Gottagetit

I used to love roller skating in high school; haven’t done it for years.

More than 30 years actually.

I tried ice skating about a year ago and realised, I’m really out of practice. But I can still totally do it. Recently I was thinking about getting another bicycle to ride around a park on weekends…

But this looks like a more fun option, even for a guy my age. Meet the AeYO.

Now where do I get my hands on one?

Off to the coast

It’s time to take a mid-year break and so I’m off to the coast again. First stop this year is the Durban July Handicap at Greyville Racecourse. The Durban July is South Africa’s premier thoroughbred horseracing event and has been held in the first week of July since 1897.

I haven’t been to a racecourse in over ten years, so I’m really looking forward to this one. Off course horseflesh is not the only thing that will be on show. The Durban July is famous for its over the top apparel and other divine err… attractions.

Horseracing used to be a big thing at one point in my life, but that was a long time ago. Being a skeptic now, gambling doesn’t feature in my list of pastimes. I’ve placed the odd bet on horses over the years, and haven’t won a cent since I stopped gambling. I’m just keen to soak up the atmosphere at a great sporting event, and place an odd bet just for laughs.

Jet Explorer

Jet Explorer

My money’s (not much) on Jet Explorer, a snazzy 4-year gelding which is being ridden by champion jockey Anthony Delpech. Delpech has won four previous July’s and if he does it again, will the only jockey to have won five times.

Hopefully I’ll get my two-week break off to a winning start.

In Wenger we trust… no more

I know it’s a cheap shot blaming just Arsene Wenger for Arsenal’s woes. There’s probably more to their decline than just him.

However, as the coach he is responsible for their on-field competence. The board and other sinister behind-the-scenes goings-on can’t be held responsible for their shoddy defence and inability to put the ball in the back of the net.

Calling their defence shoddy is actually a kindness. It is in reality non-existent. The 2-1 defeat to Tottenham is a glaring example. Their situational awareness in front of their own goal is unbelievably pathetic. But that’s not all – their situational awareness in the opposition goal area is just as bad.

I’m sick to death of hearing about how the team has heart, and mental fortitude… when they manage to scrape the odd win. If they had real heart, they would be winning more games, not by the skin of their teeth, but by impressive margins. Sadly the impressive margins come far too seldom; the shattering losses far too often.

This team is on its way to becoming just another mid-team side. The fans, so used to the high quality and standards will not tolerate this slide for long. It’s time for Wenger to acquire players with real heart, with real mental and physical toughness. These nancy boys who are just interested in picking up a paycheck will simply not do.

The alternative off course is for the Arsenal Football Club to withdraw from the EPL and concentrate on being a training academy. Because that’s what they do best at present. The fans want to see winners, not profitable stars-in-the-making.

Let’s face it Wenger, you have put together a team of losers

As much as it pains me to say this, the Arsenal I love are a bunch of pansies Nancy-boys.

They have no guts, no determination to give more than required, no pluck to lay their bodies on the line to get that goal. They even look like the least intimidating team in the whole Premier League. Pansies, all of them!

All they’re good for is passing the ball around, making pretty patterns on the football field, in their  well-coiffured hairdo’s and fancy socks and shirts. As pansies are want to do. They seem to only get penalised for being stupid, rather than for making hard tackles.

When someone gets injured, they usually wind up spending most of the season recovering on the sidelines, probably while getting pampered the whole time. Like pansies.

Is it any wonder those players with some sort of ambition, up and leave for clubs that want to be winners. Sure, they go for the money too. But I’ll bet you lot could get more pay, if you actually started winning something. Seven years, we’ve been watching you preening yourselves…

Grow some balls, you bunch of pansy losers.

Who needs Robin?

“Who needs Batman, when you have Robin?”

That’s what the fans were loudly proclaiming last year. There were banners at Emirates Stadium. Hell, there’s a Facebook page for that hallowed chant… which is now no doubt destined for the scrap heap of Facebook pages.

Robin van Persie was greatly revered by the Arsenal faithful, for all of one magnificent year in which he produced his best football. The other seven odd years were average and injury-plagued. But last year was special. Did it make up for all those other years? The jury’s out on that.

But now he’s gone! Like so many other promising players before him in recent years. Why? One can’t help feeling that the ego’s of football players inflate in direct proportion to their popularity. Perhaps the fans are to blame for treating them like demigods.

Club loyalty plays second fiddle to personal ambition. Perhaps it’s just the lure of easy money. Certainly, 200 000 quid a week can buy a few Batmobiles and a some Harley’s besides. Is anyone capable of resisting?

And then, perhaps it’s a good thing he’s gone. An unhappy player does the team no good, as Cesc Fabregas proved a few years ago. Besides, the £24m due from Manchester United for van Persie, almost wipes out the cost of bringing in Podolski, Giroud and Cazorla, who by one friendly pre-season performance alone, look like the real deal.

Yes, perhaps all’s well that ends well…

Lessons for Arsenal in fantastic Chelsea win

I think the consensus of opinion is that 10-man Chelsea played perhaps the best game of the year against Barcelona last night, in the Champions League semi-final. And the win by Chelsea against great odds was definitely well deserved.

Would an Arsenal team forced to play Barcelona under the same circumstances as Chelsea have done as well? I think the consensus of opinion would be that they would have capitulated quite easily. But perhaps the same opinionated people would have to concede that Arsenal is a superior team to Chelsea in several areas.

But not in the one that mattered the most last night.

Chelsea could teach Arsenal a thing or three about defending resolutely. And about hanging on, no matter what. Arsenal have the class of Barcelona, but without the tenacity and sheer will to win against great odds, the physical and mental toughness, they are not going to become giant killers like Chelsea or consistent winners like Barcelona.

Arsenal have however got probably the best manager in the business in Wenger, and a crop of promising players that have the potential. But will that potential mature in time for next season?

Let’s wait and see…

How Arsenal Got Their Groove Back

What have we here? Five straight wins in a row in the EPL, four consecutive wins coming from behind. They’re calling that a new record.

So what’s happened to make Arsenal get their familiar groove back? Here’s six reasons why I think they’re dancing up a storm:

  1. Robin van Persie - 26 goals scored already in the EPL, some of the most stunning I’ve seen. Need I say more.
  2. Tomas Rosicky – His resurgence of form has changed the dynamics of the midfield which was starting to look rather lacklustre without the two who left and who shall remain nameless. And off course, Alex Song remains a steady force to guide things along; his brilliant passes are beginning to tell.
  3. Theo Walcott – Seems to be maintaining consistency, getting better at making quick decisions,  and is starting to pick out killer passes.
  4. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – a breath of fresh air. His inclusion in the starting line-up has infused a new energy in the team. What a pleasure to watch a youngster making his mark on the game.
  5. Thomas Vermaelen – his return has bolstered the defence, which was practically non-existent in his absence. I should also give a shout out here to Laurent Koscielny who is improving remarkably, Bacary Sagna whose return gives us that extra dimension on the right wing, and Wojciech Szcezesny whose goalkeeping skills keep on improving.
  6. Arsene Wenger – the manager’s pig-headedness in the face of massive pressure from the fans is a measure of his principles, and perhaps a blessing in disguise.

So what’s going to keep this momentum going? More of the same. The new-found energy and confidence must convert to relentless pressure for the whole 90 minutes. And it wouldn’t hurt to see the backs of Marouane Chamakh, Johan Djourou and Andre Arshavin for good, and a certain German striker joining the ranks instead.

In defence of Arsenal

There is none! It’s that simple.

The defensive is a shambles. It’s like watching a bunch of headless chickens running around, stumbling into each other and falling over. And oh, how painful it is to hold one’s head in horror, watching the comedy of errors at the back, week after week.

The regular injuries to the players at the back point to a clear lack of training and focus in that area. Either that, or Wenger has spent a lot of money on clearly incompetent players.

Even Vermaelen, who everyone hailed as the saviour for Arsenal in defense, makes far too many mistakes. Perhaps that’s in large part due to the hopeless team-mates he has at the back. And even though Szczesny is constantly improving in goal, he is still far from the sort of confident take-charge person that is required in this position.

And let’s not even waste time discussing Johan Djourou. He does not belong in any position in any football team, let alone in the Arsenal defense.

Arsenal’s defense does not strike fear into any advancing opposition. In fact, every team in the league must surely be licking their lips in glee, knowing that scoring against the current Arsenal team, is liking taking candy from kids.

And it was never like that.

What’s changed? Has the pursuit of profits taken precedence over the brilliant football that Arsenal are were legendary for?

And will the fans stick around in the future to find out?

Arsenal find the net at last

Français : Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Image via Wikipedia

After four frustrating games, the Arsenal find the net again against Blackburn… and with regularity. Seven times in fact.

I’m sure the fans, like me, were beginning to wonder if the players had forgotten what the nets looked like. All except van Persie off course. He has not forgotten and seems unlikely to forget, getting three more past the Blackburn goalkeeper. And thank the fictitious gods for that.

Wenger is fond of telling us that his team showed great spirit in losing after every disappointment. Yes, there’s great spirit in those pretty passing moves, but we’d prefer less spirit and more hunger. Hunger to convert the pretty passes into goals.

Perhaps it’s time for Wenger to teach his players to find that great big hole between the uprights with more consistency; surely they’ve mastered finding the holes between defending players.

……………………………………

On a more cheerful note, Theo Walcott played more good football in this one game against Blackburn than he’s played for the entire season. Good on ya lad; more of same please.

Thierry Henry also managed to get on the score sheet, returning to play for the Arsenal after five years. That was certainly a real groovy feel-good moment for the fans and history of the club; no less for Henry himself, I’m sure.

If Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has raised a few eyebrows in his few first-team appearances prior to the Blackburn match, he’s got everyone howling to see him as a permanent first-team pick in the Arsenal team from today. The youngster was extremely impressive in scoring his first brace of goals in the Premier League.

Things are looking up. Let’s hope they continue to do so.

Former gunner shows the lazy incumbents how to shoot

Thierry Henry scored a 174 Premier League goal...

Image via Wikipedia

“Pinch me, I’m dreaming.”

That’s probably what Thierry Henry was shouting after scoring the only goal after coming on as a substitute in the FA Cup match against Leeds United last night. And what a goal it was too – typical Thierry Henry finesse.

Thierry Henry?

Yes, the one and only. Five years after leaving Arsenal for Barcelona and New York Red Bulls, he is back… and boy was he needed. I’m sure a fairly large number of supporters at the stadium, and even those watching on television viewed his comeback and goal-scoring as a kind of fairy tale. It was indeed a magical night; one to remember. Perhaps a twin statue outside the Emirates Stadium is required to commemorate this fantastic event. It certainly does not happen very often.

Hopefully Marouane Chamakh and Andrey Arshavin were attentive and learnt how to find the net from the ageing master. However if they did, it seems certain that they will only get to use the knowledge effectively with new clubs, as they are set to leave Arsenal after yet another dismal performance. Arshavin is a busy player but lacks the concentration and finesse of a goal scorer. Chamakh on the other hand is just too lazy for me.

One can only hope that Henry gets more games and extends his stay into the Champions League spell. More goals from the hero of Highbury, would send the Emirates into spasms of pure ecstasy.