Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the second episode of our tenth season in this incredible journey! If you haven’t caught up on the first episode of the season then I highly recommend you go and read that first by clicking here.
When I left you at the end of last episode we had finished a relatively quiet transfer window by my standards, only signing one player to go straight into the starting XI, whilst securing another 4 with significant potential. Speaking of significant potential, the board also announced plans to build a new 52,000 stadium and committed even more investment to the clubs facilities. This show of ambition was enough to convince me to sign a new 5 year deal!
Whilst off the pitch everything was on the way up, on the pitch we had a disappointing start in our first 3 games of the season with 3 draws and therefore only 3 points on the board. We would need to get some wins together quickly to achieve our Europa League qualification aim for this season.
However it would not be easy as we now try to balance the relentless schedule Champions League football brings! Particularly as we managed to draw the group of death with Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid & Rangers… no easy games whatsoever. In this episode I will take you through the months of September, October & November 2029, can we recapture some league form whilst trying to surprise some of the giants of European football? Only one way to find out…
We start the month of September with some good news from the board, work has been completed on the expansion to the first team’s training facilities. Hopefully the boys enjoy the improvements and make the most of them by producing results on the pitch!
In terms of the football we play matches across 3 competitions this month. The Premier League where we need to get some wins on the board, we also have our first taste of the Champions League as we welcome Atletico Madrid to Selhurst Park, before we begin our defence of the Carabao Cup! It’s a busy one, 3 competitions, 6 games… let’s do it!
Unbeaten? Yes. More draws? Yes. Champions League win? YES!!! Alright slow down, let’s take it one game at a time.
We kicked off the month with a trip north to face Newcastle at St James Park. It was an even game to be fair but we probably slightly edged it, unfortunately we couldn’t hold on to 1-0 lead we had from the first half courtesy of Darko Kelava (ST) and it was a 4th draw in a row in the league (1-1).
However we didn’t have to wait long for our first 3 points in the league as we welcomed Leicester to Selhurst Park. Football is a funny old game, this was one of our worst performances of the season as we rotated the starting XI completely in preparation for the Atletico Madrid tie, but we managed to get 2 first half goals and hold on to the clean sheet for 3 valuable points (2-0).
Then it was the big one… our first game in the Champions League against one of the biggest teams in Europe. Atletico Madrid stood in front of us with a squad packed full of quality far greater than anything we have, did that scare my boys? Did it f**k.
We were fantastic from the first whistle and honestly outplayed them. It looked like we would have to settle for a share of the points (which I would have taken your arm off for before a ball was kicked) but a late corner with only 3 minutes left on the clock led to our summer signing Daniel Janev (CB) rising highest to thump home a bullet of a header to give us all 3 points and take the roof off Selhurst Park (1-0). WHAT A WIN!
It was a good start, better than I could have imagined, but there are still 5 games to go and I am going to enjoy every single match in this competition, regardless of what happens. We couldn’t congratulate ourselves for too long however as we were straight back to league football to face Norwich. We were in control for the whole match to be honest and the scoreline is closer than it should have been (2-1).
That makes it 3 wins in a row in all competitions, and we made it 4 with a win at home in the 3rd round of the Carabao Cup against fellow Premier League side West Brom (3-0). Our squad depth is proving to be very useful as we are able to rotate the full starting XI and still produce quality performances against mid/lower premier league sides.
With a pending match away at the Allianz Arena I tried to continue the full squad rotation into the final match of the month against Bournemouth in the hope of making it 5 wins in a row in all competitions and 3 in a row in the league. However unfortunately it was a game too far as we were somehow held 1-1 at home, I can’t fault the performance at all, in fact I think this was our best attacking display of the season, we just couldn’t finish the chances we created.
Well we certainly improved the form in the league with 2 wins from 4, but the 2 draws again should have been victories so it’s more points dropped. We’re just drawing far too many games in the league at the moment, as you will see in the table below. However, with all that said, we did win a Champions League game against Atletico Madrid which was just incredible! Let’s take a look at how those wins have affected the table.
Starting to get back towards the end of the table we want to be at, but with 5 draws from 7 games we need to start racking up those wins as soon as possible to ensure we are in contention for European Football again next season.
We faced the exact same scenario in October as we did in September with 6 games across 3 competitions. This time it would be 3 games in the league, including matches against Liverpool & Arsenal, as well as 2 games in the Champions league against Bayern Munich & Rangers. Due to the number and the difficulty of games I am expecting a few losses this month, but let’s see what we can do!
We went to the Allianz and beat Bayern Munich 2-0… that actually happened…HOW?!? It was a full snatch and grab as we had 3 shots on target all game and our goalkeeper finished as man of the match! Who cares how we did it, WE BEAT BAYERN IN THERE OWN BACK YARD (2-0). That leaves us at the top of the group and flying but there’s still plenty of games to play so I’m trying to remain calm.
We rotated the full starting XI against Reading and again produced a fantastic performance, we were in complete control and I was waiting for the scoreline to go to 2-0 but then the ball broke in the 83rd minute and Reading registered only their second shot of the whole game to steal a share of the points (1-1). It’s game like these that we’re drawing and honestly it’s so frustrating because we are in complete control and must learn to see it through!
However no time to sulk as we had an incredibly difficult 10 days where we play Liverpool at Anfield, then carry on up north to face Rangers in the Champions League, before travelling back down to London to face Arsenal before then going straight back north to face Newcastle in the 4th round of the Carabao Cup.
The trip to Anfield was impressive, we played fantastic gutsy attacking football and were rewarded with a 2-1 lead which we held until the 92nd minute when Pedri managed to rocket in an equaliser to register yet another draw for us (2-2). It’s yet another lead we were not able to hold on to which is costing us so many points in the league.
Anyway, we were back to Champions League action and our second away trip in the group as we faced Rangers in Glasgow. I can only describe this as complete domination as Rangers didn’t even have a shot on target in front of their own fans, I was getting flashbacks to the Reading game with the score at 1-0, but this time the boys learnt their lesson and managed to hold on to another win in the group, which incredibly means we are sitting on 9 points with 3 wins from 3… in the group of death… this journey just makes no sense but I love every minute of it!
Unfortunately I was not loving every minute of our game back in London as we fell to our first defeat of the season. It was a really even game and actually a draw would have been a fair result, but on this occasion Arsenal’s superior quality shone through (1-2). It was actually our first defeat after 10 games unbeaten stretching back to our win on the final day of last season against Man Utd, just look how many silly draws we have had this season!
We finished this exhausting month off with another trip north to face Newcastle in the 4th Round of the Carabao Cup. Despite the inevitable tired legs and needing to add a few fresh faces to the starting XI the performance was fantastic and we finally broke them down in the 79th minute courtesy of a Ronildo Ximenes strike to give us the 1-0 win and progress us into the Quarter Finals!
Despite the incredible Champions League results and win in the Carabao Cup, we had actually gone without a win in the league again, let’s take a look at what that has done to the table at the end of October 2029.
Not bad at all all things considered. Only 1 point from European places but equally only 5 points from the relegation zone, only 1 defeat but just looks at the number of draws… 7 from 10 games? Crazy.
It looks like the top 5 are going to be a group of their own this season so I will be aiming to pick up some form and go for 6th place if possible, but we need to start winning a good run of games soon for that to become a reality.
Right here we go into the final month of the episode! This time it was just the 5 games across 2 competitions as we play 3 matches in the league and 2 more games in the Champions League group.
We started the month with a game at home against West Brom who were sitting at the bottom of the table, I rotated heavily and 2 goals from Srdja Vucinic (RW) gave us the victory (2-1). For those of you thinking ‘who on earth is that’ we signed him for £1.9m from Red Star a while ago, but he has only recently been granted a work permit, which is great news for us.
We then welcomed Rangers into town to play our 4th match of the Champions League group stage. It was a carbon copy of the match in Glasgow as we dominated from start to finish, this time adding goals into the mix and running away as comfortable 3-0 winners. 4 wins from 4 in this group… how are we doing it?! Who cares, results elsewhere meant that following this victory top spot in the group and qualification into the knockout round was confirmed!
Honestly this journey just never ceases to amaze me, but to beat Atletico Madrid & Bayern Munich on the way to securing top spot in this group of death after only 4 matches… incredible, absolutely incredible! I said in the first episode that all I wanted was to not be embarrassed and was looking forward to dropping down into the Europa League once being knocked out. Well we have a lot more than that to look forward to!
However we couldn’t celebrate for long as we had to get the coach up to Manchester to face Man City at the Etihad. It was an incredible game as we went 1-0 up, then 1-1, 2-1 up, 3-2 down before Stamatovic scored an incredible volley with virtually the last kick of the game to make it 3-3 and give us a share of the points! See draws like this, and the ones against Man Utd & Liverpool are the ones we want, it’s the others against Bournemouth, Reading & Newcastle that are costing us crucial points.
Fortunately we managed to get back to winning ways away at the London Stadium against West Ham. Probably not deserved in all honesty as the performance was not anywhere near what we have produced this season, but we were clinical with 2 first half goals and take the much needed 3 points (2-0).
Our final game of the month was matchweek 5 in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid, and with qualification and top spot confirmed I decided to rest the team for the league matches and sent out a very understrength team. We were not bad at all and even held them at 1-2 at one point, but ultimately their superior quality saw them to a 1-4 win against our squad players.
Incredible month though, to confirm qualification and top spot in our Champions League group and get 7 points from a possible 9 in the league is very welcome! Let’s see how those points have changed the table…
Ooo very interesting! So we have managed to pull away from the middle of the pack and now occupy 6th place, 1 point ahead of Liverpool and 2 points behind Man City. The top 4 are in their own little league if we’re honest but I’m very happy to have started to put some wins on the board and be back in Europa League contention!
Up next we will be going through the incredibly busy festive months of December 2029 & January 2030 where we play approximately 15 matches across 4 competitions, all whilst having the transfer window to contend with as well! It promises to be a hectic episode so make sure you don’t miss it.
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