Schalke. An enchanting name, like a lover’s whisper on a hot summer night.
To be honest, I know next to nothing about Schalke and from yesterday’s lack of response it seems none of you do either. Yes, we know that they beat Borussia Dortmund last weekend and that they finished 3rd in the Bundesliga last season ( a season in which we beat their current Champions) but apart from Huntelaaar , their players, history and town are unknown. So following some research here is a short resume:
Managed by Huub Stevens, Schalke play their home games in the 62k capacity Veltins Arena (Veltins is a brewer). They have over 100k members. The last time they won the Bundesliga was in Black and White (1957). Schalke have won the UEFA Cup (1997), twice won the Inter-Toto and in 2011 reached the CL semi-Final only to be knocked out by MU, who happily got hammered in the final. They have some fine players including a wunderkid – Draxler, a couple of old Arsenal targets, Metzelder, recently returned from Real Madrid and Affelay, who is on loan from Barca. A player to watch (should he be fit) is Lewis Holtby, a young MF who has represented Germany at all levels despite having an English father. Schalke (like BD) have a very fervent support – it is unlikely The Emirates will be quiet tonight.
No, not Chelsea …. Schalke Fans
Reports say that Schalke beat BD by playing on the break – this is not especially good news for Arsenal. That said, they are averaging two goals a game and clearly have attacking intent.
Podolski who knows a thing or two about German football states that Schalke will be our toughest opposition in the group. They rarely lose at home so tonight we must maximize our home advantage.
Arsenal go into the game under pressure to perform. We were pants at Carrow Rd and the team has taken a media battering. They deserved it. I don’t go along with those who say the team lacked effort or passion, what they lacked was team work, cohesion, inspiration and luck. Norwich’s goal was lucky – a fellow takes a pot shot from 35 yards, the ball swerves unexpectedly, Don Vito is surprised. Holt who should be offside is onside because Santos isn’t concentrating, BFG couldn’t get back because he was doing his job of taking out the defence and we went 1-0 down. Norwich got lucky. But, there was no excuse for the total lack of inspiration in the next 70 minutes and tonight we must see a return to form or the knives will be out.
Let us look at the possible forward combinations. We have a choice of Pod, Gerv and Giroud. Podolski has a minor injury and in ideal circumstances would be rested, but can we go into the game with just OG and The Swerve upfront? We could if we had a potent midfield ….. but we don’t. Could Chamakh make a comeback? No – that isn’t a joke! And what of Arshavin who will surely get some pitch time tonight?
Rosicky, Sagna, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere, Diaby, Szczesny, Gibbs and Koscielny. That is some team and every one is injured. – 9 top players out which may be part of the reason for Norwich.
Which is exactly the same team that started at Norwich. Apart from Coquelin or Arshavin there are few alternatives. There is a possibility that Koscielny will be fit but I wouldn’t start him ahead of TV and BFG.
Enough of football and onto Raddy’s current interest which is those intrepid English explorers. Today’s great man is John Speke seen looking lovely and tidy in a portrait below ….
John Hanning Speke
Speke discovered the source of the Nile which had been a mystery for over 2000 years, he called it Lake Victoria (known by locals as Nyanza Ukerewa). To cross through Central Africa in those days was a major undertaking with over 80% of the explorers dying from illness or attack, it took not only great courage but lots of money – Speke had both. Speke fought in the British Army in India, he explored the Himalayas and even tried to climb Everest. He died in a shooting accident in 1864.
Would a man who was captured by Somalian tribesmen and stabbed several times before freeing himself and his friends go belly-up because of a crap result at Norwich? Would he hell, and neither will The Arsenal.
3 points tonight and we are almost assured a place in the next round. You know it will not be easy, it isn’t the Arsenal Way but ….. Victoria Concordia Crescit
Written by Big Raddy