Another Watford Preview With Cojones in the Title

Watford pitch up at the Emirates, facing a different Arsenal beast from last weekend. It’s the same players but a refreshed mental approach. How long that will last is another matter.

A quick butchers through the team news suggests not too many changes are possible to the line-up which won in Milan. Aubameyang in for Welbeck is the obvious change and Maitland-Niles for Kolasinac is a ‘protectionist’ move, but beyond that is there any need to shuffle the pack? Yes, we’ve got the second leg on Thursday but that’s four days away; surely it isn’t a problem now?

I’d like to see Jack continue in the No. 10 role, with Ozil and Mkhitaryan in the attacking roles. It was a positive night, with good performances and of course, the much-needed win. The balance of the side was better than in recent months and we need to build up some momentum because the first leg results indicate the quarter-finals will contain some strong teams.

That’s thinking for another day; it’s Watford this afternoon and we in footballing parlance, we owe them. Quite a lot. Last season, this season, the late 1980s; there’s a bit of history for the game before we recall the stupidity of Deeney’s cojones. Football is littered with gobsh*tes making stupid comments post-match, only for those words to haunt them within the same season.

Wenger refused to rise to the bait. He’s long enough in the tooth to know better, even if he admits the current situation is causing him sleepless nights. If that is so, walking away is the healthiest option for him. There’s no sign of that happening so his future is in the hands of Enos and Junior. How much the former believes in him is the overriding question.

It’s all leaks feeding speculation and on matchday, a bit irrelevant. No change until the summer, we know that.

I Don’t Mind, You Don’t Matter

By now, you’ve read the interview with Per Mertesacker relieving his career. It’s interesting to see his reactions to the pressure and there are plenty of other (in)famous players who disappeared into the toilets pre-kick-off, already a bundle of nerves before stepping onto the pitch.

The brief passage about Robert Enke resonates when you think of the reaction to the tragic death of Davide Astori; completely different causes of death but while football continues to address the physical demands and impact on players health, mental health remains a taboo. Mertesacker more or less confirmed that with his comments about sports psychology at Werder.

It’s telling that he feels the need to comment on the privilege of his profession. Our attitudes towards players are blithe, with our passions over-ruling good sense in the heat of the moment. Abusing individuals on social media, in the stadium; in the heat of the moment, human decency flies out of the window and that’s no excuse.

But beyond that, electronically or in the street? No wonder players don’t want to interact with supporters. Even tracking down a young supporter and making their day is taken as a moment to enjoy. Instead, Hector Bellerin is criticised for making it public.

Ask yourself this next time you moan they are aloof or not worth the money: why do you think they care what you think? You don’t pay their wages anymore; look at the club accounts for that one. The FFP rules don’t state anything about matchday revenues being tied to extra wages spend but they do mention commercial revenues. Think about that for a moment.

To Cut a Long Story Short

What is apparent, even to the least interested of readers, is that Mertesacker taking over at the academy is a good move. There is a wealth of experience to pass on to the young players, particularly in the struggles of his teenage years where he suffered similar tribulations which marred Steven Gerrard’s early years as a professional.

It’s not the only farewell. This afternoon, it’s farewell to Motty, the viewers’ mate and wearer of the finest sheepskins this side of Delboy. A BBC tradition and one whose voice described many of football’s finest moments in my lifetime. A well-earned retirement for one of the voices of British football from my youth.

I think I’m right in saying that it’s only Martin Tyler from the 1970s Sunday afternoons who remains an active commentator now. Possibly Alan Parry, who started off on Radio 2 although I think he came along in the 80s. Not sure.

Motty makes it into my top five commentators down the years, albeit behind Peter Jones – the Guv’nor without question – Bryon Butler, Brian Moore, and Barry Davies, probably in that order. Today’s generation could learn plenty from those stalwarts.

Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.

’til Tomorrow.

140 thoughts on “Another Watford Preview With Cojones in the Title

  1. Woolwich Freddie,

    It might not be known but defensively we actually look better and it started with Milan. I think the thing is, we will never know but when your team looks better organized defensively under a manager who cares very little about defending, one could suspect.

  2. Two good finishes, Petr Cech saves a penno? I’ve got to stop drinking Golden Pride, it’s giving me terrible hallucinations…

  3. Mkhitaryan gets his goal and Aubameyang gets his assist.

    Off walks the MOTM for me just ahead of Ozil, Elneny and Mustafi

  4. Holding has played really well. I think it was his long, incisive pass through to Ozil that eventually set up Miki’s goal. And don’t you love his jink to get round his onrushing opponent? Mr Cool.

  5. Not a single spell of sideways passing in their half today. Or did I miss one? This is incredible!

  6. C,

    More viable with Auba and Welbeck did quite well with it on Thursday. It keeps the other team honest to have the threat of it.

  7. Lovely, lovely move. Shame Jack couldn’t land it at Danny’s feet. All started by languid Ozil setting off at breakneck speed towards their box.

  8. It’s been a good performance overall. Still a couple of squeaky moments at the back, but much better. It’s not going to change completely overnight, but plenty of positive signs. If it’s down to more input from others on the training ground, long may it continue.

  9. Ozil again just pulling the strings. Jack gets that in front of Welbeck and he has a better chance of it

  10. I would definitely buy the improved communication between the players originated with Bould. Strange you would have to coach professional players in that, though.

  11. C,

    Yeah, I’m excited to see Laca & Auba together. I’m not sure Arsene will agree but I think they have a different but complimentary skill set.

  12. Maitland-Niles is a fucking joy to watch.

    O yea and while I still want Doucoure, Elneny has bossed the midfield

  13. Woolwich Freddie,

    Yup, Aubameyang the flying attacker and Lacazette the tidy quick footed attacker. I actually think Aubameyang, Lacazette, Mhkitaryan and Ozil all compliment each other but fit nicely together.

  14. Cech finally gets his clean sheet.

    I think the best part about this is just how well fthe players competed and weren’t bullied like Watford wanted to do. Long may it continue

  15. Congratulations Petr Cech. Gets his 200th clean sheet by saving a penalty. Well done.

    A very solid result against a team who like to push us around. Pretty much everyone performed well. Well, there was one who didn’t.

  16. C,

    Agreed about the ‘not-being-bullyable’. That’s the fabled ‘mental strength’ that has so often been obvious in its absence. A really satisfying performance, with everyone playing well- except for Iwobi, who is still in his lost place.

  17. Wavey,

    Two phenomenal records we notched up in one excellent match: Cech’s 200th clean sheet and Ozil’s fastest sprint to 50 assists in PL history. Some day at the office for our resident maestros.

  18. Good win today. Much improved.
    Agree with others – seemed more talk defensively, and Holding might make mistakes, but he looks a natural leader aka Tony Adams.

  19. Two performances in a row. Xhaka and Elneny were good today in midfield. Be interested to know what our win ratio is when they both play in CM.

  20. We finally win in the league with some Cojones. Good effort overall, let’s hope we build on it for the rest of the season.

    Micki was MOM for me, he put in a shift, scored a goal and gave an assist.

  21. Kane goes off in the 31′ with ankle injury, he started to come back on the pitch took a step then went immediately down the tunnel. That’s a massive blow for Spuds on the back of the Juve defeat

  22. Why does the club continue to foolishly claim sales are the same as attendance.
    59,000 today?
    Agh I am afraid not.
    Laughing stock.

  23. I was looking at this:

    Mesut Özil (141 matches)
    Eric Cantona (143 matches)
    Bergkamp (146 matches)
    Cesc (165 matches)

    And then looked at this:
    Keven de Bruyne in 93 appearances 20 goals and 45 assists. I believe Mesut’s record will be a short-lived one.

  24. I’ve been incommunicado for the last two days up a Kerala backwater on a houseboat cruise, just arrived at our final hotel and back in range of Wi-fi, I was pleasantly surprised at the welcome three points but every game sees us teetering on the edge of a cock up.

    Off to the pool.

    Cheers for now!

  25. Sorry to be negative after a good win, but I still can’t see us winning the Europa league and given that we’re too far behind and relying on more than one or two slip up’s from those above us (and also depending on whether we can capitalise on those slip up’s). The question on my mind is whether Enos and Junior will push the eject button or have they seen enough to warrant another season, bearing in mind his target was to get back into the Champions League via a top four finish. I’m still not convinced by Xhaka, Iwobi or Mustafi. But confidence goes a long way. Let’s see what happens in this second leg and then the next 2 home games. We’ve got a trip to Old Trafford in April. Are we going to be embarrassed yet again or will the player’s and the management team/coaching staff approach that game with a must NOT lose mentality!

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