G'day fellow Gooners,
I thought the most impressive thing about last night's performance by the kids was that they managed to make a supposedly impressive LIverpool youth side look so damn ordinary (with Amoo on their right flank just about the only Liverpool player to come away with any credit)
I must admit I was a little concerned when our midfield dynamo, Manny Frimpong, limped off so early on, but as others have said, we witnessed a similar effect as the one we've seen in the first XI, where playing Fabregas further forward prevents him having the same sort of impact on the game, as Cesc has when playing in the middle of the park. It was only when Frimpong went off and Wilshere moved back to partner Coquelin at the heart of the Young Guns midfield that our "midfield Mozart" truly started to influence the game with his incisive passing and his perceptive football brain.
The other player who really impressed me was Kyle Bartley at centre-back, as apart from our youngsters defence having the sort of composure that's so often lacking in the first XI's panic-stricken backline, Bartley also appears to have a great range of passing and a decent touch for a defender. What's more it was an absolute joy to see him and Ayling going forward for set-pieces and really troubling the Liverpool defence. I really can't remember the last time I saw anyone from the first XI going for a header in the box with genuine belief and commitment. I'm sure that Bouldie must've been positively "kvelling" with pride when Jay Emmanuel-Thomas scored from a near post flick-on (in case anyone is too young to recall, Bouldie must've lost much of his hair when partaking in this particular party-piece)
Watching a recording of the Setanta broadcast, it was great to see the likes of Fabregas, Walcott, Gibbs and Ramsey all watching on from the stands (although I have to wonder just what part of AW's high-energy, broccoli based dietary regime is made up by the bland, char-broiled Arsenal burgers that Cesc was seen chowing down on at the start of the evening - and does the club captain have to pay, or does he get a work discount?)
It seems a bit churlish to be complaining about anything, after such a supremely poised display by Bouldie's bairns, but I couldn't help but groan in frustration at the sight of Gilles Sunnu doing a Drogba, cynically going down after some contact on the edge of the box, when you'd hope that at their tender age, on reaching the point where they're through, one on one with the keeper, they'd want to be staying on their feet and trying to bury a potential goal scoring opportunity, instead of playing the odds and settling for a set-piece on the edge of the area.
Also I know Rhys Murphy's earning a reputation as something of a goal poacher, but I'm not sure I agreed with Sunnu's substitution, as at that point in the game, with the Scousers a little stretched, trying to save their blushes, by achieving a less embarrassing scoreline, Murphy lacks Sunnu's searing pace and I wondered if the French lad might be that much more likely to leave leggy Liverpool defenders trailing in his wake, taking advantage of the ball over the top. But then who am I to be questioning SB?
I recall in an earlier round against Wolves at Underhill, Murphy was stretchered off early on and Sunnu came on to score a hat-trick. But I seem to recall leaving with the impression that his hat-trick wasn't a result of stunning skill on Gilles part, but that he was blessed with "right time, right place" good fortune.
Meanwhile I reckon the only position Jay Emmanuel-Thomas hasn't played during this cup run has been in goal and I know the Young Guns captain only began to turn it on second-half, but there was a lesson there for Abou Diaby about doing a job for ones team. Jay seems so incredibly versatile that I really don't think they know his best position. Despite his quick feet, he's so big and strong that he seems a little wasted playing out wide.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised to see an old-school defender like Bouldie opting for a zonal system in defence, but then I recall being similarly shocked the last time I cornered Martin Keown on this topic, as I automatically assumed Boom-Boom was bound to be a 'man for man' man, when I asked him to explain to me the reasons why so many seemingly learned managers opt for a zonal system. But he basically dismissed my enquiry, as if to suggest that one simply has to accept that if someone as astute as AW opts for a zonal defence, then obviously it has to be the best option.
My feeling has always been that when a defender marks an area, instead of an player at set-pieces, when an opponent enters a defender's particular zone, the defender is at a disadvantage, as he's trying to jump from a standing start, against someone who's converting horizontal speed into vertical height and the player attacking the ball is bound to get the jump on a zonal defence because he's got a bit of momentum. But again, what do I know and so long as a zonal defence works on the night, I'm not going to complain
If I'm entirely honest, I was just a little disappointed that after such an incredibly dominant performance, we didn't put the result completely to bed (perhaps with one more goal). I don't know about anyone else, but I kind of got the impression that once we'd scored the fourth, we became a little casual, when I'd have loved to have seen evidence of more of a killer instinct, of the sort that would've left all the Scousers knowing there was no point turning up next week.
However having heard a barmy statistic about no youth team coming back from a three goal deficit in the second leg, to win the cup since the fifties, I guess I should be feeling a little more secure. I just hope that the scoreline doesn't influence Bouldie's team selection next Tuesday in a negative fashion, with him believing we only have to hang on to what we've already got. Hopefully we will go out and take the game to Liverpool at Anfield, as if we sit back and invite them on, in front of a partisan home crowd, should the Scousers score early, it could be a long, nerve wracking evening. There's me....always the optimist :-)
Finally, as 1st June draws nigh, I'm beginning to panic about our season ticket renewals. I'm not having a moan, as if I'm entirely honest, at £995, relatively speaking I reckon when it comes to a blinding view for ones buck, we've got just about the best value seats in the gaff. However with an additional 170 quid odd per ticket for the additional cup games (over and above the 7 included in the price) this season, the total for our two seats next term comes to the best part of two and a half grand.
With Róna not having anything like the same emotional attachment to the new stadium and with us not having a clue how we're going to come up with the cost of both tickets (barring me digging out a sawn-off and a stockinged mask!), she's suggested I could lease out her ticket for the season. I wouldn't have the chutzpah to ask anyone to pay for this season's extra cup games, but after putting out a few feelers, I've not had a single tickle to date. I know that there are plenty of other season ticket holders in a similar boat who are currently considering their options, but we're told that there's a waiting list for season tickets which numbers 40,000 and in which case, one would've expected any available seats to be snapped up in an instant, never mind having to tout them on the internet.
So if anyone fancies a blinding pitch for all (or perhaps part?) of next season, halfway between the halfway line and the away fans corner, in the lower tier, for the face value cost of a "mere" 995 quid (some calculate this cost in terms of category A,B matches etc, but I prefer the old-fashioned method of dividing the cost by the number of game, which works out at just over £38 per match for the included 26 games) please don't hesitate to get in touch. I guess the ideal "tenant" would already be deaf in their right ear, as I'd have no worries of the litigation that might result next May from any such an affliction, after spending a season enduring my incessant hollering. Moreover, according to tradition, in the absence of my missus, any new occupant might have to suffer me instinctvly grabbing hold of their hand for the more tense moments. But when we win the league next May, I promise you won't be obliged to sit on my face :-)
e-mail to: londonN5@gmail.com
Saturday, May 23, 2009
G'day fellow Gooners,