What a beautiful Monday afternoon it is... the sun is shining... and that's where the beauty stops. For those of you who watching yesterday's game it wasn't the most inspiring game of football in all honesty, but to summise - a good game for a few fringe players, a much better second half than first, a great first half by Cardiff and a spirited performance by both teams.
There was a certain lack of momentum which made the game slightly more edgy and it was Cardiff that started the game the better side. The line up was:
Sagna – Toure – Djourou – Gibbs
Eboue – Ramsey – Song – Nasri
Van Persie – Bendtn:er
The bench consisted of Almunia, Diaby, Gallas, Vela, Denilson, Wilshere and Adebayor.
It was a strange line up – but looking at the game on Wednesday and another on Saturday – against Everton and West Ham respectively, two games we simply have to win, I can see why the gaffer started the line up he did. On hindsight it may have been an opportunity to rest Nasri and play Vela on the left wing.
At left back – replacing the suspended Gael Clichy – was Kieran Gibbs. And his performance showed how far he has come since pre-season until now. He was involved going forward and played well with the front line to have a shot himself, albeit well wide. Van Persie looked like the main goal threat for us and a lot was going through him. In fairness, he was well marshalled, a good free kick to show for his efforts.
Emmanuel Eboue had a normal “Eboue” game, where in parts, he looked very good, and in other parts, he looked very average. His performance quite simply summised by a “dive” in the area that saw him yellow carded – replays showed that he was clipped, but the reputation and the theatrics go before him, bo doubt.
One player who was a little below par was ex-Cardiff boy himself, Aaron Ramsey. In a little bit of a surprise move from Arsene, the young midfielder started along side Song in an understrength midfield and was a little bit all over the place. It was like he couldn’t remember which team he was playing for!
Arsene did try and strengthen when he put Adebayor, Diaby and a 4 minute Wilshere on. Adebayor missing the chance of the match when the ball richoted to him on the right hand side of the goal and in front of a virtual empty net, the Ivorian scuffed his shot!
All in all, the result was fair, we we poor, Cardiff were decent. 0-0 a fair result. The replay will be at the Emirates on Tuesday. Arsene appluaded the atmosphere:
“The tradition of England was shown today. Everywhere you go you know you must fight like mad to go through and that is why the FA Cup is fantastic. It was a great day. We wanted to win the game but it was a typical afternoon of complete support from their crowd and complete commitment from their team. You needed something special to win the game I enjoyed it because the people were frenetic – and some were fanatic – but overall they were fair.”
On the game, he had this to say:
“I feel in the first half we started very well, but overall Cardiff had a good committed game and created some chances. In the second half we were on top and it was the quality of their defending and their commitment that stopped us scoring. The pitch, too, was not easy, but it was a great cup game and showed what this cup is about.”
I don’t agree with the “first half started very well”, but hey, opinions are opinions.
On Aaron Ramsey, he said:
“It is always tricky to come back to your home town club for the first time because you can sometimes overplay. I think he showed that he can be a great player, but sometimes it got to him as it was an emotional day for him.”
And on the will / want to rest players, the gaffer concluded:
“We are very short at the moment and cannot rotate too much, so with two games coming up I could have rested more players than I did. I planned to take [Robin] Van Persie off if possible but it didn’t work out that way. It shows in football that you can try to plan but it never goes how you think it will .”
Everton on Wednesday – games coming thick and fast now.
Bonus Episode 25: The nothing day
Today is Sunday, I am waiting anxiously for the phone to ring. Yesterday’s ultimatum did not materialise and I don’t know what I stand. I have applied for my visa to travel to the UK, but only time will time whether I will use it. Secret Agent Dennis Latcher’s phone is going to voicemail. So is my phone, maybe the network is down. Nothing seems to happen in Russia on a Sunday. The shops are closed. Maybe I will go fishing.
Bonus Episode 26: The final day
Today is the final day of my series. Sir Arsene Wenger OBE and King Peter Hill Wood have told the force that is Zenit that today is the final day, if they do not accept the ransom money, I will not be freed. I will sit here and wait next to the phone. No fishing today.
Hold on the phone rings… it is Sport Express… a man speaks in an Italian accent…
“Is this Andrei” he says. “Yes” I reply. “Have you agreed the deal?” he asks.
“I am waiting for a final decision. The talks don’t depend on me. I haven’t been in touch with the club management, so I haven’t heard a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ yet.” I tell him.
“Who is this?” I ask, but the phone goes dead. Will he publish my thoughts? Will this come to an end soon?
My dream may be over.