Wednesday 1 May 2019

Football history dictates revolutionary tactics for European semi finals

Leicester City's 3-0 win over Arsenal on Sunday came 35 years to the day that the two sides met at Highbury, former home of Arsenal, in Football League Division One, former title of the Premier League. It's a shame that the fixture at Filbert Street, former name of Leicester's stadium (now King Power - please bet responsibly...oh no, that's something else) in the same 83-84 season didn't occur then instead, as it was the last time the home side beat the Gunners 3-0, and also featured a sending off for the visitors (Charlie Nicholas the original Ainsley Maitland-Niles), and would have served as a far more compelling narrative for this piece.

Still, I'll work with what I've got, and the point to all this is that 83-84's season's conclusion, mere weeks after the aforementioned unimportant 2-1 Highbury win for Arsenal, points to some ugly omens for an Unai Emery side simply unable to cut ties with their beloved home and deal with the prospect of doing their own washing and ironing and paying rent and bills. At the end of 83-84, Don Howe's Arsenal finished 6th (not good enough for the old UEFA Cup, and not for the Champions League now, although the UEFA Cup's unfortunate offspring, the Europa League, doing a shocking job with the parents' business, would have welcomed them with unwashed arms), while the other team in North London won the UEFA Cup.

That other team in North London I just mentioned are known as Tottenham Hotspur, who are now upgraded into the Champions League, and their pursuit to emulate that penalty shoot out triumph over Anderlecht of Belgium was boosted by their 1-0 first leg home defeat to Ajax Amsterdam of Holland in the semi final. This tactical deficit has proved what many suspected of manager, Mauricio Pochettino/Danny Dyer, that he studies the past thoroughly. While some may recall Pochettino/Dyer's delve into a royal ancestry on BBC's Who Do You Think You Are, greater discovery has taken place in Tottenham's FA Cup semi final and League Cup semi final exits in 2018 and 2019. On both occasions at Wembley, former temporary home of Tottenham, the Hotspurs took 1-0 leads, only to be pegged back and ultimately eliminated.

Explained Pochettino/Dyer, "I ain't havin' it with Ajax (pronouncing the 'J'), I know the bleedin' score by nah...oh, I mean...yes, 'appy for the result, the player, the fan".

As for Emery, his Arsenal side are also in European semi final activity, hosting their manager's old club, Valencia of Spain, and, in unofficial quotes, he reflected on last season's aggregate defeat to Atletico Madrid, also of Spain, at the same point of the competition.

"Mr...ahhh...Wenger managed then, and we, too, like Tott, went up and then lost. But happily, as you will have seen in Leicester's third goal on Sunday, Leeds were not the only team to deliberately give a goal away to the opposition. We are confident to concede the first goal, especially if I play Shkodran Mustafi ".


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