13 February 2015

Birmingham. Bradford. Blackburn. Bayern...Boro?

Over the last few years, we've had more than our fair share of run-ins with lower sides who have given us more than a run for our money. Heck, they've taken the money and run. In 2011, Birmingham cruelly snatched away the League Cup. In 2012, it was Bradford's turn, this time in the League Cup semifinal. Let's add in the 2013 FA Cup fourth-round scare we got from Brighton; a few weeks after that, in the fifth round, Blackburn knocked us out. Collectively, we could call them the Killer B's. The B-List. Could Middlesbrough—Boro—become an honorary member on Sunday?

We've had some rough draws over the last few years in almost all of the competitions, whether they range from the lowly League Cup to the mightly Champions League: the aforementioned Bayern (twice). Borussia Dortmund in the 2012-13 Champions League group-stage, and them again along with Napoli in the 2013-14 Group of Death. Chelsea in last season's League Cup. Almost the entire 2014 FA Cup. Southampton in this year's League Cup, before anyone really knew how good Southampton would be ("we lost to Southampton before losing to Southampton was cool!" Meh. Doesn't quite work as a rallying cry yet).

Finally, after several years of drawing some intimidating opponents, we've drawn a few "softer" ones, such as the aforementioned Brighton, but also down-on-their-luck Hull, and, in the Champions League, a Falcao-less AS Monaco. Progress, in other words, has seemed assured. This weekend, we'll face Boro when we might have drawn in-form Liverpool (with just one loss in their last 14 outings, and that a hotly contested one against Chelsea in the League Cup) or Man U (with just one loss in their last 17 outings, to Southampton...). Are the cup-draw fairies finally smiling on Arsenal, or do they just have a twisted sense of humour? Yes, we've dodged Blackburn and Bradford, who face Stoke and Sunderland, respectively, but we'll come up against a wolf in sheep's clothing in Middlesbrough. They may not qualify for the B-List by their proper name, but we'd do well to be wary of them all the same.

After all, they did just dismantle Man City at the Etihad in this competition's fourth round, they sit atop the Championship, and they've conceded a league-lowest 20 goals to date. Anyone want to place bets on whether they'll be a bit tougher to beat than lowly Leicester, sitting last in the Prem? On paper, of course, we're supposed to trounce Boro, but if these competitions were played on paper, well, we wouldn't have to play on the pitch.

Make no mistake: Middlesbrough will hardly be content to play the role of countrified rubes who show up and goggle at the tall buildings and sophisticated people of London. They mean business. Our own lacklustre form in our last two outings should serve warning enough that we'd better be on our best behavior. Membership in the B-list might ordinarily be restricted to those clubs whose names officially start with a B, but I'm sure they'd be willing to admit Middlesbrough should the Smoggies upend us as they did Man City.

Let's hope we can repeat if not improve on the last time we faced this club—a 2-0 win way back in 2009.  In that match, a 19-year old Theo Walcott had a fair few chances at finding the back of the net but was spurned each time. Something tells me he'll help us forget those wasted moments, not to mention the wasted chances against those other B-list clubs...


  1. Derrick MansfieldFriday, 13 February, 2015

    I think you're on to something with this b-list. we've crashed out of too many competitions against too many B-named teams. Add in Bayern and Borussia while we're at it. We have to beat Boro just to overcome this mental block, and we have to make progress in the the cup as well.

    here's hoping that Alexis, Ozil,and Walcott can partner up better than they did against Leicester!

  2. For once I'm not worried. Yes, Boro could offer some resistance but we have more than enough to see them off. Let them focus on promotion w/o worrying about the cup!

  3. Get over it you losers, why can't you gooners admit you were beaten by the better team on the day. Instead of just expecting that all you have to do is turn up & you've won, you should be asking why your team didn't perform.
    Oh & for your information, you're playing MIDDLESBOROUGH in the cup & correct me if i'm wrong but that begins with an "M". So that will be another letter to add to your list of teams that beat you in a cup match!!!!!!!!!

  4. What are you bleating on about now, Chris?

    That's old news sunshine. Been there, dealt with it already so please do crawl back into the shadows from whence you came as it seems you are the one that needs to "get over it".

    As for that last paragraph, did you even read this article?

    Also, remember in future, that when attempting to insult another team and its fans, use facts or reality rather than hopeful grasping at straws. If we do beat Middlesborough, the short straw is yours and your comment a complete waste of exclamation marks!

    Then again, as Spurs fans, I guess all you have is history and the sad hope that perhaps one day, you might actually outdo us at something, anything, just for one measly season.

  5. who are you and what are you going on about? are you still harping on the NLD? Congrats. We've moved on and are competing for silverware, something you'd know nothing about.

    As to the letters of the alphabet, I'm so proud of you and your ability to spell things....but can you read? Did you know that John is playing off of MIddlesbrough's nickname? Speaking of learning to spell things, it's Middlesbrough NOT Middlesborough. You'll have to go back to kindergarten if you can't learn your lessons.

  6. Go sit on your little vibrating friend. Gooners obviously can't take criticism either. The item is about teams BEGINNING with B not nick names you dummy

  7. Who said i'm a Spurs fan? Wrong again & tell me if you have moved on why is this item even an item? I am using facts & the facts are gooners are very bad losers & still moan about woulda coulda shoulda from years ago as indicated in the piece of shit item

  8. Chris, that's a comment in poor taste. Back to your original comment, where did I claim that Birmingham somehow won unfairly? I'm not sure why you're so worked up about this post, which only mentions Birmingham once.

    As for the "B" issue, I hope you'll take a second (first?) look and reailze that the idea is offered in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. Lighten up, lad.

  9. you're right on one account Chrisg, Gooners are bad losers. Maybe if we lost more often, we'd be better at it. Takes lots of practice to be good at losing, i can only assume you're an expert.

  10. Two points arsenal didnt lose to bradford in semi final it was earlier then that villa lost to bradford in semi final.secondly the mighty arsenal attitude lost them that final in 2011 not a mistake in the last minute that bit of luck handed blues the win they deserved on that day gooners saying fabregas would lift trophy was blues motivation dont forget blues should have had a penalty and gk sent off inside 5 mins.As you can tell im not a arsenal fan and my view on you from outside is great club nice football no steel and give no respect to smaller teams.

  11. My mistake. Bradford beat us in the quarterfinal, not the semi. Thanks for the catch. As for the League Cup vs. Birmingham, I agree that the Blues earned that by outplaying Arsenal, but most of us end up remembering the miscue between Koscielny and Szczesny rather than the rest of the match. As for the "no respect", you'd think we'd learnt a lesson by now. I strive offer my (biased) opinion without disrespecting an opponent.

    Thanks for stopping by!


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