Observe if you will the two gentlemen below.
To the left is Pieter Vink who failed to give Arsenal a clear penalty at the Grove last week. To the right is Peter Frojdfeldt who gave Liverpool as generous a penalty as you’ll ever see at Anfield last night. Peters, why have you forsaken us?
Sometimes you need luck in a season and at crucial times we haven’t had any. You look at the penalty that wasn’t in the last minute of the Birmingham game, to me a decision which shattered us far more than the 4-0 capitulation at Old Trafford, and it’s difficult not to feel hard done by.
I know these things happen in football but that doesn’t really make it any easier, does it? The timing of the penalty last night was just sickening too. Literally seconds after the restart from our goal which had made it 2-2 on the night and given us the lead on away goals. Ryan Babel broke into the box, Kolo Toure was behind him, there was no push, Toure was obviously trying not to make contact, he did not foul Babel but the ref gave the penalty anyway.
After the decision that wasn’t given our way when Hleb was clearly pulled back by Kuyt last week it’s just horrible. Of course it would be wrong to blame the referees for our departure from Europe. As I said these things happen in football but I feel it would be wrong of me not to the highlight the fact that these two men are cunts. Supposedly top class referees getting big decisions completely and utterly wrong. It’s not just that which cost us but fuck me it played a great big part.
Having gone ahead early in the game through Abou Diaby we let Liverpool back into it from a set piece. Philippe Senderos lost Sammy Hyppia completely and the Liverpool man’s header went in off the upright. That handed the momentum back to the Mugsmashers after we had been dominating the game.
In the second half Liverpool again looked dominant without really threatening too much. We had half a chance when Eboue broke into the box but with so much time his brain froze and his effort at a cross wasn’t good enough. Then they went ahead, a long ball was flicked on by Crouch, Torres took it, turned inside Senderos and fired home a rocket of a shot to make it 2-1. While Phil was certainly at fault for the first goal I’m not sure too many defenders would have got near Torres for that one. How often did we see Thierry score that kind of goal for us? Torres is quality and you can’t help but wish we had somebody who could score that kind of goal in our side at the moment.
We threw on Theo and Robin van Persie to get the goal which would get us back into the driving seat but for the most part it was all Liverpool. Then Gerrard mis-kicked on the edge of our box and Theo took it and went on a scintillating run which brought him all the way into the Liverpool area, he squared it and Adebayor slotted home, making up for the sitter he’d missed about ten minutes previously.
Then the penalty. The sickening, horrible, bile inducing penalty that wasn’t. I mean what can you say about decisions like that? You’re at Anfield, a European fortress let’s not forget, you get yourself back into the game with an incredible goal and then that. Fuck me. I’m gutted by it, I really am. Not so much with losing the game but with how it was lost. I know decisions go against you in football sometimes but the two in this tie with Liverpool have hurt us really badly.
To add insult to injury Babel made it 4-2 on the night when we’d pushed everyone forward to try and grab an equaliser. Liverpool go through, they meet Chelsea in the next round, and good luck to them. If you were to give me the choice between them, United or Chelsea it’s them every fucking time. Of course if it’s someone foreign then I’m a foreigner for the day. Sorry, Mugsmasher!
Afterwards Arsene was reluctant to fully blame the referee for the result, saying:
It’s a dodgy decision, I believe, from the referee, but there was even a lack of concentration straight away after it went 2-2. They found Babel in the box straight from kickoff, and that’s where the concentration dropped a little bit.
However, he was obviously upset by the decision, especially in light of last week’s at home, saying:
It’s very difficult for me to understand because, for me, it was no penalty tonight. I watched it clearly – again – and last week it was a real penalty.
Still, he was clear that defensively we lacked something tonight and while I know people are going to point fingers at Senderos I don’t think too many Arsenal fans would argue that this is an area that we could strengthen in the summer. We’ve conceded too many soft goals in the last few months and both Gallas and Toure have had their moments too, so let’s not go overboard on Phil. Personally I think the manager has a big decision to make here, the role of Gallas as captain complicates it, but it’s something we can discuss another day.
So are there any bright spots? Well, I wanted Theo to start and he showed when he came on why he should. He’s pacy, direct, creative and in his 20 minute cameo offered more than Eboue in the previous 70. He might be young, he might be raw still but fucking hell he improves the team at this moment in time. The run for the goal was amazing, the sort of thing that announces you as a footballer. In a big, big game on the biggest stage he did that. Incredible stuff, well done to him, and the difference between himself and Eboue, who has produced nothing but one goal in a Carling Cup game a few seasons ago couldn’t be any clearer. He’s said ‘This is what I can do!’, he has to be allowed do it now.
As for the rest well I need to just calm down and get my head around things. We all know we’ve got some problems at the moment and with United coming up on Sunday it’s going to be another huge test, I just think the end of the season is the time to make a serious and reasoned assessment of where we are and what we need to do. There’s no point now when we still have games to play.
It’s the funny thing about football, isn’t it? The hurt. The first two-thirds of this season was just joyful, so incredibly enjoyable and promising, and the last third has been one disappointment after another, a couple of results/performances apart. So while it’s easy to lash out and feel aggrieved about this that and the other right now we can’t forget the good stuff either. It would be terribly unfair to do that in my opinion. And when I say funny I don’t mean haha funny. At all.
There was more bad news as well as we lost Mathieu Flamini in the first half with what looked like an achilles injury. It looked like Gerrard trod on the back of his heel so hopefully it’s a kick and a bruise rather than anything too serious.
The manager says the dressing room is ‘completely down’ after last night’s game. He’s got to ensure he picks them back up. As much as winning can become a habit and get you through the final stages of the season, so too can losing. He can’t let them dwell on the Champions League exit. As improbable as it sounds a win on Sunday would put us to within 3 points of United and after that you just never know. While there’s something still to play for, we can’t give up.