Firstly though a few things to mention, this blog comes from the view of my usual seat in the South Stand upper in the midst of the Red faction, as the seat I have been using is a mates wife, and it was used by his niece’s boyfriend (the same is going to be the truth for the Sunderland game as my mate is working away that week) although next season it will be mine as I’ve swapped back to the west lower. Secondly, I have to admit that Arsenal are my second team even back from back of the days when George Graham had the old boys Drinking club back line, and not as some deluded neighbours who dress as barcodes would have you believe as apparently their club is “everybody’s 2nd favourite team”.
Oh can I just add please that this is all my views, I’ve not watched any highlights or listened to the views off the experts on MNF either, and steered clear so I could give you an honest open opinion.
So onto the game, I had a strong feeling that we could get something from this game wouldn’t have been much, I felt that we would scrape either a 1-Nil victory, or be giving a footballing master class and get “Tonked” Nil-4.
The first big surprise of the night game when at around 7pm when the squad was announced. No Valdes in between the stick’s guarding the onion sack or even on the bench so what was the problem (Injury or Illness?) but instead we had the big Yank Brad Guzan there, the back line looked ok in the fact that although he had been training again Gorgeous George hadn’t played for what seemed like an eternity since the FA cup game way back when, so in came the returning Fabio.
Midfield looked ok Grant, Clayts and DiRono the enforcer 3 (again though why people say they are all defensive midfielder’s beats me, a defensive midfielder doesn’t go forward, doesn’t join the attack, YET these 3 do regularly, they play the old junior school way of if one goes the others drop back to cover, Clayts at one point in the 2nd half was in the attacking 3rd out on the right wing.
Attack was Downing, The Beast and Gaston, the bench looked promising Bamford, Rudy, Adama and others the only defensive players were Gorgeous George and Bernardo and fan favourite Dimi.
Fans were muttering, to be honest so was I, I’ve never rated Guzan as a keeper and still don’t, others were on the “Why’s that F’ing snake playing instead of Adama ??” but this has pretty much become the norm as you can usually change the snake to any player that is picked to play instead of Adama.
The game kicked off after the usual fanfare of the Premier League anthem and the handshakes etc etc etc…
As the 1st ball of the night was kicked the Riverside Roar started to raise, Boro a team which many have already got relegated started brightly and not overcome by the occasion or opposition. Fabio got injured in a challenge near our own 18 yard box, it quickly become apparent that he couldn’t continue, luckily for us though we had Gorgeous George. Freshly back from injury warming up, he got given the shout and sprinted back to the dug out to get changed (I would normally say stripped off here, but don’t want to get our female readers more excited than they were already) George was ready for battle and came onto the pitch as Fabio gingerly made his way around the front of the North stand and West lower receiving a round of applause as he did, just before he got to the tunnel area the South stand joined in also.
George was now on the pitch and ready to start his battle with the marauding Arsenal wingers and midfielders.
We had a few chances, Grant curled one wide early on, and we had a few other attempts, DiRono headed a goal that was disallowed as being offside (we weren’t lucky this time like we were at Hull).
Then the moment arrived, Clayts gave away a free kick around the 40 minute mark in the D on the edge of the area pretty much slap bang in the centre though. From the South stand it looked a bit dubious to say the least. Guzan lined up the wall, straight across the middle, then stood to the side but had no clear view of the ball being kicked or have any defenders on the line/posts, maybe I’m just being cynical, but I was always under the impression that you sent up a wall to one side then stood towards the opposite side, but not BIG Brad, the wall blocked his view, Sanchez then delivered from the centre swinging into Guzan’s upper right side. This felt harsh; we had been showing so much promise but typical Boro we were going to have to come from behind again (which yes I know hasn’t happened much at all this season).
We restarted and went back on the attack. Boro soon got a free kick just out from the corner of the 18 yard box, we had seen what Arsenal did with their free kick, the fans hoped for a Grant pile driver but instead got given a soggy limp side footed into the wall effort.
Half time arrived; expectations and hopes were still there, it was turning into a Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda time, Could we continue and press them into getting something from the game, Would we keep up the attacking or Would we get beaten on the break ???, Should we continue to attack (to be honest we had nothing to lose).
The 2nd half was kicked off, the Riverside Roar built up again the fans knew we had to do something to get something from the game, 5 mins into the 2nd half we did it, Downing picked up the ball on the right wing, cut inside and played a looping cross into the box, to be met by a flying Beast he tucked it away inside Petr Cech’s left hand post.
The Roof lifted from the stand, the South stand was literally bouncing the whole place erupted the tension went, and suddenly an increased sense of “we can do this” appeared, the Riverside Roar went on and on, The Bull (or should that be field gun was being pulled from pillar to post. Boro won a corner that was taken deep into the right side of the 18 yard box to be headed back across by Gorgeous George (I think it was, as this was in front of the North stand, the opposite end to which I sit) there was a scramble, a shot it looked like a pinball table had been opened up in the Arsenal area, but somehow Cech managed to stop the ball going in.
Still we pressed another shot was saved what looked like on the line by Cech or a defender I couldn’t really see. Adama came on for Gaston, which I heard someone around me say “was the wrong decision and it would have been better to take Downing off”. Surprisingly Gaston got a round of applause and the South stand broke into “Gaston, Gaston Ramirez” which I found surprising but nice to hear as he had played well.
Eventually though they broke us, I don’t really remember what occurred in the build-up, but I think it was a corner on the left in front of the away fans that was headed back across goal and Ozil was there lurking to put it in. The Arsenal fans celebrated this goal then seemed to shut down the atmosphere, the home fans went quiet, the Arsenal fans then started to get clever suddenly they were top dogs again, they started baiting the red faction with “Premier League your have a larf” to which we responded “Champions League you’re having a laugh”. Rudy was then brought on for DiRono who managed to pick up a quick booking.
The game ended after 4 mins of injury time. The fans were deflated; I certainly felt it and it could be seen in the anguish the players were feeling and showing on their faces, Gibbo and Clayts walked around the pitch clapping the fans and thanking us for the support we had shown.
The question is still there though, can we still achieve Premier League status for next season, reluctantly I feel we won’t as we simply haven’t been good enough especially sense Christmas (no games won, very few goals scored). But, and whilst that is still a BIG BUT, it is mathematically possible to stay up I will still think we can do it, saying that though if we only win 1 more game this season, please ‘o’ please let that be next Wednesday 26th April at home to Sunderland.
Last week I questioned the fans asking them what they would have done if Gaston had scored the winner against Arsenal; this week’s question is aimed at the Arsenal fans. When you loose you are very vocal about your “Wenger Out” shouts, but it’s ok if you win you don’t shout/display this, just asking as I don’t recall seeing or hearing anything like that on Monday night from the fans, but then again nothing much was heard from them for the majority of the game.
1 final thing this week, it’s becoming apparent from reading things on Social Media that a few fans are blaming Steve Gibson for the situation we have found ourselves in and that it looks like he is trying to get investors in or sell the club. For me this is absolute rubbish.
In Sir Steve Gibson we have a chairman that the majority of clubs in the English game would kill to have. He’s from the area, cares passionately about the club and the town and has been putting money into the club for years now and most probably at his own expense, C’mon people if you are doubting him, please “give yer heads a shake” and if it needed go back to your GP and advise them that you are becoming delusional.
He turned down an offer of £50m not so long ago for the club. He’s backed the club, backed the fans and thanked us for our support this season.
Thanks for reading hope you enjoy it, those travelling to Bournemouth have a safe journey, enjoy yourselves, sing your hearts out and let the boys know, no matter what, we will follow them where ever they go and as the song say’s "Where ever we will go, Everyone will know, We are Middlesbro."