Sunday, 13 September 2009

There could have been another Hillsborough. Match report.

"We are both professional footballers and I know that the game is physical, I too have made hard and sometimes mis-timed challenges but never with the intention of hurting an opponent. He set out to hurt me today.

"I do feel lucky that I have not suffered a greater injury. The contact was only centimetres from my eye. I have not received an apology from him, there were no words exchanged afterwards. He had his own agenda today and that is bad for football. It's bad for the game we all love.

"I want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with the result of today's match. We do not hide from that disappointment but I need to speak out about his behaviour."

Excerpts from Robin Van Persie's statement on the official site if you haven't already seen it. The only thing he gets wrong is his suggestion that it has nothing to do with the result of the match.

Because let's be quite clear here: Adebayor had a brilliant game. He worked hard, he got in good positions, he tracked back, he helped out. And therefore its not disingenuous to suggest that if Adebayor had been sent off - as he undoubtedly should - when the scoreline was still 1-1, it would have been a very different football match.

Indeed, if Arsenal looked like they were going to win the game at 1-1, how much more is that true if the opposition lost their star performer. A convincing argument I think.

This really was the most ridiculous of defeats.

Does Almunia make a howler for the first goal? Yes. But that doesn't disguise the double refereeing shocker proceeding it.

Now maybe I've got this wrong but as I saw it, Bellamy and Sagna were challenging for the ball. I grant you, I haven't seen a good replay, either on a stream or on Match of the Day. Suddenly, the ref gives a free-kick and Sagna a yellow card. Preposterous. There was nothing there.

Should Almunia catch it? Yes. But that also doesn't change the fact that Richards was offside. It should have been a moot point but that doesn't disguise the poor officiating. These things shouldn't only matter if they end up in a goal.

So in a very even match, City led at the break: but it always looked like working that hard would hurt them by the end of the match - they were closing Arsenal down quickly whenever we looked like we could penetrate.

Oh and I forgot to mention, Adebayor tried to break Cesc's ankle. What was extraordinary about this was that the ref clearly saw it: he gave a free-kick. Yet Ade wasn't even booked because it had to be the day where everything went for him.

After half-time we improved. We created a number of chances the best of which was a Thomas Vermaelen shot which Given palmed away and the rebound didn't quite fall for RVP.

But, better was to follow. Tomas Rosicky was in an Arsenal shirt once more. In a competitive match no less. And what a return.

On 52 minutes Rosicky entered the field of play to replace Denilson. Less than ten minutes later, he had created a goal. It really wasn't a cardboard cut-out. He played a lovely ball into RVP who hit a quick snapshot into the corner past Given. That's what RVP is picked for: moments of magic. All-square it was then.

There followed a ridiculous passage of play. First, RVP did clatter Adebayor. Lets make no mistake about this. And it was a yellow-card-worthy, strikers' challenge. But that in no way excuses Adebayor's vicious, mindless stamp, which an inch further to the left would have blinded RVP in one eye. When players' make a two-footed lunge they don't - unless they're Roy Keane - aim to injure the player. Adebayor did just that and I hope a heavy punishment is forthcoming.

Amongst all this madness we were dominating the game but not managing to kill City off. It was Old Trafford all over again except the opposition weren't winning. Yet.

Soon they were. The ball was sloppily given away in attack and City countered. Good ball in, Bellamy whacks it home, uphill struggle once more. It's all very well criticising Song for not putting in a full-blooded challenge but he had just been booked (ridiculously I might add) and so he couldn't fly in and risk being sent off. But with fifteen minutes to go it still looked like we could get something from the game - the City second goal was completely against the run of play.

It was at this point that I realised how cuntish the City front-line was. To borrow a phrase from George Bush it was an axis of evil. On the one hand, you had Craig 'the nutter with the putter' Bellamy, and on the other Adebayor who had established himself as a first-rate wanker since the summer. To be frank, I really didn't dislike Adebayor whilst he was at the club. But over the summer he seems to have morphed into cretin-in-chief at Middle-Eastlands: his display yesterday made him look like the world's biggest cunt. He was rivalling Cashley. Seriously.

What followed was Arsenal trying to chase the game. Eduardo came on for Song and Eboue for Sagna - the latter substitution seemed a bad idea: weaken us defensively without adding anything offensively.

And the problem with having to chase the game again was that it left gaps open: sure enough, City countered and the law of the ex-player came true as Adebayor headed into the corner.

Adebayor then decided to enact the most ill-conceived goal celebration I've ever seen. It's all very well him saying he was caught up in the moment but three or four team-mates tried to stop him. And what's more, whilst he was a Gooner we treated him well and he only got abuse yesterday because he's been mouthing off in the media about the Arsenal fans mis-treating him.

I accept he was happy and he was trying to prove a point all game long. But a celebration like that was deliberately trying to stir up the crowd. Inevitably, the crowd surged forward and there could have been another Hillsborough.

Let me explain why: you might think that is an over-the-top reaction. It isn't. For better, for worse, when you go to an away game you know the whole away section will stand. The by-product of this is that you get unbelievable jostles when you score. But it also means that people can get pushed forward together. I know there are seats in the way but particularly in the gangway, there is still room for danger.

At the very least, Adebayor was stirring up people to run on the pitch รก la West Ham - Millwall and as somebody who is supposed to be a professional that is wholly irresponsible. I don't understand why Clattenburg didn't send him off.

After this, it looked like we would push forward once more. Indeed we did. Adebayor - who else? - managed to clear one off the line, Given had one hit him which he had no idea about, and Gareth Barry produced a blatant handball which we should have had a penalty for and Barry should have had an early bath.

In two trips to Manchester we may have taken no points but we've also experience two shocking refereeing displays.

Tommy Rosicky scored a well-taken goal in the 88th minute but it was too little, too late, although RVP did manage to hit the woodwork for (already) the 3rd or 4th time this season.

All in all, a hugely disappointing result but not one that is as bad as the scoreline suggests. We are now six points behind but we've also played three of the six hardest away games this season in our first four matches. The crucial question is whether we can win our next five matches. That, would be the hallmark of potential champions.

Keep the faith,


Rob the Gooner said...

Nah the celebration was stupid but it wasn't ever gonna be as bad as Hillsborough, it was just a bit of pushing and shoving, Hillsborough wasn't hooliganism it was a lack of space and large barriers.

Besides, it was only an isolated section and they soon calmed down. It was stupid on Ade's account because it just creates tension between fans which spills out as violence after the game. Just like what Gary the Cunt Neville does.

But we played well until we let in the Bellamy goal, and Adebayor should be banned for at least 6 matches, to distinguish it from a regular red card offence. The FA always fuck up discipline stuff though, so dont get your hopes up.

Anonymous said...

And we see a really stupid mark hughes giving excuses for adebayor.

AShipley said...

Hillsborough? Really...nowhere near.
And somehow you've said in the same article that "Adebayor tried to break Cesc's ankle" and "When players make a two-footed lunge they don't - unless they're Roy Keane - aim to injure the player."

Is this not a contradiction in terms?