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Friday, 13 May 2011

Arsenal are coming to town, I'm not buying it Harry

Martin Hayes - welcomes an Arsenal XI this Summer

I was going to write this blog this afternoon but the server of the host website wasn't working so I couldn't log-in to post anything. Sorry about the wait.

On August 4th Arsenal are sending a team to play at Dover Athletic as part of the pre-season programme. I don't think we will see any of the "first-team" in action at Crabble but it is, nonetheless, a rare opportunity to see Arsenal in action in this part of the country. The last time an Arsenal team came to Dover was in 1994 and the side included Paul Davis and Scott Marshall (despite a clash with Tony Adams' ill-fated testimonial with Crystal Palace). Martin Hayes, who was part of the team which won the Littlewoods Cup in 1987 and the League Title in 1989 (he was on the pitch when Mickey Thomas scored at Anfield) is the Manager of Dover Athletic and those of us living locally were hopeful such a fixture would ensue.
Dover have completed their League season just outside the play-off places in the Conference South. They also had their best ever FA Cup run as they reached the third-round before losing to Huddersfield (a win would have brought them an away tie at Arsenal, of course). The star player at Dover, with over forty goals this season, is former Arsenal trainee Adam Birchall, so there are plenty of Gunners links at the Club.
Arsenal can count on good numbers in the crowd when they come to Dover. The local supporters club (Dover Gooners) has over 300 members, while there are many more than that in the Maidstone branch. I think red and white will be out in force in Dover on 4th August. I'm looking forward to it already.

I can't believe the press are buying Redknapp's claim that not finishing 5th is a bonus for his Tottenham side, as the UEFA Cup is something they really don't need. So we are expected to believe that, after one season in the Champions League, Spurs find the lesser competition beneath them. I'm sorry, but I would far rather be on Channel 5 on Thursday nights that not be in Europe at all. Steven Gerrard summed it up nicely on TV today when he stated that, while it's not what Liverpool would rather be in when it comes to Europe, the UEFA Cup represents another trophy to play for, and that's what big clubs are all about (obviously, I'm paraphrasing slightly, but that is the general gist).
I don't believe for one moment that Redknapp would rather be out of Europe than play in the UEFA Cup. My view is that he is trying to excuse Tottenham's abject failure to build on their "achievement" last season. Finishing fourth one year, then sixth the next, can not be deemed a success - and let's not hear any nonsense about beating Inter and AC Milan, possibly the poorest Italian sides ever to play in the European Cup.
At a time when we lament our failure to win the Title that was ours for the taking we can continue to take some solace from the fact that Spurs are mickey-mouse and will forever remain in our shadow. I believe Redknapp will not be Tottenham manager this time next year. He will have moved on (or been moved on) due to the fact that they will fall back in to mid-table mediocrity, and this nonsense about Europe is a not very good attempt at hiding their shortcomings.

I'll preview the Aston Villa match tomorrow night. Thomas Vermaelen is fit and expected to play, so there will be more on that tomorrow evening. In the meantime I want to wish Patrick Vieira the very best of luck in the FA Cup Final tomorrow. It will be far more palatable to see an Arsenal legend cavorting on the Wembley pitch with the famous trophy than it will to see Ryan Shawcross lifting the Cup for Stoke.

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