We’ve now experienced both sides of the late equaliser coin in the last week. Heartbreak at Birmingham and all-ecompassing relief yesterday. It’s hard to say it was a game we deserved to get anything out of but who knows just how vital that point could be come the end of the season.
After the game I texted somebody saying ‘definite hangover from last week’ and it’s funny that’s exactly how Arsene Wenger described it. He said:
We had a hangover from last week definitely – you could see that in the first-half. In the second-half we were a little bit better but lacked that spark. The reason we got a point today was the desire and the refusal to lose.
And it is something we’ve said about this team, even playing badly they can scrape a result and they did exactly that yesterday. Scott Carson was pretty much untroubled all day long but in the last minute Adebayor headed down a Clichy cross to Nicklas Bendtner and the Dane slotted home with aplomb to grab an unlikely looking point.
I have to say that was probably the worst we’ve played all season. It wasn’t that they didn’t try, it was just not happening for them. Diaby back in the side after injury struggled on the left, Hleb came inside a lot and in the first half in particular that left Villa a lot of space on the flanks which they exploited well. There was a suspicion of offside about their goal which was fortunate – Agbonlahor’s driven cross directed into the net by Senderos. Unfortunate but if Senderos hadn’t gotten a touch then Carew was there to put it away.
The best chances of the game fell to Villa and Manuel Almunia made some decent saves in fairness to him. Still, as much as we huffed and puffed we didn’t look like scoring. At those times you look to the bench and Bendtner aside there was nothing there to add to the attacking side of our game. You do wonder about the paucity of options and whether this squad is quite strong enough to withstand the rigours of the final 10 games but there’s not much point getting stressed about that now. It’s not like we can do anything about it.
The sooner we get Robin van Persie and Tomas Rosicky back the better and, optimistic as this would seem, we need them to stay fit between now and the end of the season. The boss admits we’re going through a bad spell at the moment. The goals from midfield have dried up, Adebayor hasn’t scored in a few games, United are on a roll and this is going to be one hell of a fight now. The only thing I will say is that our bad spell isn’t seeing us lose games which is a positive – and as I said above I prefer to look at yesterday as an important point gained rather than two dropped.
The way some people were talking you’d think we were playing Scabtown Rovers and not a team that’s in good form, fighting for a Champions League place and notoriously difficult to beat.
There was some criticism after the game for the Villa fans who sang songs about Eduardo’s broken leg. Arsene Wenger said:
You expect better from people who come to football stadiums. It looks that intelligence and stupidity can have no limits. Unfortunately stupidity has won.
I’m not sure we do expect better, that’s the sad thing. Martin O’Neill was ‘bitterly, bitterly disappointed’ according to journalist Philippe Auclair who attended the post-game press conference. He was the only one in the room to mention this to the Villa manager while some of the assembled hacks found the songs funny. That says a lot, eh?
So now Milan. And what a game that’s going to be. We are struggling a bit at the moment but the performance against the Italians in the first leg was very good, I thought. More like the Arsenal we’ve expected this season and hopefully they can go to the San Siro and pick up where they left off in the home leg. It would be a massive confidence boost to go there and win, or draw, and could be the kick we need to get ourselves going again. What defeat might do I don’t really want to think about.
Finally, in relation to the match, I hope all the people who left early heard the roars as the goal went in. Perhaps it’s not my place to criticise but where does anybody have to be at 4.45 on a Saturday afternoon that’s so important they can’t stay to the end of a game and try and cheer the lads on? Sure, they didn’t play well and it is frustrating but seeing empty seats when we’re fighting to get an equaliser is a bit crappy, in my opinion. Supporters. Supporters. Supporters.
In a Sunday round-up here’s Eduardo in the News of the World with his funky blue crutches. He credits Gary Lewin with saving his foot and talks about the incident, forgiving Martin Taylor and the road to recovery.
Patrick Barclay in the Telegraph about Eduardo’s injury and referees:
We keep reading that Taylor’s challenge was ”not malicious” – as if that were widely disputed. He no more meant to break Eduardo’s leg than the drunken driver means to injure the child who suddenly runs into the road.
And that’s about that. Have a good Sunday, more on Milan in the next couple of days.