Welsh Woe

Tuesday 11th November 2014

Before we travelled down to South Wales on Sunday every single Gooner I spoke to or read on social media expressed how much of a tough game they felt we had on our hands, especially given our current form hasn’t been exactly encouraging. That would suggest to me that we all knew there was a chance we might get beat. As the dust settles a little on all the anger, frustration and disappointment we all felt, I also think we were a tad unlucky to come away with nothing from the game.

If October went down as one of the warmest on record, the beginning of November suggests it could be a wet one! It didn’t appear that Sunday would be a good example when we set off, in fact it wasn’t until we got just a few miles from Swansea that the heavens opened. And conditions proved pretty wild for the rest of the day, the storm accompanying some of our journey home matching most of us Gooners’ emotions with its intensity.

Our memories of trips to this part of the world are pretty good overall, plenty of unbelievable times in Cardiff down the years and only one defeat from our four most recent visits to the home of the Jacks. For much of Sunday afternoon’s encounter it looked like we might be adding to those satisfactory memories.

Our latest Away End view

Our latest Away End view

Analysis, opinion and debate are very much part of our wonderful sport and along with the fact we all make great managers, we are never going to agree on all fronts! For me we need to separate our thoughts about what happened on Sunday afternoon with the overall bigger picture.

What do I mean by that?

Well, at the moment it is plainly obvious we are leaking goals left right and centre. Once again, if our opponents hadn’t scored we would have come away with the three points. Our current plight totally highlights the fact our business in the Summer transfer window may well have been hugely positive offensively but did not address the worries we all had regarding our defensive strength in depth. We needed additions, not replacements. Bac went off for his crazy paid benchwarming pension at Man City, we replaced him with Mat Debuchy. Tommy V headed off to Barcelona after not really getting a look in last season, we replaced him with a young and extremely promising Calum Chambers. Replacements, not additions. In addition, that defensive midfield position needed adding to. We could all see that unless another member of our squad could step up to the plate and make that position his own, we would struggle, especially if missing players through injury or suspension.

Injuries to players in all defensive areas have happened this season. As frustrating as that is, it is fact. And the above not being addressed in the Summer is being highlighted massively as a result. To be fair to our manager, although we have a right to criticise, he has publically admitted he came out of the transfer window ‘short’ and as he can do nothing about it until January I’m not sure what else he can say. He cannot go back and change that situation.

Moving to Sunday, why do I think we were a little unlucky? Our hosts were the better side in all but the last 5 or 10 minutes in the first period. Overall however, I felt we were defensively quite solid, were strong at set pieces and the best chances of the whole half fell to us just before the break. To have been second best for most of the first 45, to go in at half time level was pleasing and encouraging, as long as of course, we came more into the game in the second.

From the moment Ox had a great chance in the first minute after the break, we enjoyed our best half an hour of the game. We looked in control, our passing was better, Swansea rarely threatened and we created numerous dangerous situations. Alexis’ goal after another fine run from the Ox and and some excellent work from Welbs was reward for this period of domination.

And now, for me, the unlucky bit. At this time our hosts didn’t look like scoring. They broke and Gibbo did something that we would all probably praise if we watched a game live on the tv between two teams that mean nothing to us. He took one for the team to thwart a promising counter attack. Nine times out of ten 30 yard free kicks end up coming to nothing. Did that happen on Sunday? Of course not! The geezer produced a ‘worldy’. Not just frustrating but game changing. Given both our current form and the fact Calum had endured his most ‘difficult’ afternoon since becoming a Gooner, we needed just a few minutes to regroup. The second goal coming so soon after was as annoying as it seemed inevitable.

After going behind we continued to probe with promising situations and corners all proving fruitless. The fact we could and probably should have scored with our very last kick of the game pretty much summed it all up.

I’m not sure if I feel the international break has come at a good time or not on this occasion. We certainly need to lick our wounds, knuckle down and come back stronger in the tough games that follow. And we can only do that until January at least with the squad we have got, the players we have available and with us sticking together and getting behind every single one wearing the cannon on their chest.

Or of course, we can all just keep moaning like so so many of us seem to enjoy so much. Something for me personally, certainly once debate and opinion immediately after a game has finished, I just can’t get my head around.

Victoria Concordia Crescit

Frank
@stubbsy70

Defensively Frail

Thursday 6th November 2014

To Anderlecht’s travelling fans Tuesday night must have felt like ‘getting their own back’. Ok, so we only overturned a one goal deficit over in Brussels but coming away with all three points was graced with bemusement as much as anything else, given how the rest of the game had panned out. Similar feelings accompanied our journey home the other night but even if losing a three goal lead is somewhere between disappointing and totally not acceptable, as the dust settles a draw is not the end of the world. You only have to look at Man City’s result last night to realise that.

The biggest disappointment of course is the fact we were a few minutes from progressing out of the group stage with two games to spare. One point from our remaining two games however, would see us progress. The biggest worry on the other hand, is how vulnerable and frail we looked defensively, not just in the final half an hour, but for much of the match.

We are all getting a bit bored of regularly needing to talk about the officials but along with our latest in a long line of injuries when Mikel was forced off, the direction and more importantly momentum changed in the game when the officials failed to spot our visitors’ opening goal was at least a yard offside. Don’t worry, I am not offering this as an excuse for not holding on to a three goal lead but it is something that can happen in football. Reading and Newcastle away immediately spring to mind in recent times. Anderlecht could sniff a chance of getting back into the match, something that arguably would not have been there had the goal been correctly ruled out. An excuse? No. Hugely influential however? Yes.

For me personally, if I ignore the frustration we all felt as we left the ground, it was an enjoyable evening. Accompanying customers, colleagues and friends to the game we thoroughly made the most of plenty of pre-match fare, all the banter that goes with it and I viewed the game from a different vantage point to usual. Those who go regularly are aware how much a game can look ‘different’ depending on where you are sat, and Tuesday night was certainly one such occasion.

One more game before the third international break of the season as we head off to South Wales to take on Swansea City.

Every game we play in I am confident we can score goals. Midweek however, more than suggests a defensive improvement of epic proportions is required if we are to achieve a positive result.

Come on you Mighty Reds!

Frank
@stubbsy70

Comfortable……in the end!

Monday 3rd November 2014

Just as we were approaching that time in a game where thoughts turn to the fact we might not actually win a match we have totally dominated, Alexis rose magnificently to head home and any nerves were calmed. Don’t get me wrong Burnley are bottom of the Premier League for a reason but how on earth we didn’t win by an absolute hatful is beyond me! Three-nil will do however, a comfortable scoreline that doesn’t tell the full story as to how late we took the lead but overall definitely doesn’t flatter us either.

Saturday was the first day of November. A Winter month in my book. Yet for much of the day, a t-shirt sufficed. Very pleasant, especially as it is highly likely to be the last time for a few months that we can enjoy such warmth at the football (although Galatasaray away must give us half a chance!). It was also to be a bit of a mad and entertaining day all round.

Beginning with a bit of a ‘head’, the kind a few after work Friday beers tends to give you, we left early to enjoy the wonderful lunchtime wares of a cracking traditional pub near to a sundrenched Covent Garden, a location that demonstrated the variety of travelling football fans you so often get in London on matchday. With us heading up to London N5 there were also Coventry fans on there way to Leyton Orient and Carlisle supporters travelling down to Pompey. Now there’s a long old journey! Its no wonder they were thirsty!

Suitably refreshed we continued the pre-match entertainment amongst the mass of red and white shirts near our home and it proved as hugely enjoyable as all 3 o’clock Saturday kick-offs tend to. A fine way to make the most of match day.

Like all of us, despite knowing full well no game is easy, I was extremely confident we would beat Hull at home the other week. Whatever analysis we make of that afternoon however, the records show we came away with just a point…..and an extremely late one at that. For that reason alone we knew even bottom of the table Burnley would be no ‘gimme’. Again however, we would be completely insane not to be confident.

Match of the Day doesn’t always give the best impression of an overall game I feel. If one team has 20 chances and the other has 2, they programme editors always tend to show those 2 it seems. Watching the Sunday morning repeat however, the fact that there was not 1 single piece of attacking action from our visitors is probably as good an example as any of our total dominance all afternoon. We don’t know for sure of course but I am convinced if we had scored early on it could have been a cricket score.

Our visitors defended admirably and the keeper had a fine afternoon too. Add that to the clear and blatant handball the officials missed mid way through the half and we really should have been out of sight by half time.

As frustrating as that always is it was crucial we not only continued to be patient and play our game, but learning from the Hull game we had to make sure we were totally switched on from minute one of the second half so as not to make it more hard for ourselves. This we did of course and with about half hour to go I really think we stepped up another gear and went for the jugular.

As is always the case, once we broke the deadlock the goals flowed and if it wasn’t for some incredible defending, goalkeeping and the woodwork it could have been 6 or 7 by the end. One particular save from Poldi’s volley was absolutely incredible and how the post didn’t snap in half from another typical effort is beyond me!

Three good points in the bag then and for us we headed down to Southampton to celebrate in the company of The Struts, a mighty fine band where entertainment is totally the order of the day. They delivered as always and completed a thoroughly jam packed and enjoyable day all round.

With 5 minutes to go out in Belgium our Champions League qualification hopes looked to be taking a bit of a turn for the worse. We all know what happened next with Gibbo’s fine volley and Poldi’s crazy jostle inducing winner and it means we go into the return fixture where if Galatasaray do not win in Dortmund, a victory could see us through with two games to spare. Although possible, these are no more than ‘ifs’ at the moment of course, our opponents on Tuesday night coming so close to beating us last time out being comfortably enough to make sure we go into the game knowing it won’t be easy. We need to ignore what is happening in Dortmund and concentrate on our own result above all else.

As always, make some noise folks.

Frank
@stubbsy70

Tyne & Wear Weekender

Sunday 26th October 2014

Writing my thoughts in an airport is a good way of passing that extremely tedious period waiting for a departure. On this occasion I am dog tired after enjoying the usual magnificent hospitality we always receive from this part of the country. For it to be accompanied by the three points we came here for also eases the aches and pains.

Our Saturday morning flight from Southampton needed an early rise and I don’t know about anyone else but I really struggle to sleep the night before anything where missing a specific departure time ruins everything, even with 2 alarms set! As a result it was with sore eyes I boarded, not ideal preparation for the expected events ahead.

More importantly our small party of 3 experienced a pretty much on time departure‎ meaning we arrived in Newcastle with plenty to play with.

Both Sunderland and the city on the Tyne have played host to our off the field exploits down the years and it was to be the latter that would look after us on this occasion. Checking in was to be an interesting experience! Fully appreciating everyone has their ‘passions’, some are of course a little more quirky than others. Faced by a large blue police box and a couple of daleks as we walked into reception was unexpected nonetheless. Our hotel was playing host to a weekend Doctor Who convention!

Exterminate!

Exterminate!

With no time to dwell on what was fast becoming a surreal situation we headed to the metro to make our way south for our main event. We had some exterminating to undertake ourselves. See what I did there!? :-)

Like all away days we have a location we have always visited for our pre match refreshments so here we headed before making our way high up into the away end at the Stadium of Light. Sold out as always we made some serious noise.

Come on you Yellows!

Come on you Yellows!

As is often the case we kept possession well and our hosts were limited to one or two half chances throughout. A side doing their utmost to avoid a similar result to their last outing were always going to be tighter and potentially difficult to breakdown. It was crucial therefore to take any chances that came our way.

Alexis Sanchez was superb all afternoon, a situation emphasized by both his goals for different reasons. His first was a sublime finish when through one on one and put us on our way. His second came again from a mistake but to be chasing down a goalkeeper in the 92nd minute after working his socks off all afternoon was admirable and deserved his reward.

Not a stunning performance on the day but a highly satisfying result. Lovely.

A couple of post match beers ‎followed before we headed back north to Newcastle and thoroughly enjoyed some of the many delights the city’s Quayside area offers. A thoroughly enjoyable way to end a long, tiring but ultimately successful day.

With only one flight a day we had pretty much all of today to waste so after bidding farewell to our friends of the ‘Doctor’ we endeavoured to enjoy some of the cultural attractions in our host city.

Culture!

Culture!

And that pretty much brings you up to date.

Our minds now turn to the visit of Burnley with a full week to recover.

And another Saturday 3 o’clock kick off to boot. Who would’ve thought it!

VCC

Frank
@stubbsy70

A Top Late Jostle

Thursday 23rd October 2014

Like all of us, I’m not really sure quite how that happened. But the reality is it did. And in complete contrast to the majority of the night, boy did we enjoy it!

Our choice of trip on this occasion was a 35 seat VIP coach often used as a team bus for clubs such as Colchester and Ipswich. Departing Maidstone about 6am on Wednesday morning was a little painful admittedly but the coach’s major comfort and social side meant the journey through the tunnel and across France into Belgium simply flew by.

I quite like Brussels. And we made the very most of its hospitality from the moment we arrived until we entered the stadium.

This is what Belgian beer does to you

This is what Belgian beer does to you

What can I say about the game? Well, we had plenty of the ball but it couldn’t be described as anything more than a poor performance. We were sluggish, not dangerous at any stage and after conceding we could have quite easily gone 2 or 3 behind. I couldn’t have felt more deflated and along with frustration and anger it matched my fellow travelling Gooners.

Away End view

Away End view

But football has a way of matching those emotions with joy. And last night, as unexpected and unlikely as it looked, we got just that.

I wouldn’t describe our celebrations of Gibbo’s equaliser as crazy. A point is better than none but it didn’t hide the fact we had been poor. When the ball fell to Poldi a couple of minutes later and he thumped it home however, it was total and utter carnage!

The most unlikely of victories to take home from our latest European jolly, along with some considerable delicate heads brought on by the expected celebrations.

Strangely, our next away trip is further away than this one. And our host’s previous result suggests they are highly likely to come out as a side with something to prove. And that is a dangerous prospect.

We know that however, so we can offer no excuses if we are not prepared.

Now, some shut eye I think, before getting back to Blighty.

See you at the Stadium of Light.

Frank
@stubbsy70

Costly Errors

Monday 20th October 2014

Last May an extremely memorable Wembley final was added to our long list of historical trophy winning moments and our opponents on the day of course, were Hull City. Our memories of their visits to London N5 however, could not possibly be more opposite.

At the moment it seems quite easy to work out what needs to quickly change for our results to improve. If we had kept clean sheets in our last three home games (or only conceded 1 in 2 of them), we would have 6 more points and sitting in 2nd place.

That is not the only reason of course but it is difficult to find another when analysing why we didn’t win on Saturday.

With so many decisions across the course of the game I wouldn’t blame a referee for a result. I will however, criticise if a decision is so obviously wrong and it leads to a result changing incident.

Although our first half performance wasn’t outstanding we played ok and certainly deserved our one goal lead, arguably our best player on the day putting us in front with a fine individual moment. We weren’t absolutely battering our visitors but we were extremely dominant and comfortable.

When Hull equalized i’m sure it was the first time they had been in our box. And if the referee had made the right decision we would’ve remained in the lead. A foul in everybody’s book, it’s as simple as that.

Saying all that, Hull had done nothing to impress me so come half time I was still confident we could and would go on to take the three points.

I didn’t however, allow for the fact we would be caught so cold straight after the break. Yes, it was great movement from the striker and a good header but our lack of concentration and application was simply not acceptable.

One point is better than none, even when a draw at home to Hull is so disappointing so our equalizer was pleasing. A winner in the 6 minutes of injury time would have been fantastic but we cannot deny it would have papered over the cracks in our current defensive frailties.

A trip to Brussels means we have absolutely no time to dwell on the two points dropped. The last time we took on Anderlecht was a two legged affair that ended a 17 year period without a trophy in the cabinet. A huge couple of nights in our history, although I am slightly too young to remember it, those Gooners who do always look back with extremely fond memories.

Anderlecht away, April 1970

Anderlecht away, April 1970

My journey to Belgium starts tomorrow afternoon. The full details will be revealed over the coming week.

Come on you mighty Gooners!

Frank
@stubbsy70

Big Moments

Monday 6th October 2014

Other than the inevitable feeling of disappointment any fan gets after a defeat I found it difficult to put my finger on exactly how I felt walking back to Fulham Broadway tube station on Sunday afternoon. We had arguably played quite well on the day however, it also felt like our hosts had taken the points relatively comfortably. And that I suppose is the aspect that should worry us most.

A few beers on Saturday night meant the Sunday brunch we enjoyed in Southfields pre-match was very welcome and made for a relaxing few hours before the main event. I am always optimistic going into every game we play but to say I was confident would be probably pushing it a little. I knew we were capable of getting a result but our hosts powerful start to this season and the fact they had a fully fit squad to choose from didn’t have me entering the stadium with the utmost belief.

Talking of which, in a week where ‘flares’ have very much been in the news, who are these so called Arsenal ‘fans’ who insist on taking such items to away games right now? It is not the first time we have seen it and I don’t really get the mentality behind them. On Sunday, someone setting one off in the small, tight concourse of the away end upper tier was not only idiotic and dangerous but caused major knock on problems to those of us outside trying to enter the stadium. Yes, your fellow Gooners and therefore, not that this should be relevant, people who support the same team as you.

In my last piece I was critical of the Galatasaray fans for doing exactly the same on Wednesday night and the fact the authorities have apportioned part of the blame on our great club I still think is disgusting. These items are not very big. What are the stewards supposed to do, strip search?!? But I would be hugely hypocritical if I didn’t express similar feelings about those responsible for Sunday. At one stage, the crush outside got a little bit dangerous. That’s down to whoever you are. So why would they be happy? You might want to think about that next time, if your brain has the ability to do that.

Not something I would want hitting me in the face!

Not something I would want hitting me in the face!

For me there were very few chances in a tightly fault game. When these big moments come along however, it is crucial you take them. Chelsea did that on Sunday and we didn’t. If Jack’s first touch had been better when clean through in the first half the whole game might have been different. If Cahill had been rightly sent off for his two footed, over the top lunge on Alexis, the game might have been different. If any referee at any stage finally recognises the cynical side to the beautiful game too, things might be different. All Mourinho sides down the years have been absolute experts in that (and believe me I am not being critical). All the time referees don’t punish it or don’t understand it, why wouldn’t a manager instruct his players to undertake such measures. Blocking at corners is probably the one most highlighted by the TV pundits but yesterday we saw numerous perfect examples of how to stop a counter attack before it has even started. Cynical fouls and unpunished until it was far too late in the game. We even saw the referee clearly point to the one, two, three, four times one Chelsea player had done this…….but did a card come out? Of course not.

A view of disappointment

A view of disappointment

For all this however, despite working extremely hard and enjoying much possession, we came away with what felt like an inevitable defeat. And it’s that inevitability that needs to change in games like this for us to progress.

For now, its the next International break. On this occasion we have players missing from their national sides and hopefully it will give them time to recover before we take on Hull in a couple of weeks time. For all our squad that are travelling the globe however, we wish them good luck and please return fit and well!

Yesterday wasn’t good, as Gooners we all know that. But the season is still young and we need to go forward positively together.

VCC

Frank
@stubbsy70

That’s Better Boys and Girls!

Thursday 2nd October 2014

Come this time of the year Autumn is well and truly upon us apparently. As the sun pours through my window for the umpteenth day on the trot however, Summer appears to be hanging in there. The evenings certainly should be much cooler but the many still wearing short sleeves at last night’s latest Champions League outing certainly suggested otherwise. Not that this is a complaint of course. Those dark, wet, dreary Winter nights can stay far away all year round as far as I’m concerned!

Despite remaining unbeaten in the league I think it is fair to say our season hasn’t really got going as yet. Getting through our tricky Champions League Qualifier was huge of course but exiting early in the league Cup and arguably dropping points in league games we should have won on the day have not necessarily put us in the most buoyant of moods. Our bad luck with injuries has continued too but although this all sounds a bit ‘doom and gloom’ I think in addition we all recognise new players take a little bit of time to integrate and the start has been far from disasterous.

Overall however, I think we all needed last night. A good, powerful, thumping win is just what the doctor ordered.

The streets around where we usually enjoy our pre-match build up were very quiet last night, maybe testament to my words above but midweek home games often see fans arrive much later than they would for those at the weekend, work commitments putting time at a premium. Reports in the news, social media and from fellow Gooners suggest it wasn’t as quiet elsewhere, the passion of a small number of the Galatasaray fans present going beyond what is considered acceptable and more importantly safe when it comes to attending football matches.

We saw examples of this a bit later inside the stadium too but by this time our first half blitz had virtually seen us home and hosed.

Flares in a football stadium. Not good.

Flares in a football stadium. Not good.

From minute one we totally dominated possession and until one incident later on in the match, Chezz will not have a quieter night. The first goal is crucial of course and was a perfect example of superb centre-forward running and finishing on what was to be a memorable night for DW. With the pressure off we looked extremely dangerous and goals 2 and 3 soon followed, again great examples of sheer pace and power. Half time and it was pretty much job done. Happy days.

Welbs slots home his second

Welbs slots home his second

Like a Villa a couple of weeks back it was all about keeping control in the second period and for the first 15 minutes we done this extremely well. With our visitors looking to try and get themselves back in the game in fact, we looked incredibly dangerous on the break and Welbs completed his hat-trick with a fine run and finish to pretty much put the game to bed. We were so much in control I feel with eleven v eleven we may well have gone on to get a hatful but Chezz receiving a red our visitors saw a potential opportunity to get back in the game when reducing the deficite the 4-1 from the resulting spot kick.

I strongly believe that rule should be changed. The punishment is too severe in my book and the reasons are threefold. The pace of the game means genuine attempts to get the ball can be illegal by a millisecond. Does that deserve a sending off? Players always ‘look for’ penalties and some are better at it than others. This makes it extremely difficult for referees but when players are very ‘clever’ does that warrant the defensive player being sent from the field? Thirdly officials get it wrong sometimes. They are human and as frustrating as it is, we have to accept that. But having given the penalty, sending the player off is simply wrong. In my opinion, if the referee deems the foul in the box a goalscoring opportunity or whatever it is called these days, a goal should be awarded. And the offending player should receive a yellow card but remain on the pitch. Quite radical I know but a better all round result for the remainder of the game and most importantly us fans, the paying public. Even if David Ospina had saved the penalty last night I would rather our visitors were given a goal and we remained with eleven on the pitch. Just my opinion.

For the remainder of last night’s game it was a case of keeping our defensive shape and seeing it out. Our visitors had a few attempts, mainly from distance but our new goalkeeper made some decent saves and we took the 4-1 victory we deserved away from the game. Indeed Santi was inches from making it 5 in the dying seconds.

So, a thoroughly good night with goals and that all important victory takes us into the tough tough fixture away at the current Premier League frontrunners.

Make some noise at the Bridge.

Come on you mighty reds!

Frank
@stubbsy70

A Point from a Frustrating Day

Monday 29th September 2014

There has been much discussion as to if that was a decent result on Saturday. Certainly at one nil down with time getting on it’s not a complete disaster but by analysing everyone’s pre-match thoughts it’s easy to accept who is the happier. When asked before a ball was kicked if you would be happy if your team came away with a point I think every single spurs fan would have said yes. On the other hand I don’t think you would find any Gooner giving the same reaction. That alone probably sums up how we all feel.

For many many years now our geographical rivals have been forced to not only watch us win trophies but accept that even in seasons they’ve considered to be hugely positive for their team, the club they dislike most has always come out on top. Despite this, the historical rivalry lives on and the atmosphere in London N5 on ‘Derby Day’ is still unique and filled with a whole different kind of tension and passion.

Saturday was no different of course but it was to be a day where a combination of everything working against us and one oh so costly mistake prevented us from taking a deserved three points.

The first half was very stop start I felt and demonstrated a side to our visitors we haven’t probably witnessed in the past. They came to defend deeply and ‘spoil’, it is as simple as that. Once again you need a strong referee to deal with this by punishing constant niggling cynicism and time wasting early on to prevent it from supposedly ‘illegally’ dictating the game’s progression. I am a strong believer that referees have an extremely difficult job but I feel there is a bigger picture here. There is a strong opinion that the reason referees don’t deal with these kind of situations is they have never actually played the game. In other words they don’t even notice it or understand it exists.

Having reached half time level I would normally be extremely confident we would go on and win the game, especially given how much possession we had enjoyed. To see two of our midfield limp off and another quite obviously struggling with an additional knock could not have been any more unlucky. When dominating the game and pushing to get the win this warrants, losing key players always feels a little unfair, despite it being part of the game.

We started the second period on fire I felt, quicker in both the tackle and in our passing we poured forward creating an intense spell of pressure. When in total control however, then came the mistake. Flammers got caught in possession close to our own box and our visitors grabbed the opportunity to sting us where it hurts. So so frustrating.

Having defended well in numbers so deeply and taking even more of an opportunity to waste precious minutes the chance to equalise looked extremely difficult. At nil nil our patience would have been perfect. We always look like scoring at some stage and if we did just that we would win the game. But now our costly error meant we needed to score just to get back on level terms.

The BFG seems to like scoring against spurs and he was inches from doing it yet again, his towering header seeing the goalkeeper make a stunning save. Still we poured forward and eventually we were to get the reward we richly deserved, the Ox slamming home at the far post producing the kind of noise and jostle you would expect.

There was time to get a winner and just as with the rest of the game there was only one team that both looked like and wanted that to happen. Banging on that door as much as we could however, it’s very difficult to keep that momentum going when your opponent uses every single opportunity to stop, break up and spoil the flow of the game. When you get a winner in that situation it feels even more satisfying but on this occasion our opponents will argue they got it tactically right as they escaped with a point.

Not the greatest result and with our injury list getting ever longer its hard to be massively positive. The fixtures dictate we can’t be negative however, as our next huge game is only a couple of days away. We need to stick together as the depth of our squad is severely tested.

It’s a long time since we faced Galatasaray in a competitive fixture, that penalty shoot-out defeat in Copenhagen still one of the more disappointing nights in our long illustrious history. Having lost our opening group game out in Dortmund a win on Wednesday night is hugely important. With a noisy away support guaranteed we can certainly play our part in helping the team achieve what we all want from the night.

So sing up!

Frank
@stubbsy70

An Early End of the Road

Wednesday 24th September 2014

Some of our most enjoyable, entertaining and successful nights over the years have been in the League Cup. On this occasion we have fallen at the first hurdle. Being competitive we want to win every single game and competition we enter. But does it hurt all that much? Not really. For me, that tells a thousand words.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the League Cup nights. That ‘cup tie’ feel is accompanied by many aspects that are different to the norm and for me that includes not sitting in my usual season ticket seat. I absolutely love the vantage point from my seat and enjoy all the banter with the Gooners around me that only familiarity can produce. But on occasion it is nice to do something different and coupled with the discounted tickets in this competition the League Cup gives me a perfect opportunity.

For all those of us fortunate enough to be in a position to attend every home game, these nights are also quite amusing. Without meaning to be in the slightest bit derogatory, outside the stadium is a little bit chaotic! Thousands of people a little unsure as to where they are going, what they need to do to get in, how much time they should have left to arrive for kick-off and all accompanied by what seems like millions of kids!! A whole different pre-match situation and fantastic to see. A great opportunity for many who cannot usually attend and great to see so many Gooners of future generations.

The League Cup scene is set

The League Cup scene is set

Ten changes from the starting line up at Villa was kind of expected and although we looked quite strong in some areas, we certainly looked young and perhaps experimental in others. In a game that could have gone either way it took a penalty, an incredible strike and some missed chances for an extremely big, strong and powerful Southampton first choice eleven to put us out.

Alexis’ early free-kick was sublime and probably worth the entrance money alone but proved to be the only highlight from our point of view. Other chances came and went and despite enjoying long spells of possession our visitors looked dangerous on the break. Not to be on this occasion and we move on to another incredibly tough week in two other competitions.

Saturday evening is the first game on the agenda and our latest encounter with our nearest and dearest from down the Seven Sisters Road. A fixture that comes along with hugely differing pre-match situations year on year but one where local passion and rivalry out shines anything else. Time and time again it has also proved that the clubs’ two positions off the field are largely irrelevant when it comes to the result.

Come on you mighty mighty reds!

Frank
@stubbsy70

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