Wednesday, September 24, 2014

TSB's Match Report : Arsenal vs. Southampton

If you're only going to see one game in a season you have to make sure it's the big one. And so it was last night: Carling Cup first round, Arsenal vs Southampton. And ideally you want to be there with all your mates. So off I went with my missus and our neighbour's 14 year son, Rory. Rory who loves rugby ''...but the ticket was free and I'll do anything to get away from my mad mother". My wife likes soccer more than Rory, especially going to Arsenal. Just before kick-off I asked her which was her favourite game. "I really enjoyed the stadium tour", she answered. In fairness this did tally with the earlier comment she'd made on the way to the game, " you know what the best thing about going to the football is? You get to look at the police horses..'

If you're not going to draw a top four team, then playing Southampton, with their open style of play and strong youth policy, is perhaps the next best thing. And the stadium was full. Ok, not Derby County full or Liverpool full, where all but 10 of the seats are taken, but Arsenal full. So there was at least a sprinkling of people around us. And that meant it wasn't too loud, which, lucky me, meant Rory could spend 30 minutes filling me in on the state England Rugby.

The Saints were excellent throughout, and Arsenal weren't that bad during an entertaining first half. But in the second half they were dire. All the real problems were in midfield. Quite a worry when the manager's buying policy [I need a stiker, a defensive mid and a centre back - I know I'll buy another attacking mid] leaves the team with no forwards and a defense of kids. Everything in the centre was numbingly slow. It was like watching a bunch of drugged-up crabs. Wilshere took 4 touches then passed sideways to Podolski, who took 4 touches and passed sideways to Rosicky, and so on and so on. Meanwhile, Schneiderlin was everything the Arsenal midfield wasn't: dynamic, energetic and effective.

At least in the first half there were a couple of cracking goals. Sanchez free-kick even had some fans lifting their heads from their Iphones. In the blurry photo below, taken by my wife, you can just about see the ball flying into the net.

Southampton will be delighted. Perhaps they should sell off the family jewels every year. They out-passed and out-smarted Arsenal. Arsenal didn't really seem to care. Wenger might be a tad disappointed to be out of the cup and that he may have bought another dodgy keeper but he's probably too busy thinking which Saints player he'll be buying in the summer.

-Tracksuit Bottoms (SSN London & Barcelona Correspondent)

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