As I'm heading off to Dortmund in the wee hours, I just wanted to add a couple of things which didn't make it into my weekly diary missive "Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss"
My neighbour at the Emirates commented on Saturday that the worst thing about Joey Barton's move to QPR was that we've got the misfortune of meeting Barton at least two more times this season. Yet while there might be many Gooners who would contend that the only thing wrong with Alex Song's infringement up at St James Park was that Alex should've at least stamped on the nefarious little thug's nut, it seems outrageous that Song should come in for such serious retribution as a three game suspension, when Phil Bardsley's stamp on Mata at the Stadium of Light on Saturday barely even rated a mention!
I don't know about anyone else, but while Gary Neville might have plenty of interesting comments to make as a regular Sky pundit, his nasal Mancunian drawl gets right on my tits and puts me off listening to him. They were discussing Newcastle's impressive start to a season on their Monday Night Football program. Those of us who were present for the opening match of the campaign can confirm that even before they lost Barton to QPR and Enrique to Dalglish's free-spending Scousers, Pardew's Toon outfit were little more than mediocre.
In my most humble opinion, the Geordies elevated status is just another indictment of the potential damage of producing league tables from matchday one. Myself I would much prefer a return to a time when league tables didn't appear until something like six games in, as this might help to alleviate the fall-out from the sort of the early season anomalies that have resulted in panic-stricken hysteria in North London and everywhere else, where teams have struggled to get out of the Premiership starting blocks; or the agony for all those fans who are brought down to earth with a bump, when for example, the bubble of the Toon Army's inflated hopes inevitably ends up being burst.
It seems to me that League tables at this time of the year are just another example of the lies and damn lies that are statistics. With his expert mathematical brain, I'm sure my neighbour at our gaff wouldn't agree and doubtless he'd get on with le Gaffer like a house on fire, but on Saturday he also came out with a statement about the much maligned Gunners defence apparently being responsible for conceding the least number of shots on goal last season.
Such information must come from the same studious folks as those who informed us that Denilson completed more passes than anyone else. It may well be bona fide statistically speaking, but it's the sort of information that can be used to misrepresent the stark contradiction of the evidence of our own eyes.
No one is guiltier of this crime than le Gaffer, which is why I've referred to his ability to put a positive slant on a nuclear holocaust. In Saturday's programme notes, he points out "if you compare this season to last, game on game, we have only one point fewer against the same teams", as if this fact alone should convince us disconcerted Gooners that there's little reason to fret!
I just pray that this is merely Arsène's customary way of attempting to reassure the faithful and bolstering his pilloried troops and that he hasn't been staring at his spreadsheets for so long that he's actually blinded by such an obvious delusion?
Talking of delusion, as I trotted around to the ground on Saturday, the commentator on Radio 5 was referring to the "separated at birth"traits of Arteta in an Arsenal shirt and Cesc Fabregas. Although it's true that Mikel does look strangely familiar in that central role in our midfield and that he does possess the sort of ball control to be able to provide the fulcrum around which our ticky-tacca football can rotate, it remains to be seen if he can develop the intuitive relationship with his team mates to reproduce the same incisive moves of his predecessor.
Alan Green was a little more disparaging (as is the cynical old git's embittered custom these days), suggesting that it wasn't bad business on Bill Kenwright's part because Arteta isn't the player he was two years ago. I'm not sure I agree, as, injuries aside, there's not usually any real physical deterioration between the ages of 27 and 29 but if Arteta wasn't as naturally gifted as Cesc back then, he still isn't now and I think it's a little harsh of us to hold the poor geezer up to the incredibly high-standard of one of the greatest players on the planet, as that way lies guaranteed disappointment.
I'm glad Coquelin got a run out as a sub on Saturday, as I felt quite sorry for the French lad at Old Trafford. While most of his team mates played as if they'd received our manager's tacit instructions about having written off the match before a ball had been kicked, at least Coquelin was charging around (even if it was with a passing impersonation of a headless chicken) and so it was good to see him get an opportunity to get this game out of his system.
However, with most Gooners turning up desperate to catch a glimpse of the new guys, I am sure that like me, many struggled to understand why on earth Wenger bothered bringing Chamakh on for the last ten minutes. Then again, perhaps even Marouanne is going to show some signs of benefiting from the increased competition for places. Not only did I have to do a double-take to make sure it was the Moroccan who managed a header on target at the death, but I felt inclined to offer him a Kleenex for his potential nosebleed because from what we've seen of him in recent times, I can't ever recall our reluctant centre-forward getting that high up the pitch.
Meanwhile I'd better get some kip if I'm going to make my crack of dawn departure to Dortmund. I've been vacillating between thinking I must be a masochist sucker for punishment for stumping up for trips to Dortmund, Marseille and Athens and being glad of making the most of such Champions League jollies, while we still can (considering we're so much further from being able to take qualification for granted!). However I'm led to believe that Borussia's stadium is something special to behold, so I'm glad to be going (assuming I don't oversleep :-)
Keep the faith
Come on you Reds
Monday, September 12, 2011