Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Nasri and Wilshere are like dumb and dumber. Birmingham match report.

Arsenal 2 Birmingham City 1

There was a moment in this match not shown on MOTD which arguably is an even greater indictment on Jack Wilshere than the red card.

Because a few minutes before half time, Samir Nasri was clearly fouled by a Birmingham player after tracking back to help Emmanuel Eboué. And after getting up off the floor, he then went and kicked the Birmingham player.

My powers of recollection fail me, but I think the referee made an error and didn't give us the free-kick. But to go and kick somebody off-the-ball is bona fide stupidity. Nasri was booked. And to be honest, that was lucky; on another day, away from home, with a different referee, Nasri could easily have been off.

And to me, that's a big issue. Goodplaya is correct to point out that we hadn't had a red card for violent conduct in 140 games before Saturday, but I can only critique what happened on the pitch. And the reality is that Nasri could have gone and Wilshere did.

The question over who was more guilty is an interesting one. What MOTD missed, and what I thought was most interesting about the whole Wilshere incident, is that 15 minutes or so before that, Zigic fouled Wilshere a little cynically in the middle of the pitch. Martin Atkinson was stood right over Wilshere but little Jack still tried to go for Zigic at the time.

So Nasri should know better considering his age, but Wilshere was saving that tackle up for 15 minutes - I reckon he'd been waiting to do Zigic. So although it was a challenge incomparable to Martin Taylor's on Eduardo, there probably was the same degree of malice involved. And therefore, I feel I can do nothing but condemn Wilshere.

It was a match where truth be told, we didn't play well. Considering how ponderous Birmingham were for much of the second half, this should have been a much more comfortable victory. There's a school of thought which says it's good to win when playing badly but one has to question why we struggle against teams of the calibre of Birmingham. Chamakh won the penalty and scored the goal and there is certainly an over-reliance on him at the moment to make things tick - the return of Fabregas and Bendtner should hopefully ease some of the burden off his shoulders.

Ultimately, there were few people who came out of this match with a lot of credit. The goal scored by Birmingham was a good goal but it showed naivety to let them have a beautiful angle to cross from - I'm not complaining about the goal itself, but how it was created.

The positive from this weekend is three points when Chelsea and United dropped points, and a first win in four in the Premier League. The negative, is that against better opposition we'd have punished for our terrible first-half performance. Right now, this side is playing with nowhere near the fluency seen in August; I'd almost go as far as to say it's an entirely different style of play.

A win's a win, and if we can beat Shakhtar tonight then we can go to Manchester with a degree of momentum. But I for one am very much unconvinced by this team at present.

Keep the faith.

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