Hello, hello, and welcome back to my weekly, ahem, Gunners Town column. Apologies for my hiatus in recent weeks, but when it comes to the crunch time of needing to write this blog, I’ve been swamped in work.
That’s the difficulty with Arsenal playing at the weekend, while I’m at work, and then trying to generate a piece for the Monday – it’s a small turnaround window. Anyway, I’m back and in a joyous mood this week, for we have the return of our star players.
Yes it may have only been Hull, but fuck it, I’m celebrating. A win is a win, and after a slow start, Arsenal put in the sort of display we were seeing on the regular before Christmas: solid in defence, in controlling in the midfield and clinical in attack.
You’re an idiot if you failed to celebrate the win at the KC. Firstly, it would show great disrespect to Hull, who could still turn out to be to banana skin of the season if we’re not careful at Wembley, and they’ve beaten a couple of big boys at their place already this year. Secondly, you must have a heart of stone and take little enjoyment from anything in life. You’re like the stubborn father who just refuses to lavish any kind of praise on his overachieving son despite the child busting a nut just to see the man who brought him into this world crack a smile of pride.
But enough about my personal life (I joke, my dad’s a nice enough bloke), and onto the topics at hand this week. We’ve got Newcastle coming to the Emirates in just four days time, and here is what is on my mind at the moment.
Gunners Town Top 5: Publishable thoughts going through the head of Matt Cotton this week.
The Classless One
We’re more than used to this now, like the spoilt brat bawling her eyes out on her birthday because the Barbie’s Dream House that her Grandfather had handmade is purple and not violet. Jose Mourinho has been making a fool of himself again, and just this past week has seen him exhibit his gracious behaviour once more.
His display after the defeat to Sunderland at the weekend was just breathtaking.
“Mike Dean’s performance was unbelievable and when referees have unbelievable performances it’s fair to congratulate them,” Mourinho said after his 77-match unbeaten record at Stamford Bridge came to an end.
“He came here with one objective, the objective to make a fantastic performance and he did that.
“Congratulations to Mike Riley, because he’s the referees’ boss, and what they are doing during the whole season is fantastic, especially in the last couple of months, especially in matches involving the teams that were in the title race – it’s absolutely fantastic.”
Boo hoo, did Chelsea not get all the decisions from the officials Jose? Cry me a river.
His reaction seems very hypocritical given that they should have been facing Sunderland with 10 men in the second half after Ramires (Yes, him again) struck Sebastian Larsson in the face. Not to mention there have been other occasions that have ludicrously gone his way this year. The last-minute “penalty” against West Brom springs to mind.
I’m not here to say that Chelsea get ALL the decisions, or Arsenal get NONE of the luck. Not one bit. Every team has been awarded a controversial decision in their favour and against them this year. It’s just part of football. The message I guess I’m trying to say in this situation is that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Yes. That does it nicely.
He hadn’t cheered himself up come the Monday during the press conference for the Champions League bore draw at Atletico Madrid. He was shitty and short with the English press, never mind the Spanish press, who are well documented to love to stick the knife into the former Real Madrid manager.
Whatever happened to the Happy One?
The Chosen Gone
With Monday bringing concrete rumours and reports (I was in the office of a national where it was a case of when, rather than if, with the guessing games flourishing), Tuesday brought the news we all feared.
I can’t help but feel sorry for David Moyes. I don’t at all feel sympathy for Manchester United or their fans for where they are now. They can stay where they are for all I care. But it’s different with dear David.
He reminds me of Fernando Torres when things just weren’t going well for him at the very start of his Chelsea career. He didn’t go around blaming others, kicking, screaming and making a cunt of himself. No. He just cut a very alone, sad and depressed figure. Nobody should look like that. Had he been wondering the lonesome streets during Christmas Eve like a stray dog, I wouldn’t have been able to control my sorrow for him, and would have invited him into the Cotton household, thrown a rug around his shivering body before spoon-feeding him some piping-hot soup. Poor guy.
But in all seriousness, I am a bit surprised that Moyes is gone after less than one season in charge. I thought he’d at least make it until the end of term. It all seems very strange given that Sir Alex Ferguson handpicked Moyes as his replacement, and begged for all those involved with United to give him time and patience. What does that say about Fergie’s judgement? Surely he could not have foreseen United’s season going this bad?
Moyes’ task wasn’t made easier by the fact that ourselves, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as Everton, all significantly strengthened over the course of last summer, but to now sit seventh in the Premier League and out of next term’s Champions League competition a year after winning the title by 12 points? Some has gone majorly wrong somewhere.
They haven’t lost anyone, asides from Fergie, either. Yes they’ve had the odd injury or two, but they’ve kept hold off all their best players and added Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata to the pile.
Whether it’s a lack of motivation, absent continuity of team selection, or just the consequences of a team cutting their teeth under a new, less-heralded, manager, I have no idea, but I wish David Moyes the best. Nobody likes seeing anyone lose their job. Unless, maybe, it was Mourinho.
However, fear not general public, I’m certain that United will be back to themselves in no time under their new management.
The “Disappointing” One
Flop? Oh come off it. It was brilliant to see Mesut Ozil back in action against Hull, and he made quite the difference. While everyone was raving about having Laurent Koscielny fully fit again and Aaron Ramsey hitting his stride, and they should rightly get people excited too, Ozil was going about his usual business.
When he’s in the team, most of the time, he goes unnoticed as his work is just that effortless and smooth. It’s only when we don’t have him you realise how good he is.
It’s a case of that Ozil is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers. He’s just so intelligent, and makes everything he does seem so easy.
Take our first goal. His initial pass to Santi Cazorla, who then set up Ramsey to score, was wonderful. Like finding the eye of the needle, Ozil guided the ball through a crowd of bodies to open up the opportunity with the greatest of ease. I suppose that’s what a £42m flop does for you.
It was a very encouraging performance too for his first game back, and it’s hard not to get excited by the thought of him getting better and better.
The Challenging One
They may not be as easy to shrug off as we’d first. Following their comfortable win over Manchester United at Goodison, Everton have the chance to go back above us before we face Newcastle on Monday when they travel to Southampton on Saturday lunchtime. Albeit for two-and-a-half days.
Yes our fate is in our own hands, and I still believe that we’ll finish fourth, especially with the likes of Koz, Rambo and Ozil returning. But Everton refuse to go away and, given their current form, could easily win all of their remaining games too.
Here’s how the run-in looks for both teams:
– Newcastle (H)
– West Brom (H)
– Norwich (A)
– Southampton (A)
– Manchester City (H)
– Hull (A)
Like I said, I think Arsenal will have enough due to Everton’s difficult finish, but it won’t be simple whatsoever. At the end of the day though, winning all three games will guarantee us fourth, and a 100% record until the end of the season is very doable.
The Debated One
The last guy to split the opinion of a fan base more than Olivier Giroud was John Cena. But while the Frenchman isn’t exactly renowned for following every aspect of the ‘Hustle Loyalty Respect’ motive, he does have his own qualities.
I’ve said on here many times before that I’m a fan of Giroud. He offers us something different, works hard, and is brilliant at bringing others into the game during an Arsenal wave of attack.
However, he isn’t world class, he has missed a huge amount of chances and has no doubt disappointed off the pitch as much as on it at times, but he hasn’t half been a scapegoat for many fickle fans. Like with Arsene Wenger, it’s fine for you to not be a fan of his and not be against him leaving the club, but there really is no need to abuse a fellow human being. Despite being paid millions, footballers have feelings too, just like trees.
I’m not sure what people were thinking either when they assumed he’d carry his brilliant early-season form right through to the final day. You wouldn’t look clever if you said that Giroud had been overplayed this season. That’s a fact.
But it’s not his fault that Arsenal don’t have any other strikers and didn’t sign someone in the summer or January to help him out. Just like with Yaya Sanogo, you can’t crucify him for failing to carry the first team attack and litter it with goals. Sanogo was bought in the summer as raw potential, and has spent most of the campaign injured on the sidelines. So to hammer him for suffering in a position that he shouldn’t be subject to in the first place is cruel.
Back to Giroud though, and I’m sure he’s as pissed as anyone else about being run into the ground this season. I mean, he has a World Cup spot to fight for, and will be jetting off to Brazil shortly after the FA Cup final. I’d imagine that he’d have wanted a little bit of respite over the course of the season to be ready to give 100% for both club and country in 2014.
Speaking of the summer though, there have been rumours flying around that he could be off, with his wife allegedly laying down the ultimatum of ‘it’s Arsenal or me’ with a return to France being Mrs Giroud’s desired path. It could all be hogwash though, so I wouldn’t take that at face value.
Giroud, himself, has been talking about his future though, and has made it pretty crystal that the Emirates is his home.
“Could I extend my contract? Why not?” he said.
“You shouldn’t listen to that [speculation]. A lot of things were said.
“I’m still happy in London and with Arsenal and think I will be in the future. I want to be here next season, at least that’s my will.”
It’s no secret that Giroud needs some support in the form of a distinguished striker to share his work load, especially if we want to challenge on all fronts.
Giroud’s performances over the past couple of games have improved. He looked good coming off the bench at Wembley, was decent against West Ham and effective at Hull. Is this a coincidence given that the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey and Ozil are returning to fitness while Cazorla and Lukas Podolski rediscover their form? I think not.
Help a brother out! is what is going through his head at times I’m sure.
That’s all from me this week. Be sure to get in touch with me on Twitter if there is anything you’d like to discuss.
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Never forget you’re a Gooner.
Matt has been the editor of the site since June 2012 and was born into a Gooner family 21 years ago. He recently graduated from Southampton Solent University with a degree in Sports Journalism and strives to work in the Sports Media industry. As well as currently working as a reporter for Sports Mole and TIBS News, Matt has been providing football commentary for the visually impaired since 2008 at Arsenal, Exeter City and Wembley.
His earliest Gunners memory is watching the ‘Boring, boring Arsenal’ VHS as a six-year-old on repeat, to the extent where he could recite most of the commentary from that season. Matt was lucky enough to witness Arsenal lift the Premier League in 2002 as well as being present during the last match at Highbury in 2006, and at Dennis Bergkamp’s testimonial a few months later at the Emirates Stadium. Matt’s favourite players include Bergkamp, Thierry Henry and Tony Adams, with the 5-3 comeback victory against Middlesbrough in 2004 the best match he has ever spectated.
Matt is an optimistic ’In Wenger we trust’, kind of guy and believes that the glory days are not too far away…
Apart from his editorial duties, Matt will also be bringing his Arsenal knowledge to a column called “Where Are They Now?” – which focuses on former Gunners.