A disappointing night in Europe last night but not YANDNIEFAÂ© because we haven’t really had one for a while. It’s our first defeat of 2007 though so some of the reaction shocked me a bit. We didn’t play well but when people call the players and the performance a ‘disgrace’ I have to disagree.Now, I’m as frustrated as you are by the result and the performance as all of you are. PSV are a team we can beat but they’re not a giant of European football. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe if we’d been playing Madrid or Milan or Barcelona we’d have been better. Are we taking our Premiership struggles against so-called ‘lesser’ teams into Europe?
I don’t know and frankly I don’t fucking care. It’s seriously over analysing the situation, to be honest. In the first half Rosicky had a good effort saved and then cleared off the line. There were a couple of Henry shots too, one in particular came from a fantatic flick over the defender’s foot but his shot was right at the keeper. You thought the second half might be better but it wasn’t really.
They scored with a long range effort which skidded in front of Jens and went in the bottom corner. Could he have done better? Possibly. I’d have to see more replays to decide though. Again though it’s the whole one shot on target one goal conceded thing which is a worry. Our only real chance came from Cesc who, after good work with Rosicky, fired in a shot from the edge of the box but the PSV keeper made a good save. Baptista on for Hleb was the only change but it didn’t make any difference and it makes things very interesting for the return leg in London in two weeks time.
I’m not even going to go into performances on an individual basis because we know most of them can play better than that. A lot better than that. I’ll mention Thierry, briefly, because again he’s coming in for some stick. He didn’t play well but could have scored first half. His poor first touch really is a sign that he’s lacking in confidence and if you needed any more proof of that the fact that he let Baptista take a free kick from an area he’d normally beat people away to have a go should be quite enough.
What I would say though is that every striker, be it Henry, Shevchenko, Ronaldo, Mickey Quinn or Dean fucking Windass, will struggle if the service from midfield is non-existent. And midfield is where we lost it in my opinion. At one point Philippe Senderos had the ball just inside our half and was looking for a midfielder to pass it to. He turned one back, found nobody, turned back again, found nobody, and in the end had to turn back again and play a square ball for Kolo. That never happens – normally the midfield looks for the ball constantly.
Anyway, as shite as we were, and we were shite, PSV were not much better. They had their one shot and goal and scored – we really do have to work on this – and that was about that. Some relatively tidy football but nothing more. For that reason I’m baffled why people are so negative about the second leg at the Grove. We know we can play a lot better, we’ve risen to the occasion for the big games this season and scoring two or more at home is not really such a big task if we play the way we know we can – with more urgency, more desire and at a much faster pace.
Afterwards Arsene Wenger was disappointed but optimistic all the same, saying:
What happened in the second half is difficult to say. We dropped our level of cohesion, our passing and fluency went. We created barely anything. We looked a little bit out of rhythm. We are in a tricky situation because we have to score two without conceding but from the game I have seen tonight, we have enough confidence and belief that we can achieve that.
I assume that when he talks about what he’s seen from the game tonight he means from what he’s seen of PSV. There wasn’t much in our performance that would assure you we could do it but, as I said, we know we can play a lot better and the big games this season have been the ones where we’ve really shone. He knows that if we play well we’ll beat PSV and beat them well. So the disappointment needs to be put into a bit of perspective and to be fair to the lads they have generally responded well to poor results this season.
On another note it’s a shame we have to revisit the situation when the players don’t take the time to acknowledge the fans who have travelled so far to support them. According to one Arseblogger there last night only Philippe Senderos took the few seconds it takes to thank the travelling fans. I understand the players are pissed off at the result but so are the fans and they didn’t get a paid a shitload of money to be there. It doesn’t take much to give a quick nod and clap and then go for the post-mortem and it means a lot.
So, time to put the Champions League to one side. On Sunday we have the Carling Cup final then a league game against Reading before the second leg.
Plenty of time to sort things out in Europe but the next two games are biggies too. Let’s see what sort of response we get.