Thursday, 27 August 2009

It was the referee who gave it. Match report and thoughts on the draw

It was a dive. It was a dive. It was a dive.

Despite every Arsenal fan accepting that, we still have had it repeated ad nauseam. All day long. So I thought it should be said a few more times.

description of events is perfect:
Last night Eduardo did what a million strikers do – nudge the ball past the keeper and trust his momentum will provide enough contact to yield a penalty.

Except he screwed it up. Contact was minimal (though not proved as non-existent – see his right leg). Want to call last night a dive? Fine. And if he does it too often, he’ll get a rightly deserved reputation.

All completely true. It's a standard striker thing. It's called 'playing for the penalty'.

And as the consummate goal-scorer, I'm not surprised Eddie can do it.

But the real culprit was not Eduardo, it was the ref. Every week in the premiership we see strikers make ridiculous dives. But they aren't punished for it because everyone realises how ridiculous it is. I was sat right behind where Eddie went down and it clearly wasn't a penalty.

But every week strikers try and win penalties like that. Yet Eduardo is the culprit because the referee was stupid enough to give it.

I don't blame the Celtic fans for being incensed; when a Ryan Babel dive knocked us out the Champions League I was livid (although the difference is, we were going through at that point). But diving isn't good and I'm sure Wenger will have a word with Eddie - there's nothing to be gained by doing it in public.

In terms of the match both teams started brightly without creating much. Eddie's penalty was all it needed to hammer home the fact we were going through. And Celtic then didn't even try and get forward.

Yes, we weren't as creative as usual but we were missing arguably our four best players for the first 70 minutes. No Nasri, Arshavin, Fabregas or Van Persie meant we were never going to create 15 chances. But crucially, there was no need to.

Eboué scored a lovely second after some good build-up play by Bendtner. When he grabbed an assist in the first half at Everton I was slightly ironic about it. Yet he really is in soup-herb form.

Arshavin came on and the little man scored a sumptuous third as he shot early to beat the keeper.

And that, was pretty much it except for a well-finished last minute goal for Celtic.
We looked solid defensively, perhaps Diaby played a little too attackingly.

But it's four wins from four from what looked like potentially difficult fixtures.

And what's more, we've had a relatively lucky draw with Alkmaar being arguably the weakest team in Pot Two. Still, it took Liverpool extra time to see off Liege last year so its hardly just a load of whipping boys. I am happy though as for the first time, two of the three group opponents were my choice - I wanted Alkmaar and Liege as they're close enough for European away days - it could be a European tour.

Either way, we can't complain as we look well on the way to Madrid.

Keep the faith,

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