When I started watching football, it was on a Saturday. 3pm. If I was lucky, my mum would let me watch the one or two matches on at Easter and over Christmas. It was a weekly fight to watch the one live match on a Sunday, a fight I didn’t win that often.
Now, not only do we have live football on a Saturday lunchtime, Saturday teatime, Sunday lunchtime, and Sunday teatime, we also have Monday night football.
While I would never want to return to the days of one match a week, I do long for league matches to at least take place at the weekend.
Especially when Arsenal are playing.
Waiting until 8pm on a Monday is like a mini-interlull.
There was a lot of sniggering at Wenger’s excuse for players using Snoods (which aren’t even snoods, they are neck warmers) as he stressed medical reasons at yesterday’s press conference. The week before, Nasri had himself said that he wore it due to a throat problem and asked if he was cold would he be wearing short sleeves? As Sairax pointed out on Twitter, anyone suffering from any sort of muscular issue, or joint problem, knows just how crippling the cold can be. Why, therefore, is a medical reason so laughable? And who cares what they wear anyway? Are you telling me a snoodless Nasri would be playing better than what we are seeing at the minute? The last I heard, you played football with your feet, should he start wearing oversized fluffy animal slippers, then I might have a problem with it (depending, of course, on how it affects him).
By now I’m sure you’ve all heard about Evra’s comments and the only thing I’d like to add is that the more they talk, the more worried they are. You can also see that they don’t know what to say as on the one hand you have Evra saying we are no threat and Nani saying that they only fear Arsenal and not Chelsea.
Teams heading in to matches against Man United should need no added incentive, but if they do, this should add to it. We should also remember how they committed nothing short of assault to end our unbeaten run in 2004 and we should be looking to put a stop to their uninspiring unbeaten league run.
But do we really need this ‘added’ incentive? We know we haven’t won anything in five years, enough people remind us of that often enough, as if no other club has experienced such a barren spell before. In fact, today Paul Merson commented that five years without a trophy would not be tolerated by any other club in England. Really Paul? So every other club in England has won a trophy in the last five years have they? As far as I was aware there were only a handful to go around, but what do I know.
It is worth noting that Liverpool enter their fifth year without a trophy in 2011, a period in which they have also failed to build a new stadium, failed to implement a decent scouting and youth system, and failed to qualify for the Champions League and have spent a hell of a lot more than we have. I expect that every time someone on TV mentions Liverpool they also say ‘haven’t won a trophy for five years’ as they do with us.
2011 will also see Spurs remembering 50 years without a league title.
What about Barcelona without a trophy between 1999 and 2005? Or how about Man United going 25 years between league titles, getting relegated along the way as well?
No matter what the public, press, and even some fans will have you believe, this is not the worst barren spell to have ever befallen a football club, it’s not even the worst this millennium.
It might also be worth noting that in 2004, 2002, and 1998 Arsenal were unbeaten at Old Trafford (winning two and drawing one), and while I’m not suggesting that to win at Old Trafford means we will win the league, it could be argued that the self-belief it gives to the team is worth more than merely three points.
I know we’d love to see Arsenal come out and kick lumps out of Manchester United, Evra in particular, and there is a very real feeling that we get murdered up there with no form of justice anywhere to be seen. We are denied penalties while they are rewarded for every dive in the box. We know this. It isn’t fair. But with Howard Webb refereeing do you really want to take the chance of having to play with ten men (or worse?).
Despite what some would believe, we have more than enough talent to turn this Man United team over if we want it enough. I can’t imagine them not wanting it, can you?
So Evra can keep his comments, I don’t really care about them. He wants us to focus on him and not on playing our game because he knows that if we do that our threat diminishes greatly. Nasri could kick him, or he could skin him all day long, dumping him on his arse and making a total mug out of him. Which would be more humiliating? That’s a message I hope Wenger works very hard to convey.
Gael Clichy is saying the right sort of things :
“We know that if we win this game we will go four points ahead of Manchester United. We will try to win the game by playing well, but at the end of the day playing well and losing the game is not giving you anything.
“Okay, it gives you credit you are a good player and you play for a good side, but at the end of the day if you can be four points ahead of the second place, that is all that matters.
“We just want to win and make our fans proud. We have been training hard every day and will show them we are up for this game.”
He also added:
“Sometimes it is better to be 1-0 up because everybody is more focused, but when the game becomes more easy at 2-0 maybe people are not doing the right movement or the right pass and minute after minute you can maybe drop the level.”
That is simply not good enough. For the money these players are getting, the least you can expect is that they will concentrate for 90 minutes no matter what the score.
Drop at all at Old Trafford and we will be coming away from there defeated, dejected, and with deja vu.
Win? Well that might just fire the final bit of belief in to this team that they can, maybe just possibly, go on to be Champions.
In other news it seems Almunia may not be leaving in January after all as the agent reported in the press is some randomer pretending to be someone he isn’t. Clarifying things yesterday Wenger said that Almunia didn’t have an agent so it couldn’t be him talking in the press, but what I want to know is if you are going to impersonate anyone why would you chose Almunia’s agent? Seriously? Is that the best you can come up with?
People these days, just don’t put effort in to anything do they?
And that’s your lot for today. More on the Man U match tomorrow.
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