20 April 2014

We all ♥ Mike Dean—well, maybe Mourinho doesn't...

I know we haven't always liked Mike Dean. Some of us, to be honest, have struggled to appreciate the deeper insights into the game that surely he possesses. There have been times when, to put it mildly, we have had our differences in opinion, when we struggled to understand just what match he was watching when he made this call or overlooked that one. Now, finally, the esteemed Mr. Dean has redeemed himself in our eyes, setting aside those differences of opinion and rising above the distrust, and showing himself to be worthy of our respect, our admiration, our love. Heck, I might even go so far as to suggest that he's now our favorite referee in the Prem. Don't take my word for it, though. Take it straight from the 'little horse's' mouth—Jose Mourinho's mouth, that is.

19 April 2014

Match Preview: Arsenal's flank versus Hull's

Now, I know that Arsène is not renowned for close studies of his opposition and prefers, for better or worse, to let his players play the game and make decisions for themselves. Whether this reflects a noble commitment to principle or muleheaded resistance to change is up to you to decide. For my sake, if not yours or that of the squad's, I like to know what we're in for. With that in mind, we should at least take a look at what Hull will throw at us—or, as you'll see, where it's coming from. For as much as is made of Sunday's match being a dress-rehearsal for the FA Cup final, each club needs this match on its own. Hull are fighting to stay up, and we're fighting to stay up as well. A little higher up. My point is that neither side can afford to take Sunday's match lightly.

18 April 2014

Woolwich 1886 seeks input through a Readers' Survey

I hope you'll take a minute to complete the survey below as I look for ways to improve on my writing, coverage, and the site itself. I'm thinking of moving away from Blogger twoards a true webhost, so your feedback will help me figure out what I need to work on before taking the plunge. The survey offers five quick questions and should only take 2-3 minutes to complete (more if you decide to type in other comments or suggestions). As you click, scroll through to see the next question. Thanks, in advance, for your time, interest, and feedback!

Who says we haven't improved on last year?

Look, I get the frustration. I do. I share it. I've flirted with giving into it. With the collapse of Man U and the continuing follies of Spurs, we should have climbed higher up the table. We should be in a better position than last year. Instead, we find ourselves in an all-too-familiar dilemma, scrabbling and clawing just to hold onto fourth place. Our direct rival this year might be Everton, but it's the same squabble. They've done us a solid by dropping points unexpectedly at Crystal Palace, but it offers cold comfort as we look up the table and again see three clubs ahead of us. Even admitting Liverpool's rise (one that I dismissed repeatedly to my eventual chagrin), don't we have a right to expect—nay deman—something better than fourth place?  Just two weeks, we were sharpening pitchforks to storm the castle and evict Arsène.

FA Cups, Fourth Place, and False Dilemmas

Just a few days remain between our FA Cup final with Hull City—er, scratch that. It's just a few days until we face Hull in the Prem, and the nagging question, perhaps resurrected because we will face Hull in the FA Cup final, is "which do we want, the FA Cup or fourth place?" On its face, the question is preposterous. It might have made sense a few months ago, and then only if we were struggling to sustain ourselves. As it stood, as recently as our 4-1 win over Everton, there was no real doubt yet as to our ability to compete in the Prem or in the FA Cup. Now, as we stand, looking down on Everton in the Prem and looking ahead at Hull in the final, the question makes even less sense. One does not preclude the other. We can have our cake and eat it, so why all the fuss?

17 April 2014

Start baking those St. Totteringham's Day cakes...

What's a football season without some good, old-fashioned scorn and spite? I speak of course of the arrival of our favorite holiday, St. Totteringham's Day, which could arrive as early as this Sunday if results go the right way. Last season, we left it about as late as it can get, needing ninja-Koscielny's goal against Newcastle on the final day of the season to make our reservations. This time around, it's starting to feel more and more like an inevitability, almost a formality, as Spurs languish in sixth place—and could yet stumble to as low as 7th if they're not careful. Let's suss out how this looks, shall we?

First, all that's needed is for us to find six points, combined from what we earn and Spurs drop, to celebrate. If we win on Sunday and Spurs lose on Saturday, well, that's that.

Spurs face Fulham on Saturday at White Hart Lane. Now, Tottenham have been far better away than at home, and what might otherwise look to be a winnable match on paper feels less-so once we peel back a layer or two. As far as Fulham are concerned, they'll go into White Hart Lane knowing that they need to find points wherever they can get them. They currently sit 18th on the table, two points below Norwich and three below West Brom and Swansea. Fulham seem to have awoken just a bit from their post-Jol torpor, clawing their way up from last place thanks to winning two in a row for the first time since October. They look to be full of piss and perhaps vinegar as well, and they could make some hay out of Spurs, who are looking more and more dispirited as the weeks roll on, needing a last-gasp equalizer to salvage a point against West Brom, Privately, I'd imagine that a fair few Spuds are sizing up their options in the summer-transfer window, with more traffic going from White Hart Lane rather than towards it. With Bale roaring to life at RM (six goals and an assist in his last seven appearances), others have to be wondering just how much greener the grass might be elsewhere. With Man U now breathing down their necks—three points back with a game in hand and carrying a +18 goal-differential—desperation, if not downright despair—might be the prevailing mood there as Spurs look to miss out on European competition entirely.

Of course, we can't count on the bumbling of the Spurs or the motivation of Fulham to do all of the work. At some point, we have to take care of business at our end. Hull, perhaps seeing inspiration from Crystal Palace's success on Wednesday, will have upset on their minds as well. Further complicating matters, Hull might feel a bit nervous about their own prospects for next season. Currently sitting 13th, Hull have to keep one anxious eye on the drop-zone. A Fulham win would bring them to within three points of Hull (although Hull have a game in hand at the moment), and the newly-promoted side might have a bit more fight in them come Sunday. As we've been reminded—be it by Palace and Sunderland on Wednesday, if not by West Ham on Tuesday—scrappy sides should not be underestimated. Regardless of our relative positions on the table, we can't afford to slip up as Everton and Man City have. Instead of conceding the first goal, why don't we try something novel, such as scoring first? That would be a welcome change of pace and would likely take the fight out of the Tigers.

Heck, even if Spurs manage to eke out a win over Fulham, we can still get halfway to St. Totteringham's Day by beating Hull. From there, we might have to wait until next Saturday to root for [gasp] Stoke. How bad can it be? We're already thanking Pulis.