Sunday, August 18, 2002

So, as expected we start with a 2-0 defeat away at Arsenal. Not too bad all things considered, particularly as Arsenal were winning their 14th game on the trot, which is an all time record in the top division. It could have been much worse, Arsenal played with incredible speed and wit and carved our 5 man defence apart almost at will. They looked like they could have stepped up a gear and scored again at any time if they had needed to. Not that they were ever likely to need to.
The first goal was due to a bad mistake from our keeper. I don't mind keepers making bad mistakes, they are inevitable so wouldn't call for his head, I have been saying for ages though that neither of our keepers are good enough and that we need a big commanding scary bleeder. Someone like Flowers for instance, who has just gone on loan somewhere or other.
This time last season I got a bit of flak on a Blues message board for suggesting we should cash in on our left back Martin Grainger. He is a bit thuggish and has become something of a cult. I said then that his aggression was a liability and that in any case he is a mediocre player. Today he looked very mediocre, and was made to look a bit of a mug quite frankly. The rumour last year was that Blackburn had offered 3 million for him. Laughable. Even allowing for the speed of thought and feet he was up against today, he is not good enough, he should be replaced very quickly. He also made some very disparaging comments about supporters so can sod off anyway as far as I am concerned.
Our midfield, as ever, looked prosaic and I wonder where the spark of imagination is going to come from. Huff and puff just isn't going to be good enough at this level, although Cisse looked very useful and will be a major player for us. Johnson had a couple of goodish runs without threatening to actually do anything and Hughes was largely anonymous. Carter impressed once again when he came on, but again, he is hardly likely to unlock mean spirited Prem defences.
John and Horsfield struggled manfully without ever looking like they had Campbell et al worried. Lazaridis put one superb cross in and I would like to see him start in a 442.
Our central defenders, particularly, Purse did ok, but I am far from convinced that 3 centre backs is the way to go. Tebily and purse with 2 decent full backs is preferable I think. With Johnson, Cunningham and Vickers available we are not short of quality at centre back. I wonder if we should try Cunningham at right back, which would of course mean dropping our captain.
Overall I think we did enough to suggest we can do well enough against our fellow mediocrities, I would hope against lesser teams we show a bit more purpose though. For me we need to revert to a 4 man midfield , with Cisse and Savage sorting out the middle and Lazaridis and Johnson rampaging down the flanks. We need a new left back, badly.

Savage was on the panel on sky and proved himself to be a bit dim, which doesn't make him a bad person. David O'leary seemed to look after him a bit which was nice . The first question he was asked was wether he wanted to use the toilet, which tickled me. According to The Observer today re the toilet incident it wasn't the ref, Graham Poll, who complained, but the referees assessor. Apparently Poll was laughing about it, but Savage left the door open, made rude remarks , failed to wash his hands and then wiped them on the assesors clothes. Personally I like to take a shit in private, but there you go.
Another reason to like O'leary was he stated that Cisse was unlucky to be sent off, not only that but Cole had conned the ref and was basically a cheat. I have read that he is a bit of a prick, but he always comes across like a nice guy on the telly.
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