For once, England give Norwich City hope
So are you fed up with international breaks yet? Fellow fans I have spoken to have given a mixed view on this but the majority are a bit frustrated by them.
I have to say that they are really interrupting the flow of our Premier League season and I’m champing at the bit to get back to Carrow Road on Saturday.
I’m sure I’m not alone in really missing a City match last weekend.
I was working and normally when I’m in the office and the Canaries are playing, I am nervously trying to function as normal from the newspaper’s Dereham bureau while pacing around the office as the game reaches a crucial stage.
So at least I was able to type away and keep an eye on England’s match against the team rightly dubbed the world’s best side, without having too much pressure.
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But funnily enough I actually tried to create a little extra interest for myself by pretending that Spain were Arsenal and England were Norwich.
Have I gone a bit mad? Maybe…
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Anyway, let me explain.
Before Saturday, no one had expected England to have a hope against the world and European champions.
And I guess very few people give us much of a chance against the free-scoring and improving Gunners.
As I sat watching the action from Wembley, I felt England had to be really tight and prevent the Spaniards from getting in to their free-flowing brilliance.
And so, as it turned out, defence turned out to be the best form of attack for Capello’s boys.
I felt some of the criticism of England was pretty unfair. Yes they were out to thwart their opposition – but surely that was the right approach?
And actually – in the same way that City built from the foundation of strength at the back and then became more offensive in games at Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool – that’s what England did.
I’m really looking forward to Saturday and think we will give Wenger’s men a good test.
How do we contain Van Persie? Mmmmmm – there’s a thought.
Well, we have proved we can manage to deal with plenty of multi-million pound centre forwards this season to show it can be done.
OK, the experience at the hands of messrs Bent and Agbonlahor at Villa was a bit of a wake-up call about how tough life at the top can be.
But strength, mind-blowing hard work, positive thinking, being well organised, having some belligerence and a never say die attitude are traits we are becoming used to seeing among the boys in yellow and green.
A bit of luck is, of course, always needed – and you earn that.
I have no doubt the lads will come back from the international break with the same attitude and commitment.
Patience is another must – both from players and fans – and the Gunners could well have a big majority of the possession. We simply must not give the ball away cheaply or it could be a while coming back.
But who’s to say we won’t sneak a 1-0 win? I’d settle for that and my prediction of the week being wrong!
• Hero of the week: In a week when we have remembered true heroes, I’m wary about linking anyone in the footballing world to those who have given their lives so we can have freedom. But I was touched by John Ruddy’s comments about his support for the armed forces. His family has close links to the services and his best friend is due to serve in Afghanistan next year.
• Villain of the week: My boo boy has to be Giovanni Trapattoni. Yes the Italian has guided the Republic of Ireland to the Euro 2012 finals and the Emerald Isle fans will certainly add some colour to the competition. But I can’t believe that the manager continues to overlook our little Irish wizard Wes Hoolahan. Can there really be a group of midfielders better than the man who has been so instrumental in City’s great start? Come on Giovanni – give Wes a pizza the action.
• Highlight of the week: I’m hoping this will come this evening! I have been asked to appear on BBC Radio Norfolk’s Scrimmage soccer programme along with presenter Phil Daley, City legend Craig Fleming and Canaries fan Tom Oxley. I’m not holding a lot of hope for my chances but hopefully it will be good fun.
• Funniest moment of the week: Due to the international break I have to go back to the Villa game for the comedy moment. My old mate Tim was among a group of City fans returning from the Midlands and they got to Cambridge Services. They became aware of a coachload of Doncaster Rovers fans, who were going north from...yes you’ve guessed it, Ipswich. The chant from the Canaries? “You beat the Scum 3-2”!!
• Prediction of the week: Well I think I’ve pretty much got every one wrong this year (and that’s with me genuinely believing I would be right). So it’s time to make a more crazy prediction – so I’m going for a 0-0! You can get 16/1 from the bookies – that’s pretty generous on a single game. But it is based on the fact that City have yet to keep a clean sheet and the Gunners’ last four Premier League away games have produced 28 goals. Still, I’m sticking with a blank afternoon and yes I know I’m totally and utterly mad.