Arsenal: Murphy's Bull**** MOTD Claims Show How Far It's Fallen
I have a good friend who my pals and I know as Welsh George. He and his seven year old boy Charlie are Cardiff City season ticket holders who attend every home game.
George has seen all the ups and downs football has thrown at the Bluebirds over the last three decades with a loyalty and stoicism that has sorely tested but never broken the devoted and defiant support he has consistently given his club.
With Arsenal coming to town yesterday in the first Cardiff City v Arsenal league meeting since 1962 it was final confirmation for him that Cardiff are back in the big time.
Why? It’s not just to do with the fact that when he used to watch them as a youngster at a dilapidated Ninian in the old third division he could only imagine the likes of North London’s finest playing in the City.
It’s also because as a huge lover of football and sport in general he often accompanies my friends and me to Arsenal home games when he’s in London with work, if we can manage to conjure up a spare ticket for him between us, and sometimes even if we can’t.
He has been there for many a passionate European game at Highbury as well as the Grove and, as a true lover of horse racing, can blag with the best of them – the fact he managed to spend the 2006 Champions League Final in Paris in a corporate box drinking free booze with footballers who shall remain nameless is proof of that fact. Especially as he’s the least corporate person I know.
So it was out of respect to him and his son that I didn’t text him after our game yesterday to remind him about the result.
A result that put Arsenal, albeit only for a day, seven points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League table. Let’s just repeat that: seven points clear.
Sounds ok doesn’t it, even if I’m still not getting carried away.
Aaron Ramsey is arguably the most in-form midfield player in Europe at the moment. Arsene Wenger who knows a thing or two about loyalty, not to mention dampening hype and hyperbole said the world’s best Welshman was worth more than £50 million quid.
Which is amusing considering the fact the likes of Piers Morgan couldn’t give him away last season.
Ramsey also showed his class by not celebrating his goals at a club that nurtured him. The Cardiff fans certainly appreciated his gesture by stylishly reciprocating in affording him a good reception throughout.
It just shows that there is a right way to leave a club, a right way to conduct yourself at all times – even under great pressure, criticism and in the Caerphilly-born lad’s case the pain of a shattered leg – and a correct way to return. On and off the pitch the lad exudes genuine class.
And can we just clear up one thing: Cardiff fans weren’t cheering or applauding his goal as some deluded souls on Twitter have been saying. No, far from it, they were simply clapping the man himself for his reaction after scoring. And fair play to them for doing so.
Likewise when the vociferous Arsenal fans in a vociferous stadium started singing: ‘There’s only one Pat Rice’, the whole ground showed their appreciation.
For all Gooners desperately concerned about a true Arsenal man and legend, cheers Cardiff, we won’t forget fantastic actions like that.
In a week when match-fixing scum threaten the very future of the game in this country, and when the recently appointed Sports Minister didn’t know (or care) Wigan Athletic won the FA Cup back in May, such actions by Cardiff City’s admirable fans – not to mention both sets of fans at Newcastle v West Brom applauding the memory of the late Gary Speed; Scunthorpe fans responding to their club’s request not to dress up as squirrels (ask Alan Knill) by dressing up as, er, squirrels prompting the town’s fancy dress shop to report a ‘run on squirrel outfits’; and Leigh Griffiths of Wolves who, after scoring against Tranmere last Tuesday revealed a t-shirt in homage to the demise of Brian the dog from Family Guy - we are in danger of giving the sport a good name again.
Knowledge, passion, decency, wit and irony – the very essence of football culture in this country – so take a well-deserved bow everyone concerned, especially all those in South Wales.
Back to the game. With Wilshere hitting the post after only a minute, following on from his 30 second goal in midweek against a desperately disappointing Marseille side bereft of points, hope and ambition, it looked like Arsenal were in for a comfortable afternoon.
Even despite Olivier Giroud attempting to impersonate the mobility of Soldado and finishing prowess of Lamela. [I even wrote a piece about it yesterday for the London Evening Standard]
However, as Welsh George and his son Charlie know, visitors to the Cardiff City Stadium have to battle hard for any points that come their way. The Bluebirds who have taken points off Everton and Manchester big hitters United and City on home soil this season rallied somewhat and it took a fantastic save from Chesney to deny Campbell.
Yet it was instructive that the starting eleven was unchanged from last week, only the second time this season Wenger has kept the same team – as it showed the belief he has in his strongest line up.
And when Ramsey notched Arsenal’s third and his second - after Flamini’s crisp finish brought him his first Gunners goal since Jan 2008 - such was the mutual respect, the crowd applauded him whilst some sang his name. In return Ramsey gave them a ‘do the Ayatollah’.
For me the two stats of the day were that a) Mesut Ozil has now provided more assists than any other player in the country and b) he finished the first half with a phenomenal 100% pass rate.
It was the perfect riposte for those poor souls on twitter who amazingly question his place in the team. Regardless of how he flits in and out of games at times the fact he is always there to link the play and to invariably offer a well-crafted final ball is good enough for me.
If you want someone to track back all day go and buy the Spurs midfield. Before you do however I would advise you watch their game at Manchester City week – artisan effort isn’t everything.
All in all another performance and result that should be savoured as nothing more than confirmation that as the season moves into its fifth month, surely we must be considered as potential title contenders.
The only thing I can’t understand is why that phrase sits so badly with Match of the Day?
Why can’t they admit we are genuine candidates?
The fact that they featured three ex-Spurs players on Saturday night including Daniel ‘Danny’ Murphy & ‘Sir’ Les Ferdinand didn’t necessarily give them to the right to utter such patronising and dreadful nonsense about my club.
Especially as they won the grand total of, er, one FA Cup and, um, one Worthington Cup for Spurs. Between them. In the last century.
Don’t get me started on what they said.
*sits fuming quietly*
Well, actually, DO get me started on what they said.
Firstly, for Daniel ‘Danny’ Murphy to say, when asked why he didn’t think Arsenal couldn’t the league that it was because the Gunners, and I quote: “Hadn’t played any of the big boys yet.”
Don’t 20 times League winners count? Or England’s most successful team with five European Cups/Champions Leagues? Two of the largest and most respected clubs on the planet with fans as passionate as any country where football is played. Are they not big boys?
Obviously not in Daniel ‘Danny’ Murphy’s book. So if a team that was second when we beat them, nor the reigning title holders on the back of a seven game unbeaten run do not count as big boys what does he regard as his criteria in defining big boys?
League positions? Well Southampton were third when we beat them with statistically one of the meanest defences in Europe. I suppose they don’t count either – especially as they won and drew at those other two non-big boys Liverpool and United.
And weren’t Napoli second in Serie A when we took them apart? Or how about 2013 Champions League runners up Borussia Dortmund?
Are they not big boys? Does becoming the first English team to win in the intimidating Westfalenstadion against a team led by one of the most progressive managers in world football not count for anything?
So maybe it’s simply about the fact that as at Saturday night we were seven points clear, which puts us in such a disadvantageous position? Much better to be the teams who trail the leaders by seven, ten and eleven points by the time MOTD airs, I say.
Or is it merely the fact that we haven’t played City or Chelsea?
Here’s one for you – how about you give us a bit of respect and turn it around to say City and Chelsea haven’t played us yet – you know, the current league leaders? (And I’m not talking about a second string side that lost to the Blues in the League Cup either).
The only thing that made me smile was the fact that three Spurs men sat flippantly dismissing why a team seven points clear were not considered to be genuine title contenders – because it implicitly labelled Tottenham Hotspur as a small club - by didn't of our comprehensive 1-0 victory over them not counting as a fixture against the ‘big boys’.
Thanks for that lads at least you can stop pretending that wasting £107 million on utter mediocrity makes you a big club. It certainly doesn’t get you on Daniel ‘Danny’ Murphy’s ‘big club’ list at any rate.
While we’re at it can someone give MOTD details of our squad please?
Why? Well firstly they seem to have forgotten that current German international Lucas Podolski is back in training.
Or the fact we have Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Theo Walcott, The BFG & Kos, and a resurgent keeper who recently achieved his 50th clean sheet in only 125 games. Throw in international full backs Bacary Sagna & Kieran Gibbs then this is a squad deserving of a modicum of respect from supposedly neutral pundits - even if they are Spurs men.
Here’s another thing no-one seems to have contemplated on Match of the Day either: unlike in years gone by we do have money to spend.
There is no UEFA directive to prevent Arsene Wenger going shopping in the January sales and breaking our transfer fee again, this time on a top quality forward.
But then I suppose it is symptomatic of how far MOTD has fallen when they can’t even caption the name of England’s best young midfielder correctly.
Here’s your starter for ten: it’s Jack Wilshere, not Wilshire.
Maybe next week entrust captioning duties - not to an unpaid football hipster intern who probably knows the top scorer in the Bulgarian third division in an oh so ironic and detached way yet can’t spell the name of England’s best young prospect – but to any (all) of your pundits who don’t think we have a decent squad and are not genuine title contenders.
Because listening to ‘Sir Les’ Ferdinand simply say we aren’t challengers because is “Giroud might get injured” is as witless as it is unintelligent.
And one last thing: now that Daniel Sturridge is out for six to eight weeks I take it we will be hearing Alan Hansen and the gang repeat ad nasuem that Liverpool aren’t genuine title contenders because of the fear that Luis Suarez will get injured?
For Match of the Day not to admit that Arsenal are genuine title contenders is at the very least ignorant of the facts that the league leaders have presented to the football world since losing to Villa back in August.
And at worst MOTD’s stock position is myopic and ignorant – not to mention incredibly disrespectful to Arsenal Football Club and their legions of loyal fans.
Why can’t they just bite the bullet and say we are genuine candidates?
Young Charlie, his dad and the thousands of loyal, passionate and knowledgeable Cardiff City fans know that this resurgent Arsenal are a half decent team.
It’s just a shame Match of the Day and their three Spurs stooges won’t admit it.
Follow Layth on twitter @laythy29