Match preview by Billy the Dog McGraw, lost at sea.
Here’s a thought. We have had months and years (up to 1 September) of Arsenal being sniggered at by silly Spanish people who claimed that Cesc was about to leave, and how we couldn’t keep our players, and well, even if not in the summer then at least in the January cat flap.
But what has happened? Since then we find that Barca is so bust they can’t pay their players, Man U is in a pickle over W Rooney, Arry can tell both refs and the FA where to stick it and no one dares utter a word against his Great Brown Envelopeness, Liverpool have been taken over, but there is no guarantee of the new stadium or indeed investment in players and it turns out the new owners have not given guarantees not to load the debt back into the club either, the man who wanted to buy Sheff W has decided not to, someone maybe has bought Blackburn but has told them he has no dosh for new players, four Spanish 1st division coaches got the boot in one week, some Scots team has been given a 24 point fine for going into admin again, Joe Cole is out with an injury, Tevez has trotted off to Argentina because he is home sick, Man City is failing to behave like a team that cost a trillion pobble beads, Adebayor is fighting with his own team mates while Kolo is telling everyone to Kalm Down, and Chelsea are not buying anyone at all, ever. Meanwhile, the Tiny Totts are now issuing celebratory mugs every time they play anyone (so no change there).
Funny old world.
And here’s a trifle more funniness
The distance from London to Donetsk is 1703 miles which is what we geographic experts call A Long Way. Certainly further than the journey down the road to the chemist when you get one of those nasty little irritations.
But enough about me. According to the Flightpedia web site London is 4 hours ahead of Donetsk which I suppose means we ought to win, given that we can kick off before the opposition are on the pitch. Anyway, if this is true (and you will see in a moment why I suspect it might not be) the kick off time locally will be 23.45 unless they have daylight saving, have save all the daylight, and were kicking off yesterday.
This distance from here to there is much further than anyone has to travel in football in England. By my calculation, the longest distance you might travel for a match in an English league would be Plymouth to Newcastle (334 miles). At least I thought that was right until I found that the self-same web site as told me where Donetsk was also says, “Plymouth is 1 hours ahead of Newcastle.”
Tis true and I kid you not.
I have often suspected this. Not just about Plymouth and Newcastle, but about one end of Seven Sisters to the other. I mean, one end is calmly situated in 2010, while the other always looks to me about 1875. But maybe it is just my eyes (although that doesn’t explain the smell).
But moving on, I suspect some of our plucky lads took one look at where the Ukraine is on the map and decided they had an injury, for the Ukraine is in fact a small island is the mid-Atlantic situated somewhere south of Atlantis (a Portuguese colony where people worship wind farms and the craven image of Sir F Word.
For from what I have heard on the bush telegraph and via messagse in cleft sticks El Capitano has sprained his thumb and is out and Alex Song, Andrey Arshavin and Denilson are what the press call “struggling”. Interesting word that, “struggling”. Last year I struggled with my allotment especially my broccoli . I wonder if this is the same thing.
Anyway if you thought it was long way to Tipperary that’s nothing compared to the trip to Foreign Parts in the form of Donesk or Доне́цк as it is properly called in Foreign.
There’s one bit about the place I like. It was set up by a Welsh coal miner called John Hughes. How cool is that? It was originally named Юзовка after him but later called it Stalino after the curious stuff people used to put on floors. (Lino – geddit? Oh never mind).
You’ve got your traditional two team rivalry in the city Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalurh Donetsk (five times champs), both in the top league, and that’s not bad for a village with under a million people in it on a mythical island in the Atlantic surrounded by volcanoes. They are going to play three group matches, a quarters and a semi-final game in the Plantini Cup or whatever it is called in the summer or the summer after or some time or other. Quite why this diminutive rock is paired with Poland is beyond me – but then I never know why the chemist is at the other end of town.
Our team will be
Fabinianski, Bendtner, Walcott, Chamakh
Wilshere, Walcott, Wilshere
Nasri, Walcott, Wilshere
Explaining this somewhat unexpected line-up the Lord Wenger said that he needed to freshen the team up a little after a long and arduous trip. “Perhaps travelling to a landlocked country by sailing dinghy was not the best plan, but here we are,” he said through a Ukrainian interpreter, whose words were translated back into Normal and maybe lost a little en route.
“However I expect the team to be fluid, and positioning will be optional. This is, after all, total Wengerian football.” And who are we?
But however we play the two key men, highlighted in dispatches by the Great Lord Wenger himself, will be the two key men and will play everywhere. Theo is now ready to be Thierry Walcott and Jack becomes Cesc Wilshere. It’s official, so don’t try and contradict.
The new format of having two defending midfielders (Song and Denilson normally) is looking most promising and that ought to continue. If Diaby is back from his ankle tap then he could play there. Rosicky could also be in it too. Or to put it another way, I have no idea who we are going to play anywhere, but I expect them to be Arsenal players and I’m taking bets on that one.
Elsewhere people are back in training, which is nice, and that jolly little turnip Peter Ridsdale is going to take over Plymouth (which is one hour behind Newcastle). Apparently he will exploit the time differential when borrowing money from Sir Francis Chichester. (Is that right? – ed)
Here’s a final note from the opposition. Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho was answering web site questions and said, “our major advantage is that we play at home with our fans supporting us. I think tomorrow it will be a good, aggressive game. If we remain determined for 90 minutes and pull ourselves together – we will win without any problems.”
Here’s another final note – the team in the Guardian is shown as…
Arsenal (4-2-3-1; probable):
Sagna, Koscielny, Djourou, Clichy;
Walcott, Nasri, Rosicky;
Subs from: Szczesny, Bendtner, Squillaci, Eboué, Vela, Lansbury, Emmanuel-Thomas, Diaby.
Maybe: but my version had more pazzazz.
- But it was all so different in the past. Making the Arsenal: available from Amazon.co.uk but for a signed copy dedicated to whoever you want just order from the publishers (follow the link) and add details of the dedication wanted to your order.
- Arsenal History: Arsenal’s origins – currently telling the story of the end, the very end, of Woolwich Arsenal
- Untold Arsenal on Facebook here
- Untold Arsenal Index: silly stuff, serious stuff, and sociology
- Arsenal Worldwide: supporting Arsenal from outside the UK
- Arsenal Independent Supporters Association show your support, be part of changing the club
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