Alan’s weekly round-up of the football news on Tottenham, lucky Arsenal and the return of Peter Crouch to the England squad.
Alan’s 2013-14 Season Diary (continued)
The BBC pundits who have said all season that Arsenal would fold after Christmas have been right. I was wrong – I thought they would have the strength to come out on top at last. Having said that, they have had really bad luck with injuries again, 3 best players out – Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey. Back when they were winners, they were winners with George Graham’s defence. Wenger converted them into the most attractive team in the league but not good enough to win in Europe – and when fully his own team, not good enough to win anything.
Sunday 22 March
Spurs come back from 2 – 0 after 20 minutes to beat Southampton 3 – 2 at White Hart Lane; the winning goal scored by substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson with a last minute volley into the bottom left hand corner of the net. It was an inconsistent performance, the talking points being:
- two elementary mistakes by Kyle Naughton to set up Southampton’s goals and his subsequent committed performance to put things right,
- the move of Tim Sherwood from directors’ box to the technical area and back and then back again,
- his substitution of Sigurdsson for an ineffective Dembele and
- his half time rant in the dressing room.
- Also his refusal to substitute a misfiring Soldado who repaid him by redoubling his own commitment, chasing down the defender and putting in the cross for our second goal. You have to say though, if Soldado had not missed a couple of gilt-edged chances yet again, we would have won it sooner.
Incidentally, it’s nice to see Gylfi Sigurdsson quoted in the Standard as saying he has no regrets about turning down Liverpool for Spurs and how he is looking forward to the next two years with us.
Crouch for England
It is also gratifying to see all the experts jumping on the bandwagon for Peter Crouch’s return to the England squad following Stoke’s 4 – 1 victory at Villa, just as I suggested in my blog at the time of the announcement of the Denmark friendly squad a couple of weeks ago.
Monday 24 March
Arsene Wenger cancels his press conference in the wake of the Chelsea thrashing. The papers are full of rumours that he has been really hurt by the chants of “You don’t know what you are doing” from some Arsenal fans at the end of the game and that he may not sign the extension to his contract at the end of the season after all.
Tuesday 25 March
Moneybags Manchester City beat Manchester United 3 – 0. That’s the 3rd season on the trot they have won at Old Trafford. This time United were never at the races. It really was men against boys for much of the game. The City players were bigger and stronger in the crucial positions and could brush their opponents aside and on top of that had the skill, speed and finesse to take advantage of that fact.
Arsenal could only draw against Swansea City. At first glance you could say their traditional luck had run out after conceding a late equaliser, having already come back with two late goals themselves from 1 – 0 behind. Then you realise that “luck” is still in place after the referee blew for full time with 30 seconds to go of added time as Swansea were through and likely to score the winner.
There are many opinions being offered on Arsene and Arsenal wherever you look right now. One of the most telling is expressed in the Times which points out that if you were asked to put together an Arsenal best 11 of the last 17 ½ years, none of the players from the past 10 trophy-less years would get in it. It says that in recent years there has been plenty of skill but not enough substance. Also that they have proved they can come back from a setback but recently there have been too many, too often.
Wednesday 26 March
Liverpool win again to defeat Sunderland and go just one point behind Chelsea at the top of the League. West Ham scrape a win against 10-man Hull after Hull’s goalie is send off in the first half and then they score an own goal. If Wenger feels bad about his treatment by some Arsenal fans, imagine how Sam Allardyce feels after being booed at the end of this victory.
I’m signing off with my favourite quote this week from Sky Sports News. It’s not on football but on the 20/20 cricket. Just before 10am on Thursday the presenter said, “Let’s just show you the end of de Kock” as Quinton de Kock of South Africa was out for a duck. I had a mouthful of coke at the time and nearly spat it out on my laptop. I reckon he said it for a bet.