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Never in doubt…
On Arsenal’s win
Since there was no feature article covering the remarkable win last night (In fairness, it was probably too late to change all the “Arsenal Arsenal-ed it up by leaving it too late” drafts), I thought I’d write in to offer kudos to Wenger and the team. (MC – We were writing Winners and Losers instead).
There have been some brilliant performances in Europe this season by Bayern and Barcelona at home but last night was probably the perfect away performance. Absolutely brilliant from the first minute to the last.
With no attacking options on the bench, it would have been foolish to attack from the off and leave the players exhausted by second half. Arsenal did exactly what they needed to do by containing Olympiakos for the first 20 minute, minimizing the crowd influence and then returning the pressure.
Wenger’s men seemed in complete control throughout and it was no surprise to see qualification secured by 50 min, allowing Arsenal to comfortably see the game out once the third goal went in. The fact that the closest the Greeks came to even mildly troubling the Arsenal defense was from a Koscielny clearance, speaks volumes about how good their game management was.
I also felt Wenger added to his game plan with astute in-game decisions. Switching around Walcott with Campbell was a brilliant call, seeing as Bellerin was repeatedly being exposed and Campbell is much better at tracking back than Walcott.
Last word has to go to Giroud obviously. What a complete center forward’s performance yesterday which had everything from holding the play up, bringing others into play and clinical finishing. Additionally, he was of great help defending the set pieces. I know it’s fashionable to deride Giroud in these corners but there is no other striker in the premier league that would work better for this Arsenal team except for Aguero. I would imagine most Arsenal fans would take Giroud over Rooney, Kane, Costa and others, who went a long way for atoning for his errors at the start of the UCL campaign.
All in all, a fantastic performance all around. Let’s not try and demean it by toting out the same old “typical Arsenal/ peak Arsenal” lines please.
Falooda in NY (Arsenal were never going to top the group anyway)
We looked professional!
Well, I wasn’t expecting that! Giroud, Campbell and Wenger will rightly get the lions’ share of credit for what was a very professional performance.
However, I can’t help but think that the team looks an awful lot like it used to with one exception: Petr Cech. All of a sudden last season’s decent Arsenal defence looks like a very good defence that’s rarely embarrassed, and it’s giving the rest of the team a platform to perform, regardless of absences.
Long may it continue.
Elo (Enjoying a lovely Spursday morning) Basel
A thousand times bitten, forever shy
Great achievement to qualify from the position we were in.
Now to draw Zenit/Wolfsburg in the last 16, lose 3-1 at home and win 2-0 away to go out heroically on away goals
Stewie: Have that
I wrote in saying that we didn’t need to get a result in Munich to go through. That die hard gooner Stewie Griffin made me look stupid with his withering put down!
“…So Jaimie Kaffash gets his excuses in by claiming Arsenal ‘don’t have to win in Munich’ eh? Interesting. Because the suggestion is that a win in Greece will be a foregone conclusion for Arsenal – let’s just ignore they’ve lost on their last few visits there, and also ignore they couldn’t even beat Zagreb shall we! Or that Olympiakos gave them a lesson, at the Emirates. No no, let’s ignore facts.”
Looking forward to his views on the game. Not that I have ever seen him in the mailbox when Arsenal win, of course…
Jaimie Kaffash, Arsenal, North London
Giroud: World-class again
Olivier Giroud came in for quite a bit of stick in the mailbox a month or so ago, so now seems a good time to mention a few facts:
– 71 goals in three and a bit seasons which includes a long period out with a broken leg last season.
– 18 of which were headed goals. More than any other player since his arrival in English football.
– 11 Champions League goals in 24 appearances.
And Chelsea vs Porto thoughts
Who’d have thought I’d be so happy to see a run-of-the-mill 2-0 home victory against an average Porto side when this season began? I’m not going to talk of “corners turned” or anything as knee-jerky as that but it was good to see us comfortably keep them at arm’s length while offering a small degree of menace when countering.
Willian was, again, excellent in most things he did and it was great to see Hazard really trying to impose himself on the game as he did so often last season. Some of his touches and dribbling were befitting of a Player of the Year. I thought Terry and Zouma were good at the back together. Even though young Kurt is a bit more “safety-first” than Cahill I am generally more comfortable with him playing. I think the core of the squad is fine but we should start using Azpilicueta at RB and Ruben at DM more often.
There were still problems, of course, mainly surrounding Diego Costa. His touch when through on goal (so heavy that it made the Hollies consider suing) as well as his poor finish (that fortunately led to the crucial opening goal) were bad enough but throw in a needless yellow card for petulance and there’s definitely still reason to search for a replacement for our Spazilian troll, no matter how loudly some of our fans sing his name.
As for your headline about Mourinho saying we can win the Champion’s League I think you missed a trick. Of course he’s going to say we can win it, why shouldn’t he? I found the more interesting admission further on in the interview when he admitted most second-placed teams “wanted” to be drawn with us. It’s a frank admission and really shows where we are in the football world right now.
BlueLuke – New striker in January would make a welcome late Xmas present
Congratulations from Manchester
Big congrats to Arsenal, Chelsea and City.
Garey (Thursdays ain’t so bad) Vance, MUFC
Having a pop at Jose
“But when we won at Porto in 2004 we were not candidates. When we won at Inter (Milan) in 2010 we were not candidates. When we were candidates we lost two semi-finals with Real Madrid, we lost two semi-finals with Chelsea, so let’s see. You never know” – Jose Mourinho.
Is this guy for real? Is he seriously ignoring the ONE time Chelsea were actually not candidates and won against all expectations?
Does Chelsea’s record without Mourinho even count in the record books? And since when did Porto class of 2004 and Inter Class of 2010 become a part of “We” unless he is referring to himself in third person plural and not to Chelsea Football Club, as his job description indicates?
(MC – Erm… wasn’t he just talking about his own teams in the Champions League? Which seems fair).
Feeling sorry for Garry Monk
Yesterday, news broke of Garry Monk’s sacking at the hands of Huw Jenkins and Swansea Football Club, bringing with it the end of an era. The news brought with it the reassurance that no one is safe in British football and that fairytales most certainly do not exist.
The recent, less-than-perfect departures of legends such as Gerrard and Ferdinand should have served as a forewarning, but still the news of yesterday stings more than it should.
Saturday, August 7th 2004 – Garry Monk makes his Swansea debut in a 2-0 defeat to Northampton Town in the depths known as League Two. Eleven years, four divisions, two-hundred and fifty-six playing appearances, and seventy-seven games in charge later and Monk finds himself leaving the club he helped build, sitting fifteenth place in the top flight of English football.
Swansea’s rise through the ranks over the past decade is a source of envy for clubs all over the world, who hope to replicate even a fraction of the success had by the South Wales club. At the heart of the recent success lies Garry Monk.
There is no doubting that one win in eleven matches represents a massive rut in form, especially for a side that started the season so brightly. But, if you asked Huw Jenkins eleven years ago on that Saturday afternoon when Monk first lined up the Swans, where the club would be in 2015, he wouldn’t have answered here.
Today’s footballing world is ruled by the unjust criticism of the media, agents who wield too much power, and owners with no knowledge of the game. Rash decisions are the norm and continuity is no longer a part of the game. While this is known and examples occur on a daily basis, part of me still believes there is hope for rationality and patience.
If anyone deserved the time to try and right a club in “crisis” it was Monk. His sacking only acts as a barrier and discouraging display to young, British managers trying to enter the managerial realm. If a man who has given his whole heart to a club for eleven years and helped captain them for League Two to the Prem is only given fifteen games of job security on the back of finishing eighth, then what is the point?
Swansea supporters must remind themselves they are lucky to be here. Garry Monk deserved time and patience. Instead he has become another piece in the crumbling puzzle that is modern day football.
(MC – Take the point, but achievement breeds expectation and always has. Would Manchester City allow Pellegrini to finish fifth because they were in the third tier 16 years ago?)
Well done Carlisle United
Living in Carlisle, the city has been hit pretty hard by the floods this week and I just wanted to draw some attention to the Carlisle United first team who have all volunteered to help those affected by the floods in any way necessary.
Steven Naismith has also had a decent week too giving out meals to the homeless in Glasgow. Just goes to show that there are some decent footballers left and not everyone is like Costa and Barton who fall into the categories of tw*tbadgers and asshats respectively.
Meeting Paul McGrath
Thanks to Daniel Storey and his fine piece on the Black Pearl of Inchicore for giving me a chance to write about this story.
I met the great man briefly some years ago in a pub in the arse of nowhere in south-east Ireland near where he now lives. Thankfully he was there as a guest of a charity that were fundraising and was stone cold sober. The first thing I heard when I walked into the pub was ‘let’s thank Paul McGrath for coming down to support us.’
Shoving fellow pub patrons aside in my excitement, I saw him smiling and shaking hands, looking cool as he did on the pitch as he did. My football idol was right on front of me. Safe to say I nearly shat. I asked him for a photo and he said ‘no problem man,’ and threw and arm over my shoulder.
I started to panic then because I was too excited / pissed to take a decent photo. I apologised for taking so long. ‘Don’t worry, you’re a top man,’ said Paul McGrath. I got my photo and one of my favorite memories with a hero and a legend.
Hey you, stop doing that because someone from another country doesn’t like it
I’m not sure if anyone else pays attention to it, or even if it grates anyone to the same extent it annoys me, but watching games that are played in Greece, Turkey and Russia is really annoying.
I know the fans try to create an atmosphere that makes it a very hostile proposition for opposing players, but the constant wolf whistling when other teams have the ball is seriously infuriating.
Olympiakos fans are so bloody annoying in this game.You don’t really see this type of thing from fans in western Europe.
Paddy(The RTE lads still think Ozil is a spoofer) Ireland
So, Rodgers for United?
Yesterday’s morning mailbox read “Rather lose like that than win boring”
If that is the style of football United fans now crave I hear Brendan Rodgers is still looking for work.
Brian (LVG In) LFC
Is football better or worse as a neutral?
I’ve been reading the mailbox for quite some time now, and I have been minded to ask, is football as a fan better or worse than football as a neutral?
Now, I am a Celtic fan and also follow my local team Corby Town (Southern League Premier champions 2014/2015 incase you were wondering) so whilst this may seem inconsequential to you premier league fan, but, please bare with me.
Reading your mailbox daily allows me a glimpse into the same emotional connection I used to have with football when I was 20. These days the high’s aren’t particularly that high, and the lows really aren’t low at all. This may be just growing up. Maybe down to the fact that I now have children and football just doesn’t match up to the attention that my family and life requires. Perhaps I just can’t dedicate enough time or energy to it these days.
That might sound quite sad, however I feel the opposite, I perversely enjoy football more now that I am emotionally detached. I don’t cheer goals like a mad man and I’m not really bothered when my team loses. I’ve found myself more able to enjoy other sports.
Perhaps this means I’m not really a ‘fan’ anymore, but for me that’s fine. I’d sooner be able to enjoy a game of football on a weekend, and come away with a shrug of the shoulders if we lose or smile when my team wins, rather than agonising over why my teams lost, or having the same smile if my team won.
Do the highs of a last minute winner outweigh the myriad of lows? Analysing your transfer gossip, your system of play, your manager, which players got a knock and the soul searching after every defeat?
It is really, really good
Man United may be out of the Champions League but now I get to watch the excellent BT Sport Champions League Goals Show on both matchdays each round.
Every cloud and all that…
Dan in Bristol (Could be worse…)
Headline of the Day – ‘Any Porto in a storm’ – F365.
Take a bow