Sunday, 20 March 2011
That was fairly predictable
It didn't take long did it? We knew Manuel Almunia was due to make a horrendous blunder, and it arrived yesterday. By my reckoning he is directly responsible for three goals scored by West Brom this season (and four points) - if they stay up they should build a statue of Almunia outside The Hawthorns. I attach no blame for the second goal yesterday to Squillaci. The French defender seemed in complete control of the situation, only to be barged out of the way by his goalkeeper, thirty yards from goal. What was Almunia doing there? Mad dashes from his goal have been a feature of Almunia's Arsenal career going right back to 2005 (I remember a 4-2 home defeat to Man Utd where he followed Ryan Giggs to the wing before conceding a goal). It is arguable that yesterday's latest act of insanity was the most costly of them all. Jens Lehmann sat impassively on the bench, realising that the cameras would be on him, but he must know that he will surely play against Blackburn Rovers in a fortnight - if he doesn't then God help us. I expect at least one hastily arranged game to be played at the Arsenal Training Ground over the next ten days so that Jens gets some match practice.
Having given all that blame to Almunia we should really concede that it's not his fault he was there to make another error. We can cut some slack to Wenger on the grounds that the other three goalkeepers in the squad are all injured. However, if Wenger had gone out and signed a top class stopper in the Summer (or the year before, or the year before that) then we wouldn't be in this situation.
As I've said a few times on here, I write this blog as a form of therapy - my way of getting things off my chest and out of my system. Over the past few weeks, as the season has fallen apart, the writing has only served to make me more upset. The more I write about the avoidable situation in which Arsenal find themselves, the more angry and frustrated I become. I just want to ask, why? Why does Wenger not make the appropriate signings? Why does he persist with this formation when Fabregas is not there? If he must use this formation why does he keep Samir Nasri out on the wing? Why did we get another 45 minutes of Denilson passing either backwards, or to the opposition, yesterday? Why Arsene?
I suppose credit must be given for coming back from two goals down. I don't think it's deserving of the sort of praise the Manager was seeming to bestow upon it after the game, but I guess it shows there is some character in this squad. In many ways though we got back in spite of our own play. With Chamakh, Bendtner and Van Persie all on the pitch we still didn't really try to do anything differently. It was still the same short passing, probing for a non-existent gap in the centre of the defence. It took some individual brilliance from Arshavin to spark Arsenal in to life - sadly it was 70 minutes too late. Brilliant though it was, I would rather see ten goals like Van Persie's bundled effort, than one like Arshavin's, as long as we win the game.
Having got back to 2-2 the boys laid siege to West Brom but didn't really create all that much - you can't really break down a blanket defence with the tippy-tappy rubbish - unfortunately we staunchly refuse to do things the "old fashioned way." Our best opportunity fell to Gael Clichy who saw his last minute shot well saved by Scott Carson. From the resulting corner I have to say we should have had a penalty, for me, when Brunt barged Sagna to the ground. My suspicions that it should have been a spot-kick are not assuaged by the refusal of the BBC or Sky to show the incident again - heaven forbid somebody should be able to claim "unfair" in their pursuit of Manchester United.
If you get a chance to read the match report in today's News Of The World then I urge you to do so. If the guy who wrote it was actually watching the match then I would be amazed. If he isn't a Man Utd fan I would be amazed. His descriptions of Almunia's cock-up and Arshavin's "stunning volley" are so inaccurate that he must have been at a different match (or in the hospitality bar).
I watched the Sunderland v Liverpool match this afternoon. Steve Bruce has bemoaned the fact that Sunderland saw a penalty awarded against them when technology would have proved it was an incorrect decision. Funny that. A couple of weeks ago Bruce found it amusing when Arsenal were denied a penalty and a perfectly good goal by poor decisions from the officials - what goes around comes around (I just wish it would start coming around for Arsenal some time soon - as bad as we've been this past month, there has been no luck going our way whatsoever). Later on in the game the Sunderland goalkeeper (man of the match at our place) was beaten at his near post for Liverpool's second goal - just to rub it in a bit more.
We are in for a long two weeks. There follows an interminable break for international matches which will see boredom reach new levels for fans like me. That being the case there will be some sporadic blogging on this site over the next fourteen days, but most of my sporting attention will switch to the Cricket World Cup - anything to take my mind off the misery of supporting Arsenal right now. Keep your eye on the Twitter feed (@ARSENALDvbrisG) or Facebook group (It's MY Arsenal Opinion) for new posts.