Thierry Henry - robbed by a jobsworth
I read today's Arseblog with interest. I have to say I disagree entirely that there was no justification for the boos at the end of yesterday's pre-season game. Okay, in the grand scheme of things we will have forgotten not beating New York by the end of the week. However, having sat through such dirge (the second half was truly awful) the paying punters have every right to have shown their dismay. Let's get one thing straight here - New York Red Bulls would not get in to the Championship if they were in the English game. The fact that Arsenal were incapable of beating them is what is frightening to so many, and it matters not that it is "only pre-season." I seem to remember similar retorts of "it's only pre-season" this time last year to the farcical 6-5 win in Warsaw. It may have been pre-season, but the comical defending soon came back to haunt us once the real thing got going. Yesterday it was more about our usual nonsense attacking play with no sod wanting to take proper responsibility in attacking areas - the second-half, following Van Persie's refusal to finish in to an open goal after twenty seconds (Ian Wright would NOT have been passing it to somebody else), was typical of the Arsenal showboating we have come to expect. I thought things had reached their nadir when Alex Song stepped up to take a direct free-kick on the edge of the box, but I was wrong - they got worse when Emmanuel Eboue made his way out to play at right-back (and still got a rapturous reception), somehow making a second weekend appearance despite the Manager announcing he was about to leave the Club. You couldn't make this up.
It's really not worth me going to in to all the details of what went on as I will just be repeating myself yet again, but I will cover a salient point of two. All the time we were winning only 1-0 it was only a matter of time before something went wrong at the back. It started about fifteen minutes from the end when New York realised they could get a result, and played the ball in to the Arsenal penalty area. The level of panic in the Arsenal players was almost tangible. There were legs flying at all sorts of funny angles and none of them anywhere near clearing the ball. It was completely reminiscent of the closing stages of the Liverpool game at the end of last season - nobody taking charge and dealing with the problem. From that moment on I felt the equaliser was inevitable, and so it proved. Once again, a high ball in to the area wasn't dealt with, and Arsenal conceded a goal.
In any other year I think Arseblogger would be correct to question why the team was booed at a pre-season friendly. However, this is no ordinary situation. This is a team that displayed relegation form off the back of losing the Carling Cup Final. With the exception of Gervinho we saw a starting line-up that basically included players from last season (Vermaelen is also excused after his injury). Those same players seem to have made no improvement, and there is a reason for that - too many of them are not up to it. On a positive note I was impressed again by Gervinho, and Tomas Rosicky played well in the first-half. The only other thing to catch my eye was how good Benik Afobe looked. Given that Carlos Vela, who was awful again upon his introduction, couldn't get in West Brom's side last season perhaps it's time for the youngster to get promoted.
I can't finish without mentioning yesterday's referee. Kevin Friend is his name - remember it as we will be seeing a lot more of this twat. Frankly a Fisherman's Friend would have done a better job of officiating than this clown. Quite how he failed to give penalties to Arsenal for the elbow on Ramsey and the foul on a rampaging Gervinho is beyond belief. In the circumstances, though, this was not Mr Friend's worst offence. I was amazed to read last night that Arsene Wenger had been to see him at half-time to inform him of the intention of both teams that Thierry Henry would play the final few minutes for Arsenal, having started for New York. Mr Friend forbade this due to "FIFA regulations." This was a friendly for God's sake, and is not without precedent. At that point Wenger should have told him he was no longer required and Arsenal should have got a more amenable person to take charge - they didn't even have to be a proper referee really. What kind of jobsworth tosser prevents 60,000 people from taking away a memory to last a lifetime? I told my five year-old how important yesterday was as he would be able to tell his children that he saw Thierry Henry play live - how good would it have been for him to see Henry play for Arsenal as well? From an Arsenal point of view, Henry switching sides might have taken quite a bit of the heat off the result, but it really was an outrageously officious act from the latest in a long line of muppets. The crowd should have been informed via the PA system and allowed to vent their anger at the prick.
On to transfer dealings. I don't often take much notice of Guillem BalagueFabregas in order to fund the Mata transfer. Why? We have over £60million burning a hole in our transfer pocket, so what the hell is going on? As a result the release clause has gone up to €60million. It seems that Valencia, given their debts, would probably accept significantly less than that, but still far more than would have had to be paid before midnight last night. According to Balague the deal to bring Mata to Arsenal is now "dead in the water." If this is true then heads should roll for such an awful way of conducting football business. We claim to be a big club, yet we act like some chavvy outfit expecting the other clubs in Europe to do us a favour by giving us good quality at knockdown prices. Frightening times. Kevin Whitcher, in his OnlineGooner article this morning, claimed that deals will be announce for Jagielka and Cahill before the week is out. I hope Kevin is right, and if he is then he becomes the number one for inside stories in my book, I very much welcome it, but I would still question why it's taken until one week before the season starts to get things done.
I'm going to watch the Arsenal Reserves on Wednesday night, so I'll preview that match tomorrow evening, and continue to hope that Mr Whitcher is correct.