Harry Redknapp says he can make it safe for QPR despite being bottom of the league with just one win. Liverpool were their most recent tormentors. Here are the Whitlams expressing similar sentiments in "Make The World Safe."
December 2012 Archives
QPR was a sorry excuse of a team in the first half as Luis Suarez proved too wily and quick for Clint Hill and company. There were times when one felt a rerun of the Night of the Living Dead was being played on TV.
The club improved in the second half but the three goal deficit was too much to overcome even for Adel Taraabt, who is rumoured to have enough talent in his little toe to distract from Tony Fernandes's Grecian style spending. Even Harry Redknapp knows it although he did try and walk back his stream of consciousness.
Liverpool was without Brendan Rodgers, sick with the notorious norovirus sweeping the UK, but it would not have mattered if they had put a goat dropping in charge. QPR were that abject. Time for Arsenal to show up to make them feel good? But the Gunners have improved and their next opponent is Chelsea.
Everton was the better team for most part of the match which is unsurprising given David Moyes is arguably the best manager in the Premier League when factoring a tiny transfer budget, cut rate wages, and a limited bench. He still gets 200% from his players. A downright national treasure if you ask me. The difference was nonagenarian Frank Lampard and a lot of woodwork that sank the Toffees. It was the man with near genius IQ responsible for ending Chelsea's futility at Goodison Park.
What's this one hears? Sorry, I just learned Lampard is about six decades younger but as per the memo, he's now too old to rock and roll and is to be shunted out for a younger midfielder. Which should cause Sir Alex acute embarrassment for stretching out Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs's careers to the point where time collapses into itself. But that's not the emotion one feels when these two come on the pitch, their value immeasurable in the performances given in the few minutes given, even as they eventually accede to a new generation. One gets the same high when Lampard comes on the pitch. He does make this Chelsea team better.
The Blues end the year strongly and in title contention. Not bad for a manager whose reign began with a chorus of boos at Stamford Bridge. But Rafa Benitez has always had a philosophy, like it or not, to achieve success at Valencia and then Liverpool. He may now have the players and equally important, the money to carry him over the threshold.
This was a must win situation for City if they had to rebound from the Sunderland defeat to keep up with Utd and challenge for the title. They were already seven points off the pace and it would have been a monumental climb to overcome a double digit deficit. Edin Dzeko got his start and Roberto Mancini was rewarded for that prescient decision with two quick goals from the striker to put the defending champions in what appeared to be a no frills win. Dzeko was involved in City's winning goal when he took Gael Clichy's long diagonal on his chest, ran a few, and smashed the ball near post. The shot cannoned off the upright hitting Mark Bunn and trickled into the net. For a moment the tall Bosnian thought he had his hat trick but it was ruled an own goal.
However the biggest talking point came with Samir Nasri's sending off. He jack knifes theatrically following Sebastian Bassong's low tackle and just when everyone is wondering if they have to call the medics in, he gets up and then menaces Bassong with a headbutt. It was clearly was not as bad as it looked and one can argue whether it merited an expulsion. But there should be no doubt that Nasri carries loads of baggage as do some of his other team mates. Mancini has had to play wet nurse to them in the past and one questions when that milk of human kindness will dry up. Even with Nasri on the field, Norwich was not going to make it easy as Anthony Pilkington's free kick hit the wall to cut it to a one goal margin. Vincent Kompany looked rightly aggrieved as his legitimate tackle before on Robert Snodgrass set up that sequence of events.
Sergio Aguero restored a two goal padding with a perfectly placed chip before City were exposed through a set piece again as Russell Martin directed Bassong's header into goal following a short corner. Martin was again involved in deflecting the ball into goal after a corner saw the ball ping ponging around with City unable to scramble it away to safety. It was squeaky bum time for Blue Moon. Norwich thankfully for them ran out of time. Bunn's own goal proved critical to City's win and more importantly kept them within striking distance of Utd as they closed out the first half of the season.
No balls. No brains. After he folded like the Maginot Line in the United match, Samir Nasri showed he lacked the requisite grey matter against Norwich getting into it with Sebastian Bassong. He was duly sent off and almost cost City another match. Or maybe not. He's fast becoming inconsequential. A shame because there is undoubted talent in those feet.
We have seen Theo Walcott's brilliant flourishes before at Arsenal and playing for the Three Lions. But never like this. That seventh goal was a striker smelling a hat trick and finishing with aplomb. It did not matter that Walcott was shunted to a more familiar role on the right channel when Olivier Giroud came on as he provided the Frenchman with two delectable assists. Giroud celebrated his return in style as he flung himself at a Walcott cross that zipped in with pace and placement and minutes later the Walcott -Van Persie connection worked again. Van Persie? I meant, Giroud. No hard feelings, Robin. You did good today too.
The first half was more about Wenger's comical attempts at trying to keep the London cold out with his flailing attempts at zippering his anorak. For the more literal minded, this was not a wardrobe malfunction but a direct portal into Arsenal's recent struggles. Every time he thought he had both edges aligned and pulled up, it would fall apart. Arsenal made a beautiful start as Lukas Podolski sent Walcott racing down the left and the striker (yes, he is now) turned Newcastle inside out and then finished superbly by rolling the ball past Tim Krul at the far post. Thierry Henry was at hand to enjoy that one. Wenger celebrated that one by pretending he had outfoxed his zipper.
Arsenal then went into an inexplicable shell conceding miles of space and time to Newcastle which as a long suffering Arsenal fan came back to bite them as Demba Ba (who did not hurt his transfer rumours at all with his performance) found Jack Wilshere twisting his head to avoid his free kick and with one fortuitous deflection it was one all. Wenger by now having found his midriff and chest exposed to the elements despite all his ministrations. The Gunners seem to abandon their passing game for launching ill advised long distance bombs to Walcott. Memo to Wenger. His pace is finite.
The second half found Wenger on the sideline seemingly less distracted with his previous preoccupations. Arsenal responded in kind finding energy and intent which paid off as Alex Oxlade- Chamberlain who in the first half showed a frustrating propensity for lashing crosses to nowhere latching onto Santi Cazorla's service, eluding a defender or two and then lashing the ball past Krul at a perfect angle for his first Premiership strike of the season. Arsenal in the driving seat and a relieved Wenger managing a wan smile. Very nice. But would it hold as his zipper? Nah. Never read too much into symbolism, this after all is Arsenal, not a Peter Brooks master theatre production. As Sagna and the rest of the defense drew themselves like moths to a flame at Gabriel Obertan's slaloming around, no one checked on Sylvain Marveaux's slipping to the far post undetected. As Obertan skipped past the cordon he found the midfielder left unmolested with acres of space and a simple tap in. Clownish defending.
Arsenal went one up again as Wilshere and Podolski zipped around their passes as the former ran down the left aligning square with the goal before launching a zero angle cross. As the ball hung in the air, Colocinni snapped at it but was only able to provide Podolksi a clean look at goal with his header. By now you knew what was coming. Sure enough it was Demba Ba left untouched by Kieran Gibbs who scored at the far post as Arsenal fans including yours truly screamed their warnings to no avail. One marvels at the clarity provided by drinking a few and the disconnect seen on the pitch.
Mercifully, in scoring terms that was all that Newcastle had to offer. It was all Arsenal after that in the statistics that rally matter. Especially Walcott and Giroud as the former scored to lift the Gunners to their fourth and then reverted back to wing man for the centreforward's brace. As if a dozen goals were not enough to sate the Emirates of holiday cheer, Walcott provided an exclamation point with a masterful solo display including getting back to his feet as he dribbled his way goal bound to scoop the ball past Krul to get his most deserved hat trick.
With this win, Arsenal are placed fifth with one match in hand over third placed Spurs and a superior goal differential, one spot removed from the all important fourth placed finish which guarantees a CL spot. Piling on the goals might prove crucial with little to separate a tightly clustered group of clubs. More importantly, this win clarifies what the club may need in terms of the transfer window. A proven holding midfielder who can organize the defense in the vulnerable minutes following a goal scored and closing out matches with less stress.
What about Walcott's future as his contract runs out? Wenger might be on the right track transforming him into a front line striker which could be accomplished at Arsenal under his tutelage but it also means other clubs have taken note of this performance. Walcott might feel short changed and rightly so, if he does not feel well compensated by what Arsenal have to offer given Aaron Ramsey's recent extension paying him an astounding £ 60,000 per week (a prime example of how Arsenal's wage structure is so counterproductive) for less than noteworthy contributions from the bench. There is no foreseeable fiscal cliff that Arsenal needs to fear. Be bold. A deal that keeps him at the Emirates.