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Warmed Up By Emirates Entertainment
Radio City's Alan Irwin, 12th January 2010 - 15:23
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Well I don’t think I’ve ever been any colder when commentating than on Saturday at The Emirates Stadium. I can recall being exceptionally cold over in Holland a couple of years back when we met AZ Alkmaar but I’m fairly certain that was eclipsed in London at the weekend!
Hats off to all of the supporters who made the trek to North London in the difficult conditions. We were suitably rewarded by an excellent team display, probably our best of the season overall, and one that more than deserved a solitary point. Luck certainly wasn’t with us on Saturday with two heavily deflected goals against us but David Moyes is right when he stated we have to start taking our chances in front of goal, even more so away from home when top sides are always liable to strike back.
However, the performance definitely warmed Sharpy and I up, and the football phone in through until 6 o clock (which we’d not been looking forward too given the frostbite that was setting in by then!) was hugely enjoyable thanks to our sides on pitch display. And the sight of Tim Cahill and Phil Neville departing the pitch topless in temperatures well below zero, having handed over their shirts to fans, will stay with me for some time.
I knew we were up for the fight at Arsenal as soon as our side took to the pitch. Short sleeved shirts for the majority of those in Blue, while the long sleeves were very much the order of the day for the home side. It was bitterly cold and to put on a top performance in blizzard like conditions spoke volumes for the spirit and attitude of those out on the field. We must now ensure we replicate that spirit through to the end of the campaign. That way we WILL get results, climb the table and finish in a respectable position, although it’s still a very tall order to try and secure a European spot.
Our best route back into Europe next season could well be via the FA Cup. (Yes, I know it’s a long shot to make the final in consecutive seasons!) However another home draw is all we could ask for and we’re certainly capable of progressing some distance in the competition. We beat very decent opposition on our way to the final last season so no reason why we can’t repeat the feat.
With many of our longer term absentees now on their way back to full fitness and subsequent first team duty, I’m very much looking forward to the next couple of months. That’s another reason why I believe we can progress in the FA Cup and up that league table (not forgetting Europe too.....but I think I’ll leave that one for a future blog before we head off to Lisbon again!) As well as the likes of Arteta and Jagielka returning to action we’ve acquired Landon Donovan until at least mid March. I know it’s a little early to make a judgement on the American international but from what I saw on Saturday at Arsenal he could do quite a job for us over a 10 week period. Competition for places is hotting up again, as evidenced by the £10 million pound man Bilyaletdinov having to settle for a place on the bench at the weekend.
So, it’s Manchester City on Saturday, a team unbeaten under their new boss, but by no means world-beaters. It’ll be tough but we can win it with that spirit and attitude mentioned earlier. You always need application of course but I’m confident we’re getting there.
Hopefully by the weekend the climate’s improved, we’ve all thawed out a little and it’s Everton that take the heat out of City’s current unbeaten run! Then I really will be looking forward to your call on the football phone in!
Cheers.............see you Saturday!
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