chamberlain, #3 and #4 in the 8 man ranking according to Squawks. I am a Contrarian by nature but I am cautiously optimistic.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. and Anciol to answer your question, yes I do see both sides, but my biggest concern will always be for what Arsenal have done and not done, what they have done right, and what they could have done better, like in the Bayern game, if I was a bayern fan I would have been critical of Lewandoski faffing about to give away the penalty, but seeing as I’m an arsenal fan I am concerned that Coq made the mistake of closing down Robben’s wrong foot, that Mustafi was busy complaining to Ox instead of tracking the second scorer, that Gabriel gave Lew so much room to set up that goal, that we were disorganized cos we thought it was our corner, that ox faffed about for the 5th goal.

    Like

  19. I’m not sure about Iwobi, But it seems Arsene is. So that will be ok by me.

    Like

  20. pray tell us anicol if Sutton are so good why are they in a relegation battle in the National league, might it be that they are poor quality.

    Like

  21. James Benge ‏@jamesbenge 45m45 minutes ago

    Paul Doswel says Arsenal have committed to £50,000 investment at Sutton to build two classrooms 👏

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Eddy: Like me with Santi, I think you are over ossessed with Sutton’s supposed lack of quality. I am more concerned about how we improved in the ,2nd half and what that portends for the future

    Like

  23. Ah but if you were a Bayern fan you would simply note that Robben had simply performed the same move he has cutting in from the right wing and slashing in a vicious left foot shot as he has in the Erdvisie, the PL, La Liga and the Bundesliga Eddy

    Mind you if you are the one who knows how to actually do something about it you should not waste your time on here.

    As for Sutton and their poor league form ? Dreadful isn’t it ? One game good – the next crap – all down no doubt to finance, bad referring, the plastic pitch etc.

    Look bloody good tonight though ?

    Like

  24. Theo Walcott is now our all time =17th top scorer with Joe Baker, he needs another 10 goals to go up to 14th above David Herd, Franck Stapleton and Jack Lambert, 16 goals would see him go above Alan Smith, and 21 would see him pass Dennis Bergkamp at number 11.

    Like

  25. shotta I’m not the one obsessed with Sutton’s poor quality at all, you have mistaken me with Anicol, he is the one making something out of it. I could give two fucks about Sutton.

    for me overall that was a game full of poor quality play, the pitch might very well be a major factor for it, but there was an awful lot of misplaced passes, poor control, poor first touch. I would suggest that any true neutral watching that game would have been bored stiff.

    Like

  26. The only interesting theme of the game would be in Sutton had won – unless they were insane enough to anticipate a high quality game from two well matched skilful CL quality sides.

    Oh yeah

    Like

  27. reports that a so called Arsenal supporter threw a bottle at Wenger after the game.

    Like

  28. ah anicol, so you agree it was a poor quality game, odd that, considering how good Sutton were.

    Like

  29. if we beat Lincoln, we will have reached our 11th FA Cup semi final in Wenger’s 21 years as manager.

    pre Wenger we made 18 FA Cup semi finals, in 110 years.

    Like

  30. Try to roll back your attention eddy to the question – do you watch two teams ?

    Are you there ?

    Good

    So Sutton played to the limit of their quality, the boundary of their energy

    Not therefore ‘poor’ – dyasee ?

    Like

  31. some idiots complaining that Arsenal did not clean the dressing room after the game tonight,

    just one thing of note on the photo, Arsenal clearly had not vacated the dressing room, as the big kit bag still being there shows, so we really don’t know exactly how we left it. but it is sad that this is going to be a bigger story than Arsenal donating £50K to Sutton so that they can build two class rooms

    Like

  32. anicol I answered that question, but it seems you can not admit that Sutton are relatively speaking a poor team, and you know full well that is what any one on here who said Sutton were a poor team were saying. But for reasons only known to you, that you have decided to try and have an argument about it.

    Like

  33. John Salako ‏@JohnSalako 2h2 hours ago

    Swapped shirts with Chelsea at Reading in the Cup. Kitman found all our shirts in the bin in the away dressing room. LOL

    Like

  34. Theo Walcott went into the Sutton dressing room after the game to congratulate them and sign autographs for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  35. the last time Arsenal played Lincoln we lost 1-0,

    but it was away

    and oh yes, it was March 1915

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Wenger – Playing Alexis wasn’t a risk

    Alexis was applauded from all corners of Gander Green Lane when he came off the bench in the Emirates FA Cup on Monday.

    Our Chilean star didn’t get the goal he wanted but he helped us secure a 2-0 win to take our place in the quarter-finals.

    Boss – I loved Sutton’s dressing room
    Read the match report from Gander Green Lane

    Afterwards, Arsène Wenger explains why Alexis was the right man for the job:

    on whether it was a risk to play Alexis…
    He is a guy who has a strong body. I think on this pitch it is the guy who does not have good co-ordination, who is heavy on his feet, who is in trouble. Alexis is more a guy who has very good co-ordination, he is light on his feet. I don’t think it was a risk.

    on his team selection…
    Of course, we could not afford a light team selection tonight and that is why I came with basically all the players who were available because we couldn’t afford to go out tonight, we can never afford it.

    on wanting to play Lucas more…
    Yes, he is pushing on the door but I have many strikers. I have Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott, Alexis and Lucas. It is true that he deserves a go because he scores goals and is a good player.

    Read more at http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/20170220/wenger-playing-alexis-wasn-t-a-risk#PLErWVt8oRpJdhyM.99

    Like

  37. Are we forgetting how many ex-Arsenal youngsters now play for Sutton? They may not have made it to the top, but they obviously have talent and have been well taught. I think there is some quality there and we all know however much teams might struggle in their league, they can raise themselves for a cup run especially for a once in a lifetime opportunity against one of the PL big boys.

    Liked by 3 people

  38. if Arsenal beat Lincoln, we will have 3 league games to find midweek dates for – Southampton away, Leicester home and Sunderland home. By the way we play spurs the weekend after the fa cup semi finals

    Like

  39. Dave ‏@TheresYourDC 3h3 hours ago

    @tim_lewis85 when we beat Lincoln and then get millwall in the semi and Huddersfield in the final the meltdown will be better than cocaine

    Liked by 2 people

  40. Not at our very best, but perhaps understandable in the circumstances.
    We are through, that’s what counts, but , no matter what their status, a real shame they had to resort to “The English game” and even more so, it seems they were permitted to do so. Maybe the romance of the cup clouded things on this occasion.
    Hope ewobi and elneny are ok, and will be ready after 12day break, that Iwobi tackle was nasty…..we know what would happen if Xhaka decided to try that.
    Still, have to remember our players are soft , and need toughening up, we know because the narrative tells us.
    Still, really hope the boys go all the way in this one, for so many reasons

    Liked by 3 people

  41. People are actually complaining about Arsenal after the game yesterday?

    ‘Do these people even sports?’

    I thought we were serious and professional under tough circumstances in our season, at an unfamiliar ground and setting. I was also happy that at the first sign of rough play (Craig Eastmond’s follow through taking out Elneny’s standing leg), we upped up our physicality. Monreal nonchalantly bumping off a guy twice his size, Mustafi flying through on a tackle (though cleanly, unlike the idiot who raised his foot on Iwobi after making a tackle) It did send a message to the Sutton players, until the referee gave them a go ahead by punishing us and not them.

    Never mind, we got the win, and Sutton had a great day out, so all’s well that ends well. Of course the media aren’t going to ever give Arsenal any credit for anything, so there is going to an aura of negativity kept up.

    Which just led me to think right now, maybe we should discourage our players from going onto twitter, facebook and reading the football ‘news’. Accessing such incessant negativity daily, must lead to them absorbing it at some level. I know that even a few days off from the vicious news cycle helps me feel better about Arsenal. Maybe it’ll help the players too.

    Liked by 6 people

  42. New post up

    Like

Comment navigation

Newer Comments →

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: