By Billy the Dog McGraw
It’s Theo Walcott Day today. But more on that later.
Because we are off to play Arry – the man whose reputation precedes him, as the headline says. Twice relegated, twice sacked, twice leaving behind him a club in such dire straits there was serious doubt if it could continue.
Bournemouth, West Ham, Southampton, Portsmouth, Tottenham H and QPR. How those names roll off the tongue.
For the amazing thing is that it was never his fault.
Meanwhile our manager, Arsène Wenger as you may recall, has revealed that the whole thing about him trotting off to play with PSG’s money is a myth. He rather fancies Arsenal. Of course the AAA will be horrified and outraged, but for the Untold readers, it is rather fine news.
At the press conference ahead of the game against Queens’ Park Ranglers Mr W spoke of going for the top four finish and the strengthening the squad in the summer. That means the board has agreed to hand over the cash. £50m on transfers, £50m for extra salary.
And as might be expected when asked by a rather tedious journo at the press conference, Arsène Wenger replied: “I answered that question already. I respect my contracts. I want to stay (on past 2014) if I do well and if I consider or the club considers that I do well, that is all.
“I want this club to do well, that is my basic feeling. We have gone through a period that was very sensitive, we are coming out of it now, in a much stronger position financially. I believe the club is in a very strong position for the future.
“I believe a big club should be run where everybody does his job and I try to do my job. The only thing I can say is that I do it with a lot of commitment and a lot of loyalty. I try to do as well as a I can for this club.
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Chelsea play Man U this weekend, and have to play Tottenham as well as playing in the Europa Final, so anything could happen.
So, to find out who plays I met up with Dennis Bergkamp at the Toppled Bollard Bacon and Sausage Emporium on the North Circular Road.
Dennis ordered his regular bacon roll and strong tea, and told me in no uncertain terms that Theo Walcott only had to score once more to have 20 goals this season in all major competitions. “That means he has so far knocked in….” I said playing for time as I did the calculations on my napkin.
“Twelve,” said Dennis, and I smiled, pretending I had almost completed the complex calculus.
“Who leads the attack?” I asked the Master. You will know that Lukas Podolski or Theo the Goal. are in contention to lead the attack at Loftus Road.
“Podolski is not having a new ankle put in,” said Dennis. “He may not lead up front today, but he will be there next season. But don’t forget Olivier Giroud has two goals less than Theo.” I sighed and called for more napkins and a better pen.
“Podolski played in the middle last time,” said Dennis, “but Theo scored. That tells us something…” but I missed what it was as I turned to page three of my calculations and announced that Giroud has 823 goals this season. Dennis nodded wisely.
“We are one short of 50% of a three figured number in terms of goals in the four competitions this season,” said Dennis, as I returned with the Bumper Book of Algebraic Fun, and continued calculating.
Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny, Gibbs;
Cazorla, Podolski, Walcott, Cazorla
“That’s twelve players,” objected Dennis and I rechecked my geometry.
“It doesn’t matter,” I said, “because Cazorla can pop up anywhere so no one will notice.” We agreed that was fair.
For subs we had Mannone, Jenkinson, Monreal, Vermaelen, Coquelin, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere,
By now a crowd had gathered, mostly asking for my autograph although a few recognised Dennis too. “Tell us the news,” they said, so I obliged.
“QPR won’t collapse – they will fight to the death,” I announced, and everyone gave me a look.
“QPR have played four hours, 35 minutes without scoring a goal in the Premier League which is nearly six weeks,” I added.
“We ain’t never ever won at Nat Lofhouse Road in the Premier League era, and that has to stop soon – not least because we have just won our last three away games. Last time it was four in a row was November 2010.”
“Tell us about the last three meetings,” screamed a little boy at the back of the crowd. Dennis stood, and there was a hush.
Arsenal 1 (Arteta) QPR 0, October 2012.
QPR 2 Arsenal 1 (Walcott), March 2012.
Arsenal 1 (Van Persie) QPR 0, December 2011.
“That’s backwards in time,” said the lad, and oh how we laughed.
“QPR have won once against Arsenal in the last six games,” said Dennis, and have won four games in the league this season.”
“Which is less than Derby County in 2007-08 when they won one.”
“You think it will be 1-1?” asked Dennis.
“Our last top-flight away win against QPR was 3-1 on 24 November 1990, but we did win at Loftus Road in 2002-03 and 2003-04, when Fulham were living there,” I countered and several commented on my footwork.
And so we packed up and headed home, leaving me with just a few snippets to add about us and the opposition.
QPR were last relegated from the Premier League in 1995-1996, and this time around have got two points from their last six games.
We have never lost having taken the lead this season.And yes it is Theo’s 200th league game today. Happy double century Theo.
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- Royal Arsenal: from the Common to the Manor. Coming next.