Highs and lows, eh? That’s football. From the dizzying heights of the San Siro to the muddy depths of the JJB. We knew how important three points would be but sadly a draw was all we could muster.
The performance on Tuesday was marvellous, the performance yesterday was pedestrian and average. It now means that Manchester United can go a point ahead of us if they win their game in hand. That game in hand is against Bolton on Wednesday week, before that they play Derby which is as close to a guaranteed three points as the Premier League has ever provided. We play Boro on Saturday but United could be top by then as we have a late kick-off.
The result means we haven’t won in the league since the 2-0 victory over Blackburn on the 11th of February. Arsene Wenger said:
You go through a patch like that sometimes. The negative is that we have a deficit in points. The positive is that we didn’t lose a game. Against Birmingham and today we lost four points but I am sure we will take-off again. We have to keep our calm, focus and belief.
If you step back and look at it, our disappointing days in the league (Boro apart) are being measured in draws. Not defeats. You just got the feeling that the squad was stretched too far yesterday. Although we welcomed back Robin van Persie after an eternity out injured the fact that Kolo Toure ended up playing wide right tells its own story. With Rosicky, Walcott, Diaby and Denilson all injured there really wasn’t much else he could do though. There were a couple of chances but overall we didn’t create enough and lacked that little bit of spark in the final third in particular.
There was a lot of talk about the pitch. Arsene Wenger said:
It is not a professional football pitch. The pitch is a disaster. It is disrespectful for the fans who come and pay money to see that.
He’s right. Now, firstly let me make it very clear I’m not using the pitch as an excuse or anything like it. They had to play on exactly the same surface, but there are teams who wouldn’t notice a bad pitch. Look at Sam Allardcye’s Bolton, for example. If you lump the ball in the air all the time the pitch doesn’t matter, if you like to stroke the ball around with nice passing then you will. Arsenal like to play a neat, passing game so a shit pitch makes life more difficult. What I would say though is when you have a pitch as bad as that and you have two strikers the size of Bendtner and Adebayor up top perhaps you should put principles to one side every now and then and give it a good hoof.
Anyway, there really is no excuse for any team to have a pitch like Wigan’s in this day and age. The technology and expertise available should ensure every club has a decent playing surface. There should be some kind of standard and clubs who have terrible pitches should be given a good clip around the ear.
Anyway, back to the real stuff and as I said earlier our bad days in the league are draws. That’s significant. I don’t quite know how but it is. I mean, you’d rather draw a game than lose a game, right? And while the scales have tipped slightly in United’s favour at the moment we know how quickly things can change. Those pessimistic about the likelihood of them dropping points between now and the end of the season might need reminding they’ve lost 4 times in the league already. They can do it again, I know they can!
Again I’m ignoring most of the media reports. I just can’t be arsed with the cunts who stick the knife in after tickling us under the chin all week after Milan. I don’t think the title has been lost, there are loads of points to play for and crucially there are points to play for against United and Chelsea. What I will say is that we have made life a little more difficult for ourselves, no question about that.
I’m also not going to talk about how we need a winger or another striker or anything like that. What is the point at this stage of the season? We can’t sign anyone till the summer so there’s no need to drive ourselves crazy speculating about ‘what if’ we had spent Â£20m on some wing wizard that, in fairness, doesn’t even exist.
It is time to regroup though. We have to get a run of wins together in the league. We’ve got Boro coming up this Saturday, that’s where all the focus should be. Disappointing, yes, but then we rarely do things the easy way, do we?
Right, that’s that. Stuff to do, have a good Monday, more tomorrow.