Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Sack Nike. A match report on a difficult night.

If you were to look back at this season and had to choose 3 games which had defined how it went, you would probably choose the Spurs home game in the League, the FA Cup Semi Final and tonight.

What links them all? The fact we've conceded goals because of players slipping over.

So I say sack Nike - it may not be the most grown-up response to this match but it's certainly understandable. Football is a game of small margins, particularly European knockout football: in Formula One, 2% separates the whole grid and yet some teams consistently win and some teams never even score a point.

The point here, is that a similar thesis can be applied to European knockout football: it is the odd percentage point here or there which swings these ties. So for me, it is unfathomable that three times this season, slips have cost us dear.

I'm going to make an admission: I was never a great footballer. But I know this much - the studs/blades on a football boot are supposed to grip - otherwise you might as well wear trainers. Hence the fact that we've lost goals in arguably the two biggest games of our season as a direct result of players slipping is ridiculous.

For seven or eight minutes, The Grove was rocking - whether at Highbury or The Grove I have doubts whether I have ever seen the stadium louder. We were in the ascendancy and taking the game to United - the antithesis to the first leg.

Then Kieran Gibbs should have cleared out a routine cross, but slipped and United scored. Suddenly, the belief had waned: the faith was lacking. People were just coming to terms with this early blow when the referee gave a dodgy free-kick and Ronaldo had a chance to show that he doesn't just dive. Although the free-kick came from a dive.

And time and again tonight, the ref gave United soft free-kicks in great positions. How many did we get? One - and RVP had already gone off.

I've one word for this referee: Cunt. He was a cunt of the first degree - what have Arsenal ever done to annoy Italians.

Once we were two down, the reality was we were forced to attack. Yet, this posed two problems: firstly, United have a relatively strong defence who were made to look like Gods since time and again they failed our strikers and got away with it - Ade was working hard but he kept on getting barged away from the ball; and secondly, the need to attack meant we left holes which they exploited for their goal.

I'm not saying we would have won without the dodgy refereeing decisions and unlucky slips but it would have been much closer.

It's hard to analyse this match as it wasn't a match. After ten minutes, even I, the eternal optimist, had to rate Arsenal's chances at minimal. Yet, we can look at this night at what could have been.

And we leave with our heads held high - our players were the epitome of dignity over the two legs in comparison to Ronaldo's cheating, posturing and show-boating.

Further analysis to follow.

But now more than ever we need to keep the faith,


Carl Eugene W. said...

Players wear short studs to lower their chances of catching them and doing a potentially career-ending ligament injury. They don't just come in one size, and its almost certainly not nike's fault.
again, you have shown yourself to be, in the words of the messiah, a 'numpty'

Anonymous said...

surprisingly not too shabby, loving the ending!

Anonymous said...

Not surprised you left out the fact that the 'cunt' gave you a very soft penalty and a huge blow to us ruling out Fletcher for Rome (unfairly.)

Anonymous said...

youre bloody angry, fair enough, maybe it wasnt a freekick, he still got clattered, and a goal from 41 yeards is either a great goal or crap keeping, dont blame the ref, or united, it was yours to win and every arsenal fan knew it. You could hear that at the beginning of the game. Best team went through over two legs and you know it.
Adebayor was pushed off the ball because he is weak and doesnt have a passion for arsenal
And fletcher performed one of the best tackles of the season whilst adebayor could easily have broken Carricks foot.
youll win nothing with kids

Anonymous said...

'I was never a great footballer' - HMH were fantastic. under 12 divison 2 CHAMPIONS!