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We always beat the Arsenal… 12/10/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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Well, not always.  But our record at Highbury wasn’t half bad… Won three, lost three, drew one; scored ten, conceded ten in league matches.  Then there was the popular contender for bestest game ever, the 1987 Cup Quarter-Final victory.  Last time out  it took a late Kanu goal and a violent but unpunished assault on Allan Smart by Alex Manninger to earn the home side victory.

A new venue this time of course, and good record or not Arsenal away will always be a tough proposition.  It’s perhaps not fallen badly for us though, as locations on the fixture list go… only Ashley Young of our squad was involved in international action over the past week, whereas the majority of the Arsenal squad played games, with Emmanuel Eboué, Fredrik Ljungberg and Julio Baptista all picking up injuries that rule them out of Saturday.  With Lauren still out with a knee injury, William Gallas still a worry and both Gaël Clichy and Phillipe Senderos short of match fitness the home side have issues at the back.

As for ourselves, original prognoses should see Chris Powell available again, although Jordan Stewart has done well in his absence. 

The Fulham game was a catastrophe, but is done and dusted; this is a new kettle of fish altogether, with expectations and pressures entirely different to those of our last encounter.  The Arsène Wenger ten-year love in is a possible distraction for the home side, but we’ll still need all the breaks to be going our way.

It’s about time a few did, mind.

Benitez jumps the compensation bandwagon 10/10/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
5 comments

Rafa Benitez became the latest to bleat about compensation for clubs from national federations this week after Dirk Kuyt picked up an injury playing for the Dutch national side.  Anyone would think that he isn’t paid handsomely to cope with such obstacles.

I find the recent plague of whinging in this direction utterly depressing.  From my legally uneducated standpoint there would seem to be a miserable inevitability to the G14-backed “son of Bosman” legal case in which Charleroi (what is it about Belgians?) are attempting to sue FIFA for compensation after one of their players was injured in an international two years ago.  Miserable, because the only conclusion that you’d put any money on is some sort of insurance premium, probably a hefty one, being payable by International Federations if they want to use clubs’ players in international fixtures.  Whereas richer federations might be able to stretch to this (what do I know?), what seems likely is that less well-off federations will find it much harder.  This could knacker international football as we know it – which whatever the legal niceties just has to be a Bad Thing, even if it means that Alan Green doesn’t have to travel to Latvia any more.  It’s difficult to conceive of a greater blow that could be struck to world football than removing one of the last ostensibly level playing fields in the sport.

And largely at the behest of the G14  of all things.  The poor dears.  The irony is that the greatest threat to footballers’ weary legs is not international football but the grotesque Champions’ (sic) League, the one change in the fixture landscape over the last twenty years.  But of course the clubs profit directly from that.  I can’t believe the general absence of vitriol directed at this self-interest group (“the voice of the clubs”, my arse). Devoting the rest of my waking hours to a boycott of all G14 sponsors has never been more tempting.

Lemons to Arsenal 09/10/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.
3 comments

Buoyed by the upsurge in participation at Wigan, the next stage of our Fruit’n’Veg tour of the top flight sees us travel to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday armed with Lemons. You know where to send your pics…

Watford 3 Fulham 3 (02/10/2006) 03/10/2006

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.
5 comments

And the one word match report is….

Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnghgggggghhgghghghhgggnnnnnnnnghhggghghg.

(You won’t find that in the dictionary, of course…but then, you won’t find our defending in the coaching manual either, so we’re quits.)

The Big One 01/10/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Uncategorized.
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Subtle sarcasm isn’t really Sky’s thing, so it’s been difficult to work out why, as soon as the World Cup had finished, they were including this fixture in their overblown “coming up on Sky” trailers, a source of endless fascination and amusement for my boss amongst others.

Whatever.  A big one it certainly is for us and our season; indisputably the biggest game so far.  This is the first game from which no consolation would be taken from a draw and a good performance, we need to turn the good run outs into three points sharpish.  Yet another two-week international break means that a win is vital to boost the mood and send us into the game at Arsenal in fifteenth place and buzzing, rather than second from bottom and, thanks to Phil Jagielka’s belter yesterday, the only winless side in the division.

With Chris Powell still out, Jordan Stewart is likely to continue at left back, but Jordan’s form has been a bit of a bonus this season, and this isn’t the pressing concern that it might have been expected to be.  Otherwise, it seems unrealistic to expect anything but an attacking formation from Betty with a view to getting the crowd going and generating the claustrophobic atmosphere in the ground that so rarely is replicated during afternoon games.

A footnote to the fixture is the return of Heidar Helguson to the Vic;  probably on the bench though, with Brian McBride and summer target Collins John the favoured pairing in recent games.  The Cottagers visit sees them in a mid-table position, but the injury to Jimmy Bullard could be hugely significant, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them struggle this season.  A win on Monday night is absolutely imperative.

Grounds for Optimism ? 01/10/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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Finally, last week, the club were able to release details of the proposed ground redevelopment, several years after they were first trumpeted.

The announcement may be regarded by some as constituting something of an anticlimax.  Elements of the plan had already been released or at least hinted at in the interim; additionally it’s scarcely possible to conceive of a plan that would have satisfied the rabid expectation generated by the intervening years of implied planning.

What we’ve ended up with, however, looks a pretty decent plan as far as one is able to judge.  Partnership with the hospital and Origin not only generates funding, it is likely to have impacted positively on the Council’s regard for the development – Brighton fans will tell you have difficult life can be without that support.  As for what we get… a functional but at least legal East Stand, Directors’ facilities worthy of the name that might, in time, attract further investment (loveable as the current Main Stand is in many ways, it was never going to pad the ego of a potential director), enhanced facilities in the Rous and the Rookery, all to a realistic budget.

There are a few ifs and buts of course.  They’ve still got to deliver on the plan for one thing, and construction contracts have come in over budget in the past.  They’ve also got to relocate folk from the Upper Rous likely to be displaced to make space for the new directors’ box.  Remembering the appalling lavatory conditions in the Vicarage Road end, one might also ponder whether the limited space at that end of the ground really prohibited improving matters.

But on balamce, and mindful too of the newsworthy clampdown on spending by NHS Trusts, there’s every reason to be delighted by the announcement. 

Unless, like my co-editor, you maintain an unhealthy fascination with the East Stand.  But quaint or not, a stand that folk can’t sit in ain’t much use to anyone…