He then very kindly reciprocated, with me using some of the questions he set turned back on him and some edited to make them more appropriate for him to answer. 🙂
1. What is your appraisal of our season so far?
To be fair I haven’t followed Birmingham very closely per se, but it’s obvious to most that you seem to have a problem converting draws into wins. Your still a hard side to beat, as United found out last night, but I think the addition of a striker in January, or at least some attack minded player/s is a must to convert some of these draws to wins.
2. Games between the sides have been very tight, especially at St Andrews, do you see Saturday as having a similar theme?
We have had a few problems breaking you down in recent years. Last season was a disappointment as it pretty much ended our title aspirations. It was a very tough tackling game as I recall especially with Gardners tackle on Fabregas and Denilson’s on Gardner. We looked pretty comfortable after Nasri’s goal and it was an Almuniamistake that gifted Phillips the equaliser. That said we have had a problem breaking sides this season and it will definitely be a tough game for us no doubt, and, very close.
3. After the defeat to Albion earlier in the season, I heard Gooners questioning Arsene. Has this settled down since, or are there still a number who think there needs to be a change?
There have definitely been more disparaging remarks made about Le Boss this year than there has ever been. The Baggies game was one of the worst performances I have seen under Wenger, and his reluctance to change his ideals in some circumstances have definitely been frustrating. However it was obvious after the Chelsea game that Wenger still is our man. He dropped Arshavin, who for all his attacking threat, can be a lazy sod and ensured Alex Song stayed in the holding role. He instructed the side to close teams down and the two Chelsea mistakes resulting from this lead to two goals. As far as the Wenger hater club goes, they’ve definitely been silenced.
4. What are your opinions of Alex McLeish?
McLeish is someone who has played under SAF at Aberdeen and seems to have inherited some of his management ability, which can’t be bad lol I thought last season, you were workmanlike but ground out some great results. He had a perfect opportunity this season to add some flair and push the side on, but the Zigic and Hleb transfers don’t seem to have brought that. I can see what he’s doing at the club though and like I previously mentioned, if you can get a few wins under your belt and add some goals he’ll be proven to be the manager who everyone was raving about last year.
5. What must Birmingham do to stifle Arsenal’s attacking threat?
Without sounding big headed, it won’t be easy. We definitely have more bite than in recent years. That said we have struggled in the past when sides have hit us on the counter. The worst we’ve played this season was against WBA. They didn’t sit back, they played us at our own game and found Almuniaat his incompetent best. I don’t know who your right winger is, but if he’s any good a few runs at Gael Clichy wouldn’t go amiss. He’s definitely struggling this season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him off at the end of it.
6. What do you think the Blues need to do to get themselves established in the EPL.
Spend some money. It’s nigh on impossible to find a hidden gem these days or sttarct them without European football. Most important is staying up. If you can consolidate this season and find a 15/20 goal a season striker you could go from relegation candidates to Mid table/Europa league candidates easy. The premier league does not have the quality it once did as we have seen with top sides losing more games than ever before.
7. How do you feel about Arsenal’s chances in Europe this year?
I felt fantastic. Then we drew Barcelona. That’s game over I’m afraid. If we somehow manage to deal with Messi, we have Villa, Iniesta, Xavi et al to contend with. I saw what they did to Mourinho’s Madrid. Our defence has been suspect to say the least. Who knows what it will be like with the return of Thomas Vermaelan. I’ll never say never, but as tasks go it’s THE most difficult.
8. The ‘Eduardo’ injury still rubs some Gooners up the wrong way. In light of a spate of similar incidents recently, what do you feel about that particular one, and the state of tackling in the EPL?
As I mentioned to you before. That tackle was worse as it wasn’t just who it was, but when it happened. We had been challenging for the title and in all honesty that ended our hopes. I don’t think tackling is as bad as it was in the 70’s and 80ks but! And it’s a big but. We have a lot more serious injuries than other leagues. This is in part I feel due to the fact we have no Christmas break, part due to the speed of the Premier League and sometimes, because of the financial rewards of the EPL these days, I hate to say with malice. I have a 7 year old son who plays Saturday mornings. He’s quite a skillful lad and I have heard coaches on the other sides actually telling children to get stuck in on him and grab his shirt. It got to a point where he was coming home from every game limping. It’s a nationalproblem as much as anything else. Football is a contact sport but if your telling children at grass roots to do that, there’s no hope of it abating is there?
9. Who do you think will be relegated this season? Obviously do you think we will be?
When you look at the relegation zone, I think it’s best to look at sides who are struggling to score goals, or the teams strikers. I think Wolves definitely, Fulham are another side who are struggling and I think Wigan and West ham may have too much to stay down there. Wigan in particular have missed James McCarthy and Moses through injury, but have Rodallega and the Hammers Cole. The other place I hate to say may either be yourselves unless you start winning or (and I’m sure I’m redeeming myself) the Villa. They look AWFUL at the moment and could well go down.
10. Finally, what is your prediction
My prediction… Heart says 2 – 0 head says 1-1