Miserable day yesterday.
It still felt like winter as I made the trek to Champs Bar; sunny but cold and windy. (Canadian winters are about six months long – November to April inclusive.) Was pretty nervous about the upcoming match versus Liverpool, as they have been on a roll since the arrival of Kenny Dalglish. On one hand, Arsenal tore apart Blackpool. On the other hand, they were underwhelming against Blackburn and West Brom. Which team would show up on Sunday?
By half-time, it was obvious. For all their possession, Arsenal could not break through Liverpool’s defense. Too many times this season, the visiting team has found a way to neutralize the Gunners’ attack and escape the Emirates with a draw (or even a surprise win). In the second half, I was resigned to witnessing another 0-0 draw. For a complete tactical analysis of the match, refer to Zonal Marking
Referee Andre Marriner gifted us the victory with a soft but legitimate penalty, then decided to balance the scales with another penalty (at the 12th minute of added time, no less). This happens in hockey all the time (but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept). A wild finish at 1-1, but I was expecting a 0-0 final anyway. I was sitting next to a couple of polite Liverpool fans, and frankly I would have been embarrassed if we had stolen a victory after 97 minutes of ineffectual play.
So I’m walking home after the match and it’s still freezing outside, but I’m burning mad. Not because of the ref, but because in recent weeks one Gunner after another have told the press something to the effect of “we are confident in our chances to win the League.” You can go through the news archives at Arsenal’s official website, and the lyrics may change, but the melody is the same. I would rather hear something honest from the players, like an acknowledgement that their season is over, or they don’t have the killer instinct to eke out 1-0 victories when the opposing team parks the bus, or they panic anytime there’s a hint of trouble in their defensive end, or they simply never got their mojo back after losing the Carling Cup final in the 89th minute.
This week’s singer to step up to the microphone is beloved keeper Szczesny: “Of course we still believe we can win the title. We still have to play United and they also have to play Chelsea. They will drop points and we believe we’re good enough to win every game remaining.” Source: Sky Sports
Are they being forced by management to say these things? Are they delusional? Don’t they watch videos of their own matches? Do they know something about the upcoming matches that we don’t? They’re not going to improve until they face up to reality. I’m reminded of Ron Wilson, head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who feels that his team is close to being a Stanley Cup contender. It’s so far out there, that you don’t even know how to respond to a comment like that.
Being Canadian, I would be satisfied with a second-place (but not a third-place) finish and a win over the Sp*rs. But we do need a major overhaul during the summer. We have a strong XI, but after that the bench is pretty thin. I’m sure you could name at least half dozen players who should be replaced. A lot of internet trolls (likely fans of other clubs posing as Arsenal fans) are calling for Arsene’s head, but he doesn’t play a single minute on the pitch. There’s a team-wide malaise that needs to be addressed.
Here’s hoping for a crushing victory over the spuds tomorrow, and a good house cleaning in one months’ time. Come on you Gunners!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this post reflect the Author’s
point of view and not necessarily those of CanadianGunners.