Sunday, 31 August 2014

Leicester City - Tottenham in disguise

Leicester is of course the city of Gary Lineker, Alan Smith, pork pies, Kasabian, Showaddywaddy, Engelbert Humperdinck, Stilton cheese, Red Leicester, and salt and vinegar crisps in green packets.

As an Arsenal fan living in Leicester, this match is as close as I get to experiencing what most arsenal fans experience when we play Tottenham and consequently I have many memories of games between the clubs over the years.

First of all, there was Dennis Bergkamp's hat-trick in August 1997, which I'm sure needs no introduction for fans of either club.

Then there was the home match at the start of the unbeaten season, which I managed to get a ticket for. We won the match comfortably 4-0 with goals from Henry, Bergkamp, Pires and Ljungberg and you could see at that point that this was a special side. I tried not to cheer too loudly as I was sitting in the away end.

The away match against Leicester that season was also memorable because it was the match when we sealed the unbeaten season. We went 1-0 down to an offside goal scored by former gunner Paul Dickov, a player who I thought had a lot of potential but who was sold after not being able to cement a first team place due to competition from Ian Wright, John Hartson and the mighty Chris Kiwomya. He never really fulfilled that potential after moving to Man City and similarly failed to become a first-team regular there and subsequently at Blackburn. It was the Leicester fans who probably saw the best of Dickov in two spells there in 2002-2004 and 2008-2010.

That song

Then of course there is that song, the origins of which are lost in time...
We will follow the Arsenal
over land and sea (AND LEICESTER)
We will follow the Arsenal
on to victory
All together now... 

And the bad

There are also some bad memories. I remember watching a turgid 1-0 Leicester win at the old Filbert Street in 1981, going down to a solitary Tommy Williams goal in the days of Frank Stapleton, Graham Rix, Pat Jennings, Alan Sunderland and John Hollins. The most memorable thing from the match for me was the way that Leicester continually showed up Arsenal centre back Willie Young for the lumbering ex-Tottenham oaf that he was.

And there was also a match we lost 3-0 at Filbert Street in November 1983 when a team featuring the likes of Pat Jennings, Kenny Sansom, Graham Rix, Tony Woodcock, Alan Sunderland, Charlie Nicholas, Paul Davis and David O'Leary got turned over and had their bellies rubbed. Leicester fans' favourite Steve Lynex and a couple of unknowns called Gary Lineker and Alan Smith got the goals for the foxes.

Before my time

Fans with longer memories than me may remember a match in 1963 when Arsenal keeper Jack McClelland was sent off and Leicester went on to win 7-2 against ten man Arsenal, as substitutes were not allowed in those days.

In the programme for that match it says of Arsenal that:
They have claimed a great deal of attention lately by signing the Scotland centre-half, Ian Ure, from Dundee. Newspapers have put the transfer fee at more than £60,000, and the strange thing is that the mention of such as sum does not startle us as it might have done a few years ago. We have definitely entered a new era of football values and whatever we may think of them, they have to be accepted.

Today's match

Leicester City should not be underestimated. They won the Champoionship with 102 points last season; that's no mean feat. A win and a loss so far seems to suggest that they have not found transition to the Premier League easy, but this ignores the fact that those two matches were against Everton and Chelsea.

New signing Estaban Cambiasso has won 23 professional honours, including the Champions League, five league championships and four Copa Italias with Inter Milan, and a La Liga title with Real Madrid. Nothing yet for Leicester.

Kasper Schmeichel in goal is one of the top keepers in the Premier League, they are pretty good at the back and they also have a few other players such as Leonard Ulloah, Anthony Knockhart and Rihad Mahrez who can cause a shock on their day.

I've not been able to get a ticket for the match, so I won't be able to jinx the Arse this time and I think we will have enough class to win this one, which is important going into the international break.


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Friday, 20 June 2014

FA Cup 2014 celebrations - compilation of best videos

Since there isn't much going on at the moment apart from a plethora of unsubstantiated transfer rumours, I thought I'd share some of the best videos celebrating our FA Cup win. Enjoy!

1. Dressing room celebrations

2. Pitchside celebrations

3. Bus parade highlights

4. The road to FA Cup victory

5. Players read fans' Twitter messages

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Sunday, 15 June 2014

Cesc to Chelsea makes me sad

Cesc Fabregas' move to Chelsea saddens me, but it's probably for the best.

It will make me sad to see a world class player who really grew up at Arsenal playing for one of our rivals, but midfield isn't an area of the team that is a priority for strengthening at the moment. Don't get me wrong, I think Fabregas could've improved our team, he is genuinely world class after all, but signing him would have meant either leaving out Ozil or Ramsey, or playing players out of position.

Sure, we could accommodate Cesc. We could play him on the wing, up front, or in the defensive midfield position, but would he be happy with that? He may be happy to help out the team by playing out of position occasionally, but longer term, players like to play in their favoured position. Besides, it wouldn't really be getting the best out of a large investment.

Another alternative would be to drop Ramsey or Ozil (who one could argue are as good as Cesc), but would either of those be happy with that? I don't think so. And what about players like the Ox and Wilshere, who will struggle to get into the team anyway when everyone is fit. Would they be happy to be pushed further down the pecking order to accommodate Cesc? You may be able to get away with benching world class talent if you are Chelsea or Man City, who can pay ridiculous wages and are perceived by players (perhaps correctly) as having a better chance of winning the league than Arsenal, but world class players don't sit on the bench at Arsenal; you just wouldn't get away with it.

Another alternative would be to play Ozil or Ramsey out wide, but Ramsey has already proved that he is better in a central position and I would be worried about our lack of pace in the wide positions if Ozil played on the wing. Besides, would he be happy with that, long term? And what then of Walcott, Cazorla, Ox and Podolski? Where would they fit in? Not to mention Joel Campbell, who's currently pulling up trees in England's World Cup group for Costa Rica.

Then there is also the matter of Cesc betraying Arsenal by forcing a move to Barcelona, with all that Barca DNA stuff and Spanish team mates forcing him to wear a Barca shirt and begging him to join. There was even a rumour that he refused to play in pre-season friendlies, though we don't know for sure that that's true. Some fans might forgive him for that, others may not.

So, yes, it is sad to see Cesc go to Chelsea, but it's probably best to save our money for the positions we do need to strengthen. World class strikers don't come cheap and we also need a right back and a back up keeper at least. Another backup centre back would also be nice and, if we have any money left, another defensive midfielder – after all, Arteta and Flamini are very good, but I believe it is possible to improve on them, and they aren't getting any younger.

That said, if we don't strengthen those positions, I will be most non-gruntled.

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Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: The Townsend Terminator - app to block annoying commentary

Want to block out Andy Townsend or other annoying commentators during the World Cup without losing crowd sounds or other more useful commentary?

Well you're in luck because a new piece of software called C-Chip is currently in beta testing that will allow you to do just that by selectively blocking out annoying commentators on matches at this year's World Cup finals in Brazil.

The software, called C-Chip, which will be available for Android, iOS and PC, is inspired by the V-Chip seen in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut – a small device that administers an electric shock to an individual whenever they use vulgar language (hence the name). In the real world, a V-chip refers to any technology installed in a television set that allows parents to monitor and censor programmes based on their rating.

The new C-Chip software, however, performs a much more useful function of constantly monitoring TV and radio commentary on your phone, tablet or PC and then, by using a complex algorithm to predict when a specified commentator is going to speak, replacing the sound of their voice with birdsong until they have finished speaking.

The beta version of the software that I tested had plugins to replace Adrian Chiles, Stan Collymore, Andy Townsend, Alan Hansen and Alan Smith, but ones for Alan Shearer, Phil Neville, Lee Dixon, Glenn Hoddle and Stewart Robson will be available at launch, with others being added at a later date.

During the limited time that I had to test the software, it worked pretty well, although it did on one occasion mistakenly block out Theo Walcott when I had programmed it only to block out Adrian Chiles.

The software will sell for £2.99 on all platforms, with additional plugins costing 99p each.

Further plugins are planned to replace the commentary with something other than birdsong, such as the sound of crashing waves, whale noises or crowd noise, but it is not yet clear whether these will be available in time for launch.

At the time of writing, no one from the makers, C-Chip Tech Co., was available to tell us what C-Chip stands for.

Find out more at:

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