Stoke and Chris Foy were in the festive mood yesterday, both combined to rob our North London neighbours of three points in hilarious, controversial and unfair circumstances. What a great late gift! I happened to watch the game, hoping for a minor Christmas miracle and boy did we get one. Spurs gave Stoke two first half goals that both started from those nasty throw ins plus one which was helped along by a Petert Crouch handball.
In the second half, Spurs upped the tempo, they won a penalty, which Ade scored. From there on in, I thought there was no way Stoke would hold out, our North London neighbours were relentless. However, with a little bit of luck, an onside goal ruled offside, three nailed on Stoke handballs in the box, some fantastic Sorensen saves, a Kaboul sending off and god damn terrible refereeing, Stoke held out for a beautiful win!
Amazing. That still puts us 2 points away from them with Spurs having a game in hand, but we’re in touching distance of the top 4. We just have to keep playing the underdog, keep sneaking those wins and keep climbing the table. Regardless of the form we’re showing, top four would still be massive and it still looks like it’ll be really tough. My gut feeling this year is that Chelsea are going to have a struggle on their hands with Spurs and us for that final Champions League place. I might be totally wrong there, but they have big problems. Picking on Gary Neville for telling the truth shows just how much pressure Villa-Boas is under. Keep it up Neville, it makes a change to hear an actual opinion from a pundit.
I read in The Sunday Times that Manchester United are a team on the decline and the writer intimated that Wayne Roooney was right to question the clubs ambition last season. Unbelievable! It basically stated the in the mess they’re in (I know, United in a mess) because they don’t have the spending power of the clubs around them. Interesting how quick the knives sharpen, especially after the success they had last year and how over the topic lavish the praise for them was at the start of the year. ‘Team of a generation’ being replaced by ‘club that fails to attract top talent’ is very laughable.
Still, that’s not our concern. What we need to concentrate on is our match up against the blue half of City next Sunday. They’re not quite on a different planet at the moment. One man is, David Silva. They’re playing great football, but we saw Napoli teach them a lesson in the quick passing game twice. We’re in the right sort of form to play football against them, really, the game couldn’t have come at a better time. If we can stretch them up top and maintain a disciplined game at the back, we’ve got every chance of nicking some points there. My biggest concern is at right back. Mancini is a tactical master, he’ll know that JD isn’t very mobile and he’ll be keen to exploit that side of the pitch with pace and trickery. I’d imagine Adam Johnson will get the nod and I’d imagine they’ll focus plenty of energy in exploiting that side of the pitch.
Alex Song and Mikel Arteta will have a hugely important role to play. How do you contain David Silva? The player of no fixed abode. Well, if training with Cesc for 5 years doesn’t give you a bit of practice, then I’m not sure what will! Arteta is an experienced head and I’m sure he’ll be keen to boss a game against the leagues team of the moment. Ultimate concentration will be the theme of the day and making the correct decision about whether to maraud forward or sit will be the difference. You don’t want to fear City to the point of containing the teams game, but at the same time, City don’t need a second invite and they’ll kill you if you give them the chance.
It’s interesting in the assist chart that Songinho has popped up with 5 this season. That’s one less than Gervinho who was the assist machine we bought from Lille. People calling for Song to be promoted to chief creator are mad in my opinion. He’s a good defensive player. Having a good defensive midfielder who can help out with the creative side is a pretty powerful asset. When Jack comes back, we’ll have a potent midfield full of bite and aggression as well as pretty tasty attacking set up.
I have a good vibe about the game. I fear playing United more than I do City. Maybe that’s misplaced, I just don’t think the year can be that cut and shut for nouveau riche of Manchester.
In other news, Arsene Wenger has ruled out moves for Thierry Henry and Nic Anelka…
“As for Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry, I would say ‘No’.
“I am told Anelka has signed for a club in Shanghai and Henry goes to a training camp with New York Red Bulls on 15th January.
“We will lose players like Marouane Chamakh and Gervinho to the Africa Cup of Nations, but we have players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Andrey Arshavin and Ju Young Park to come in.’
I can see why he’d rule out Nic Anelka, the guy is a massive sulk and he’s hardly been putting in a shift at Chelsea, however, I can’t see why he wouldn’t take a punt on Henry? He still took us a part in preseason and he’s still ripping it up in training according to Keown and we know full well he’s a better player at 34 than Park or Chamakh will ever be. The Moroccan reckons he’ll weigh up his options at the end of the season. I do hope if the worst happens and Robin goes, that doesn’t persuade Wenger to hold in to him!
Madrid are causing us problems. According to the John Cross, Yann M’Villa is interesting them at £30million. They only have about 8 defensive midfielders, so obviously they need one interesting us. They’re also sniffing around Robin. Mourinho tried to sign the Dutchman when he was at Chelsea and he came back in for him when he was at Inter. Hopefully he won’t get him this time. If he does come in for him, I’d be very tempted to ask them for Higauin or Benezema in exchange. You can’t keep those three happy in the same squad.
The article was tempered by saying Robin might be tempted to stay if Wenger goes out and bolsters in the January and in the summer. Could the penny finally have dropped for Wenger?
1) If you don’t give top class players top class team mates they go.
2) Experienced players bring you an edge even the best kids can’t
3) Buying in top quality works
If Wenger has learnt and he goes out and brings in a top class striker, a defender and a creator like Gotze, we’re very close to having a seriously competitive mix of players. It’s a big if though… seeing is believing, not long to go before we’ll know!
It was interesting to read Wenger citing maturity for Robin’s ascendancy into world-class this season. I’d say it’s more down to staying fit, something he’s rarely managed during his sizable stay. Let’s hope he can continue his healthy run for the rest of the year!
That’s me done for Monday, have a ripping day and do let me know if you need my home address for Christmas donations.
P.S. It’s the AST Christmas do tonight, it’s in the WM Club, so I can afford a glass of tapwater and a bread roll before I m0ve on. I hope to see a few of you down there, I’ll report all the goss in the morning!