Monday, 14 March 2011

♪ Bite my lip and close my eyes, take me away to paradise! ♪

Nothing really exciting been happening in Saalfelden lately...

Last weekend, I made the well-delayed voyage to Kik. It was further away than I expected but well worth the visit coz I bought a jigsaw, headphones, a cheese grater and some sponges for the washing up! Pretty good for about 6 euros altogether! BARGAIN! I don't have too much faith in the headphones, but they only cost a euro so they're very disposable!

While I was over the far side of town, I also had a look round Kika (an Ikea style shop) and Intersport XXXXL! Was considering buying a football coz it's such nice weather at the moment and really miss playing football but the cheapest they had was 10 euros! Where's the cheapo £3 ball eh?!

This weekend I managed to find some rollerblades in the shoe cupboard so did a bit of rollerblading! I say 'did a bit of' rollerblading; I literally mean that! I just did a few laps round the big empty table tennis room then gave up before I could damage myself (or any of the equipment!). I enjoyed it and will try and go again when I next have time!

I have been helping my teachers go through some of their classes' 'Schularbeit' and it's so much harder to think of the proper English than I thought it would be! I have to think really hard whether some of the sentences make sense, as I feel like I 'translate' their sentences into proper English as I read them. Hopefully I've been a good English person and have corrected their answers correctly!

On another note Arsenal have had a terrible fortnight being knocked out of the FA Cup against Man United and the Champions League against Barcelona. The matches were completely different - against Barca, we were the underdogs and from the start could barely string 2 passes together. We miraculously had Fabregas and Van Persie back from injury but Fab was at fault for their first goal and Van Persie got a controversial 2nd yellow card for attempting a shot one second after the whistle went for offside. Our two 'key' players out and we cracked, letting them score 2 more goals for the score to be 3-1 on the night (3-2 on agg.). The stats after the match showed how utterly pathetic we were - for the first time in Champions League history, a team registered no shots (our goal was an own goal). Terrible! Perhaps we could've held onto 1-1 if Van Persie stayed on and gone through on aggregate but Barca were just too strong and it was almost inevitable that we would lose.

The Man United match was a different story. A case of bad luck rather than losing to the better team. For most of the match we dominated, creating shooting chances and keeping possession much better than against Barcelona. Edwin Van Der Sar won man of the match for his performance, so we must have been doing something right. But as always, luck was against us and a couple of counter attacks either side of the half time break meant we lost 2-0 and were dumped out of the FA Cup. Man Utd are a good team (they were playing seven defenders, O'Shea, Fabio and Rafael all playing in midfield, leaving Scholes, Giggs and Valencia as reliable back-up on the bench) but we played better generally and if only we could find that finishing touch we would've won. Our team just isn't strong enough - in depth or in quality. We have good up-and-coming players but they need more good role-models, players who have tasted success and are hungry for more. Otherwise, we aren't going to win anything for a long time. Fingers crossed for the Premier League....

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

♫ How do you solve a problem like the Arsenal? ♪

After a shocking Carling Cup Final defeat by Birmingham, there are now three opportunities for Arsenal to finally win a trophy for that ever-bare looking cabinet: the FA Cup, the Champions League and the Premier League. As a fan, I would love Arsenal to win them all but I severely doubt it’s possible, as we have just reached that inevitable point in our season where our key players have gotten themselves injured (Fabregas and Van Persie are prime examples) and there’s a lot of blame to be shouldered by Wenger’s transfer policy (why hasn’t he bought a solid, world-class defender or goalkeeper in the last three seasons?).

The FA Cup: I would say this is our best chance because we ‘only’ have to beat Leyton Orient, but as we have already seen, they are true fighters and Arsenal LOVE to throw away a lead (nobody mention Newcastle). I believe beating Orient is possible, especially as we’re at home for the replay, but we have to be at our best and this may not be possible with Van Persie currently ruled out for three weeks after damaging his knee in the Carling Cup Final and Cesc on the sidelines after pulling a hamstring. Jack Wilshere has really stepped up to the level of Premier League football and he was our best player against Birmingham so I believe he will play a key role in the Orient match, thereby lessening the effect of Fabregas’ withdrawal. However, Bendtner and Chamakh have not been up to scratch lately and I worry where we will get goals from.

A further disadvantage of our FA Cup run is that we potentially face Man Utd in the next round which will be played next Saturday. Firstly, Man Utd are always going to be tough to beat and secondly, this will form part of ‘KILLER WEEK!’, as I have affectionately decided to call it, which includes the 2nd leg of the Champions League match against Barcelona.

Although I am fairly confident we will beat Orient, the prospect of Man Utd in the next round is daunting and I’m sure the players feel it too.

The Champions League: As I mentioned above, if Arsenal progress in the FA Cup, they will face Man Utd and a so-called ‘KILLER WEEK!’ will take place. Two big matches in the space of 5 days could mean players lose focus, not to mention the increased risk of injury through fatigue, for either or both of the matches. On the positive side, Arsenal won the 1st leg 2-1 at home which boosted confidence in this young team, as Barcelona are widely regarded as the best club football team on the planet. However, this leads to the fact that the away leg is at Camp Nou, an awe-inspiring stadium, and as commentators say ‘It’s a game of two halves’ i.e. anything could happen in the 2nd leg; Arsenal haven’t won the tie yet.

This is perhaps the competition I feel least confident about. Like I said, Barca are in my opinion the best team in the world, playing at their home ground in front of thousands of their fans against an Arsenal team missing key players. Worrying!

And finally, the Premier League: This is perhaps the most do-able for Arsenal as it isn’t a knock-out competition and if we get knocked out of the other competitions, we can focus all our attention on winning the most coveted title in England: Premier League Champions. Admittedly, we face at least three big clubs in our last dozen matches, Man Utd, Tottenham and Liverpool, but we should have our key players back to fitness by then and we often play better against our main rivals. At the time of writing, Man Utd have just had a 6 point lead ahead of Arsenal reduced to 3, thanks to Chelsea. If Man Utd lose just one more of their matches, I truly believe we have what it takes to overcome this 3-point deficit.

So, if I had to make a decision on which one I’d like Arsenal to win most, I’d say the Champions League. It’s a truly spectacular occasion when you beat Barcelona and if we managed to beat them outright, the other teams will seem easy in comparison.

However, if I am being realistic, I’d say the Premier League. Man Utd have slipped up now, giving Arsenal a glimpse of hope at overtaking them and becoming League champions for the first time since the 2003/4 season. I don’t think Arsenal always perform well in cup situations (Wenger for the first time in many years didn’t use the Carling Cup as a platform to ‘blood’ youth players into the first team and despite getting to the final with our regular starting line up, we still didn’t win) but when we have 12-15 league games left, even if we only win 90% of them it’s possible to win the league. We just need a little bit of luck for the results of our competitors to go our way. And this year, I feel LUCKY!!!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Yo-Yo-ing in Saalfelden

Despite the playful title, this is going to be a slightly annoyed post! Today, I was meant to have two lessons in my school (normally I have three but that teacher had already told me I wasn't needed) but both got called off.

Both of these classes are split into two and have two teachers, so if one teacher's off, I can usually arrange to go with the other teacher for that week. My first teacher told me late last night that he wasn't going to be here so I should be in the other half of the class, so a.s.a.p I emailed the other teacher asking what the class were studying and whether I should prepare something for tomorrow. Now this was at 9.30 and I kept patiently clicking on my inbox, getting more and more frustrated as it neared 10.30, the dreaded time when the internet goes off. (Despite my cries of 'No-one tells me when to go to bed!', 'GO TO BED SPOTTY!' is the message I hear)

So the internet went off and I've still not heard from the other teacher. Or the teacher of my 2nd class... So far, so 'bad-looking'!

But I decided I should be more responsible so I set my alarm for 7.40 and when it went off, I got up and ready for work (somewhat tired and not really fancying a day of work where I have no real idea what I should be doing!). I went across to the school a few mins before the first class and talked to my teacher. She had no idea I'd been told to work with her today; she expected me to take the other class on my own! So after a couple of suggestions of what I could do, I suggested I do her lesson next week, seeing as she seemed slightly disappointed about the idea of the kids missing out on the amount of work she'd prepared for their lesson. So: First lesson - OFF!

I went back to my room as I had nothing better to do in school. GUITAR PRACTICE!

I headed off again about 40 mins later. I talked to the teacher I was meant to be with today, but he said he wanted me in his class last week and he'd prepared lots about a new topic for his class today therefore, again, there was no point in me going! So: Second lesson - OFF!

The alternative teacher for the second lesson had already left the staff room when I found out I wasn't needed in the original class and this guy never really seems to want me in his class (even when it's a scheduled week) so I thought it was futile trying to find him and trying to persuade him that I, totally unprepared, deserved to be in his lesson.

As I was leaving the school for the second time of the day, my teacher for tomorrow came up to me and said 'Are you free after this lesson? Lets talk about tomorrow!' so reluctantly I agree. This meant another return to school after another 40 mins... But during this unexpected period of free-time I managed to watch an episode of DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES!!!

A productive day so far...

So for the third time today, I went back to school, spent about 5 mins waiting for this teacher then spent less than 30 seconds discussing tomorrow's class. Awesome. Having nothing else to do in school, I returned home feeling like a really valuable asset. A Yo-Yo in fact.

On the plus side, I managed to spot a book about the Austrian economy on my way out, which I thought might come in useful for any statistics I use in my Year Abroad Essay. One statistic: 5 teachers in 3 hours = no work for Amy.