Category Archives: Deadline Poetry

my lips

Are you enjoying the season?

Now that they beat Man City, will Chelsea win the League this year? Are they title contenders? Did you watch Jose Mourinho’s post match presser? Isn’t his claim that Chelsea aren’t title contenders just the latest in a long line of hilarious things he says?

But seriously, can Chelsea win the League taking the majority of their shots from outside the 18 yard box? Can they keep converting at a 6% rate? How is that even sustainable over 24 matches much less over 38 matches? What happens if Chelsea’s conversion rate drops back down to a much more reasonable 4% or 3%? Will they rely even more on defense than they already do? Do you think that perhaps teams with a high conversion rate from outside the box have a more technically adept squad than teams with a low conversion rate from distance? Would it convince you more if I told you that Man City have an 8% conversion rate from distance? What if I told you that Stoke has an 8% conversion rate from distance? What if I told you that Begovich scored a goal? Or that 3 of their 9 goals from distance came from Charlie Adam?

Did it upset you that Arsenal didn’t buy any big name players this January? Did you like the addition of Kim Kallstrom to Arsenal’s midfield? Have you ever seen him play? Did you groan when you heard that he was already injured? Did you want a fourth center back? Or maybe a guy who can play both center half and defensive midfield? Did you think that a forward was necessary for Arsenal to be “serious title challengers”? Did you note that Arsenal are top of the table and have been nearly every week since the start of the season? Wouldn’t that, by definition, make them title challengers?

Did you watch Arsenal beat Crystal Palace 2-0? Did you laugh at Tony Pulis moaning like a drain when one of his players took a tackle? Did you get nervous for a minute there in the first half when Arsenal hadn’t scored yet and Chamakh had a one on one with Szczesny? Were you worried that Chamakh, the Arsenal reject, would score? Did it fill you with joy to watch Szczesny race out and smother the chance after Chamakh took a heavy touch and punted the ball 10 yards in front of him? Do really long questions, where the questioner describes the problem in minute detail taking you down a path before finally getting to the question, does that bother you?

Did you revel in The Ox’s backheel pass to Giroud? Did you love the way he turns up field and takes on the opposition every single time he gets the ball? Did you see his tackle early in the game? Did you notice how he was playing box to box? How about that thumping volleyed pass, should he patent that? Non sequitur: but what about Cazorla taking that rocket down out of the air side footed? That was ridiculous, right? Did you think Ox played a lot like Ramsey? Or was he more Rosicky? Did it make your heart flutter when he smiled at the crowd and touched the Arsenal crest?

Did you watch the Super Bowl? Were you drunk? Stoned? Droned? Which commercial was your favorite? Did you notice that the Ford, the Kia, and the Maserati all look the same? Do all the cars these days look the same? Did you know that the Kia is $60,000? Would you buy a $60,000 Kia? Oh I’m sorry I didn’t mention the game, does the commercialism of the Super Bowl turn you off? Does the commercialism of a Premier League match turn you off? How many advertisements do you notice in every Premier League match? Did you know that the Allianz Arena doesn’t have the team’s name, “Bayern Munich” on the exterior? How long before the Premier League becomes fully commercialized, like the NFL? Is it already there?

Are you one who eagerly agrees to this Faustian bargain, to trade corporate sponsorship for better players? Do you know that doing so makes you the actual product? That your eyes seeing their ads are what feeds the whole deal? While you were beating the commercialism drum, did the thought cross your mind that maybe they don’t care if the current generation of Arsenal fans are priced out of attending matches because you don’t fit the target market demographic? Are you still ready to sell your soul to the devil for a slightly better Giroud? Is that “just the way it is”?

Do you find it funny that the same people who complain about ticket prices are the ones who complain that Arsenal don’t buy players? Did you notice that they are also the same people who complain about corporate greed but who want Arsenal to cash in on that corporate greed by selling more lucrative sponsorships? Or how about those who lauded the new Puma deal one day and then complained that Puma is now going to have a new Arsenal kit every year? With iPads as cash registers now, will anyone from the next generation even know what “kerching!” means?

Or is it that the people who attend matches have more right to complain about everything because they are paying so much to see Arsenal play? Is it then more ironic for someone who watches Arsenal from afar to complain about ticket prices? What if the people watching from afar are the target market demographic? Who has more right to complain then?

Are you enjoying the season?

Have we made progress as a club? Do you go to bed at night and dream of Aaron Ramsey lifting the Premier League trophy while red and white ticker tape rains down on him? Do you say things like “I don’t think we will win the League this year but I’m happy with the team’s progress” because secretly you do think we could win the League but you want to be cautiously optimistic?

Are you enjoying the football this season?

Qq

Apologies to the brilliant Padget Powell for the use of the interrogative form for today’s post. If you’re looking for a great read that will make your head spin with questions of your own like “does he ever stop asking questions?” or “is this really a novel? Who are the main characters?” and “who is this author and why is he such a genius?” Check out The Interrogative Mood: a novel? by Padgett Powell.

64-wilshere-agame-gt

Blood and thunder (Plus: Arsenal missed Arteta and Ramsey)

Bursting through the Villa lines
Wilshere’s gossamer touch
froze the ball in perfect silence,
a moment of anticipation,
split by the thunderclap of his shot.

Then Delph let cry and slipped.
Wilshere again paused time, a trick
he must do by clicking his boots together.
Giroud cushioned Wilshere’s diagonal
like cotton candy. Then, draped in men,
he coolly slotted
between their legs.

Villa pressed and Arsenal folded,
an ill-conceived backheel
and Lowton poked and hoped.
Mertesacker’s telescopic legs
just a wisp away from clearing
Benteke’s diving header.

And Per’s face contorted in
rage, as he turned to howl:
“INTO THE JAWS OF DEATH!
INTO THE MOUTH OF HELL!
You will play like men
or I will end you!”

Swarbrick stood over Rosicky
must have seen his Picasso nose
and didn’t stop play. So
Rosicky staggered to his feet
and played on. Our warrior,
his nose Bruced by Agbonlahor,
giving everything to the team.

The Villains tasted blood
and in a frenzy nipped at
Arsenal’s heels.
They bombarded
Arsenal from above,
from the side.
But Mertesacker and Koscielny
rose to the challenge and
headed everything away.

The fans watched on
tight and nervous but
This is not the Arsenal
who gave up four
to Newcastle.
This is not the Arsenal
who conceded a late penalty
to Birmingham.
This is the Arsenal
who plays with
gossamer and guts.
This is the Arsenal
who plays with
blood and thunder.
This is the Arsenal
who are
Top of the League.

Arsenal really missed Aaron and Arteta

Cazorla is getting a lot of stick this morning for the errant backheel that let Villa into the game and certainly that move was not the brightest: he could have played the ball back to Gibbs but instead elected for a tricky pass in a dangerous area between three defenders. For a player of his experience that was fairly unacceptable. He should know better than to play a ball like that in the Arsenal defensive final third. But part of the problem was that overall I thought the Arsenal midfield looked a bit timid in that second half. There were just too many players who didn’t seem to want the ball.

Villa sussed out that Swarbrick wasn’t going to call any fouls on them and so they got physical with Arsenal — eventually breaking Rosicky’s face. It’s a well-worn tactic that Arsenal should be prepared for having seen it incessantly for the last 15 years.

Flamini tried to rise to the challenge and impose himself on the match and at the end so too did Wilshere but what was needed was a little bit of calm possession rather than huffing and puffing and physical violence. Slick passing would have broken the Villa press easily and probably created more clear-cut opportunities on counter attacks. But without either Ramsey or Arteta, who work tirelessly to make themselves available for their teammates and who are excellent with the quick pass and move, Arsenal really struggled to string passes together.

To be blunt, it looked like some of the key players were hiding. Wilshere and Özil in particular needed to step up and make themselves available as an outlet for Cazorla. Arsenal’s 79% second half passing didn’t make itself, it was a product of players hiding.

I was also not impressed with either of their defensive contributions. Wilshere won Arsenal the game but he’s chronically unwilling to do the dirty work that’s required of a center mid. He only even attempted one tackle, which is really crazy when you consider how much of the ball Villa had in the second half. I know, you’re going to be apoplectic with rage over me daring to criticize the game winner but I’m sure you’ll get over it eventually.

Look, there are a lot of folks who are hand-wringing over Podolski being left out of the squad but Poldi is left out because Cazorla plays both ends of the pitch and Podolski just doesn’t. You can carry a player like that, Vieira admitted that Arsenal did it with Pires during their halcyon days, but you really can’t have two or three of those players on a team or the defense suffers. So, while I understand that people want to see Podolski given a chance “on the back of Cazorla’s disastrous performance” I completely disagree. Wenger has been dropping hints that Podolski is basically lazy and as long as Wilshere and Özil are shirking their defensive duties the team needs Cazorla.

Yes, Cazorla made the error which led to the Villa goal but he also shouldered the burden for Arsenal and led the team in passes, was second in attacking third passes, led both teams with 11 ball recoveries, led Arsenal with 3/3 tackling, and even had 4 clearances. Wilshere and Özil combined for 0/1 tackles, 13 ball recoveries, and one clearance.

You can have one or maybe even two players who are basically not doing their defensive duties or who don’t really want the ball but three is right out. At least until Arsenal can get Ramsey and Arteta back into the game: Arsenal’s two best tacklers and two best passers.

Qq


Lukas Podolski

Mourinho, Rosicky, Poldi, and Dean: a children’s treasury of football verse

Jose Mourinho King of the Britons

mourinho held an audience
with the gathered scribes
excalibur he claimed i pulled it
from the cornerstone of stamford bridge
and this brittanias shield
athena wished it in my arms
he paused and the sound of tapping
keyboards filled the room
we are the britons he
said we dont dive
our lion hearts would shrivel
at the thought of young
or rooney taking a tumble
divin is for them
foreigners like drogba
innit

Rosicky Offered Like, a New Contract

Life without
Rosicky
would be a
drag, man

Goldi Poldi

Goldi Poldi pudding pie
kicked the ball and made it fly.
Arsene says his shots are best
after Poldi gets a rest.*

How to get a yellow card in the Premier League

Clattermole flies in
both feet off the ground
Dean sees nothing
wrong going down.
Johnson, though, is a beast
yellow for removing his chemise.

Qq

*This is true. Since coming to Arsenal Podolski has been subbed on or off 53 of the 58 games he’s appeared in for both club and country. In the two seasons prior, he was subbed on or off just 25 of 86 matches.