The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Building up momentum

At this point, you have read all about Fulham 0-1 Arsenal by now at other places. To all that, I would just add that while Vito Mannone was clearly MOTM and that double-save was magnificient, let’s not go nuts and anoint him the starting goalkeeper yet. Anyone who has been around to remember Alex Manninger in 1997-98 will recall that he stepped in and held the fort like a boss when David Seaman went down with a broken finger – in particular, his penalty saves against West Ham were the reason we stuck around long enough in the FA Cup to go on and win it. If you remember that, though, you’ll remember the League Cup match the following season where Arsene played all the kids against Chelsea, and there wasn’t a Jack Wilshere or an Aaron Ramsey in the bunch. Actually, there wasn’t so much as a Kieran Gibbs. Manninger was left completely exposed in a 5-1 shellacking, and he was never the same after that. The point is, the confidence of young players can be remarkably fragile, and while he has shown flashes of brilliance in his brief time in between our sticks, he should not be thrown entirely to the wolves yet.

With that said, I just thought it was interesting how the football teams – both normal and American – I support are at the same sort of crossroads in their season. It isn’t entirely comparable of course with the shorter season for the NFL, but both sides find themselves in a soft part of their schedule where nothing but running the table will be acceptable.

To wit: the NY Giants play Tampa Bay at their place this afternoon, and follow that with a trip to Kansas City before entertaining the Oakland Raiders at home. There is no good reason on this earth why the G-Men shouldn’t be 5-0 heading into the big clash with Drew Brees (oh, and I guess the rest of the New Orleans Saints as well) on 10/18. They will need to have those wins in the bag, because after what should be a slam dunk at home to Arizona, they travel to Philadelphia and San Diego, two games they could well lose. If they’re 7-2 or 6-3 at that point, the playoffs should be well and truly in the bag by then. From there, they have two potentially tricky games at home against Atlanta and Carolina, but there’d be no excuse for not taking care of business against at least one and preferably both.

In the meantime, the Arsenal are in the midst of a stretch where picking up three points is vital in every case. This weekend, Chelsea demonstrated this by contriving to lose 3-1 to Wigan while having their goalkeeper sent off on top of it. Still, you have to look at this and figure that picking up all 18 points should be within the realm of possibility – Blackburn Rovers (H), Birmingham City (H), West Ham United (A), The Lily White Scum (H), Wolverhampton Wanderers (A), Sunderland (A).

If either side is to seriously challenge for honors this season, stretches like this must be navigated with little problem. If not, serious questions have to be asked about if either has what it takes…and questions at this stage are fair as well. We all know about Arsenal’s youth-based policy and team selection (PLEASE FUCKING BENCH DIABY), but the Giants have their issues, too. Can Steve Smith and Mario Manningham truly be No. 1 and No.2 caliber at wide receiver? Why is our defense getting breached for big plays on a regular basis? When will Eli Manning be consistent over an entire game? If the Giants lose any of these three upcoming games, I don’t think it will kill the season or anything (that’s the main difference with Arsenal, where 14 points is probably the bare minimum they need to get from the above stretch in order to stay in the race)…especially with Dallas imploding and Philadelphia looking sketchy in the early going. However, if the Giants want to be taken seriously as a Super Bowl threat, these are the opponents that need to be brushed aside. A loss to the Saints or Falcons or Chargers I can handle, but I am not responsible for my actions if we lose to Oakland or Kansas City.

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September 27, 2009 - Posted by | The Arsenal, The Giants

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