Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Chelsea preview

Arsenal will, no doubt, pass the ball in small triangles and work their way up and down the pitch in a steady tempo creating the illusion of being in control. After 40 minutes (or 5 if we're unlucky), Drogba will get his first chance and score - game over. 2nd half - who knows? Pessimistic but realistic.
Alternative scenario: Arsenal play an aggressive, high-tempo game, creating chances and opening up a 2-0 lead at half-time. Arsenal show incredible belief and fight to maintain their challenge for the Premiership and a determination to beat their rivals. Fabregas shows real leadership, cajoling and encouraging the team. Sagna doesn't put a foot wrong. 2nd half - who knows? Overly optimistic based on too much Christmas spirit.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Dodgy LP covers - #3

I can honestly say I never bought any of these or received them as Christmas presents. I don't think I even bought any of the featured tracks.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Cesc reads CBP

Noticed on the train that a couple of the red-tops have articles about Cesc stating the Arsenal haven't got the bottle. Absolutely agree! Not sure what he's doing about it/going to do about it but perhaps there's also an element here of paving his way back to Barcelona. Hopefully, he'll be playing victoriously in the Camp Nou shortly - for one night only!

Dodgy LP covers - #2

Not a puppet, more a resident of Madame Tussauds! Or is it the first recorded usage of Botox?

Dodgy album covers or not?

Worst Album Covers 15

This is #15 on a website of the Worst Album Covers. I tend to disagree - cover seems ok to me though different. Music, however, is top notch!

ManU v. Arsenal

Some time has passed since Monday but my thoughts on the match haven't really changed. To go there as table-toppers and not show any fight or desire to remain there (at the top of the table, not OT) is symptomatic of Arsenal's lack of belief. An incredible nervousness coupled with a lack of real leadership on the pitch means that this Arsenal team, for all its technical prowess, does not have the mental strength to be a really successful side.

There are reasonable match reports at

A brief word on the substitutions, in particular the introduction of RvP. AW seems to believe that he can play in the middle of the 3 in a 4-2-3-1. In this match, in this role, he offered nothing. It is all the more puzzling as AA remained wide on the left when his most influential half this season was in the second period at Villa when he played just behind the main striker. To me, it would have been better to move AA centrally and to play RvP wide, say inside-out on the right where he could cut-in on his left, stronger, foot.

Howard Webb - 'Fergie's Rent Boy'

Nuff said! Even an Old Trafford penalty. Luckily Wayne saw how unfair it was and blasted over in a rare show of integrity (I think??)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Dodgy LP covers - #1

I know nothing about Keely Smith or her music. The mix of colours on this cover may have been fetching in the late 50s(?) but to my eyes she looks like an extra from Star Trek.

Favourite football crowd scene

After a particularly bad mistake by the goalie!

Clayton Park Bakery

Pie-makers to Blackburn Rovers.

Even got a picture on their website with Sam and a tray of pies. He looks like he's already scoffed a couple of tray-loads! (Hardly original, I know, but true all the same.) The thin guy on Sam's left looks well miffed - he obviously didn't get a look in.

Update: Just checked their website and they also supply pies to Everton. Unbelievable - see previous post re. Everton away.

The dentist & Barcelona v. Real Madrid

Was at the dentist on Monday and he had Talk Sport on the radio. They were previewing the upcoming match between Barcelona and Real Madrid (which turned out to be a great game to watch). They were speculating how Barcelona or Real Madrid would fair in the Premier League and how Chelsea and ManU would do in La Liga. What they didn’t talk about was refereeing and their interpretation of the rules. I certainly think Barcelona and Real Madrid would struggle to dominate in the Premier League with English referees who allow a more physical game and tend to warn players rather than book them immediately for physical transgressions. There was a raft of bookings in the Barcelona/Real Madrid match, many of which would not have been seen as such in England. But such an environment encourages skilful play and minimises the impact of those with a ‘good engine’ which, generally, is code for no skill, runs around a lot and can kick people.

Whilst on referees – the commentators on the Spurs and Liverpool match were discussing the apparent difference in the application of the laws of the game with regard to incidents in the penalty area. Atkinson failed to give a penalty when Assou-Etc’s follow-through on Kuyt upended him but booked Johnson for a similar situation with Bale near the half-way line. Atkinson was also the official in last night’s Carling Cup encounter and allowed a similar challenge/assault on Theo to go unpunished – it was in the penalty area, of course.

One of the fundamental problems in English football is the standard of refereeing and their collusion in the ‘good old English way of playing’ that minimises skill. This is one reason why England is never truly successful in the Euros or World Cups.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Aston Villa

Not at this one unfortunately so watched on Sky. Another match where Arsenal nearly threw it away, exhibiting incredibly unprofessional nervousness but came good in the end.
Overall, Arsenal played at a good tempo, creating chances, taking shots and forcing Friedel into saves. The absence of Fabregas had no impact - in fact, it was a positive as the tempo was not deliberately and unnecessarily slowed. In the first half, Rosicky was generally the most forward of the central midfielders as Arsenal played the usual 4-2-3-1. In the second. Rosicky moved to the left with Arshavin, having his best game for a long while, relishing his central, more free role. Ok, he could pass more but his overall contribution both offensively and defensively is higher when he plays centrally. Rosicky is also more professional, in that, even when he is playing wide, he generally tracks back and does his defensive duties.

Try and see Villa's first goal if you can. Carew, having writhed in the box, gets up and staggers on the 6 yard line directly in line between the shooting Villa player and Fabianski. He was in an offside position but was he interfering with play/seeking to gain an advantage? Ref didn't think so but he didn't think it was a goal when a Spurs shot crossed the line by a metre a few seasons ago.

Finally, just on Spurs - apparently Van der Vaart said 'Hands up if you want to join Barcelona' just before that fateful free-kick last week. Check the YouTube clips, you can quite clearly see him saying it. Unbelievable!

Guardian Football Podcast

A great comment on the podcast about Chelsea's match against Birmingham - that was the worst Chelsea performance since they were founded in 2003!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010


Another frustrating performance replete with a lack of leadership, passion or desire. NB52 given his chance in the starting line only starts to make any movement in the box when he's about to be substituted. Theo - some marvellous runs that took him "out" of space, i.e., the opposite of running into space. Poor defending for their first and even worse for their second - 1 attacker, 3 defenders yet none can get a tackle in. For all Arsenal's possession, I thought they were actually quite boring to watch - no penetration, so difficult to see where a goal is going to come from.

Saturday, 20 November 2010


2-0 and we ****ed it up - nuff said. Reasonably balanced match report on
With Chelsea losing, I see this as an opportunity missed rather than seeing Chelsea's defeat meaning we stay in touch (though, of course, this is true).
I still think we lack tempo in the play and lack belief. Defensively we were unbelievably poorly organised at times - both full-backs seem to forget the basics.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Everton away

The translation of their Latin motto is 'nothing but the best' but it doesn’t apply to the catering. No Chicken Balti Pies on the menu but they did have a Guest pie which I was told was a Cornish pasty. That’ll do for a change, I thought, nice crispy pastry to cope with dropping down a mineshaft (or throwing from the upper tier of the stand!), tasty mixed filling of meat and vegetables. What a disappointment! I was presented with a flat piece of puff pastry in a cellophane wrapping that was ineffective in preventing the grease seeping out. The pastry was flaccid and uninspiring, the filling: an insipid mix of meat that looked like cat food and an occasional vegetable – it had absolutely no taste what so ever. It was so poor I threw most of it in the bin. It must have taken a culinary genius to create something so appalling, it was that bad. This ranks with a sausage roll at Tottenham two years ago as the worst pre-match food is the history of ‘Chicken Balti Pies’.

The match – 2-0 up and controlling the game then 10 minutes of nervousness that almost threw it away. Mentally certain players found it very difficult to cope with the pressure of Everton's final onslaught. It is the same mentally that produced such an ineffective performance against Newcastle. It's about belief and being a winner. Read the book Sven-Goran Eriksson on Football where he talks about players like Mihajlovic. He may have been a complete nutter (Sinisa not Sven) but you need that type of winning mentality in a team for it to be successful. Witness Keane at ManU - not the greatest technically but he made the others play and that's what the Arsenal lack.

Wolves away - pie update

Good quality filling – spicy and hot – pastry ok but a bit of a struggle to eat the bits left when all the filling is gone!

Monday, 8 November 2010

The normally interesting has a report on Sunday's game entitled " Ten steps: how Newcastle coped with Arsenal in the centre of midfield (whilst playing a 4-4-2)".

The quote in the second para "Arsenal’s poor performance cannot be overlooked – the whole team were sluggish with their passing and not creative enough" says it all really. The ten steps illustrated by ten screen shots add little to the overall analysis of the game.

What they don't show is Mike Dean's pally-pally act with Kevin Nolan - he's obviously someone Mike can talk with rather than these foreign types.

Mike Dean

Corrupt, incompetent, racist? Who knows. When I have the time I'll do an analysis of the results when Mike Dean referees the Arsenal. I suspect we'll see a somewhat abnormal distribution!

Arsene's thoughts on Fab21

"Lukasz Fabianski didn't have a lot to do and I don't think he was expecting the challenge when Andy Carroll scored. It was not a technical mistake from Lukasz, it was a problem of timing."

Isn't timing an element of technique? Doesn't expect to be challenged?

Arsenal v. Newcastle - blame Fabianski?

Fabianski fails to collect a high ball and Carroll has an easy header into an empty net. Ok Fab21 made an error but it would be wrong to blame him wholly for the defeat. Part of playing in a team is how you respond to adversity and how you dig your team mates out of the shit – be it in putting a game saving tackle to deny an attacker when a defender’s pass goes astray or collectively rallying round to win a match. There was so little of the latter in evidence at the Emirates yesterday. The lack of movement and tempo in play in the second half was bewildering. It was almost as if, having dominated the first half, the team thought they were 3-0 up and coasting to victory. Fab4, great player as he is, had an off-day. His passing was poor by his high standards and his work rate, particularly when he had lost the ball, was low. More worryingly, he appears to show no real leadership on the field. The substitutions were strange – Arshavin for Nasri (I can only assume the latter had a knock), RVP for Chamakh seemed like a triumph of hope and sentiment over reality, the introduction of Bendtner was the realisation that it was wrong to take Chamakh off in the first place. The downside to the introduction of B52 was the removal of Wilshere who was the only midfield/attacker with a bit of fire. In fact, we actually looked worse after the substitutions and all that attacking prowess failed to trouble the Newcastle goal.

Back to Fab21. Carroll ran in, leapt and met the ball at its highest point relative to his leap. Fab came out, adjusted and by the time he jumped he had no momentum so he could not get as high as Carroll. Secondly, he didn’t get in a position where he could take the ball at its highest point relative to his jump. A goalkeeper should always beat an attacker in the air if he does this as he is about a metre taller thanks to his arms. However, if you watch Fab in the warm-up when the crosses come in from alternate flanks, he very rarely takes the ball at the full extent of his height.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Pies update

Blackburn - excellent - even had a website listed on the label.
Emirates - good quality but poor finish - ha ha! Not really, a very good pie all round!
Spurs - good pie with herb pastry - a great improvement on the bland sausage roll from 2 years ago.
Chelsea - no Chicken Balti so had a Red Thai curry pie - have I seen the future?
Man City - good pie, no complaints.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

French Troops

The day after the French debacle against Mexico a friend mentioned a quote from Napoleon to me. Apparently, the vertically challenged-one said 'give me English troops' implying that he would have won at Waterloo if he had, like Abramovich, been able to spend millions on putting his 'team' together. I've not been able to confirm to validity of the quote but I doubt if Domenech repeated this sentiment especially once he'd seen our performance against Algeria.

Brazil v Ivory Coast

The BBC studio team are clearly undeclared followers of Chicken Balti Pies as they have been extolling the virtues of 2 holding midfield players! Though why does Hansen keep referring to Gilberto as Silva! We have, in the past, been linked with Felipe Melo but no doubt his value will increase as Brazil progress in the WC.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

What next for the Arsenal?

I read a reported comment from Jose Mourinho the other day which was essentially quite perceptive.
Referring to the 'Invincibles', he said they won it (Premiership) one way and now Arsene is trying to win it a different way which can't be done. The 'trying to win it a different way' is quite correct. As I see, the essential elements of the 'Invincibles' side and previous incarnations under AW were:
- solid back 4 and goalkeeper
- 2 primarily defensive central midfielders to shield the back 4
- high tempo counter attacking game
- creativity up the field particularly DB10
- outstanding striker
The Chelsea teams in the Abramovich era have most of the these characteristics whereas the current Arsenal side doesn't:
- the back 4 is reasonably solid but hampered by goalkeeping resources who are not of the same standard as Seaman, Lehmann (and Cech and Van Der Sar)
- Song is the only defensive midfielder
- game is low tempo which aims to maximise possession and consquently the time it takes to get from one end of the pitch to the other (though occassionally as against Fulham recently there are glimpses of high tempo)
- creativity is in midfield and relies on identikit highly technical but defensively suspect players - Nasri, Rosicky, Arshavin, Fabregas
- RvP keeps getting injured but his strike rate (I think) is not as good as Henry, Drogba or Rooney
So, horror of horrors, selling Fab4 and getting Yaya Toure as part of the deal will start to move Arsenal back towards the pattern of AW's successful teams. David Villa has also been mentioned though it seems he may also be Barca bound. But Villa would be lost in the current Arsenal's slow tempo game. Valencia are essentially a solid counter-attacking side that that rely on fast breaks that utilise Villa's pace. Selling Fab4 is not necessarily a bad thing as part of the reason for the slow tempo is Fab himself who does tend to slow the game down.

Why 'Chicken Balti Pies'?

A couple of seasons ago I went to the majority of the Arsenal's away games. I got into the habit of having a Chicken Balti pie at each ground and, for some reason, my intention was to produce a blog that rated Balti pies across the Premiership. Most of the outcome of that research, having been digested, has long since evacuated the recesses of my brain - though I may return to the topic in a later post.
The question then posed itself: what to call my experimental step into the world of blogging and the memories of all those pies came flooding back. Hence, the name.