Tuesday 7th March 2017
Rarely do I pen my thoughts on the day of a match and once again there is no actual reason why it has taken me this long since our disappointing trip to Liverpool. Like everyone else however, I also can’t deny feeling particularly downbeat about our whole situation right now. But I’m old enough to have seen it worse. And an awful lot worse at that. And when I feel my back is against the wall it makes me want to go to games even more than ever. Some strange in built extra determination to stick my two fingers up at everybody else. And when I get home from tonight’s match in the early hours of tomorrow morning, whatever the score, that feeling will not change.
There is a well used saying that goes something like, “if it isn’t broken don’t fix it’. But at the moment it is very difficult to support that argument. The alarming way our form has dipped since just before Christmas is both disappointing and puzzling (despite every single one of us of course being world class managers!) One thing is for sure, something just isn’t right.
Once again, off the field, our particular travelling party had a great time. A journey that started walking up the pier near my home and watching the sun rise where the sea meets the sky in the east is always something to behold and makes what can be quite a difficult 20 minute stroll all the more uplifting. And despite our whole train journey being potentially packed with a huge amount of problems, our careful planning proved fruitful and the whole package could not have gone more smoothly.
Our train from London’s Euston station was graced with a large travelling Gooner presence too, pleasing given the ‘uprising’ or ‘revolution’ that seems to be going on within our following if social media and the press are anything to go by. On the other hand however, we did have a few texts from people who could no longer make it. Due to ‘the dog needing a bath’ or ‘forgetting a nasal hair trimming appointment’ etc.
That situation always makes me smile. I can absolutely guarantee all those who pulled out would have been there had we been top of the league. I have absolutely no problem if people choose not to travel (other than the fact it means other Gooners have potentially missed out when they would have travelled) but I would rather they would give me the ‘I can’t be bothered’ excuse rather than some of the other rubbish!! 😉
Having checked into our hotel in Liverpool’s historical docks area we made our way to our chosen pre-match hostelry/wine bar/cocktail lounge and it would be safe to say the company and banter had us all in extremely high spirits. And that breeds confidence. Usually. But the general consensus of opinion was it depends on what Arsenal turn up for us to even have a chance.
For me it’s more that I have absolutely no confidence that we can keep a clean sheet at the moment. Certainly against sides in the top half of the table. And in that situation it means we need to score 2 at the very least to have a chance of winning. And that’s not something new this season either. I don’t think we necessarily have bad defenders. But we appear ‘soft’ right now. We are conceding goals that look ‘easy’. Not a piece of incredible attacking football where we are forced to offer a certain amount of admiration for the opponents.
And that means there is something wrong.
Saturday evening was a perfect example. There was absolutely nothing from our hosts that impressed in the opening exchanges. If anything in fact we looked to have started the game slightly quicker and sharper. Yet in a flash, with what appeared little effort, we found ourselves one down.
Not only does that give us a mountain to climb away from home at one of the more difficult grounds to get a result, but a team that itself is arguably lacking a bit of confidence gets a huge lift, as does the home crowd. And a tricky fixture becomes a hugely difficult one in a split second.
For the rest of the half we were poor. Our hosts were comfortably on top but didn’t offer much of a goal threat so it looked like we would get through to half time just a goal behind and with the opportunity to get a breather and start again. Another softly conceded goal just before the break and we were virtually dead and buried. Very very deflating and disappointing.
Our second half performance was much better admittedly but although we enjoyed much more attacking situations we simply gave ourselves too much to do. As often is the case a potential 2-2 became a 3-1 scoreline in the dying seconds and once again we came away with nothing from an away fixture against one of the top 8.
As much as it frustrates and can put a real downer on the day we were determined not to let it spoil our Saturday night out and consequently our host city’s hospitality was enjoyed until well into the early hours of Sunday to conclude a thoroughly entertaining away day off the pitch if not on it.
And that brings us to tonight.
The fact that if we go through it will arguably be up there amongst the greatest victories in our club’s long and successful history is probably the best way to describe the situation we are faced with. We are all but out, it is as simple as that. But….we are not quite yet.
And that little tiny bit of hope is what we have to cling on to.
Come on you mighty reds.