Frank Stubbs: Friend or foe?

Friend or Foe?

Taking too much notice of pre-season results or scorelines is not something any of us should find ourselves doing. Saying that my competitive side means I would want us to win a game of 'Kerplunk', so it was a disappointing end to the weekend's events.

Apart from purchasing my match tickets my plans for Emirates Cup weekend were all very much last-minute, mainly due to the huge amount of time and logistical planning involved with my trip to Asia.

Consequently I made a last-minute hotel booking and took in an opportunity to experience the mighty Iron Maiden at The O2 on Saturday night. Throw in some good summer weather and all in all in made for an entertaining couple of days, even if the football didn't quite end up how we all wished.

"The long and thoroughly advantageous Asia tour, in addition to an intense game only 24 hours earlier, was always going to take its toll in the latter stages"

Meeting up with Gooner friends meant I didn't see much of Saturday's opening game but looked forward to our match against Napoli with plenty of anticipation, even if the emotions lacked any of those associated with a first-class fixture during the normal season.

One or two individual errors saw us go in at half-time a couple of goals behind, something we all hope we get out of our system before the real stuff starts, but the scoreline didn't reflect the overall game. A good chance early on should have seen us take the lead and Poldi missed an opportunity to level things up from the spot of course.

The second period saw total domination of possession and a couple of goals allowed us to take something from the game.

Relaxing in the sunshine for Sunday's opening fixture was definitely a good idea after Saturday night's rock n' roll exploits and Porto's victory over Napoli was very entertaining, especially in the second half.

It set things up nicely for the weekend's final game and from our point of view the situation was simple; a victory would see us win the tournament.

I thought that would depend on us taking advantage of our early dominance. The long and thoroughly advantageous Asia tour, in addition to an intense game only 24 hours earlier, was always going to take its toll in the latter stages, especially on those players who had been involved throughout the weekend.

Although we took a lead into the half-time break, it could and should have been more and arguably would have seen us victorious.

Didier Drogba has caused us one or two problems down the years so entering the fray just as we looked at our most fatigued gave an almost inevitable feel to the whole conclusion.

If you are a fan of his or not I think it is fair to say there have been parts of his game to deeply (and reluctantly) admire down the years and others that are extremely frustrating.

On Sunday we got to see both of course and it meant London's Galatasaray contingent got to enjoy the final stages of this tournament a little more than we did.

Like anything pre-season we have to look at what we got out of the whole event and overall it is about fitness and all the physical benefits that go with it.

Off the field of course we got a sun-drenched weekend of football and we now look forward to our last warm-up fixture before it all gets serious.

Finland is yet another country I haven't visited so it promises to be interesting. Throw in a summer weekend and our game on Saturday evening and the entertainment levels promise to reach the usual heights!

Over Land and Sea!


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