Mackems – Monday Morning Blues

If you’re like me you’re still cursing our performance on Saturday on Wearside at the Stadium of Light.
It was far from our worst performance but our two Achilles heels were uncovered once again – lack of penetration and definition in the attacking third and a fatal weakness defending high balls in the box, this time from a corner.
I believe that the former weakness is easier to cure given the players available to us (when and if they’re ever all fit at the same time!) and the style and tactics we employ, than the latter. Playing as open as we do we’ll always concede more goals than teams that play more cautiously. That’s OK. It’s the silly goals we concede with pub-team defending that peeve me. Much as I remain reasonably optimistic about silverware this season, we’re not going to bring home the bacon if we don’t cut out the schoolboy errors at the back.
Much as we all know there’s a monster game in the League next Sunday we have to put that completely out of our minds now and focus on tomorrow night’s visit of Standard Ličge in the Champions League. Three points in this game will allow us a “free go” in Athens against Olympiakos as it will guarantee us qualification as group leaders. We probably won’t be able to field a complete reserve team if we do manage a win tomorrow night as the last round of games will all but certainly count towards deciding who qualifies for the round of sixteen as runner-up and who drops into the Europa League in third spot.
Local residents around the Grove have been warned about an unusually high number of coaches in the area tomorrow night. It looks like there’ll be a good turn out of Standard fans coming by road via the Chunnel and the ferries. No doubt they’ll be as loud and proud as they were in their home game so we really need to pump up the volume tomorrow night.
On the ownership front Silent Stan Kroenke has lashed out another £85,000 on ten more shares taking him to 18,604 in total, just 61 shares short of the thirty percent holding that would trigger an automatic bid. Because Kroenke is on the board he has to declare every single share he buys or sells. Alisher Usmanov on the other hand only has to declare movements in his holding up or down one percent. He last declared crossing the 25% threshold back in February. He’s known to have been active in the market buying shares via his Arsenal vehicle Red & White Holdings Ltd. The working assumption must be that he’s closing in on a 26% holding. The news stories tend to focus on Stan Kroenke as he has to declare each and every move he makes to the market but Alisher Usmanov has NOT gone away. He will still have a BIG say in the future of our beloved Arsenal.
Here’s to three points tomorrow night and a relaxing trip to Athens, at least on the field, next month.
Keep the faith!

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