The Sky is falling in on us...
Perspective. MIA. Let's try and claw some back.
It's ok for the likes of Liverpool (that's Liverpool as in 'Top 4 Sky Sports Top 4' Liverpool) to have key players out and suffer for it and have the 'experts' talk about how their missing players are detrimental to the effort on the pitch, but its not ok for lickle Spurs to be missing 3+ key players? Because whether we have players out or not, when we lose, its cemented evidence that we are nothing more than pretenders.
I'm drying them as I type.
Not using this as an excuse because our general performance and body language was a joke v Arsenal and we deserved the drubbing we got, but let's not try to under-play the facts post-match. Even if its a tad hypocritical.
No midfield equates to wave upon wave of invited pressure that will surely end in tears. Which proved to be the case. It was Hackney Marshesque effort at best.
We know we do not have the same level of quality in key areas as certain other clubs possess. Our best first 11? That's altogether a different prospect, and we've yet to field them all at once this season. But that's neither here or there because most teams have injuries at any given time and do fine without a perfect starting eleven. But you can't ignore the fact that as well as we've played this season, there has been an oh so subtle decline since Modric got himself a broken bone. And it finally all caved in over the weekend.
I also don't agree that our bench is 'strong'. On paper it is, but the likes of Pav and Bentley are not exactly storming it form wise at the minute. Does that make us one-dimensional and single player-reliant? In some ways yes, but we are more then competitive against the majority of the Prem other than those pesky hard nuts at the top even when missing the likes of Defoe or Lennon or Modric. It's just that with them, we tick. Without them we might get tonked.
We don't have a complete squad to challenge for a Top 3 place. We all know that.
Go back 4/5 years and perhaps further back still and the top 4 were so far ahead of the chasing pack that it was akin to comparing the sexual prowess of a snail with Peter North (although granted the snail has far more personality). It was different gravy, in a different league. The power has shifted from Utd/Arsenal to Utd/Chelsea and may well shift again to Chelsea/Utd. But they are no longer in a galaxy far far away. Half a million light years at the very least.
The fact is - that massive massive gap is not so massive. Not if you look with your own eyes rather than a set belonging to one of the tabloids or our friends over at Sky. I'm under no illusions (delusions). Only Utd and Chelsea can seriously wish to win the league and Arsenal and Liverpool are always going to be outside challengers. But much like we and others below them hope for one of them to trip up, they too hope that either Utd or Chelsea hiccup. Nothing is therefore...impossible.
Dare I say the gap between Utd/Chelsea and Arsenal/Liverpool is as wide as the one between us and that 4th spot? Ooh matron. Note how I said '4th spot' rather than single out a particular team.
But that gap is sadly still wide enough for the likes of us to fall in when attempting to get across it. Serves us right always attempting to jump across in the hope we sprout wings. But unlike the past where there was no bridge, one is now under construction. No need for any Superman impersonations. Just patiently walk across it, aiding with the finishing touches to the path leading across to the other side.
We got it all wrong on Saturday, Arsenal never had to step up a gear. Anyone watching the coverage on Sky would think they dished out a master-class in total football. Once their giddy fans - who only ever show true emotion twice per season - come back down from their ketamine high they'll notice that the win was not half as impressive as they would wish it to be and nowhere near the devastation that Andy Gray and his drooling mouth would have us believe.
It was easy for them made easier by some textbook sleep-walking from our midfield and implosion from our abused defence. We had nothing on offer in the centre of the pitch. But let's not pretend slice bread was re-invented slap bang in the middle of the Emirates. Or that Spurs have regressed back to a side managed by Christian Gross. We got spanked for our lack of effort.
Before any gooners start gobbing off, don't think for a second I'm trying to deny you the glory. It's a NLD. No one would wish to write one-off or dismiss it's importance. You lot turned up for it. Our lot didn't. That grates me because I know deep down you'd have preferred to have contested an actual proper game of blood and thunder rather than the whimper you got. I'd rather lose with effort than without it. And don't think I wouldn't have us in your position either. Plenty of flair but lacking title winning discipline and desperately requiring the bulk of a Vieira in the middle (just not the Vieira who nowadays is more black and white tv than High Definition). I'd love it if we were the 3rd best side in the country. Hold onto that as tightly as possible. Mortality is within smelling distance. But you're fine for a CL spot to help out with those hefty loan repayments. And that's what its all about. Surviving relegation into the dreaded 5th spot. I wouldn't mind your problems at all.
And back to the NLD again. I mentioned two blogs ago about how I hoped we wouldn't fail to turn up. Oh the hilarity. I guess lacking mental strength is not a surprise considering its 60+ games since we won away at one of the nations untouchable Elitists. And quite possibly lost in all the fanfare that has proceeded the game are Harry Redknapp's comments that we can still grab a Top 4 place. He's dressing the facts up again a little (challenge is more like it rather than grabbing), but I completely agree with his sentiments. Why should we write off our chances? It's just a shame he got all the pre-match talk fuzzed.
The fallacy is simply this: We are not good enough to compete away from home against the seasoned CL teams. But unlike seasons past, that doesn't mean we are not good enough to compete for 4th. Contradiction? Yes. Well no. Apart from the Stoke upset, we are showing good form. It's been lacking something extra since Modric's injury but he along with others will be back shortly. Our form is nowhere near being tagged world class but then world class is not something that the Prem is a buzz with - other than the CL sides - and you don't need to have that quality in abundance to fight for fourth. At least not in the way others would have you believe.
Teams right at the top are susceptible to defeats, more so than the standard average deficit, which will make this season more open than the last. It's a trend that started up a few years back and it's continuing. And far too often (for Sky Sports liking), one of the untouchables shows signs of weakness. Obviously, you might argue that if they lose more, the teams outside the Top 4 will also lose as many. And in the end, it all levels out. Maybe. Perhaps. We'll see.
Villa, Everton, City of course and even Sunderland should be looking at that 4th spot then looking across to Liverpool and then rubbing their hands. Not that the Anfield team should be dismissed just yet. But once more I refer you back to the fallacy. Why should anyone outside the cartel not want to aim for it? Bit pointless if we don't. And I stand by comments from past weeks that we should be beating the rest rather than being obsessed with the best.
Another side note to all the knee-jerkers crying about our performance, lets remember - we are still up there. And if the previous 10 games had us crowing with hope, why the sudden doom and gloom? It's 90 minutes gone forever and there are 27 games left. Absolute melters all over the shop at the minute balling their eyes out over the apparent demise of Ledley King and how half the team should be sold on the back of 90 disappointing minutes. Yeah let's do it. Let's get rid of Palacios and try and get Zokora back. Because you know, on current form Wilson is apparently on the same headless chicken level that Zoko was. Baby Jesus is weeping again.
It was a bad day at the office. And I was probably not alone in wishing for some of that tenacity that Jamie O'Hara would have had in abundance for us had he played. Which more or less sums it all up.
And as for Mr Andy Gray. Is there a bigger tit on tv than this absolute douche-bag of a commentator? Him and Richard Keys, every Saturday and Sunday re-write reality as they purge anything that might upset the kings in their thrones by spouting ambiguous nonsense and daft propaganda.
Gray: "Lee Harvey Oswald is the lone gun man. There's no way there's a man on the grassy knoll interfering with play. Look, if I move the motorcade further forward at the precise moment the President is hit, you'll notice the trajectory is, well, it's impossible coming from this direction over here at Dealy Plaza. However, watch the movement of Kennedy. It's a nailed on shot from the school book depositary. It's a wonderful set-piece."
Keys: "Does he have the right to have a go from there?"
Gray: "Why not Richard? Why not? You have to take a risk in this game and he took it. Alone. And if I just show you it from this angle you'll notice what a cracking effort it was from that distance. I don't say it often but take a bow son, take a bow..."
Keys: "Zapruder might beg to differ"
Gray: (laughs) "He was in an off-side position and the Warren Commission agree with me"
Keys: "That's settled then"
Our away record (best in the Prem prior to Saturdays decimation) was dismissed by The Gray because we've only actually played one decent team away from home (Chelsea) and lost that. And yet the analytical logic presented in the debunking of Spurs was not applied when Arsenal's impressive home record was mentioned. You know, cause, Arsenal have had a really really tricky set of games at home thus far this season. Because beating the type of sides they beat at home isn't comparable to us beating sides of similar ilk away. Unless it's them playing away and them beating the same sides. And let's all forget about how defeats away against Utd and City don't matter any more because they've beaten the mighty mighty Spurs 3-0.
Football. Love it.
And I'm just fine supporting a pretender.