In The News: Ross has to be escorted to a cashpoint to pay for a cab, by a copper. And somewhere in all of this a portion of chips was involved. Frank only concerned for the Cabbie having to clean the grease off the back seat. Gooners set to loan out Ozil, willing to pay towards his wages despite not benefitting from anything he does. No change there then. Eriksen’s bird got knobbed by Vertonghen, or nearly got knobbed. Kane tried to punch the latter, now nobody is talking to anyone else in the Sp*d dressing room. The internet says so and the internet never lies. Bernardo Silva charged with being “racially insensitive.” To WHO? Certainly not the “victim,” who wasn’t remotely offended. And what a borefest the big “MNF” fixture was. Rashford has now scored one goal in 16 matches, to add to Ole’s many woes.
The Others: Pahahahahaahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah. Paahahahahahahahahaha ahahahahahahahahhaaahhhahahahahahaha. Wait a minute. Pahahahahahahahahahahahah. Favourite quip? “Have Munich declared yet?” Harry F*cking Kane said that beating Southampton was a MASSIVE STATEMENT from them. Not as MASSIVE as tanking seven goals to Bayern. Pahahahahahahahahahhahahahaha. More importantly, how does Aurier escape being sent off by on-site officials AND VAR when trying to kill David Alaba? That challenge was disgusting. Yet again the Scouse clawing their way over the line and not convincing anybody. Also, City made a waffly big deal out of Zagreb, no win for Real either. Zidane left Bale out. Basking in the fact that Courtois was subbed off at halftime. The fans are laying into Eden. The longer his misery lasts, the more my addled brain thinks that he might realise he’s made a massive mistake and come home.
Us: Kepa – A defence of Dave, Tomori and Zouma with James and Alonso as wingbacks. Kante returned from a twingey hamstring to partner Jorginho, Willian made his 300th appearance and we were finished off with Mount and Tammy Abraham. The Beard back from illness on the bench, alongside Batman, Pedro Pony and CHO which all bode well for a positive attempt to get three points out of this and atone for squandering points against Valencia.
Dominant, possession-wise at the start, but Lille by no means there to make up the numbers. In the meantime, Ajax had gone ahead of Valencia in the other group fixture, which was a big plus for us. Early effort for Mount was controlled well by the youngster but struck terribly. On 21 minutes Lille were convinced that Tammy was offside, but he was miles on. Rubbish marking from the hoe side, cross in, Tammy turned and fired right into the corner like it was the easiest thing in the world. A 22nd birthday present to himself and an early lead. Alonso ran face-first into a defender in the penalty area three minutes later, but shouts for a spot-kick were dubious. Their best effort yet came on the half-hour when they broke at speed. Excellent save from Kepa and put out by Reece James for the corner. Still they came at us, Stupid zonal marking. Stupid free header. Stupid equaliser. Another set piece for the home side, but a long way out and Kepa claimed with ease. Osimhen trying to pick a fight with Dave. Who wants to fight DAVE?! Back down the other end and a clumsy foul on Mason Mount gave us a free kick just outside the area. Much chatting between Willian and Alonso ended with the Spaniard lifting it up fine, but failing to bring it down again. Willian reckons he should have taken it. There’s a surprise. Out of nowhere on the stroke of halftime Jorginho came up with a whipped shot that was only kept out by the post, and so we went in level at the break.
Plenty of firepower on the bench if need be. Must make dominance pay. Must be clinical. Must not concede stupid set play goals. Apparently we haven’t won in France for 15 years. That’s an embarrassment for Englishmen. Banging save from Kepa on 51, shabby defending again. Liked this referee. Not interested in whining sh*thousery of any kind. Zouma was looking very adept at the back, James was more settled. Nothing really doing going forward though, we’d gone off the boil. Same can’t be said of their fans who were doing an impressive rendition of the bouncy. Their manager looked like a sleazy(er) French version of Paul Hollywood. Frank needed to change things up now. We hadn’t really got going in the second half. I’d have brought on Pedro Pony for Willian, who was by now rolling round on the floor. Everyone carried on playing on around him and he soon got up. Instead we got CHO for Reece James, who had acquitted himself well overall on his Champions League debut. We went to a back four, with Alonso falling back and CHO slotting in in front of him. Lille went backwards on our formation change, but we had to make it count. Tammy almost did on 70, but it was swept clear and off they ran on the counter. Lucky for us the shot soared miles over. Brilliant move from us led all the way down to Mount dragging a shot just wide on 72. Corner. Not only cleared the first man, but everyone else too. Then a goal from nowhere. CHO shrugs off a defender on the wing, lifts it over the box and Willian somehow smashes the ball into the ground so that it rebounds up into the net. Great subs by Frank and great response from the players. Now don’t f*ck it up. Does make me laugh to suddenly hear pundits and commentators lauding our loan army and the experience the likes of Mount and Tomori have gained from spells away. Having laughed at the numbers we were sending out the last few years. Pedro Pony ready to come on as Osimhen did his best to win a penalty. Kepa stood up brilliantly. Willian was, by now, looking broken. Lille failing to put the ball out. We’d done it for them twice. Mount not looking too spritely either. Kovacic replaced him on 86. He was all over the ball straight away. A bit hairy as we went into four minutes of injury time. Kepa got away with a nightmare in trying to punt it out to Tomori, but somehow we survived.
So: When asked to assess the season so far, Frank said prior to tonight that he wishes we could have had a few more points in the league, and that we hadn’t stuffed up against Valencia. It was essential to get off the mark in what looks like being a very tight group, and we’ve done it. Yet again though, we’ve conceded a rubbish goal on a set piece. Listening to Joe Cole, the club have no intention of abandoning zonal marking, but the tweaking continues apparently. Tweak more, boys, tweak more. Tweet of the Week so far? Well, it’s a Facebook status: “Really? No Pulisic? Blatant favouritism to his old pal CHO. He is a new manager with little experience and is a big obstacle to PuliGOAT development to next big football youngster like Mpabbe or Joe Felix.” It might be scarcely visible amidst a clusterf*ck of awful grammar, but it is nonsense nonetheless. So far you lot have been rubbish at pointing these out. Send them to @CFCgwlb.
As an aside, one of our number has been critically ill in intensive care for a number of days now, so all good wishes going to them for a speedy recovery and a return to the Bridge soon.