Friday 7 February 2014

Arsenal 2-0 Crystal Palace [Chris Jack's house, Sydney] - oh, and HONG KONG!

Morning all. Sorry about the delay, I've had a bit of a nightmare getting time to do writing since touching down in Hong Kong. I've been ferried all over the place, seeing all the sights, sampling all the tastes and answering the many, many questions that the local Hong Kong Gooners have had for me. I'm also staying in an area not known to many visitors, Sheung Shui, and the particular house I'm in (which is a typically-tiny Hong Kong residence) has no internet, so I'm sitting in a cafe on Hollywood Street as I write this.

Pearl of The Orient, or City of Life. Hong Kong. 
You'll hear more about my experiences in Hong Kong in a separate article because I still have to tell you about my last few days in Australia. After flying back into Sydney from Auckland, I watched another West Sydney Wanderers game, this time in the town of Newcastle, which was obviously named after that rough place on the River Tyne (shouldn't it be 'Newnewcastle' then?). WSW were playing the 'Jets' and once again I was sitting in the atmospheric 'active' away section. The game finished 1-1 and it was another example of how the world's lesser football leagues deserve a bigger following.

Now we know where JW10 got his
sweep-over from
My host for my final few days in Sydney was none other than Chris Jack, the grandson of one of Arsenal's most notable legends, David Jack. David Jack was known for a number of things. One of Herbert Chapman's famous XI, Jack was the first player in the Premier League to sign for another club for more than £10,000, arriving at Arsenal from Bolton in 1928 for £10,890, nearly twice the previous transfer record. He scored 113 goals in 181 appearances for the Gunners, and was the first Arsenal player to captain England.

When Chris heard about my challenge he was more than happy to help out a fellow Gooner and offered me somewhere to stay for a few nights. You can read more about Chris and his Grandfather in a 'meet the Gooner Family' feature later on.

Chris and I were up and awake (just) for the 3am kickoff against Crystal Palace. An absolute must-win for us, we started very well and looked in full control of the game from the onset. In typical Arsenal style of course, we failed to turn the 75% possession into clear-cut chances in the first half. We had to wait until after the interval for some of the good stuff, and most of it came from The Ox. Both goals were well worked and well finished, showing good examples of what he can do on his own and as part of the team. It really is promising to see and I hope he gets the chance to play more regularly (through the middle). It's always a good thing to have direct players like The Ox, Gnabry and Rosicky available when we are struggling to capitalise on good possession football.

Another three points means we've an almost perfect January, the blip at Southampton being the only negative outside of the injury challenges. Even then, ten out of twelve points isn't bad. It's exactly the kind of stuff that championship-winning sides are made of. Let's hope we can do a similar job in February.