The Blog that's not always wrong.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

So,so and so long Sissoko?

No Man's Land: CSKA at Wembley in December.
 Flatter but equally hostile territory
The JimmyG2 Column.
Well the 13th game and Chelsea, 6 consecutive wins, saw the end of the  'unbeaten' run so perhaps we can concentrate on getting back to winning a few now.. For 44 minutes we outplayed them but a couple of fannying about moments in midfield led to our downfall.

But I've enjoyed your company all  through the recent good times so it's only right that we stick together through the not so good times. That's roughly since since Chelsea at the end of last season until now and possibly a little longer yet.

Results and clutching at the 'unbeaten' straw have papered over the cracks but investment has been ill advised and we have been poor nudging awful except for the City and Arsenal games. We got lucky against W.Ham last week but not in the Champions' League.

Eriksen got the early goal against Chelsea with a classy shot for a first goal in open play since before...Oh ages. . Son missed an early chance against Monaco in midweek in our Champions' League swansong this time around.

Two contrasting games but the same negative result. We held our own at the weekend but were second best all over the pitch against Monaco. Unfit players, square pegs in round holes and the inexperienced Winks may be excused.

But why Vertonghen was rested for a 'must win' game seems strange. Lloris kept it respectable but no-one else played to an acceptable standard.

Hugo was so good there was a general feeling that if he decides to leave us then you couldn't really blame him. He hasn't as yet signed his new contract but we've been speculating about him leaving since a fortnight after he arrived.

Monaco were better quicker and more interested than we were. Now we have to decide whether to throw the Leverkusen game and avoid the Europa and concentrate on the Premiership, or try to win the Europa and qualify for the CL that way. Hmmm.

If I didn't know Mauricio better I'd say he threw the Monaco game we were so poor. The Europa is knock out from now on so we might as well give it a go. He has decided to stick with Wembley too which raises doubts.

Playing at Wembley has done us no favours and Sissoko's intervention on this matter has done him no favours with the Head Coach either.

But as he's currently leading the 'worst ever signing at Spurs' poll and has only been at home for five minutes then  buckets of salt may be necessary. Early days, he may yet surprise us all but there are few signs yet.

However he may not get the chance as his attitude in training has not impressed and he was not even on the bench for Chelsea. Never argue with the Coach Moussa: he is always right even when he's clearly wrong.

Chelsea on a 5 game winning streak and conceding few brought out the best of us as usual. I 'd have taken a draw. In fact I'd have taken a narrow well contested defeat, which is exactly what we got.

But once again for us it was a game of two halves which at least was an improvement on Monaco. Son's failure to match the run of Moses was a crucial element in the winning goal on top of overplaying in midfield by Dembele.

Pedro's goal matched Eriksen's for quality but the defence stood off him in admiration while did a half Cryff turn and curved it past Hugo.

Against Chelsea we saw off our nemesis Hazard but Diego Costa was firmly focused on playing football and created the winning goal for Moses completely unmarked on the edge of the area.

We almost missed signing him apparently!

We need a good December and the fixture list throws up some eminently winnable games: Swansea, Hull and Burnley at home and Man.Utd. and Southampton away. Two of those are in the bottom three but remember there are no easy games in the Premiership.

Thirteen points should maintain our challenge.We also have the return fixture with CSKA Moscow in No Man's Land at Wembley though not on Xmas Day. We may get an inkling of Mauricio's thinking here especially if Sissoko gets a run out.

We are now seven points off top spot, four behind Arsenal in fifth and four ahead of Man.Utd in sixth. We will do well to finish in the top four from here but there's lots of games and  we can only, fingers crossed, get better.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Moussa Sissoko: 30 million at 27yrs. old. Whatever were we thinking?  This video gives a whole new meaning to 'Highlights'. Actually we could save a fortune on players because he doesn't need team-mates.

I repeat he may yet surprise us if he ever gets the chance. Lamela got a couple of years and Moussa may get at least half that. We need to wait until the ink dries on his contract.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Winks gets the nod.

Winks gets the nod and even the blind horse is impressed* 
The JimmyG2 Column. 
Well 'The Musings' lobbying on behalf of young Master Winks finally paid off and Mauricio was not disappointed as we have been telling him for some time.

He not only started his first game but scored our first equaliser and played well to boot. Sorry. Along with another of our own he turned the game though it was a damn close run thing.

If W.Ham deserved any sympathy after the ongoing London Stadium debacle, which will probably run and run, this is not the place to look for it because they ain't gonna get none.

We didn't play that well, Winks excluded, and left it late, very late. Substitute Son gave the ball away several times in as many minutes but had a foot in both  of Harry's goals that secured the win.

His cross was palmed into Harry's path for the calmly taken second equaliser and he secured the winning penalty following a dart to the by-line and turn invoking a rash challenge by the W.Ham substitute Nordveit.

So we remain in fifth but closed the gap on most of those above us and put a little more Lilywhite water with those beneath us after a deluge of draws all around us. Two points per game and three points up on the same stage last year.

I won't dwell on the performances: it was an uninspiring and tedious performance especially in the first half, but though twice behind we came back well.  Danny Rose got a fifth yellow and will miss Chelsea.

Dembele was rightly subbed having been booked, worryingly, for dissent and at best we were alarmingly average. Eriksen flickered and faded and must have narrowly avoided being substituted himself.

Janssen played reasonably again but within his limitations and gave away the penalty with a stupid grappling offence. The up front pairing of him and Harry Kane is not a match made in heaven.

Winks was a positive shining light and we stepped it up a little in the second half to take more control but chances were rare and we capitalised on most of those we had. We would have won the league by now if we were playing well.

The title is a stretch in the circumstance but the more damage City, and Chelsea do to those around us the better. We haven't lost to any of those above us and if we can do a City on Chelsea next week
things will be looking up.

In fact we are still unbeaten in the Premiership after 12 games though not in the Champions' League
which rears its ugly 'must win' head on Tuesday at Monaco.Our best opening run since the Double season over 50 years ago but there the comparisons end.

There are tough decisions in midweek for Mauricio on team selection ahead of Chelsea. The return of Lamela and Toby is imminent(ish) but perhaps not  in time for Monaco. Dele (Nutmeg specialist) was back against W.Ham. Will Winks keep his place and sit out Chelsea?

With Rose out against Chelsea will Wimmer or CCV join the back 3/4 and Verts switch to left back? Jan is not quite your speedy overlapping wing back now is he.

 Could Josh Onomah  get some time? I feel another 'Musings' campaign bubbling up. Money can't buy the kind of spirit, or love we have at the club currently shown by Winks celebrations with Mauricio and Dele.

Tell me that you want those kind of things
That money just can't buy. (Can't buy me love. The Beatles) 

The perennial rumours of Man.Utd interest in, at the moment, Harry Kane can be safely ignored but we can't be too far out of kilter with the rest of the money obsessed world and we do have to keep faith with our players.

Harry could probably double or even treble his wages by such a move but he says he's not interested and I believe him. 'Stay Harry stay!' to coin a phrase. He certainly has the 'love'.

* From a 16th.century adage, 'A nod is as good as a wink to a blind horse' and The Faces third and most successful album.

Jimmy's Video Spot.
Quick feet, and alert positive brain. Another Harry here to stay for the long term. Looked the part on Saturday. Might need some of his creativity tomorrow.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Unexpected Challenge for Harry Winks.

Get Changed Chirpy, you're on.
What can possibly go wrong in two minutes?
The Jimmy G2 Column.
Phew! We needed that performance at The Library to prevent our hopes from plummeting and our fears from gaining ground. What a difference a game makes. Yet another draw but this one was a point gained rather than two points dropped.

 After Bayer Leverkusen in midweek I feared for the worst at the NLD. Away from home against a team who would have gone top if they'd won, not least against the 'auld enemy'  after the worst ever performance many can remember this was a must not lose moment.

I haven't dwelt on the CL game as it is best forgotten. Vertonghen and Wanyama did OK; the rest drifted between hapless and hopeless with Sissoko the pick of the latter.

The Arsenal game was a Premiership Cordon Bleu occasion not a pie and mash supper and as usual we were suited and booted for it. The return of Harry though not at his best after a couple of months out showed us what we had been missing.

Janssen is a willing understudy and his brief appearance  pointed up his weaknesses.The Soldado factor is an incidental red herring. He will likely settle in as Lamela eventually has.

An unfortunate own goal by Wimmer gave them hope. Were several players offside when the kick was taken? Apparently not in the latest version of the offside rule.The ref was probably technically correct but the law is a nonsense.

They weren't interfering with play. As Bill Nicholson once said: ' If they weren't interfering with play what were they doing on the pitch? Add a Yorkshire accent and some down to earth language and you get the flavour.

At least our penalty was indisputable other than among Arsenal fans. Dembele's driving run at the heart of their defence, something he should do more often instead of lateral runs and negative changes of direction, induced a penalty.

Harry converted with confidence though Cech went early and the ball was driven straight down the middle. The defence held firm, Lloris was on form, Rose Vertonghen and Dembele were outstanding and honours were even.

Eriksen stepped up in the absence of Lamela and Dele and as usual ran further than anyone else but on this occasion to good effect.

Another talking point was Son's failure to beat Cech to the ball when the keeper slipped. Did he funk it? Was he slow to react initially? Was it a lost cause anyway? I tend to the first and that he should at least have tried to get a toe in.

The substitution with less than two minutes to go of Son for Winks was too little too late again. Chirpy might have done as much in the time available. 

Walker struggled on with an injury until 10 minutes to go and was replaced  by our very own Lone Ranger. Who is that masked man? KieranTrippier no less.

Our injury list is starting to be a worry: Toby, Lamela, Dele and now Walker.  Davies and  Son have confirmed ankle problems. But at least Harry is back which should give a boost to the whole squad.

Especially as the latest news is that Janssen was subbed off with suspected concussion after being punched by Mignolet in the Holland, Belgium friendly. No confirmed details of the injury as yet.

Mauricio needs to match his new found flexibility in formation with renewed confidence in the youth. The bold move of going three at the back and using Walker and Rose as wing backs seemed to free up space.

We often in fact play this way with Dier moving into the back line giving Toby and Jan the freedom to move forward.

Will this give us momentum for the next phase of the season? Beating City didn't  and with Chelsea and Liverpool scoring for fun we need to make sure we don't slip any further behind.

We are still in fifth but now 5 points  behind the leaders and only three clear of Everton and Man.Utd. It could develop into a tough 7 team dogfight and maintaining our unbeaten run with draws won't hack it.

But this was a performance to gladden the hearts of players and supporters alike. Arsenal were very negative and timid in the circumstances. Their star players didn't perform but we hardly gave them time and space.

We need more of the same Mauricio against W.Ham after the break. After that it's Monaco and Chelsea so no time to relax or think about the Christmas shopping just yet.

Editor's Note.
Chirpy's registration has been refused by the FA and he is therefor not available for selection. We are appealing the decision

Jimmy's Video Spot.
All the highlights. A few chances evenly shared. You decide about the two goals and the Son opportunity. Offside, soft and funked for me.