We beat Mike Dean. Who would have thought that possible?. For once I don’t now care about any other results this weekend. Beating that lot relieves so much grief and tension. And don’t tell me anyone saw that coming. Post Man City I assumed we were in for a drubbing. I’d spent then previous two weeks praying and hoping that their big three would return with injuries. Then once I saw their lineup and ours with Mustafa being restored to play alongside Xhaka and Mike Dean, my highest expectations were that our best result would be 0-0.
How the hell did this scoreline happen? Best I can figure, Sp*rs were shit. They barely created anything. It looked like Ericksen was still smoking a cigar and drinking a dram of rum in a bar in somewhere in Dublin. May he always perform well for Denmark. My strong sense is that today Ericksen missed the dynamism and linkup-play of TGSTEL – Lord Bendtner. Bereft of those talents Ericksen was anonymous. Ali was barely noticeable and Kane ineffectual. We should all be sure to write our Christmas cards to Potachino thanking him for both purchasing and then playing Sissoko the entire game. This guy is so poor I don’t even think he could get into our team. Thankfully they had the poor judgement to leave little boy Winks on the bench. Their selection seemed as poor as ours.
Overall both teams demonstrated they can’t win the league. But the difference is that we got three precious points against a top six team. And, on most days, a better team than us.
After the robbery of the Man City game it was a pleasure to be on the receiving end of some marginal referee decisions. And marginal is an understatement. It’s not clear Alexis was fouled by his namesake for the free-kick. And then Mustafa was offside before his perfect header in off the post. Then, for the second, there’s a case that Cigarette was off-side when he made his run. So, we knew Dean was a wanker which he demonstrated today but, for once, we were the beneficiaries.
As good as Ozil looked today our best players were Koscielny and, drum roll please, Mustafa. Anyone who has read the wise words regularly written here or had the chance to follow me during my extensive radio and TV appearances can attest to the fact that I have always been his biggest supporter. Let it be noted how consistent I have been in support of his many talents. And let no-one say that, on seeing his name on the team-sheet today, I cursed both our manager and the football gods. Today he actually looked like a defender. Of course, that lot played to his strengths. But nonetheless, he won every header, scored our opening goal and made some critical blocks in our area. Even his distribution was not utterly appalling. This was the best game he’s played for us. Even his after-match interview was coherent. That opening header changed the balance of the game. You could see the game shift after that. It was a wonderfully placed header. Very Giroud-like. Without the French good looks.
Our forward line looked mobile and when Ramsey pushed up we looked dangerous. It’s just a shame that we have players that seem to make the same runs as each other. Both Ozil and Ramsey seemed to occupy the same space too often. Cigarette had a few chances today where he should have done better. But at least he started the game. I was not entirely happy when he was replaced. And pissed that our Coq then proceeded to charge up field rather than sit back and defend our backline. Sometimes (i.e. every game) I wonder about the football IQ of some of our players. The worst offenders are Ramsey and Bellend. Ramsey too often would loose the ball just outside our penalty area. Doing the usual Ramsey thing – taking too many touches and trying his Cruyff-move. Poor Johan must be turning in his grave as he watches the slowness and predictability of these moves. There seems a lack of awareness as to which part of the pitch a midfielder should take risks and where they should just get off the ball. But the poster-child for lack of football intelligence has to go to Bellend. The number of times today when he gave the ball away of played passes that immediately put our receiving player under pressure could only mean he been studying under the tutelage of Mustafa. Couple that with his refusal to even consider closing down Davies before he crossed the ball meant that everyone else had to intercept those crosses. And going forward he’s always the player you don’t want to receive the ball in their penalty area. At some point Bellends’ awareness of the game needs to develop but all too often he looks Walcott-like when he receives the ball – clueless.
And then there’s Xhaka. He should have been the one replaced by our Coq. I was sure that he was going to get sent off for a second yellow. Today though he did not give the ball away just outside our own penalty area – I think he delegated that to Ramsey and Bellend. But he seemed off the pace and uninvolved. Too many times Dembele just drifted pass him. We were lucky that Sp*rs were so miserable today. I’ve always thought they had one of the best starting elevens in the league and today demonstrated when their main anyone of their main two or three are not functioning they lack the players on the bench to change it up. And then their manager left it too late. They should have made changes at half-time. But, fuck it, that’s their problem.
Today our defense won us the game – and that includes Cech. All of them were aggressive and consistent. The Tank remains a little subdued. Alexis scored a opportunistic goal but otherwise continues to make the wrong decisions with his distribution and should have had a hat trick today. But, before he leaves us, he will continue to score and provide the spark we desperately need. As for his partner in crime, Ozil – he took a while to get into the game. But when he started to roam the pitch he became an important factor. As, to be fair, did Ramsey. Ozil worked hard and has the vision and calmness to link the entire team together. Today was one of his better games – not his best – but sufficiently good. It was painful to see him replaced by Ob1. I get that we needed someone who would work hard but Ob1’s first contribution was to give the ball away. And, as ever, in front of goal when he had chances he snapped at them – lacking any self-believe that he’d score. Seems like Ericksen he can do it for his country but not his own team.
Now I can enjoy the rest of the week. But I also realize this might be the highlight of our season – our entire season. So I’m going to wallow in it for a while. I still think we’re a long way from being able to challenge for anything. No team with Xhaka and Ramsey as the midfield can. I want to see Jack in there for Xhaka. And soon, that time will come.
All my assessments were wrong today. I got the score line wrong, the outcome wrong, I was convinced Dean would fuck us. And I was sure Xhaka and Musfafa would find a way to get sent off because of reckless challenges. And I was positive that Mustafa would be a liability. Luckliy I merely demonstrated I know fuck all about this game.
So, today, let’s celebrate beating both Dean and Sp*rs. It’s quite rare these days.