Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Oh Rocky Rocky

Ten years ago The Arsenal lost a true legend. If you were lucky enough to see David Rocastle play then he was your favourite player of that era.
He was a special talent. He felt like one of us. He hopped over the advertising boards and played with the passion that you or I would if only that dream had come true. He was enormously talented on the ball. I can still see those winding runs across the Highbury turf. Things happened when he had the ball. He scored goals. That goal at Aston Villa! Anfield! Middlesbrough! That goal at Tottenham in the Littlewoods Semi-final! "And it's Arsenal through to Wembley!"

He could also look after himself. He took no crap. He epitomised that 'all for one' attitude that snatched the Littlewoods Cup in '87 and the big one at Anfield in 1989.

I remember Rocky breaking his fingers in a Makita tournament match and the ref not allowing him to receive treatment. Gary Lewin took one step onto the pitch and dragged him off by the ankles. Rocky played with taped up fingers for a while after that.

On the day Rocky died The Arsenal were at home to Tottenham. Robert Pires was wearing Rocky's number 7 shirt and scored a goal in the second half. A goal that did Rocky proud. The ultimate tribute from on high.

It was a tragedy when he died in 2001. We, as fans, lost one of our own but that's not the tragedy. He was a young man with a wife and children. The fact he cannot be an honoured guest pales into insignificance when you consider his 'other' real family. The same happened to my wife at the same age as Ryan, Rocky's son. He was more than a true Arsenal legend. He was a husband and a dad & was taken too soon.

Rocky, my first favourite player, thanks for the marvellous memories. Always remembered. It was an honour to watch you.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Almunia Will Probably Drop Our Game In Hand

West Brom
Man Utd
Man City
Newcastle (again)
Sunderland (again)
West Brom (again)

That little list up there is a little list of all the teams we have dropped points to this season. You can read into that what you will but with the odd exception it's a poor list. The last 3 entries depress me the most. Basically we haven't been able to beat Newcastle, Sunderland or West Brom all season. Best squad ever?

Maybe I should've left this blog. I'm not in the mood (just a mood.) Let me state clearly how I feel. We will not win the league this season. Feel free to disagree. Feel free to wear the positive trousers and I would love you to be right but my gut feeling is we are more likely to finish 3rd or 4th than we are 2nd or 1st.

The FA Cup defeat left me utterly deflated. Man U were there for the taking and we limped out without excitement. We may well have had more shots at old scumford than any known team before us but we got nil and they got two. With that still weighing me down I wasn't looking forward to WBA away. I went with my son to Chesham to see Cambridge City. A top of the table clash to take my mind off The Arsenal. I thought I'd try and ignore the phone for half an hour. Let The Arsenal get ahead and all would be will. 3:02pm and the phone buzzes. I'd forgotten about the Sportacular alerts. Come on Bolton! Please be Bolton!

WBA 1 Arsenal 0
It's 2 bloody minutes past 3!

The Chesham v Cambridge game was awful. City were a goal down to an own goal. The Arsenal were a goal down due to the fact that corners still surprise the team. They seem to think that if they all stand still it might somehow go away. It's happened all season. It happened at Wembley. It happened yesterday. Will they never bloody learn. We may well win the league if we don't conceed another corner.

As Cambridge played worse and worse I seemed to be checking Twitter more and more until a deluge of swearing greeted WBA's second. GET BACK IN YOUR GOAL ALMUNIA was the cleanest and told me everything. I couldn't bring myself to watch that goal until this morning and that's only because Sky Sports News were laughing about it as I went into our living room. I've seen it once. I tweeted that Almunia and Squillaci looked like an elderly couple lost in a massive shopping centre car park. Some told me that was unfair on Squillaci but surely he need to be stronger there. Old git mode - Tony Adams would've cleared that! He seemed to turn like a battleship as Almunia charged out like a child out of an open door when the rain had stopped. It was Almunia's fault. He's hopeless. We may just win the league if no team lumps a ball forward tempting Almunia to lumber out to it like Katie Price to publicity.

So yet again injuries have done us. We showed character to get a draw? Maybe but where was that character in the first 70 minutes. Another set piece and goalkeepeing cock up. We are going over old ground here. I've been lucky enough to see championships won and they are won by special teams. There's not much special outside our first 11.

Old ground.


Welcome Interlull, for the first time ever, I'm glad to see you.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

11 Men - 1 Cup

And then there was one. The single. The onedruple. We can now officially concentrate on the league. Hands up who's confident. Both my hands are down typing this. Sorry to be negative but I just can't see it. This side has pushed my faith to the limit and broken it. Indeed if anyone would like to keep my faith please do as I can't be trusted not to lose it.

So in the last 2 weeks we surrendered to the second best team in Birmingham in a cup final. We were all set to bounce back after results went our way but could only manage a 0-0 with Sunderland at home. We felt cheated against Barcelona but on reflection we had no shots and only touched the ball twice in their area so not great but we will bounce back again against our bitter rivals in the FA Cup. It's a perfectly arranged fixture. They have injuries and a big Champions League night around the corner. We have a week off. We can go out all guns blazing while they save something for Europe. We name a decent balanced team while they have seven defenders playing. Bounce back Arsenal, show us the desire and mental strength and courage you need to be a success.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why this season is done and dusted instead of won and polished. We had more shots than them! We had more possession than them! We tippy tapped the ball about more than them! They scored 2 more goals than us. Game over. I'm too tired of it to actually pick on players like Diaby. I won't pick on anyone like Diaby. All I'll say is there are one or two who played today, like Diaby, who should give their wages to charity just so they can sleep at night. Jack, however, can keep his money with bells on. I feel sorry for him as he gives everything and keeps ending up on the losing side. He doesn't deserve it and he certainly doesn't need to keep apologising on Twitter.

Today's game was important for so many reasons. We have now given the mancs the upper hand in the league. Their confidence in beating us at our place will be sky high. We needed to return to Wembley as soon as possible to prove we could win there. We needed this win to win over the Wenger doubters. I still won't join that bandwagon as I can see no alternative. Who could we have in his place?

After what I saw today this could be a long post but I'll keep it short. It's late and nobody really enjoys a moany blog so I'll end on this (and feel free to disagree.) I really think we are done. The injuries have killed us again. Djourou's sickeningly painful injury was no surprise. We get one every game. It leaves us with Kos and Squillaci for 10 league matches with Almunia behind them. That's 900 minutes of football where one mistake could be too many. Confident? Cesc is always injured and without him we are average. There, I said it. Average! And that needs addressing in the summer. We need to clear out the dead wood and bring in some winners and leaders. Defenders who can defend and midfielders who pass and move rather than pass and stand like Diaby. We need more than one goalscorer as our best one has at least one big lay off a season. The experiment, Arsene, has failed.

4 then 3 then 2 then 1. What's next?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Ref Off

Having declared (or tweeted as it's now known) that I thought West Brom away was our most important game this month I shouldn't feel so annoyed about last night. In the long term it could be a blessing. If Cesc lifts the Premier League trophy high this defeat will mean nothing. The double is still on yet I'm annoyed.

Defeat I can take but it was the manner of it I can't. Don't get me wrong, I'm not moaning about losing. Barcelona are awesome and deserve to go through. Let's not forget we didn't have a shot. We were, however,resolute and strong and I'm proud of them. Yet, despite all their superiority they needed a big helping hand from a clearly biased referee. I'm not blaming him for our defeat at all but we must remember that we were winning this tie before he got his chance to make sure UEFA's chosen one's progressed.

On three occasions Barcelona players raised their hands to our players in front of the ref and nothing was done. RVP shoots one second after the ref blows and is sent off. Staggering! RVP was right to say the ref was a joke. It's near on impossible to play Barcelona with 11 but with 10 he assured them safe passage. I know it's the football fans job to bemoan refs and it is an impossible job but even the biggest Arsenal hating knuckle dragger could see this man was in their pocket. I'm not saying he was showered with used Euro notes or ladies of the night but he was overcome by his own importance, the crowd, the atmosphere and the stature of the game and clearly wasn't up to it. Without the red card we would've probably eventually lost but it would've been a fair loss. Not once have Barcelona beaten our strongest team. Jens sent off, Silvestre in defence, vermaelan out, RVP off. Last night we played 12 v 10 for the last half an hour and that's when they did us. Their winning goal was a penalty. With injuries, sendings off and a bent ref, we lost to the odd goal. That's how much better they are than us.

The way the pundits pleasured themselves to oblivion was sickening too. Get over it. I know Sky would show nothing but Barcelona if they could but please! We know they are good. We know they can pass. Yes, they deserved to win but for a team THAT good they needed a lot of help. Anyway, sky and UEFA are happy as their team are through.

In a way I'm glad we are out. The Champions league is a grotesque competition that only services the corruption of UEFA. What are we even doing in it. What are we champions of? The group stages are a boring money generating farce. Why not go the whole hog and invite the top half of all European leagues to take part in a massive Champions of nothing league. Each group could have 12 teams in it and could go on and on making more and more money for a flabby ruling body. The bottom half of every league could have their own cup of crap. The winners of each tournament could then play each other in a show piece final where there are only 100 tickets available to real fans at a cost of £15,000 and a kidney.

I'm not enjoying this game of 'who's injured now' we play every match either. There must be some kind of curse on the club when your best keeper collects the ball, like he's done thousands of times before, and has to go off injured. We all collectively panicked when Almunia stripped off yet he played really really well. He made some excellent and brave stops and with Szezzer out for a bit we need more of that from him. The talent Arsene sees shone through last night.

As I write this I hear news of UEFA charging Arsene & Nas for inappropriate language! These people are beyond belief. UEFA are a bunch of corrupt scum filled arseholes (appropriate language I think you'll agree.) Ban the snood, charge our boys for naughty words but let 3 Barca players off for throat grabbing. Interesting they aren't charging RVP for calling the ref a joke. Maybe they secretly agree. Unbelievably Egotistical
F*cking Arseholes or UEFA for short.

In a fit of frustration I tweeted @uefacom a picture of that mug Abidal holding RVP firmly by the throat. I politely asked them to clear something up. My son loves football and likes to copy the professional players. I asked them if grabbing a player by the throat is OK as he has a game tonight and he wanted to know if he could do it. He saw a 'top' international ref let 3 Barca players off last night so it must be an acceptable part of the game.

They haven't replied.

I'm going to have to stop now and have a lie down. I really hope we do the mancs on Saturday. Beating them is always a pleasure and it would mean another Wembley trip and we need a win there to prove we can. The double is very much on.

Up the Gunners.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Down With This Kind Of Thing.

What a week it's been. Got back from Wembley, having watched The Arsenal put in a lackluster display, and got a bad case of the Dovers or Dermots (depending on what podcast you listen too.) Due to this brief illness I missed the Orient game and felt too ill to blog about it. Too late now as everything has been said. Shame I missed it. It would've been a nice blog, a positive blog, a promising blog about confidence, professionalism and the desire of some of the fringe players. It was the night we needed.

However, miss it I did and am now faced with the task of recording my thoughts on our latest tryst. The silver lining of the chavs somehow beating the mancs was tarnished too quickly. Maybe even mentioning silver is brave as the team seem to come out in a rash just contemplating it. Today was a big one. We are still in for 3 pots and the Premier League is the most realistic and the best. I had high hopes that this team would grasp it and run with it. Instead, the lightly undulating performance at Wembley returned but this time it was totally flat.

We started badly. Sunderland, to their credit, attacked us and the majority of the opening 15 minutes played out nearer the North Bank. A steward at the Clock End was actually asked if he could arrange some football up our end. To get an idea of how we played in the first half sit in silence for a couple of minutes......

.......No Talking!

..........Bored yet? Yes we were.

The second half had to improve and it did. We showed far more but not enough. We had lots of the ball without doing a great deal and, despite hitting the bar, never really looked like a goal would come. The keeper obviously had a good game as they always do but our attacks were predictable and cumbersome. No spark, no RVP. No key, no Cesc.

Throughout the afternoon I was struck by how ordinary we looked. There was no slick passing, movement or pace. This team without Cesc, RVP, Theo, ADSB17 and Vermaelen is ordinary. That's quite a list of quality to be missing and take the equivalent players out of any team and they would struggle too. Maybe we are expecting too much from those that are left. Maybe they are not up to it. The fact is they have to be if this season isn't going the way of so many before. Was it the missing 'stars' or did they have both eyes on the big game on Tuesday. I hope not because that's unforgivable. To cock up today because there is a game they would rather concentrate on would be hard to swallow. If that is the case then they had better go through on Tuesday. They shouldn't be tired as they gave nothing today. My son even suggested a chant of 'You don't even need a shower!'

I apologise for the depression but I've seen this all before. The 'bottling' has begun. Smash the bloody bottle and wake up. You are so close to greatness. Stop running from it. Grasp it, concentrate and things can be achieved. My belief in this team is wearing thin. How a team that's lost a two goal lead to spuds at home to lose, a 4 goal lead at Newcastle to draw, lost at home to Newcastle and WBA can still be in with a shout of the league says a lot about the quality of the team above us. Today was another 'one of those day' that was have too often.

So on to Barcelona and Manchester. It's going to be quite a week. Two important games but probably not as important as today. They need to snap out of this and put us miserable bastards in our place. I'd happily go there if it meant the Premier League was the prize.

Up The Gunners!