Saturday, June 10, 2023

West Brom 2-2 Arsenal : Precious points chucked away

Good morning from Belfast where they doused me in Bushmills and beer. And gin. And more Bushmills. And gin. I have 90 minutes of internet access and I can assuredly say:


Anyway, more of that later. The main issue this morning is yesterday. I know we should quit living the past but there you go. We drew 2-2 with West Brom, making that a grand total of 1 point from 6 from our games with them this season. Maybe they’re our new special nemesis but I, for one, have enough of their stripey ways.

We probably could have gotten off to a better start. Stephen Reid headed in a corner we could have avoided giving away. On his first start since his injury Aaron Ramsey might have done better with his marking duties but once again a set-piece proved costly. After that we dominated possession, West Brom looked to hit us on the break, and the game took on an all too familiar pattern.

The best, and probably only, chance in the first half, fell to Ramsey. Robin van Persie’s header looped back off the bar, it feel to Aaron just a couple of yards out, he had to wait for it come down, but his shot was saved by Carson. You can’t help thinking that a sharper Ramsey would have probably scored so thank you Shawcross, you horrendous mongy cunt. I hope you get shingles on your cock.

The second half provided more of the same. Lots of Arsenal possession but no real chances. Still, we didn’t look under any particular threat. That was until Manuel Almunia decided to come for a long ball played down the middle. Had he been just inside the box it was all set up for Squillaci to head it back to him. Instead he came a good 10 yards outside of his area. Squillaci was confused. Which is completely understandable as he had no business being there at all.

As Squillaci tried to figure out what his keeper was doing, Almunia failed to clear, and the ball fell to Odemwingie who just rolled it into the empty net. At this level, in a game of this importance, it was an absolutely ludicrous goal to give away. You may say what you want about Manuel this morning, perhaps he’s got the inevitable ricket out of his system, but that incident showed exactly why he lost his place in the team. Fine shot stopper on his day but capable of making terrible decisions.

Having hauled of Denilson at half-time, replacing him with Chamakh, we then chucked on Bendtner for Ramsey which meant we were playing with three strikers plus Arshavin, with Nasri and Wilshere in central midfield. And it really didn’t look as if much would change. That was until a fantastic Arshavin finish got us back into it. He took a pass from Chamakh, took a touch with his right and fired it home with his left foot. 1-2.

Arshavin was involved in the equaliser too. His cross from the left found Bendtner at the back post, he squirmed it back, and when the ball fell under Meite’s feet, van Persie prodded it home. To say it crawled over the line would be an understatement but it went in and it was 2-2 with about ten minutes to go.

Sadly no winner arrived, Arsenal tried hard, forced a couple of corners, but couldn’t find the goal that would ensure we kept pace with United. Afterwards Arsene said:

I am proud of the spirit we have shown. It shows we are ready for a fight. We made things difficult for ourselves with the second goal. It was important not to lose. With what happened to us recently, of course, you wonder how you would recover if you lose the game today.

I have to give credit to the lads for the fightback, it showed good character, and when we needed to be dragged back into the game Arshavin’s contribution was telling. However, you have to ask why a fightback should be needed at all. The first goal, well that can happen to any team, at any time, but the second was completely avoidable. Arsene called it a ‘massive mistake’ and it was. I know people might point at Squillaci but for me it’s 100% down to Almunia. He just shouldn’t have been where he was.

If you’re looking for positives the comeback from 2-0 was certainly that. On the other hand being 2-0 in the first place begs real questions of not just the team, but the manager too. Had we not turned it around I shudder to think what the reaction would have been. When we were losing it certainly wasn’t good, and while you do have to say ‘fair play’ for turning it around, these are the games you need to win if you want to be champions.

So now we have two weeks off. More than any other Interlull we have to keep everything crossed that nobody picks up injuries. We can’t afford them. Beyond that we need our injured players back. Cesc, Song, Theo, the most likely to return, but if, somehow, we can get Djourou and possibly Wojscez©® fit again then all the better. Yesterday was hugely disappointing, and of course it could have been worse, but it probably should have been better.

Maybe it’s my hangover but I’m not joining in any chorii (plural of chorus, don’t you know) this morning. The time to judge is at the season’s end. Maybe this point will be one that proves crucial. More likely we’ll bemoan the two we dropped but we’ll just have to wait and see how it pans out.

In other news, at least we’ve got some silverware. Or glassware. Arseblog won Best Sports Blog and the overall Best Blog at last night’s Irish Blog Awards. So this morning I am literally surrounded by trophies.

Thank you to everyone for reading, voting, contributing and everything else. Winning is nice. The team should try it some time. I suspect they’d like it.

Now, time for breakfast. Till tomorrow

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