By Billy the Dog McGraw
Today we are off to Southamptonshire, one of the ceremonial counties of England. Ceremonial counties have a Lord Lieutenant who is required under the Lieutenancies Act 1997 to play for the local football club, and then be transferred to north London. Alex Ox, Theo Henry and G the Baleful are recent examples.
The next player in the tradition is a certain Mr Luke Shaw (more details below). Under the 1997 Act Southamptonshire took over the Isle of Wight which is one of the few places in the UK that has red squirrels.
Southampton city contains 239,729 according to the count I did this morning. It forms one united conurbation extravagance with Portsmouth, and the two parts of the concur in their hatred of Harry Redknapp, so that’s not such a bad thing.
They also hate each other and both have sunk into administration in recent years, with many honest, decent and reasonable local firms being put into a state of collapse because neither club could manage its money properly. Yet such is the shamelessness of both clubs that no fulsome apology to all those hurt by the incompetence of the clubs has ever been issued. (Let us remember that when Woolwich Arsenal FC went into administration in 1910, every single creditor was paid in full by Henry Norris).
Southampton has had people in it since the Stone Age and much of the region has not changed since that time. It became an outpost of King Alfred the Great’s British Empire, and was known as Clausentum which basically consisted of a wall and two ditches – which is pretty much as it is today.
St Mary’s (which gives the nickname of the Saints to the modern club) was known as Hamwic, when it was full of Saxons. Then the Vikings attacked and everything would have been fine, and the city could have been the hub of the oil industry if the silly young men had not retreated back to Norway. As it is much of the city is powered by hot water which rises under pressure.
Sadly trying to guess the team for this evening’s match with Southampton is like trying to guess which root vegetables Dennis Bergkamp will be planting in his allotment at Enfield.
I would imagine there will be some changes – because the game comes so soon after the last one. Also after such an emphatic win against Newcastle, there is a danger of players thinking it is all done before it is started – rather like my attitude to gardening.
Mr Wenger spoke of the game giving more confidence, and that might happen. But as was mentioned in the recent Arsenal History Society article celebrating the anniversary of the 0-5 win over Tottenham in 1978, the next thing that happened then was we lost at home to WBA.
Dennis reckons that the two ex-Southampton men – Theo and Alex - will be in the team and we know the keeper won’t be rotated, so that is three out of 11 sorted. Unless the Ox hands over to Gervinho, or we try a remarkable forward line of Walcott, Podolksi and Giroud – with Walcott and Giroud taking it in turn to be centre forward. After all we did it against Newcastle at the end, and it worked a dream.
The problem with the back line against Newcastle was seen with the second and third Newcastle goals – both having Gibbs looking over his shoulder, having been sucked into the middle. But I can’t see a viable fit replacement at the moment so that leaves the defence looking the same all the way across.
But I can see Francis Coquelin fitting in somewhere. He is naturally a defensive midfielder, and could give Arteta a break in that position.
All of which brings us back to Luke Shaw, who is moving up the order as an attacking left back at Southampton. He could be the third player we get from them in recent times – and he will almost certainly play today for Southampton. If we bought him and he came through the Santos could be moved into a midfield or attacking position, which is where he played in the pre-season games.
- Do we really need to buy anyone in January?
- The mysterious and secret 5th official: an Untold exclusive
- Transfer fees and FFP: a revolution in the making.
- Theo Henry
- Goal fest at the Emirates.
- Ref Review: Anthony Taylor – Reading Vs Arsenal (2 – 5) [17/12/2012]
- At last: football. Arsenal v the men the Sir F-word hates
- Bowing for the mighty and powerful
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- Making the Arsenal – how the modern Arsenal was born in 1910
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal FC: crowd behaviour at the early matches