We came into this hoping to extend our much needed unbeaten run to 3 games and possibly secure our premier league status with a win, if other results go the right way. Everton are chasing down Man U for a place in Europe, so we have a game both sides need to win.
First off, I know its been a while. Work and other things have been taking up most of my time and I just haven’t had the opportunity to put fingers to keyboard. Even my twitter posting is down 61% for April (@mrben09) .
Anyway yesterday was a beautiful day, and we welcomed Swansea to Corp HQ. The Swans are usually 3 points for us, but currently we are slipping down the table like a drunk octopus and although Swansea let go a winning position late on Wednesday night, generally Paul Clement seems to have turned the corner for them.
So another interesting day of growing pains in the OS yesterday tapped off with a poor performance.
Payet was back, and Antonio was placed back in his rightful position in midfield. Zaza started up top, and with the exception of Byram being played in front of Arbeloa we probably had our strongest team in my opinion. That opinion has now changed, but lets get onto that later.
First off welcome back to the blog. Things have been pretty busy. I do have 2 more entries lined up around a trip to Vegas and a trip to Dubai but time has conspired against me. If there is any interest in the comments, I’ll fire them up.
So onto the show. The longer the summer went on the more concerned I was about our new home. Would there be atmosphere? Is my seat any good? Will it feel like home? Well after a sample size of one, I can say Yes, Fantastic, This will take time.
The ground itself is well laid out and as it was nearly full last night (53K), the atmosphere took a bit of knock early on as everyone is sitting with new neighbours, etc and was feeling things out, so after a rousing chorus of bubbles to begin with (slight lump in throat) things were a little flat (with the exception of both Kouyate goals) . However once people were settled things got going, and for most of the second half you could be in Upton Park, same songs, same sounds. Bearing in mind there were more than a few day trippers yesterday, we need to witness a league game to really compare.
The game. We were 2 -1 down from the first leg, which was a poor show. We still don’t have our Euro participants except for Randolph, so last night we lined up with Reece Oxford pairing with Winston Reid and Nordveit playing in the midfield. The bug bear of nearly all WHU social media “commentators” was also apparent, with Antonio playing right back, and Byram playing left back. This has to stop. Obviously losing Cresswell at LB was not planned, but come on, a professional football team playing a RB at LB, and Right Winger at RB. Especially one who has made it clear he doesn’t want to play there. Needs must, but we will get torn apart in the PL with this strategy. Antonio, for all his talents, is not a defender, and if this carries on I can see him leaving this window.
Seeing Oxford back was great and I hope not temporary. He obviously is not 100% on staying as some seriously big boys are sniffing around, and he hasn’t signed his new contract. 18 years old and £18mn quid could turn anyone’s head. It’s a worry if I’m honest, not just for us, but for him. At this stage Ogbonna and Reid are better, but we cannot let him go to City or United and become the next Scott Sinclair or Wilfried Zaha. This kid is being touted as the future of England, and surely we are in a position to now keep someone like that. It’s Rio Ferdinand all over again.
We started very patiently, very happy to keep the ball and not waste chances. Valencia as is his want, went off and lost the ball from innocuous positions once or twice but we are used to that now (10mn from Swansea? I’ll drive him there myself). One of our other new signings Feghouli looked lively, as did Kouyate. Oxford looked composed with Reid but in reality they were not under pressure. As is the pattern in these types of game, our opposition were all behind then ball and not bothered about throwing a lively tackle in. This makes getting real chance a challenge. However just after the quarter hour, a ball came out to Byram on the corner of the box. He took a shot, which was mishit and it went past Kouyate, who stuck out one of his Inspector Gadget legs to poke it home and put himself in the history books. From then in it was more of the same, and Antonio made a fantastic run down the line to rescue a ball destined for a thrown on. He got it under control and chucked it in the box and Kouyate got his second from again picking up the second ball. Maybe if Antonio was a winger he could get assists like this every week !
Randolf had little to do all half, and the extra week of training and fitness looked to be paying off, as this WHU were about 50% quicker to everything than the pale imitation of last week.
Second half was pretty boring to be honest. NK had a couple of long range shots and we tried some route 1, down the wings to Valencia and Feghouli. After a couple of misfires, Feghouli finally realised diving wasn’t getting him anywhere and latched onto a great pass from Noble to pop in the 3rd. Game over.
We are now one round away from the group stag so it will be interesting what team he puts out for those games. Last year Slav was pretty clear about priorities and let the fans know before tickets were sold. It’s also against the team that knocked us out last time, Astra Giurgiu.
So stage fright didn’t happen and we probably don’t need the Juventus friendly, but hey it wouldn’t be us without some element of poor planning. New place is nice for now, let’s see once the novelty wears off and I didn’t have to Q up the side of Queens Market for an hour to get the tube.
The Olympics is now over and the whole of the UK is missing it. The travel chaos never happened, the terrorists never came, and most unexpected of all, Team GB won a gallon of medals, and ended getting the overall Bronze in the medal table!
My Olympic visit came on Aug 9th, and i was lucky enough to secure a ticket to the stadium. Wooo Hooo. So after the grand total of 10 mins on the Javelin train, i was in a place i know like the back of my hand, Stratford.
This was not the Stratford of sulking hoodies and sink estates however. It was one of a happy throng of people with one intent, to watch the greatest show on earth. The volunteers made sure every got in quickly, and were on hand for almost anything. The Army were on the door, and as usual i was the only one of our group of 8 that got the full search experience.
Once inside the sheer scale of the park was amazing. Seeing it empty or on a pre opening tour, did not prepare me for the scale. There were 000’s of people and plenty of space to move about, with no queues anywhere. We took our seats at 6.30 to catch the Mens Decathlon Javelin. The one thing that took my geeky eye was not the power of the athletes, or the amazing stadium. They had remote control mini’s to return the Javelins ! How cool that is has no score attached !
Then some running and jumping, also known as the triple jump. This took place right in front of us, and was eventually won by Taylor of the US, who jumped what seemed like miles for someone like me, who had only ever done this at school.
Next up of interest was the mens 800m. Amazing. a new world record and an easy win for David Rudisha of Kenya. How long before the get into sprinting, they seem to have everything else sorted.
After a Womens 4 x 100 heat, came the main event. The Mens 200m final. Bolt came out to a ovation, and did not fail to deliver. This inevitability, and a double double of Olympic sprinting golds was almost overshadowed by the fact that the result was a 1-2-3 for Jamaica. I kept an eye on those guys and they must of spent an hour doing interviews on the zig zag for what was a <20 secs event !
Post the Womens javelin it was time to go home. This again thanks to the organisation it was a seamless affair, although I’m not too sure I would of felt the same if was going to St Pancras, but trains were leaving almost every minute.
One last comment before we leave the stadium. This place is a lot smaller when you are in it. If you are on the sides it would be great for football. So i have changed my mind ! Come on you Irons.
So, full of Olympomania, we head on to Sunday, and the closing concert ay Hyde Park. This is a short review as outside of the massive screen on the stage showing the remaining Olympic events live, it was the same as any other outdoor gig.
Bombay Bicycle Club. On too soon ( i was watching the Basketball final – and cheering on the Spanish !). Average indie fayre.
New Order. No Hooky means nothing really to see, and they plodded through the set, as if they were at any one of a million festivals they have done in the past. Average.
The Specials. Now this was the big one for me, and like the Bolt they delivered in spades. Neville may be a little slower around the stage now, but the tunes are still there, even without Jerry. Quote of the day – Terry Hall- “This next one’s Chariots of Fire!”
Blur. Having seen them too many times, especially at “Final” gigs, I’ve got a little jaded. But as always Damon wins me around everytime. Another success for the Essex Boys.
So that was my Olympic experience. If you have one please leave a comment and a link, because I really want to see how others enjoyed themselves.