The Unfortunate Gareth Southgate

One time, while walking to the pub where I watch Arsenal matches, I was speaking to an Arsenal fan about Middlesbrough. I had told him that Middlesbrough had gotten a positive result against Manchester United, and he couldn’t believe it. “How could such a crap team get points against United,” he wondered. I told him that Gareth Southgate is a good manager. He laughed at me and told me I was wrong. I replied that Arsene Wenger said Gareth Southgate is a good manager, to which he replied, “Arsene says a lot of things.”

Now, I’ll avoid the obvious discussion point here, which is yet another Arsenal “fan” doubting Wenger’s words in one way or the other. Yes, Arsene isn’t always right (the number of times he’s used to term “good player” to describe mediocre ones are probably too many to count), but perhaps his opinion on Southgate is based on other facts.

Like this one, for example:

In five games against Middlesbrough in the league while Southgate has been manager, we have won zero times, drawn four times, and lost once.

That is the bottom line.

I believed that Southgate first came up with the idea of pressuring this Arsenal team from the front, using their energetic attacking players Tuncay and former Gunner Aliadiere to win balls against our defenders and prevent our offensive players from receiving the ball. It has been effective.

There are other times where we dominate games and fail to get the points. Whatever it is, players like David Wheater show up and prevent us from doing our thing.

Gareth Southgate should be applauded for trying to play football and develop young players. For this, much like Tony Mowbray, he’ll end up being relegated. I have faint hopes for an escape, but it’s unlikely.

Obviously, I do not want to drop points against them tomorrow. We’ll be rotating a bit to stay fresh for the massive Champions League fixture, but with Guus Hiddink now publicly conceding the title to focus on the Barcelona tie, the opportunity to grasp third place is there.

Tomorrow, Chelsea play West Ham at Upton Park. If they lose that fixture, we’d only be three points behind with a game still to play against them at the Emirates. Frankly speaking, a trophy would have been fantastic, but finishing third in front of Chelsea wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize (although we could have had both).

One thing we know for sure though, Arshavin will play.

The mighty Russian is one of the best players in the world.

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