Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Things Can Sometimes Get Better

Liverpool 3 Arsenal 6 ... Carling Cup Quarter Final Who could have dreamed that an Arsenal second squad (we mustn't call them Reserves because that they aren't) could go to Anfield, field 6 or so players aged 17 or thereabouts and thrash a Liverpool side that included Gerrard, Bellamy, Fowler and several other first team members? Okay, they too had a few youngsters but the spirit and strength of Arsenal was too much for them.

After Arsenal had taken the lead, Liverpool were quick to come back but they were then overpowered. Arsenal's splendid six was the biggest home defeat Liverpool have suffered since 1914. The Gunners were without their first team regulars except Cesc Fabregas and the determined and often brilliant, Kolo Toure, who was aptly skipper for the night. Jeremie Aliadiere had his best ever game and carved the Liverpool defence wide open with thrusting runs several times to provide cutting passes that gave Brazilian Julio Baptista (known as The Beast) two of his four goals, one of them an amazing curling direct free kick that gave Dubcek no chance. It was a shame that Baptista's penalty, when his personal goal tally was then at two, was hit too close to the Liverpool goalkeeper that allowed him to push it wide otherwise the score line would have been even better and Baptista would have been an even bigger hero. An away player hitting four goals at Anfield must be a record in any case?

Arsene was bubbling with praise for his youngsters and rightly so more especially as they managed to outscore the 3-1 victory gained by the first squad in the Premiership at Anfield just three days ago. But the peformance by the lads tonight was fluent, uncomplicated football and they managed to carve openings in the home side's defence with remarkable ease that was a pleasure to watch. The team's play seemed more direct, less complicated than that of the first team and they managed to score without needing to try to walk the ball into the net. Sometimes Arsenal can be guilty of playing exciting football that is too complicated. As a result they are scoring less goals than they should.

Manuel Almunia, who it must be said, looked positively shaky when he first came to the club seems to have developed a much improved and safer style that is less flashy than Lehmann. The Spaniard is also less volatile and less lilely therefore to risk giving goals away after throwing his toys out of the pram.

The other goals came from Aliadiere and Song. Maybe Aliadiere, after tonight's performance, will no longer wish to leave the club ... or was he merely advertising his strengths to all comers that will surely raise the odds on any transfer fee demanded by the club.

Nine goals in three days away at Liverpool cannot be bad and the results at least have lifted my depressison a little. Bring on Spurs for the Semi-final.

A Very Bad Start

How quickly another year seems to come around and in my case another year older, another year in debt is extremely apt. After a great New Year's Eve, when even I indulged in a little Karaoke, the following week was marred by misfortune.

I don't really know how, but as I lifted a cup of coffee my hand seemed to go limp and the contents went all over and inside my Sony laptop. It died extremely quickly and all attempts to dry it out and revive it came to nothing. I'd only just returned to work that day after suffering an upset stomach for almost a week ... possibly caused by some form of food poisoning. I do, after all, have a habit of eating things that have been kept in the fridge beyond their sell by dates so I guess it is my own fault. Was Parma Ham the culprit ... or was it the melon?

Getting back to the routine things I needed to do ... even writing this blog ... has been a major effort since Christmas and everything I planned to write over the festive break failed to happen for one reason or another. I loathe Christmas at home ... just Frances and I. It's okay if there are other people around because at least you can get more into the spirit of the occasion. Boxing Day was like that because we went to friends. Judging by the many people who have NOT sent us Christmas cards this season I suspect others are also tired of the commercial abuse of Christmas.

The crunch came yesterday evening. I was returning from the computer recovery place with CDs of the files they'd fortunately managed to salvage from the laptop when I hit a bump in the road and suddenly found that I had no gears in the Passat. I coasted to a lay-by where I waited over two hours in miserable weather for the breakdown vehicle to arrive to tow me. Today I have found out that my clutch more-or-less disintegrated ... cost over £750!

What a fine start to 2007.