We’re in the middle of two tough games. City last week and Spurs next week. There were not so many of us expecting too much out of the City game, a draw for the optimists (guilty as charged) otherwise most people were hoping not to lose too badly and maintain face. As it was, I’m not too sure what it was that we came away with except I know it wasn’t that draw I was looking for. The result could have been worse, but it wasn’t and to be honest it could have been better. Football is a game of fine margins and when two clubs of this quality play each other, it is those fine margins that determine the end result. De Bruyne’s goal went under Koscielny’s foot and Cech got his finger tips to it but it was not enough. Sterling’s penalty was a seemingly fair shoulder to shoulder challenge that the ref thought otherwise and Jesus’s goal was blatantly offside. Arsenal managed three shots on target and Lacazette was able to make it 2-1 at one stage. So the fine margins resulted in a City win. Don’t get me wrong though, City were all over us and deserved to win as they played the more attractive and decisive football however had the fine margins gone our way, it could quite easily have been a draw.
So onto Spurs this week and I’m sure the expectations are somewhat higher from Arsenal fans the world over. Spurs need to be put into context as they are certainly not City although they do have a confidence factor from doing well in Europe and their away form where they have won four out of five games. That single away defeat coming against United in their last away game.
How long has it been since Spurs have won the league? 5 years, 10 years, 50 years? Well, let me tell you that probably 80%, if not more, of Spurs’ supporters have never seen them win a league title and here we are, listening to people moaning that Arsene will be at the reins for the longest period that any Arsenal manager has been without winning the league. It will be fourteen years come May that Arsenal have been without the title of Premier league champions whilst it will be fifty-six years since Spurs last won the league. Now we must be cautious not to become like Liverpool supporters and live in the past and admittedly Spurs are playing some good football these days however when it comes to comparisons between the two clubs, there are none to talk of. As for the complaint about Arsene’s barren years, then let’s put that into perspective. We won our first top division league title in the 1930/31 season and our barren periods have been between the titles won in 1952/53 and 1970/71 and 1970/71 and 1988/89, both lasting eighteen years. The extraordinary thing is that no manager has managed the club for longer than this current period that Arsene has not won the league for, (May 2004 – Current) 13 years 6 months, with the closest being George Allison (May 1934 – May 1947) and there was a big disruption during that period where Adolf came onto the scene! The next longest serving manager was Bertie Mee who did a ten year stint from 1966 and won us our first double half way through. So, as much as it may be correct to make this statement, there are many other positives to attribute to his twenty-one year tenure that make nonsense of all this.
Spurs’ most successful manager was Bill Nicholson who managed the club for 16 years and earned them the first ever ‘double’ by an English team in 1960-61. Spurs last won anything of note in 1990-91 (twenty seven years ago) being the FA Cup and prior to that in 1983-84 where they won the UEFA Cup (being the equivalent to the current Europa Cup). In all they have been major under achievers. So keep this information in your back pocket the next time a Spurs’ troll tries to belittle you in front of your colleagues.
Well, that was an ancient history lesson. If we look closer to the present and review results over the past six years, the statistics are interesting enough. We have a better win percentage, six against four with there being four draws. The last time Spurs won at our home ground was back in November 2010 when they came from two-nil down to score three second half goals. From that game, only Koscielny survives for us (although Wilshere and Walcott were on the bench) and not one player from the Spurs team.
Team news at this early stage is that Giroud seems to have picked up a thigh strain in his International duties and it remains to be seen whether he will be fit for our match. Even if he was fit I would expect him only to start the match on the bench but as we all know he is a very useful substitute. As for our other internationals, Lacazette came on for Giroud in that match for the last 17 minutes so he may well start against Germany, for whom Ozil played the full 90 minutes against England. Koscielny also played the full 90 against Wales. Which Arsenal player will feature in the Germany v France game on Tuesday is yet to be seen. Ramsey also played in the friendly against France for the full 90 minutes and will no doubt be playing against Panama on Tuesday. And that really leaves Xhaka of our first squad who has been involved in a more serious competition, featuring for the Swiss national team against Northern Ireland in the World Cup qualifiers. The Swiss took a 1-0 lead into their home leg on Sunday where they succeeded in qualifying for the World Cup finals in Russia with a nil-nil draw. An interesting fact is that the Swiss side won 9 out of their 10 qualifying games and came second to Portugal due to goal difference. Over and above these players mentioned, we should be expecting Welbeck, Mustafi and Chambers to all be available for the weekend game however maybe we’ll see Welbeck on the bench and maybe Mustafi with a little luck.
Right, that’s enough about this weekend’s fixture. As for our two fantasy leagues, we have the following situations. In the Superbru league, Cordier was our top performer, with 7 out of 10 games predicted correctly. That moved him up 17 places to 43rd. The top three are as follows:
Looks like MAC10 is opening up a big gap there – just over eleven points. In the FPL, top points of 72 were scored by Cillan Pillay’s Boom-Xhaca-Laca, however the top three, separated by just 13 points are:
Cannon Hill FC (Earle Brown) 658
Welbz FC (Yusuf H) 649
LALLANAS IN PYJAMAS (Nicholas Da Silva) 645
Saturday’s game is at 2:30pm and once again it’s gonna be a big do on the patio section at the Brazenhead. It was a good turnout for the City game so let’s do the same this week. Whatever you do, just c’mon down to the Brazenhead and have yourselves some fun!