Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Night of the resuscitated goalscorers.

Man City 1 Arsenal 3. Ljunberg 1, Reyes, 2. Have I woken up in the not so distant past? Reyes scoring? Ljunberg scoring? Arsenal winning in the North-West? Why, it's like a dream of days of yore.

A very good result indeed, and one, I'm happy to say, we had to battle for. Although, in truth, City did not have the quality to take points off us, and even a draw would have been embarrassing by the end.

A win was only salvaged in the last 20 minutes of the game, however, and in the first 25 minutes City were the stronger side, dominating possession. This was to be expected, given the fact we were the away side, and it was fairly apparetnt that we were merely biding our time.

Henry was achingly brilliant. He might not have got on the score sheet but, as at Sunderland, he was the difference between the teams. His pass to Freddie took four city players out, and was, again, one of those beautiful reverse balls which are so completely disguised that I'm impressed even our own guys know to run onto them. A good clinical finish from Freddie followed. If he'd done that five more times in the league this season we'd be fourth and be able to start Sunday's party tonight.

As it was City then, against the run of play, equalised. An extremely scrappy goal with some woeful defending on our part. About half a dozen of our defenders, notably including Ash, seemed to be at fault at different stages of the ball trickling through to the net, and it was poor all round defending. Aside from that moment of rustyness Ash did pretty well, and it was great to see him running up and down the flank. To me, and this is just gut feeling, he didn't look like a player with one foot out the door. And i'm increasingly convinced that even with a fit Flamini, Ash will get the nod on May 17. Flam probably deserves it, but Ash is the better player, and he just gives us a vital extra dimension which will really help us push on to Barca. Sol, conversely, was poor. Until Phil's been gone, I think a lot of us haven't realised how much stability he gives us at the back. Sol couldn't win headers, looked slow and generally not up to the task. He seems to be a liabilty at the mo.

Second half and we piled on the pressure, with RvP coming close at least twice. He was a lot better than his last start, but he still seems to be missing that extra 1/3rd of belief which saw him play so well earlier this season. It was encouraging, but he was notably frustrated when he came off; a frustration that a number of city defenders had notably inflammed.

I was dissapointed to see Hleb come off who, apart from Gilberto - who, to give him credit, had been awesome - had been our most creative midfielder. But Jose and Bobby proved the difference. Both Jose's goals were things of beauty. The first saw Bobby play thread a wonderful ball through to Eboue on the overlap, who cut it back to Jose for a lovely finish. The finish was uncharacteristically instinctive for Jose, although, not as much as his second goal. After Tel had seemingly runrings round half the Manc team he knocked across to Jose who beautifully curled it into the top hand corner. A bona fide peach. As with Freddie - where have his shooting boots been all season. Whether he steps up or not next season will be key to our league performance.

Three great points then, with goalscorers who should have scored more goals this year. All credit to City though. Before our second I really thought it was heading toward a draw, and City really put pressure on us in the first quarter of both halfs. I can see why we nearly bought Sameras. He's a real handful, and has a real presence of a goalscorer about him. It took Jens' 'I'm king of the wind up merchants' routine to nullify him. That and, as per usual, two world class stops.

I have to also say that Song was by no means awful tonight. He clearly doesn't have the spark of genius of Cesc or Diaby, but he seems to be settling into a fine 'do a job' role.

As good a result as this is, one has to say, again, Pas de Henry, pas de gagner. [if that's wrong - the translation that is - please correct me ]. I'm really scared about what would happen to us without him. Sans Henry, pas de gloire pour nous.

So, everything to play for on Sunday. Hopefully West Ham will pay back some of the favours Sol did them early in the season. If not, I should imagine that celebrations will be slightly muted at the final, final salute.

Aside from the Arse a big day for England as a mediocre manager extraordinaire Steve McClaren is appointed. Why, with Steve at the helm I can truly envisage years and years of consistent mediocrity for the national team. All the best to him, but this is a farce of an appointment. The England team is English because of its players, not manager. But until we have another disaster with an coach appointed purely on nationality the England team will not get the coach it deserves. Hopefully next time, ability, not nationality, will guide the appointment process, all the way. Not just try one foreigner then give up, sulk and appoint a muppet when you fail. Myles- after his woeful diatribe against Ashley - is back on form on ANR with his column about the appointment.

Til next time, I shall await the final, final, absolutely last, ultimate, can't be any more, no honest this really is the last salute on Sunday.


Jack said...

mate good article very harsh on sol who i thought looked much better then sunderland. he did win headers, made a couple of crunching tackles, and also made a fantastic recovery tackle

Goonerboy said...

I didn't think he was as bad as at Sunderland, but I'd still pick Senderos above him for the final. If he's fit.

BergysBrother said...

good article. But I also think Sol did alright. Song tackeled well and won lots of challenges, but his passing was poor and made quite a few passes that were quite risky.

gazzap said...

Sol was bad at times in terms of his off side and his organisation of the defence at set pieces, but good at other times. he made one or two great tackles. but overall would play senderos every time.

Dont know how you can say good things about Song, who has literally not enough raw ability as a footballer to play for us.

Anonymous said...

Really glad for Reyes and Freddie, especially as Freddie, once he starts scoring, tends to go on.

McClaren is precisely what the FA and Little-Englander tabloids deserve. Hope they have a delightful four years of second-division mediocrity together. I think I might be gunning for Spain this World Cup, after France (my main team) have been knocked out by our very own Mr Togo.

Don't suppose Pardieu - is that how you spell it? - will be at all inclined to help us on Sunday. A Little Englander par excellence, that one. Remember how he was on a big Arsenal-are-a-filthy-French-team trip a couple of months back. Has Arsene any friends in the Premiership? Benitez perhaps? And maybe still Harry Redknap, who used to ask his advice whenb buying players from Africa/France. Not sure how well some of those purchases have worked out for Harry, however.

Who is still injured at Spurs? Please someone give me a (long) list so I can sleep more easily on Sat.

Anonymous said...

Song is what 17 years old???

You friggin idiots, the poor kid is nervous ass hell, and you bunch of idiots arent helping things in the slightest. Get off his back. Very few contral midfielders come good at 18. Even paddy took till what 20? 21? Its all a bandwagon anyway. Song has done ok. Him and Diaby looked about the same when they were next to each other the other day. Diaby certainly didnt shine above Song - though his height probably made him a little more useful.

As for sol, i think the CL final could come 3-4 games early for him. He is certainly rusty. If Rhonny faced him now.... Oh dear!

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