Firstly, let’s remember this was the Carling Cup. For many seasons now it has provided us with a glimpse of Arsenal’s future and some very enjoyable nights as young players go out and beat teams older, wiser and more experienced.
Last night they came undone against a team which has cost hundreds of millions to put together. English football’s biggest mercenaries against a team of callow youth and dubious experience – whose combined cost doesn’t even come close to that either of City’s strikers. I don’t understand why anyone would suggest we should have ‘gone for it’ or played more ‘first team’ players. We know what the Carling Cup is about and how the manager views it. He says:
You cannot say we develop the players … and then never give them a game.
So while defeat is always a pain let’s not go too overboard here. The game itself was relatively tight in the first half. We didn’t necessarily create a great deal, they had the best chance when poor defending allowed Shaun Wright-Phillips to square it for Craig Bellamy whose shot went just wide. There wasn’t anywhere near the same flow to our game as their was in the previous round against Liverpool but then City played their first XI, Liverpool had a Carling Cup team out. As such guys who shone, like Eastmond and Merida, found the going a lot tougher. And understandably so.
The goals we lost the game to though are ones I hope the manager makes the players watch again on video, because there are lessons to be learned. For the first Rosicky lost the ball carelessly on our right hand side, City cleverly blocked him off although he might have done more to get back, and after that we made it easy for Tevez. Eboue never got close to him and Alex Song made the basic mistake of going to ground in the area, they teach you not to do that in under-12s football. Tevez drove on and mutanted a shot right into the top corner which gave Fabianski no chance.
The second was another belter. Sylvester backed off Wright-Phillips, he never even tried to get a tackle in, and when the ball ended up in our net, with a great finish it has to be said, you could see what a mistake that was. He had a funny game Sylvester, he did some things very well, but made some awful howlers. He ended up on his arse trying to shield the ball out which resulted in Bellamy’s chance in the first half, the ball just bounced off him a few times, his passing was careless, and Alex Song was lucky not to get a red card as last man from a card happy ref after another Sylvester cock-up saw Stephen Ireland go through on goal.
That he is our third choice centre-half scares the ever loving shit out of me. There was no Senderos last night, it seems his Arsenal career has come to a rather sad end. The official word was that he ‘picked up a bit of a knock’ but I’m doubtful that’s the case. He’s frozen out and for everyone’s sake he should be allowed move in January. He should have been allowed go in the summer when the Everton deal was agreed but what’s most clear is that Arsenal need to buy a centre-half when the transfer window opens. I would go so far as to say our need for a defender is more pressing than our need for a striker.
The third City goal came when Wilshere and Song got too close on our right allowing Bellamy to skip past them both, he crossed and some cheapo cunt I’d never heard of got the third. I think our only shot which in any way troubled Shay Given came in the last minute when Merida crashed one off the bar from range. So, overall a disappointing but not wholely unexpected result and for me the Carling Cup will always be about the youngsters.
Some nights will be epic and awesome, other nights not so much. Last night was one of the other nights and I pretty much agree with the manager when he talks about the relative importance of this competition. I suppose if I had to criticise anything it’d be the decision to play Song whose physical presence would have been required against a very big Stoke team this weekend, the booking he picked up last night means he misses the game, but if we can’t beat Stoke at home without him then maybe our troubles go a lot deeper than we think.
The other main talking point involved Arsene Wenger not shaking hands with Mark Hughes at the end of the game. Wenger said afterwards:
I am free to shake whose hand I want. I had no professional courtesy to shake his hand.
If people want to label Wenger a sore loser then fine. Frankly I thought Hughes behaviour on the touchline was appalling all night. Like a big blustering bully he prowled around, baiting Wenger, swearing at him, and basically behaving like an oaf of the highest order – then he complains at the end when a handshake is refused him? What a cunt. Honestly, if you behave like a cunt then people will treat you like a cunt and Hughes got exactly the kind of respect he deserved – none.
People talk about it being etiquette and all that but if you show someone discourtesy for 90+ minutes and behave like an oik why on earth should they feel obliged to shake your hand just because it’s custom to do so? I’m with Wenger on this one, Hughes was a prick. The easy option would have been for Arsene to shake his hand, with cameras looking on and pundits and columnists ready to have a go it’s a more difficult decision not to. For me the bottom line if you behave with even a modicum of respect and manners then you will get a handshake at the end of the game – from Arsene Wenger or any other manager. If you don’t then you’re nothing more than a hypocrite if you complain afterwards. Like Hughes did.
Anyway, there’s too much bollocks in football about shaking hands, as if it’s the be all and end all of sportsmanship. You shake hands in the tunnel, you shake hands in the line-up with the shitty music before the game, shake hands after the game. Fuck that. There’s no need for it all, FIFA/UEFA forcing this veneer of ‘We’re all super friends!!’ to make the game more advertiser friendly. A load of septic horse minge is what it is. I want less handshaking, more kicking people right up in the air. That’s what football is really about, not touchy-feely shite like anthems and pre-game embraces.
Ok, a quick round-up of some other stuff before I go. The Sun has started the inevitable ‘Let’s link every striker in the world to Arsenal now that they’ve said they’re going to spend some money’ stuff. It’s Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko, who was linked to us in the summer. He looks good on YouTube. I mean, that’s as much as we need to scout him, right?
Alex Fynn, co-author of ‘Arsènal: the Making of a Modern Superclub’, will be doing a signing along with Alan Smith in Waterstones in Enfield tomorrow. For more details check out the Online Gooner. And the official site is giving away a chunk of the Arsenal TV online stuff for free this weeekend, including the match day show against Stoke. More details here.
And that’s about that for today and that is most certainly that from me until Tuesday of next week. I’m taking a few days off and heading to Barcelona. I’ve got Barcelona DNA, you see. And with Tom away on his holidays too there was the very real possibility of no blog at all until I got back.
But fear not, with you in my absence is the most excellent Goonerholic who will ensure you get your daily dose. One of the things I like about being away is reading Arseblog when I don’t write it, and with ‘holic on board I’m definitely looking forward to it. As well as the mojitos and beers and tapas and all that.
So, until next week, take it easy, have a great weekend and I’ll blog you soon.