I was asked if I could write a pre-match post for Sunday’s game on Le Grove, and I thought “why the hell not?” I know about football. I can write. You see, Pedro and I have worked together for nearly three years now, so he knows exactly how capable I am when it comes to penning a riveting read. My thoughts immediately turned to the great and witty insights I could provide you all with after finally being recognised for my writing skills.
Then it dawned on me. I’m the only Leicester City fan he knows.
To be honest, it’s not that surprising. I’ve lived in London for five years now and I can’t recall coming across another Leicester supporter in all that time. Strangely, I’ve come across a hell of a lot of Coventry supporters during my time down here, but you’re always going to bump in to idiots no matter where you go.
Anyway, here’s my pre-match guide to all things Leicester.
Leicester churns out some incredible people. Willy Thorne? Yup, the gentleman of the baize is a Leicester boy. So is his best mate, Gary Lineker.
They even made a video about how strong their friendship is – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYqxmYgxhUA. It’s well worth a watch if you’ve got a spare 48 minutes and 53 seconds going on a Sunday morning, but did you know that half of MOTD has something to do with Leicester? We all know Gary is from Leicester, but Manish is a Leicester boy too, and Robbie Savage played for us, back when we were good. That was before Wenger came in, made Arsenal good and then gave up.
I remember seeing Robbie Savage driving through Leicester city centre in his silver Mercedes convertible. I think it was an SLK. He was driving at a reasonably slow speed, but his glorious, long, sun-kissed hair was flowing in the wind, elevated so that it protected the back of his neck from the harsh glare of the East Midlands sun. He didn’t look like a football player. In that moment, he looked like the son of a Greek god, raised on a diet of milk and honey. My friend asked me “Is that what a man looks like?” We looked at each other and just nodded in the kind of agreement that doesn’t need words. We just knew.
I saw the same friend the other day and we couldn’t help but talk about Robbie’s new haircut. What had he done?!?! The long, luxurious, carefree hippy locks had disappeared, only to be replaced with a Giroud-esque quiff. It seems to be all the rage these days, but both of our reactions were that of “what the hell has he done?”, but we soon realised that he was in transition, trading in decadence for a haircut for a man equipped to deal with the modern world.
In many ways, the story of Robbie Savage’s hair is a metaphor for Leicester City’s progress from runaway Championship leaders to Premiership new boys. In many ways it’s not, but I like the story and I want to see how much I can get away with on Le Grove.
Last year, Leicester City ran away with the Championship. It was sheer decadence. You see, we’ve got a decent manager in Pearson. I dare say he’s better than Wenger. Now I know that’s going to irritate a fair few of you, but that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I’m a Leicester fan writing on an Arsenal blog. That’s half the reason why I said yes to writing this.
But have a read of this and then tell me I’m wrong.
A few years ago, Pearson was backpacking across Romania and was attacked by a pack of wild dogs and beat them away with his bare hands. How amazing is this story? Could you imagine Wenger doing that? Now this isn’t a case of me going “my manager is harder than yours”, but it’s an example of how Big Nige (that’s how I’m going to refer to him from now on) knows what he’s getting himself in for.
You see, before he set out, he read up on the area, heard about these dogs and learned that they have a history of attacking people. He also found out that they have sensitive noses and don’t like stinging nettles, so he made sure he took a big old walking stick with him and armed with his new found knowledge, set off. When he was attached, he dived in to a pile of stinging nettles. When they came back for him, he was nowhere near any stinging nettles, so he used his stick to hit them in the noses. They didn’t like that so they soon left him alone.
Now, if he’s done this kind of reading up before going on a walk, you can beat he’s had a look at you guys. He’ll set the team up to play against you, and that won’t be very hard. Have a think about that when Wenger makes his 70th minute substitutions.
The other reason why Big Nige is better than Wenger is that he’s invested in a team to look after his team. It’s not all about him. You won’t see him on the touchline. He’ll be in the stands.
There’s two reasons for this. Firstly, he can see the game better. He then passes the information down to his team who can do all the shouting and substitutions. It reminds me of Rugby Union, with the manager sat in a box surrounded by all the data instead of getting frustrated with fourth officials and coat zips on the touchline.
The second reason is because he’s built a strong team behind him that he completely trusts. That’s how we got promoted with 100+ points on the board.
I have to admit, I trolled Pete when we got promoted. It was great. We were winning stuff because we had a manager that believed in sports science and I couldn’t help but highlight Arsenal’s deficiencies. I’m pretty sure he’s posted this link in the past, but it’s well worth another read. It just goes to show that keeping your squad together, fit and injury free makes a massive difference. That’s because Big Nige had a plan. He planned the year out, brought in sports scientists and kept a smaller squad together for consistency whilst keeping them injury free.
But you’ve never had any problems in that department, have you?
Thinking ahead tomorrow, you can expect a couple of things. Leicester won’t be an easy game. Everton and Chelsea found that out. If we had a better striker than David “one game, one goal for England” Nugent, we’d have got something out of the Chelsea game.
We look like we can handle life in the Premiership, and if that’s not enough for you, we’ve just signed Estaban Cambi-fucking-asso.
You’re without Gibbs, Giroud and Arteta, haven’t signed a decent striker since RvP left, have a lack of depth in your defence and your midfield is unbalanced and underperforming. It’s the perfect time for a confident, fast-breaking team from the Championship to play you.
We’ll absorb pressure and then break at pace thanks to our wingers. Knockaert and Mahrez are worth keeping an eye on. Both are young, lightening quick, skilful and not afraid to shoot. Chelsea played a high line against us and these guys destroyed it, giving Nugent about 3 one-on-one chances against Courtois. If he wasn’t so good and Nugent wasn’t so mind-crushingly awful, we’d have scored. I hope for your sakes that Szczęsny isn’t the type to switch off.
That’s not to say we don’t have our own weaknesses. We’re looking short of quality at full back. Konchesky just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid, but any Liverpool fan could’ve told you that. If you guys start playing with pace and putting defence-splitting passes in and around our fullbacks, I’m going to have a horrible time watching the game.
But I doubt it. Leicester City are back in the premiership where they belong and I’ll be watching the game in an Arsenal pub, with a load of Arsenal supporting friends in a game that we’re expected to lose, but have a realistic chance of getting something out of it.
What more could I want?
Just don’t get any ideas about trying to poach our manager.