Every Ingredient Required
Wednesday 2nd December 2015
Confidence amongst us Gooners is waning a little I feel. Although I’m generalising I think it is safe to say that. And why wouldn’t it be? And if we analyse everything I don’t feel that is down to the fact we don’t think we are good enough to beat any team on our day. Some of our results this season back that up. Like anyone I hate excuses. Especially those where nothing seems to support the argument. But sooner or later…….surely…….we are going to get our share of luck on the injury front.
The question on everyone’s lips is ‘why does it always seem to be us?’
Well, I don’t mind admitting I have absolutely no idea on the statistics from other clubs. Unlike in my younger years, I don’t even know the names of the vast majority of other club’s players these days. I’m simply not interested. I would rather have watched Stenhousemuir v East Kilbride on Sunday lunchtime than Middlesex v Moscow Fulham!
But overall, our current injury list, one that has frustratingly increased at an alarming rate in recent weeks, is now at a length bordering on ridiculous. The worrying thing for all is it has the potential to damage our season beyond repair over the coming weeks if things don’t improve quickly.
This blog’s nostalgia trip takes us back 22 years and to the days when even League Cup ties went to a replay. It is a game with a pretty crazy story attached to it on a personal level. Firstly, I made a schoolboy error. Deciding to take my girlfriend away for a week’s holiday to a small cottage north of Inverness in Scotland seemed a good idea at the time. Only when I looked in the programme for our League Cup home tie with Norwich did I realise should we draw that game the replay would be when I had booked to go away! If I remember rightly we were behind for long periods of that game and then, of course, the inevitable happened. Wrighty slammed the ball into the roof of the net in front of the North Bank and the game finished one apiece.
The sensible thing to do was completely forget about it of course.
But I was 23, and like with everything at that time of your life, thought I knew better. We could leave on the morning of the game, stay in a little B & B in Norwich and even take in the sights and sounds of Edinburgh during our journey back the following day. Easy.
A little look on Google Maps will tell you it was a journey of over 600 miles (one way) and will take you 11 hours (with normal traffic conditions)! For an early round League Cup replay. Ridiculous. But, having got up on the morning of the game in Winter darkness and travelled all day I arrived in Norwich with 45 minutes to spare. Not only did I get to witness a thumping 3 nil victory but the highlights were on the telly when I got back to my B & B after the match. She was a lucky lucky lady. It didn’t last. 🙂
Despite that pleasing victory it was to be a very inconsistent season domestically but just like our hosts who were celebrating a historical victory away at Bayern Munich it was to prove a momentous time for us on the European front culminating in our Cup Winners Cup victory in Copenhagen the following May. The Canaries’ adventure came to an end at the hands of Inter Milan due to a couple of goals from someone called Dennis Bergkamp. Whatever happened to him?!
Norwich away has seen a number of quality weekenders down the years and this season things took the usual course. A Saturday arrival and enjoying the entertainment our host city provided saw our arrival at our normal pre-match haunt the following morning accompanied by the expected levels of discomfort. A good few hours however, saw us battle our way through the windswept streets approaching Carrow Road in fine spirits.
The game, yet again, was one we should have won. But if you take our goalkeeper’s great save in the second half into account we could also have lost it. Looking at my opening gambit, I hate excuses. But would we have won the game had 2 of our most influential players not limped off and a third playing the latter stages as a mere passenger? Some won’t agree with me but I have to say I think we would have.
For the first 40 minutes, I don’t remember our hosts having the ball. And although we only had one goal to show for it we were deservedly in the lead and the most likely to score again. Norwich’s scorer had been firmly in Kos’ pocket for the entire game…….and then he was forced off. I like Gabriel as a player, but it is extremely difficult to come on ‘cold’ and be totally 100% up to the game’s speed from minute one. And he got caught out. Because the scorer was no longer in Kos’ pocket.
There has also been much discussion (mainly in the media) as to whether Alexis should have been playing. Given the fact he plays on the very limit, passes every fitness test, always claims he is raring to play and produces great performances week in week out, why wouldn’t he be!? Once again it is so so easy to criticise with the benefit of hindsight.
Overall, we came away with a point away from home. But I, just like everyone else, am genuinely a little concerned right now. Not because I don’t think we are good enough. But when you have so many world class players unavailable, producing those top quality match winning performances become even more difficult.
We need to dig in and get behind every one wearing the red shirt.
Which brings me to my final point. I absolutely hate us wearing blue. And Sunday for me took the biscuit. Has it not been described (and sold) as a ‘cup kit’?! Was Sunday not a League Game?! Don’t we usually play in red up there?!
I’m sure there are better statisticians out there than me but I’m pretty sure every season where we have won something since the war, our away kit has been yellow or gold. Or if I’m wrong with that it is certainly very much a large majority. That might be slightly superstition based but I can assure Arsenal Football Club they will never hear an Arsenal away following singing ‘come on you blues’ as long as I have blood running through my veins. And if we are going to be the ‘twelth man’ that is far more important than it looks. Maybe they’ll listen one day.
Up the Gunners.