Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Set Piece, A Goal of the Day & A Cock Up.

Another final and another defeat. I didn't want to start this way but we are all thinking it. That's three in a row now. Of course it means nothing but it does add to the fire about The Arsenal bottling it when it matters. The defeats in Cardiff and Paris were depressing. Chavs 'cheated' by playing a stronger first team against our kids while Barcelona just squeaked past our 10 men. I remember leaving Paris with a glow of pride. Not today.

I left the game thinking we were crap. Before I'd reached the car, a spud texted me to say, 'Rubbish! You battered them and lost! Ha ha!' He was right. We didn't batter them but were the better team and had ample opportunities to win it. The second half saw chance after chance converted into goal kicks. It was frustrating.

As I trudged out into the cold, damp Wembley evening it struck me that the goals summed the season up. The set piece - They have a 9 foot monster up front so who should we pay special attention to at corners? Oh too late, he's scored. Our goal (from memory) was a slick build up, a decent shot off the wood (so close but not quite) followed by a neat cross and a smart finish. Goal of the day. The winner - a defensive cock up of enormous proportions. A nothing ball in the box, a fresh air kick, a keeper fumble, a soft open goal. The good and the bad of The Arsenal in a neat little cut out and chuck pullout.

I'm gutted we didn't win today. To all the supporters around me shouting abuse at Brum about it being a Mickey Mouse cup and not worth winning, why were you there? Why all the abuse, anger, c words and £70 for your ticket if you don't care. I don't care about X Factor so I don't watch it let alone pay to see it. I cared today. My £200 for 3 tickets cared. I think I cared more than the team. What they gave me wasn't enough.

I don't really want to pick on individuals as it's obvious who did or didn't do what but I will pick on Jack Wilshire. If only everyone put in a shift like him we might actually get over that hurdle. That boy is incredible and a future captain to be sure. tweeted that the only man we had on the pitch was a 19 year old boy. He gave his all and was gutted like a fan at the end. Tell Jack it's not worth winning.

So another cup thrown away. Birmingham are beatable. We normally beat them yet today our best fit 11 couldn't beat Birmingham who aren't even the best team in Birmingham. When the underdog is hungry and all that ...I know, but I felt let down a bit. We played well without being special and you'd expect more in a final. There was just something missing. Cesc maybe? Vermaelen? Are we that shallow in reserve?

A missed opportunity for sure and one we needed to rid ourselves of the monkey clinging to the back wall. No cups for the new ground yet and a right old struggle to get one. Only Man U, Barcelona and The Orient (I'm taking nothing for granted) stand in our way.

Much like the team today, I've run out of ideas.

We're Back (Back Where We Belong)

Time for one last classic Arsenal song and this is the most classic of classics. It appeared a couple of weeks after that amazing night at Anfield. A fitting tribute! And the line, 'We only had a minute but then we went and did it' will never be bettered!

We're Back - Shootout Mix by FeverpitchFC

Enjoy the day. Lucky pants, where are you?

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Highbury Sunshine

Another song to build us up to the final tomorrow. This one just brings back fantastic memories of our wonderful old stadium. Highbury was a second home to many of us. Listen to the words and let the memories flood back. Ripping the numbered ticket from the season ticket book. Having a brief chat with your turnstile man. Peanuts - 20 pence a bag. Highbury Sunshine by Yeah.

Highbury Sunshine by FeverpitchFC

Friday, 25 February 2011

Hot Stuff!

Today's pick of the hit parade is the 1998 FA Cup Final song 'Hot Stuff.' This is a classic! I went to this final with Mrs Feverpitch, Eastlower and a friend who has a normal name. Newcastle had their own song that was played to the crowd before the game. It was a dull folk song by, I think, Sting about how depressing the north was and how much a Cup win would mean to the whole area. Our song blew it away. We bounced along to the verses and all joined in with 'The Arsenal' bit. The Geordies were beaten before kick off.

Hot Stuff by FeverpitchFC

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Shoutin' For The Gunners

Thought this might be a good time to post some old Arsenal songs to get us in the mood for Sunday. Today's treat is Shouting for the Gunners by Peter Hunnigale and Tippa Irie. This was the official 1993 FA Cup final song. It brings back great memories of Steve Morrow, Andy Linighan and that lovely cup double. Chas and Dave could only dream of a song this good!

Shouting For The Gunners by FeverpitchFC

15 Minutes Extra Stoke

In a day and age where health and safety stops you doing anything I'm surprised Stoke are allowed. Their thuggish brand of crap is both dangerous and very tedious to look at. The game itself I found quite dull. Maybe The performance against Barcelona spoilt me. If I hadn't seen such riches and all that. The atmosphere was flat. It really had the feel of a game we needed out the way.
Maybe I'd just had enough of Stoke. I was going about my business, driving around Islington, when I stumbled upon the Stoke team bus. I looked to the right and there, large as life, were Stoke. They were on the Market Road AstroTurf training. I pulled over and watched as Delap took throw in after throw in. He chucked the ball to Carew while bibbed defenders tried to get in the way. Then the coach decided to change it and they pumped the ball into the box from the floor. That was it. Depressing and 15 minutes was too much. Delap, as he was the nearest to the pavement, got a bit of abuse from some local kids. Shawcross was too far away! I like Delap! He could be useful to us this season. Cesc could grab his ears and lift him up to practise hoisting all those cups he will be presented with!

The most important thing about last night was the result. I'm starting to believe we can actually win this league. For me, it's the big one. It's the one that proves you are the best. The Champions League (Why is it called that? It's not a league. The Champions and a load of other teams who aren't champions generating a load of cash tournament would be a better, if less catchy, title for it.) proves you can beat randomly selected Europeans over two legs and then lose a final because your goalie gets sent off. It's all about what you do on the day. The Premier League is the one and we are well placed, very well placed.

To be honest we could've left after 10 minutes and missed very little. It's only a matter of time before people start leaving about then to miss the traffic. We would've missed Cesc limping off and Theo being carried off, two things we didn't want to see at the start of this marathon. Everything we do well seems to go through Cesc and he will be a huge miss. I know he is desperately disappointed about Sunday but in all honesty just get him fit for the Barcelona game. I know I've just said that's less important than ,say, Sunderland but we owe them one. To knock the arrogance out of them on their pitch would be it's own reward. It can be done!

Before the game a few of us were bemoaning Squillaci as this year's Silvestre. Defensively he probably is but last night he stuck it to us by being a match winner too. He looked delighted and we were delighted for him. He's had far more games than anyone expected and whatever you think of him, if Cesc lifts any pots this year Squillaci will have played his part. The same can be said about Bendtner. His has his critics and he might not be the best player we've ever seen but his own inflated self belief is his asset. He can miss 10 times and he never gives up. His head never drops and he stays confident. Another intelligent assist last night. He is playing his part.

So on to Wembley and the chance to change the phrase, 'Haven't won anything since 2005' to 'Only won the Carling Cup since 2005.' It's important to get this bunch a cup. They need a medal to push them onto bigger things. I went to Cardiff with my son the when we lost to the Chavs and he was given some good advise by his Godfather. 'Never take a cup final for granted. We may never get to go to another one so enjoy it. Look at Sheffield Wednesday!' Wise words.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Hands Up Who Didn't See That Coming

After the highs of Wednesday we had to come back to earth with a bump and that was a big bump. The biggest bump since Sam Alladyce fell out of that tree he'd climbed to see if he could see a job from up there. In midweek we beat the best team in the world. Yesterday we weren't even the best team in Leyton.

I'm away from the Sky Box for a few days so had to rely on the computer to watch yesterday's little treat. A small screen and a cameraman suspended from a hot air balloon didn't make it easy viewing. The football didn't help either. So little happened in the first half I'll write all I can remember. Almunia started badly by fumbling a shot. Bendtner's shots were nearer to the corner flags than the goal. Squillaci & Almunia got themselves in a muddle. We passed the ball a lot. We saw another team do that recently didn't we? Miquel looked good and I got abuse from the spelling Nazis as my phone corrected his name to Miguel. That summed up the first half. Twitter was more interested in a misplaced 'g' than a misplaced shot!

Right, we don't want a replay. Anything but a replay so Arsene will do his stuff and we will put this to bed. A step up and the game will be won. An Interpol officer fell off his chair as Rosicky headed us ahead. It was a good ball from Bendtner too. Rosicky's celebration suggested he was as amazed at scoring as we were. It's been a year. Still not playing well but we are leading and have enough on the pitch to see this out. Arsene's 'big guns' waited on the bench to bring experience to proceedings yet nobody stripped off. The manager's subs against Barcelona were inspired yet today nothing. With Squillaci and a debutant in defence we needed to protect them. They had done well but at any moment a lower league chancer could try and dance past them and bury a shot straight through our hapless keeper. Oh! Too late! The lower league chancer has danced and scored!

Now who is to blame? We love to blame someone so here goes! Arsene let the team continue to play poorly with game changing subs resting with their feet up. The two central defenders made pathetic challenges to stop Tehoue although I don't really want to blame them. Miquel had a good debut and the equaliser must not take away from that. It was a massive day for him and he was great. Squillaci is just not very good and sometimes makes me miss Silvestre! So Tehoue has skipped past two men and is now one on one with our keeper. He hits it. He hits it well. He hits it hard. Top corner? Out of reach? No, it's straigt at Almunia. It passes straight through him as if he was a shadow of himself and ripples the net. Little more than we (and they) deserved.

Remember how we felt on Wednesday. That top of the world feeling where people in North London went to work in Arsenal shirts and scarves. Drivers blew their horns at these people to get a wave or a clenched fist in return. We spoke and thought of nothing else. That's how Leyton will be today and good luck to them. That's what football can do. They get a pay day and a cracking day out. We get another fixture that will stretch this squad further.

After 86 minutes the live text feed on wrote,
'IMPRESSIVE: Arsenal have completed 658 passes this afternoon. Not bad eh?'
Not bad at all if we had completed 3 or 4 more shots on goal. Can we please get over this obsession about possession and passing. Barcelona passed us by yet we won. We did the same yesterday and drew. Passes are important, but unless you convert those passes into goals or even chances, ultimately pointless. A 32 pass move that results in a throw in or a 3 pass move that scores you a goal? I don't want us to change to long ball merchants but people must stop hanging on these stats. They mean nothing.

So not a disaster but not a good day. If you see an Os shirt today give them a toot. That was us last week and we loved it.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

By Far The Greatest Team......

Oh what a night at the New Highbury! Now that was a proper game of football. That was the beautiful game at it's prettiest. We all woke up this morning and this was the first thought in our minds. Barcelona tonight. Work dragged, kick off seemed an age away. It was a mixture of excitement and dread. We could do this lot. We could lose badly. Story of the season so far?

I got to the ground early. My son and I went to our seats to find a free flag. Manufactured atmosphere? It wasn't needed. Mrs Feverpitch joined us and timed her entrance to 'The Wonder of You.' The place was jumping. Noise like our new house hadn't heard. We started brightly and were all over them but squandered chances. Suddenly Barca decided that enough was enough, took our ball away and refused to let us touch it again that half. They scored twice with one wrongly ruled offside thank goodness. We were being battered. We were feeling what it is like for the Premier League to play us. Let us touch the ball. Their passing was a joy. Pinging it around so easily. Everything stuck to their boots effortlessly. 99% possession and yet we went in only 1-0 down. They had 'done an Arsenal' and not taken their chances. It has cost us in the past. Hope it costs them.

The second half was more even but we were still getting the run around. The crowd were growing tired with little bursts of chants breaking out before dying away. The linesman up our end was keeping us warm. He was useless. Had he shoved his flag up his arse and started a little dance he would've got more decisions right. Thank goodness (again) he missed AA's handball. Good man.

Suddenly we broke and RVP smashed it from a daft angle and Valdes decided saving it on the near post was beyond him. 1-1 and the Grove exploded. Barca were shaken and we all could taste victory. For the second time in a few days we scored a stunning 'Arsenal' goal. Crisp passing cut Barca open while Arshavin salted the wound. 2-1 and I was there.

Tonight was a great, amazing, fantastic night. It's why we are Gooners. Having just beaten the best team in the world we are now the new number 1. That's how it works isn't it? We get to wear the crown and sash for a bit. We may still go out to Barca and there is no shame in that. They are awesome but tonight we were better at never giving in. This team showed enormous heart and spirit. A goal down to Barcelona and you think 'that's it' but the team didn't. Arsene gets stick for his subs but tonight he gambled and his numbers came up. Every player played brilliantly tonight but if I had to single out a player it would have to be Koscielny. He only had Messi to deal with and did it very well. He came of age tonight. He did the number 6 shirt proud. Jack played beyond his years again, Cesc...., RVP.....The whole lot were perfect.

So the best night at the Grove so far by far. The team and the fans gave everything and we have given ourselves a great chance. The Leyton scouts left at half time thinking we were crap. From Barcelona to the Orient. Back down to earth. Until then, be elated, be happy, smile, sleep well. Tomorrow will be as good a day as yesterday for we are Gooners and we are proud.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Sheep in Wolves Shirts, Shorts & Stockings.

Buy Wolverhampton a pint. Having stopped the manc's unbeaten run in it's tracks and preserving our unbeatables legacy, they lay down and presented us a lovely 3 points with little effort on our part. Cheers Wolves. 

Everyone had been saying that Wolves' were better than their league position suggests and the win over the Manc's did give me some concern that we would know we'd been in a game by 4.50pm. However, Huddersfield gave us a better fight. We were great. We didn't need to be any more. Fantastic & Brilliant weren't necessary to beat such a lack lustre side who didn't really muster a shot on target. Yet the goals were far greater than brill. The first was a sweeping move swept in by RVP. A superb finish as good as you'll see. The second goal was pure Arsenal. 10 passes in 10 seconds apparently. (read that somewhere, haven't checked, if it's not true it should be!) That's got Barcelona worried! 

Despite the pre match worries it turned out to be the perfect workout before the main event. We looked string and confident, and coming off the back of such a magnificent collapse, that's all we could've wished for. We look as ready as we can be for Wednesday. 

I was really pleased with Arshavin. He's on his way back. Class is permanent and all that. He is trying now. He is getting back, helping out and flinging himself in front of balls in the last third. He still looks a bit off but he has upped his effort and you can't criticise that. 

So onto the little matter of Wednesday and the annual game against that team that stole our style! Now, there's a lot of doom and gloom about this match with many not giving us a chance. We have a chance, of course we do, but I think they will beat us over two legs. That's not so much a reflection on us as a reflection on their brilliance. They are bloody fabulous. We won't get thrashed but I think over two legs they will just be too strong. We are the underdogs but that's not always a bad thing. On any given night anything can happen. When the underdog is hungry the favourite might fall. Be hungry Arsenal, be  hungry. 

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Tribute to a Central Defender

Worried Squillaci is the new Gus Ceasar? Younger viewers might not know who Gus Caesar is. This song will explain all. Enjoy this tribute to the great man - The Gus Caesar Rap.

The Gus Caesar Rap by FeverpitchFC

Lower Than Joey Barton's Morals

I parked the car outside my house at 3pm. Before I'd reached the front door my little radio told me we were 1-0 up already. Went downstairs and put the kettle on, 2-0. Got onto Twitter and asked for a good stream, 3-0. Found a stream, 4-0. It was perfect, total football. We were playing highlights. The passing was crisp. The finishing was clinical. How many will we get? 6 would be nice. That doesn't happen too often. It could be 7 or 8. I hope we don't ease up. Let's go for it. No mercy.

How in the name of Eddie McGoldrick did that happen? At half time I tweeted that there will be some bloggers moaning it should be 5-0! My God they were right! How in the name of Pal Lyderson did that happen? Throughout this season my belief in this team has been gently eroded. Arsene says it's the best bunch he's ever had. Did he not see the Invincibles? I hoped we had finally found some form. We were on a run. We had fought hard to get through 'tricky' cup games and overturned the injustice of the Saha goal against Everton. What really convinced me was the spirit shown against Everton and the way the team celebrated the win. Players punching the air and hugging at the final whistle. The Invincibles did this a lot. We all realised they were on to something special and they reacted to every win like us fans. I saw that again last week. The first half yesterday confirmed to me that this team had found their feet and were ready to chase Man U. So how in the name of Siggi Jonsson did that happen?

Diaby let us down badly. How does he feel this morning? He was playing well, the team were 4-0 up and he reacts like a mug to a very hard tackle and we let it slip to 4-4. He's not totally to blame but I bet he didn't sleep well. Everyone agrees that, given his injury history, his reaction was understandable. Fair enough but he needs to walk away, stay on the pitch and protect that fragile defence. If he is going to put us in the shit after every hard tackle then move him on. Never been a huge fan of Diaby and this hasn't helped.

Diaby's sending off was magnified as Djourou went off again injured and we had to rely on Koscielny and Squillaci who couldn't stop a pig in a passage. Now Kos has done really well this season. He came from a lower level and has stepped up admirably but he needs a proper defender next to him and the bargain bin Squillaci is not the man. As it stands these two are our only fit central defenders and all the defensive midfielders are injured too. Why oh bloody why didn't we strengthen last week? Why? What will Barcelona do to Koscielny and Squillaci? What will bloody Wolves do?

And so on to the ref. Since Sky exclusively broke the debate about whether female refs should be allowed anywhere near a game of football, I for one think only women should be in charge after seeing a succession of utterly hopeless men try to ref or run the line against us. Now I know we all blame the ref for everything and it's a tough job but Phil Dowd yesterday was an absolute disgrace. If we discovered in years to come that he had a grandparent from Newcastle would you be surprised? If we found out he receives a huge discount on Dunlop Green Flash from Sports Direct would we be surprised? The first penalty was soft. Danny Mills on radio 5 said that it wouldn't be given at 0-0! It was a sympathy penalty but was just about acceptable. The second one was a straight up bent decision. Had the ref picked up the ball, punched Szczesny in the face and dived into the net while screaming 'Touchdown!' it would've been less bent than awarding that penalty. Unless the ref is right and the rule is that it's a clear penalty if you jump for the ball and miss it. Just like the new rule about not being offside if you are offside.

The equaliser was inevitable. The worst collapse in Premiership history was complete.

Yet, having witnessed the worst defeat I can remember (spuds at home), various other crap defeats (WBA at home! WBA!!) and now the worst collapse in modern history we somehow only find ourselves 4 points behind the new Invincibles (Oh wait they lost to Wolves. I'd laugh if we weren't playing them next!) So after all that it was 1 point gained. 2 massive points lost but 1 tiny little point gained.

In any other business, Twitter is an odd place sometimes. A word of warning if you post messages about Man U losing an unbeaten run. You will get a lot of sad little messages from sad little mancs reminding you that they won the treble. Yes but as the song goes (made up by @eastlower on 26th May 1999. I was there!) 'You might've won the treble, but you're all still c*^ts!' Also, Twitter has the odd sad little Gooner who can only write Wenger Out. Be careful what you wish for. They never say who they want to take over. Ok, Arsene makes mistakes but he is totally responsible for the state of our club, the healthy finances, the massive stadium and the fact I don't have a cup final ticket due to the massive stadium. Before you abuse me for supporting the manager think about the alternative if your brains can think two thoughts at once or is 'Wenger Out' all you can muster.

Thank Jimmy Carter for a week off.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

When The Ball Is Played.

Saha was miles offside when the ball was played to him. The fact it hit a defender is irrelevant. He gained an advantage (scored a goal) by being offside and the linesman was totally wrong. That's that. No need for a huge debate on phase one or phase two nonsense. He was clearly offside and if he wasn't then the rule is stupid.

It's the first offside in front of the North bank that was clear to us Clock Enders. To confirm it, the club helpfully played it on the jumbotrons and there was nearly a riot. The ref ran over to the linesman to ask about his family and whether he's got anything nice planned for the upcoming half term and the goal stood. There's your video evidence and it was ignored but what else could they do. I've never seen a goal disallowed once the players have lined up for a restart and there isn't a ref alive who would be brave enough. Where was Sian Massey when you need her? She gets offsides right.

The team, who had started badly, reacted to the injustice by playing worse. It was as frustrating on the pitch as it was in the stands. We made chances but whistled them wide or straight at 'time wasting' Tim. The boo at half time, for the ref not the team, was top drawer. Who says The Arsenal fans can't make a noise. We can boo with the best of them.

The second half started slowly too. I think the team would've got more grief from the crowd if the ref hadn't been so inept. It really was a poor show. He seemed to get every foul, push or advantage wrong. He'd lost it and was lucky the shenanigans involving RVP didn't turn into a full scale punch up. Whatever Cesc said or didn't say to the officials at half time, he was right. David! Why did you lie? Why David? Why?

Arshavin was introduced to a few groans and a picture of Nasri on the big screens. Wishful thinking? He seems to have turned a small corner recently. He's putting in the work, getting back to make tackles and turning the game last night in our favour with a neat finish. He's put in two cracking last gasp tackles this week and I'm confident he can fill that hole when Kos gets sent off and Djourou get injured. Squillaci and Arshavin at the back. Don't have nightmares, do sleep well! Anyway, he'd be like a new signing back there!

So the score went to Arsenal 1 Everton 0 Linesman 1 before our new Andy Linigan rose like a salmon to win the game. Justice! They way the team celebrated at the end was a wonderful sign. That offside goal may have done us the world of good. We played really well at the end to overcome that injustice and the confidence that brings is so valuable.

I'm so glad The Arsenal don't get involved in all that transfer nonsense. We are crying out for a central defender and we could've got one I'm sure. Not a world beater but a body that would relieve the pressure of injuries. It wasn't to be and I hope it doesn't cost us. The transfers of Torres and Carroll were staggering. The fees are eye watering to normal people. At a time where nearly everyone is feeling the pinch the opulence of these clubs verges on the vile. I'm not sure how comfortable I am being a 'fan' of all this. We pay a lot of money (to us) to watch multimillionaires do something that's not that important. I still love it but it leaves a bitter taste. Devalue the transfers to Torres - £5 million, Carroll - £3.5, Bent £2.4 and it would still be too much. The game took a huge change for the worse when it allowed these men with more money than dick length into the beautiful game. Blatter goes on about how video technology cannot be used as it can't reach all levels of the game. I don't see lower league players being bundled into helicopters to fly to their latest bottomless pit employer. The Chavscum chairman feels more of a man today as he's slapped us all with the size of his electronic bank transfer. Oh look at the size of it.

We should be proud of our club and the success it's achieved without stupidity. Arsene knows - That goodness for that.