Monday, 16 March 2009

Two wins and a defeat: but hardly a true version of events

Without doing anything except look at the results from the last time I blogged properly you would see 2 wins and a loss. The reality is that the incongruity of that loss is absolute: at the end of Wednesday night did you feel like you'd lost?

Well, if you happen to be a stray Italian on this site perhaps you do; but generally, you felt like a winner because we had come through a staunch test. More on this later.

But before the test of Roma, came Burnley - a team who had been very successful in the cups this season: they were an odd rule within the Carling Cup away from the final. Owen Coyle should be praised that his young(ish) team try and play football, but it was like watching Arsenal junior. If you allow Arsenal space at the Grove, providing we have our shooting boots with us, you won't be in the cup draw for the next round.

What shooting boots they were though: from my seat in the stadium, Vela's looked the best goal; watching the highlights makes you understand just how good Eddie's goal was. I suppose what there was to take away from this game was the question of what if: how would we have progressed in the last 12 months without the injury to a player of Eduardo's calibre. Bare in mind when he was signed, he was described as being "as valuable as Henry". We've lacked a true forward who bangs in the goals left, right and centre. RVP scores many a great goal but he doesn't do it enough week-in, week-out. When he's in form he's bloody marvellous but in recent games he's looked average. Essentially, Burnley was the perfect pre-cursor to a huge Champions League game: a lovely warm-up.

Then to Rome: lets get it out of the way quickly - it was a shocking goal to concede particularly in those circumstances. What is it with us and conceding goals to Brazilian defenders in the last 16 of the Champions League? The commentators waxed lyrical about the great positioning of Juan to put it away but make no mistake: after several weeks of bad defending this wasn't just bad: it was fucking awful.

Having said that, in the aftermath of Roma one has to look at the media bias against Arsenal. It was written that we'd sneaked through and didn't deserve it. Also that it had required penalties to save our blushes.

Now imagine if it had been Man United: we'd have heard about the great character of the players after 120 minutes football; how they'd been faced with resilient opponents who fought tooth and nail for every ball.

The pure facts are these: we were goddamn unlucky. We scored a solid goal in the first leg yet couldn't add to our lead despite playing them off the park. We were poor in the first half in Italy but from then on dominated the game. And we took our penalties better. Just because England always lose on penalties doesn't mean they are a question of luck: each one was taken well.

Occasionally matches happen where you just cannot get rid of the opposition: eventually we needed penalties to do so, but we're through and in the draw on Friday. And all teams require luck: JT slipped last year so never say never...

Wednesday night brought an end to one of the most fortuitous unbeaten runs I've ever seen; but it also kept us on the path to Rome. With players slowly returning, maybe - fingers crossed - we can be at full strength for a momentous night.

Often, after these big games, we can't follow it up. After we won in the Bernabeu we lost away at Blackburn. After last years joys of Milan, we followed this up with 0-0 in Wigan. That made victory against Blackburn so much the sweeter.

Especially with AllardyKe in charge. I really hope Blackburn go down. Watch Diouf's challenge on Almunia. It is just as bad as Martin Taylor's except he has much longer to think about it. Manuel could now have a broken leg. And considering what a superb keeper he has become that would be terrible.

But one has to look at Allardyce and ask serious questions. To sign a player like Diouf once can be classified as an error; to sign Diouf twice is an imprisonable offence. The fact he wasn't sent off is a shocking bit of officialdom.

In the meantime we can reflect on a lovely Arsenal win: a first 4-0 victory since the reverse fixture; and an absolute peach of a first goal from Arshavin who in galvanising the team alone looks worth the price-tag.

In that we're finally back in the top 4, we're in the draw for the quarter finals of the Champions League, and we now have an FA Cup quarter final tomorrow, we have achieved a lot more than two wins and a defeat in our last 3 games.

Keep the faith,

1 comment:

604 said...

'from my seat in the stadium, Vela's looked the best goal'

lol family enclosure