Arsenal 7-0 Middlesbrough

You know, this isn't entirely unexpected...from our end, anyway. We have had a pretty shite season by our standards, but we still have a team that can skullfuck a bad team if all the requisite moving parts are doing so in perfect unison. But, you don't expect that bad team to be Middlesbrough (or Everton in the midst of their excellent season last year, but that's another story). However, given the realities of this season, maybe you would expect someone to stick seven (or nine, or a hundred and four) past these jokers...and, it may as well be us!

The thing is, Boro have talent...even if half of it is running for the exit door as fast as their little legs can carry them. My guess (like many others) though is that Steve McLaren has lost this team. It's one thing to want to play a defensive counter-attacking game, but you have to collect the right personnel to do it. He may be a walrus-faced whining cunt, but Sam Allardyce has that figured out pretty well. His teams play that style, and he goes out and gets a bunch of vicious cheating hacks to make it work. McLaren, on the other hand, went out and got guys like Gaizka Mendieta and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and wants them to play the old Route One bullshit. Nice going, chief. The Boro side last year succeeded in spite of this...Mark Schwarzer is an excellent goalkeeper, Gareth Southgate led the backline far better than someone of his age could, and Jimmy got the goals. There weren't a lot of good sides last year, so it was more than enough to get them into Europe (although, hindsight being 20/20, the only thing keeping Manchester City from taking Boro's spot...well, besides Robbie Fowler's missed penalty, was the fact that they stuck too long with Kevin Keegan).

This season, though, has been a far different proposition for them. Their backline hasn't been as good with their injuries and whatnot, and now the skill players seem to be in open revolt. They got some points in the early part of the season, and with Sunderland and Birmingham almost surefire bets to get relegated, they only have to avoid one other spot. But, barring some kind of miracle comeback, they'll have no choice but to let McLaren go. He's worked miracles with that club, but he undid all his good work by building a team completely out of sync with the game plan he wanted to run with. It's too bad, too...it would have been good for the league to have another strong team around. Middlesbrough has a long way to go in order to get back there, though.

As for the game, what do you want me to say? Arsenal dominated the pitch at will, Henry was playing on another planet, and even normally-invisible figures from this season like Pires and Freddie had great games. It really could have been 14-0 if we wanted, especially with Boro playing that embryo Brad Jones in goal. This was like one of those Football Manager 2005 games where your super-team with the super-tactic runs up against a non-league team in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. "A 12-0 win? Yeah, that seems right."

Boro is the real story coming from this, anyway. This is a side that has completely given up. Want proof? Look at how Sunderland came out fighting against Chelsea. Sunderland might literally be the worst club I've ever seen in my life (and I'm counting even the worst Metrostars teams), but even they put their heart and soul into not being embarrassed by our Russian-funded cunty friends from west London. Boro, young players in the lineup or not, capitulated from the opening whistle. They were more than outclassed...they were outclassed AND they were gutless. Sure, we got seven because we were firing on all cylinders, but damn near anyone in the league would have scored between three and five against them on that day.

If I'm a Boro fan, I'd be sweating until this nightmare of a season was over. You know, it's shit like this that makes me hate the doom-mongers even more. Yeah, we're down a peg or two this season, but at least we're not going to get fucking relegated.


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