Monday, 22 September 2008

Saturday review

The weekend’s viewing began with my first Morecambe match in three weeks, after missing the last home match after going to an Ash concert in London. On that day, by all accounts we were very impressive against a title-challenging Shrewsbury, who beat Gillingham 7-0 the week after as we stole a 1-0 win. Against Grimsby at the weekend, we failed categorically to reproduce that kind of form, going down to an early penalty and then labouring for the next 50 minutes, practically devoid of any kind of creativity as the ball was passed along midfield, back to the centrebacks and hoofed up field. After the introduction of Craig Stanley to the midfield and Wayne Curtis, who has been our best player in the last few weeks, to the wing, we finally got going and Curtis headed an equaliser shortly after coming on. Curtis then wellied over the goal when put clean through, before Grimsby had two late chances well saved by Roche which allowed us to get a point out of the match.

The stop start nature of the season is frustrating, in that any good performance is usually followed up by a poor one so no momentum can be built. That said, we are unbeaten in four matches now, but worryingly have only kept one clean sheet this season. It’s a funny situation in League 2, with so many teams on minus points, and the teams down amongst us must fight to not become complacement and let these teams overtake them.

After that, I at least watched some entertaining football, as I took in the first hour of Arsenal’s match at Bolton. In a startling contrast of football styles, at one stage early in the first half, the on screen graphic showed Arsenal had completed 129 passes, to Bolton’s 19. That said, it was Bolton who took the lead, but soon after Arsenal took it back with two quick goals, both from fabulous moves, even if Eboue was just offside for the first goal. Arsenal played pretty football, although were guilty of overplaying on occasion, as is their way, looking for the final killer pass rather than trying the more direct approach, but it was one of those Arsenal performances that was really pleasing, even for the non-gunner. I missed the final goal as we popped out for some shopping, but Arsenal are impressing in the same way they did at the start of last season. If they can get players back to fitness and maintain this form, they have to be regarded as contenders; although with so many injury prone players, and a relatively thin squad compared to their fellow contenders, they will probably have to be content with a Champions’ League spot. Which is a shame, but shows how strong the top 4 in the Premier League have become – almost tediously so.

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