Thanks to ukfootballtoday for the imageBring back Sparky. What a non-event. What a load of bollocks. It was a bore fest par excellence. With reasonable expectations, though perhaps tellingly without the apprehension which normally plagues me on the occasion of big matches, I watched the first half in the local, but unusually for this reliably solidly Gooner-ite establishment, there was hardly a ripple of excitement. Nobody seemed to give a shit, engaged as they were in conversations about horses or so-and-so around the corner. There was the occasional yelp of ‘Go on Nasri! Put it through!’ followed by a sotto voce groan of dismay, but that was it. Maybe it’s something to do with Arsenal capitulating in the last 10 minutes at Wigan last week, giving them the feeling that there is less to play for, and that we are programming ourselves (and I do not exclude myself from this bout of forgetfulness. Let’s hope it doesn’t prove to be too egregious) to wait for the big showdown on the 5th of May. Who knows? But, given the way those bastards at Villa can play I think we are sorely mistaken if that is the case. Whatever, I made my way home again and watched the rest of the match (it came in fits and starts, but it didn’t really make any odds) via Iraq Goals.
A team as hesitant as the Gunners were on Saturday should have been there for the taking, with old man Sol at the back susceptible to a burst of speed from the likes of Bellamy or Johnson and a dodgy Pole in goal. But it was not to be. The former – as is nearly always the case – at least tried, though with precious little end result; while the latter had a dreadful game, as some were saying no doubt rendered nervy by the presence of Capello and the possibility of being offered a plane ticket to South Africa in June. Even so, he looked about as convincing as Walcott. Kompany clipped a couple of balls over the top which on another day might have done the trick, but it was not to be. Tevez had nary a touch, and it was depressing indeed to see Barry picking the ball up near the halfway line and then passing it back or across, while his Arsenal counterpart was doing pretty much the same thing for the entire game.
At least we were rarely troubled by the intricate build-up play and ponderous through balls from the North London outfit, despite the efforts of Vieira to drop us in the shit, and it’s a strange day indeed when we say we can be confident in our back line. At no point was there a sign of my apprehension returning, and I was never subjected to the jitters when Arsenal “advanced”. Even in the seventh minute of injury time, I did not think we were in danger of conceding. Yet we were a few galaxies away from threatening Fabianski ourselves. All very disappointing, and not the City I have grown up with.
It says it all that the reports in the papers are all about Given’s dislocated shoulder (strange that there should be two such injuries in a single weekend. Who says that the supernatural doesn’t play a part in the beautiful game?) and the young Faroese goalie (he did play one game for Wrexham I hear, and so the barren windswept, whale blubber strewn landscape he saw at the Racecourse Ground must have seemed a bit like home) and hardly mention the match at all. I suppose – as a side note – it is interesting that a team with City’s well publicised and seemingly limitless resources find themselves in such dire straits with a key player (much as I like Shay BTW, I have to say that the constant descriptions of him as ‘probably the best keeper in the Premier League’ are something of an overstatement. He never makes the top 10 in the Opta stats table) at this crucial point in the season. Does this reflect lack of planning or a small pool of available talent on which to draw? All the while, little Joe keeps bouncing around in the Brummegam net, making his own strong case for a trip to the World Cup in June. Ah well.
I think we can definitely do something against Villa before the Spuds cruncher, but not if we play with the same mentality we showed on Saturday. In any case, I would sooner watch us lose in style than put myself through another 90 minutes of shite like the Arsenal game.