Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Straight Shootin' LJA's El Clasico Thoughts

On this chilly Tuesday afternoon I find myself watching the El Clasico repeat (we were broadcasting Pitch Talk Live so I couldn’t watch the match live) with baited breath and as I write this i'm seeing Real Madrid being taught a footballing lesson. In a game with apparently 400 million viewers world wide Real Madrid certainly stood on ceremony and were extremely sluggish in the opening exchanges with Barcelona bossing the ball. The opening goal of this match some would say was lucky, but I would oppose that view because if Iniesta hadn't tried to play the slide rule ball to Xavi, there wouldn't have been anything for Xavi to run onto, thus resulting in no reason for the Madrid centre back to commit himself, so in my view Barca forced their luck for 1-0 rather than relying on it.
The second goal was beautiful football, I lost count of the amount of passes and ole's I heard through my Xbox 360 in the run up to Pedro's goal but it was 15+ I assure you, and I got up out of my seat and was applauding the goal accompanied by the words 'that was amazing'. In the 1st half hour Barca had 72% of the possession, a 2-0 lead and were in firm control and then things kicked off a bit with Cristiano Ronaldo shoving Pep Guardiola because Guardiola held the ball for a couple of seconds, which Mr Ronaldo must have construed as time wasting. That was the 1st time in the game Ronaldo had been involved, albeit for the wrong reasons. Lionel Messi for the whole 1st half had pretty much been a bit part player but Barca were so dominant he didn't need to be anything more than that. In a match with the last 2 ballon d'or winners playing in it, it actually wasn't really about either man as both were kept quiet for large parts of the match. For me, Real Madrid have never been the best at the back, but in the 1st half Real were trying to play the offside trap on numerous occasions and were doing a horrible job of it, but as the 1st half wore on they started to get back into the game. Half time came after a bit of madness with Messi and a Carvalho elbow (more accurately a Carvalho shoulder) and a 2-0 scorline in Barcelona’s favour.
Now onto the second half. Lassana Diarra was brought on in place of Mesut Ozil and it seemed like damage limitation more than anything, but Real Madrid needed to do something as they had been chasing shadows for the first 45 minutes. The second half started as the 1st half did with Barca causing Real Madrid untold problems and only a last second intervention stopped Barca going 3-0 up within the 1st 2 minutes of the half. Messi did have a goal disallowed as he tried to have more of an impact on the game, but that questionably disallowed goal was a harbinger of things to come as Real kept squandering possession and the men in white shirts looked like they were regressing into shells rather than emerging as potential title winners, but as we know only too well in the English Premier League, a title isn't won in 1 game, its won over 38.
'The special one is a beaten one at the moment' - great quote from the Sky Sports commentary team for this game and without ruining the end of this great football tale, how prophetic was that statement? Another typical beautiful Barcelona goal was finished off clinically by David Villa and once again the offside trap and a lack of pressing cost Real again and Casillias was left with nothing else to do but to remonstrate with the referee, thus earning himself a place in the referee's notebook, 54 minutes gone and it's 3-0 Barca. The 57th minute came and as Lassana Diarra was robbed of possession you could sense another Barca counter attack, and they didn't fail to deliver. David Villa’s movement and finish was fantastic but Lionel Messi's through ball, which was far from easy (the easy ball was to go one more wide to the right) was inch perfect and Madrid went 4-0 down and looked shambolic at the back, the phrase 'hot knife through butter' came to mind at this point. Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillias had the facial expressions of men who didn't have a clue what was happening around them, with Ronaldo looking behind him and Iker looking to the heavens. Real Madrid were unbeaten in 36 matches going into this match but they looked like they hadn't won any in 36 during this match and without overhyping, this match was more lop sided than a see saw with a 20 stone guy at 1 end and a 2 year old on the other.
64 minutes gone and Sergio Busquets underlined what Barca were trying to do to Real...humiliate them, and Busquets effort from the halfway line was cheeky at best, but at 4-0 up you can afford to be cheeky. The party tricks we coming out on 68 minutes and you couldn't blame Barca for it, if you can compound the misery of your bitter rivals, then I say, do it, and Carvalho was fortunate that the game had been assigned a merciful referee after what looked like a blatant handball which denied a legitimate goal scoring opportunity.
To my mind, playing the offside trap against a team like Barcelona is like playing a high line against Brazil (see Ghana in the 2006 world cup), it's not a smart move as you will be put to the sword, and as the Barca fans chanted 'your getting sacked in the morning' to Jose Mourinho, which may not be far from the truth considering I call Real Madrid the revolving door of football management, in the last 3/4 years they've changed managers more than Pompey have changed owners and Portsmouth have been passed around more than chlamydia in recent times (as I’ve said on the Pitch Talk Live show on Mondays gone by). Bojan came on to replace David Villa on 76 minutes and Mr Villa received a standing ovation. Bojan was definitely looking to replicate David Villa's brilliant brace by having to chances in quick succession, 1 of which was squandered by the 'touch of a rapist' and the other denied by Casillias.
Real Madrid tried to catch up in this match but in all honesty they never got started and Barca were intent on keeping a clean sheet with their ultimate warrior look-a-like Carles Puyol flinging in challenges as per usual. A 5th goal from Jeffren compounded Real's misery and their first real test of the season was failed and failed abysmally as Barca showed Real Madrid how difficult it will be to usurp them from their throne. The end of the game was marred with a small melee at the end and Sergio Ramos was a deserved recipient of a red card (for a 2nd bookable offence) after a malicious hack at Lionel Messi and pushing Puyol in his face (I’m surprised Puyol didn’t release the warrior within and power slam him as opposed to falling to the ground). Mourinho and Real Madrid were made to look like schoolboy footballers in terms of style, guile, passing & movement, and in closing, El Clasico for me, lived up to the great white light hype provided by Sky Sports in their build up, but Real Madrid didn't and they were left staring into the blinding light of Barcelona's shine as they look up at brilliant Barca above in the table.
Final score
Barcelona 5-0 Real Madrid (29-11-2010)
Xavi 10’
Pedro 18’
Villa 55’, 58’
Jeffrén 90’
I'm The Straight Shootin' One, And thats my opinion!!!
Liam Angell aka Straight Shootin' LJA

Thursday, 25 November 2010

“Hate You Arsenal, Love You Arsenal!”

“Hate You Arsenal, Love You Arsenal!”

Last Saturday, in the words of Black Eye Peas, "I got that feeling!!! " and it definitely wasn't that sort of feeling which would have me up in the clubs swinging from the crystal ball, pants down screaming "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!!"... Nope! Not at all.

I had that sinking feeling; the smug look had officially been wiped off my face. Sitting there behind my laptop waiting eagerly to see the response from a question I had posed to a good friend of mine but in the footballing world an arch nemesis. (A bit like Magneto and Professor Xavier from the XMEN). “Go on then, what have you got to say??” was what I had typed and with that there was an eagerness that loomed over me. I was expecting a barrage of insults and I was well prepared, ready to jump in hard; thinking it's on, time to defend my beloved GOONERS. I was expecting at any moment he would reply with some sort of smack!! Leading me to hit him with an enraged rant. I was just waiting, waiting for right moment; the slip up, the wrong thing to be said. I watched the speech bubble ticker along the base of MSN, my eyes wide open, static and without any sign of movement in sight. It was at this point that a torrent of counter arguments raced through my head! “How many Title’s have you won?”, “Wow you beat us today.... Oh and you won more Carling cup a couple years back did you? but have you ever won the premier League title???” the killer question i was hoping to lay before him was “I swear your boys are moving out of ends after 100 odd years?? ”. But that moment never came because after ten minutes of waiting for a reply, all that was said is “NAH! Man I’m happy with the quiet times from the arsenal fans enjoying the silence!

The sinking feeling first made its presence felt deep down from within, those words flashed on to my laptop screen and my whole pattern of thinking was thrown into turmoil. I was no longer that cocky, brash, free talking Arsenal fan; where an excuse was in place for everything. Just to give you an example of what I'm talking about, Fan who chats (S): "What happened to your goalie blood?" with that i would reply "Ah! don't watch that blood, at the precise moment of bundling the ball in to his own net the goalkeeper looked slightly left and was hit by a ray of sunshine which blinded his judgement". Fan who chats (S): " But blood it was an evening match!" and my reply of course stating the obvious "Have you ever won the premiership blood?"... But yea there was none of this, I had been humbled by his humble approach to victory, I was lost for words, all I could do was “lol” in reply. At this point I was a shamed man, in agreement with a SPURS FAN (forgive me my Arsenal faithful), but it's all I could possibly do. I was reduce to sitting like a little school boy, being schooled about the outcome of the match. I was forced to listen to the pros and cons of playing sexy football and I made to listen to yet another know it all! About how Arsenal are not ready for a title. By the time I finished speaking to him those feelings from within went from sinking to almost drowning, I was immersed in sorrow. All that could possibly save me now was the meal I was getting ready to go out for and a couple bottles of 1664.
I woke up the Sunday just gone, with a slight hangover, hoping I would have forgotten the events of the day before but for me trying to dodge football on Sundays is like trying to dodge a bus inspector on the old route master busses NEAR TO IMPOSSIBLE. Sunday 10am is when I awake up to watch 'Sunday Supplement and Goals on Sunday'. This Sunday was the worse! Not only did I have to endure an hour of silly pundits criticizing my beloved team but I also had to re-watch the shambles that unfolded before my very eyes the day before. I was and still am a man in pain right now. Like Arsene Wenger and the billions of Arsenal fans from around the world, I could not and cannot understand how we endeavoured throw those 3pts away. Especially to the old enemy, who for 17 years have not come to our territory and beaten us in a League game! "It's been 17 years!!". As for being beaten at home, again we fall at the Emirates this season; the third time this season. The Emirates is now looking like the home of the AWAY TEAMS, West Brom, Newcastle and Now Spurs have all come to the Emirates and we’ve allowed them to violate the code of the home team!! In fact I dread to say this all have given us a footballing lesson and verified one thing 'WE JUST AIN'T GOOD ENOUGH!'. I’ve never been to Highbury for a match day but I have been to Emirates where I’ve been told by a disgruntled group of Arsenal Fans “Highbury may have been small but it’s better than this big piece of S***” . The old faithful seem to think that Highbury as a smaller venue was more like a home of the true supporter and had more of an atmosphere. When you think about it from that point of view, that means the home up against it as much as the away team. We play in a World Cup chartered stadium, which holds up to 60,000 fans but it seems to be a stadium that inspires opposing teams to want to play well if not better than usual, due to it being a bigger stadium, bigger attraction and a bigger place to make a name for themselves...

Moving on swiftly I just want to say I know I keep using metaphors about Arsenal, i posted literally yesterday on my facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/DAT.MAN.G).

Arsenal be that B**** in your life that your trying to get rid of and you just want her to go away. At the best of times she sexy, so sexy she's all up in your head ,messing with your mind but deep down you know she aint no good for you, got everyone running up through her home f***ing with her... KMRT "I HATE you Arsenal, I LOVE you Arsenal"
I apologise for the explicit language my French was never that good but as I sit here and alter my blog some more I just thought of another one again literally how I feel about Arsenal at times.

Arsenal are like a friend! That snaky friend who is safe with you, however you don't really trust them. They are not who they really say they are; they never say what they actually thinking; they fling on a whole charade to keep you around them just long enough to make it beneficial to them (I.E Profits, New Stadium etc or even being 2 nil up and then bang lose 2-3 in the dying moments..) then they go and screw you over.
The sinking feeling just isn't going away, and in terms of looking at Arsenal I can't believe them anymore. When Wenger is in that press conference being poked and prodded about title credentials and he claims “I believe I have a talented crop of young players... I believe they are ready to challenge for the top table.... I believe they can compete in the champions league...” , it all just flows through one ear and out of the bum crack! You have to ask yourself, how comes the high echelons at Arsenal only "BELIEVE" and never "KNOW".

I just want to end with a cry of realism peeps, to all fellow fans and haters. The next generation of players coming through are going to be less experienced than the ones currently playing. Arsenal "BELIEVE" they will be able to win, but what they really mean is they "KNOW" they can challenge. Don’t expect too much unless we buy big, that is a fact one I've slowly come to realise, it's not likely but it is what's needed. The future have been invested in well but it's the present we need to start investing in. I’m not saying Wenger's Arsenal doesn’t have a chance of winning the league in the near future but with the youth he is grooming, they are young and skilful on the training ground and to everyone surrounding the club this looks promising but as we know looks can be deceiving fact at present is in battle, on a consistent basis their inexperience leaves them unproductive.

Arsenal play Wenger’s ideal sexy football to showcase their natural ability; for entertainment and this is a way of flirting with us drawing us in on the dream. The worse thing is we the fans know this "It's a dream", surely we must all know this. Nevertheless if you’re like me you also have that glimmer of belief that change is amongst us. This is why Arsenal is the team for me, this is why "I HATE you Arsenal, LOVE you Arsenal!"

This Blog of Events has been brought directly to your screens
by Gavin 'Gman' Henry

Monday, 8 November 2010

What a strange trip...so far

Well, as the title of this blog says, what a strange trip it's been so far in the Barclays Premier League.

11 games in and things are going absolutely mental, some things have remained the same as they have over the last couple of years with Chelsea at the top of the league, but even they have been involved in some strange goings on. Newcastle being 5th after 11 games, noone would have predicted that, Blackpool in the top 7 after 11 games, Liverpool having to work their way out of the relegation zone and now being 5 points off 4th spot, Chelsea getting beaten 2-0 by that same Liverpool side who were apparently in a relegation battle 2/3 games ago, Arsenal being beaten at home by Newcastle for the 1st time in years, it's been mad on the pitch. There has been the odd mad event off the pitch as well, with Andy Carroll moving in with Kevin Nolan as part of bail conditions, Ivan Klasnic and Titus Bramble being arrested after being accused of rape, and Chris Hughton being the victim of a media generated campaign to get him sacked before a win against Arsenal and a big win against Sunderland. It's been a bit odd so far because you've got to add in the protracted Liverpool takeover saga and the Wayne Rooney saga as well, so on and off the pitch the Barclays Premier league has provided entertainment, thrills, spills, intrigue and mystery in equal measure. Now, on the pitch again this bonfire 2010 weekend has proven nothing can be taken for granted, most people thought that Chelsea would have a cake walk towards the title after obliterating Blackpool, Wigan and West Brom earlier in the season but it's looking a little different after being beaten by Manchester City and Liverpool this past weekend. It's also interesting to note that newly promoted Newcastle are the leagues best travellers after picking up a historic win at the Emirates in the league. Blackpool and Newcastle are both exceeding expectations for sure and it is still only a quarter of the way through the season, but there have been some shockers in terms of results. We were broadcasting Pitch Talk Live when news was filtering through about Liverpool being beaten 3-0 by Manchester City at Eastlands, but the mad results don't stop there, West Brom beating Arsenal at the Emirates and Chelsea failing to score at Aston Villa were also notable results due to the shock value more than anything but Liverpool's humiliation at Goodison park and Man City's humbling at Molineux, and Newcastle's infliction of halloween havoc on Sunderland were additions to this catalogue of strange goings on in the EPL.

This will be one of my shorter blogs as it was just a passing thought after watching my beloved Liverpool's win against Chelsea on the ol' telly box but what a strange trip it's been so far, and there are many many more twists and turns left to come in the remaining games of this season, so in closing, the Barclays Premier League may not be a level playing field, but the unexpected should always be expected because on the EPL stage, it's always...SHOWTIME FOLKS!!!

I'm The Straight Shootin' One, And thats my opinion!!!

Liam Angell aka Straight Shootin' LJA