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The worst game the world has ever seen: a retrospective

Arsenal on Twitter @UntoldArsenal

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By Walter Broeckx

I can imagine the AAA brigade going wild, and enthusiastic  and enjoying the occasion. After having to keep their mouth shut for a while they can let themselves go after our 1-1 against Leeds. Now we all can have some things to say about our game. We can make our remarks on the game, we can make our remarks about the team that started the game. But we do have to keep things in a bit of perspective.

We were absolute crap they tell us. But I do like to know how many crap teams manage to have 23 attempts on goal in one game.   I’m sorry but being crap is like Man City with having zero attempts on target in 90 minutes. THAT is crap. Against Leeds we had 13 attempts on target.

Schmeichel had to make no saves is another thing thrown around. Now if you look at just the statistical number of 13 shots on target this baffles me a bit. How can you say Schmeichel had nothing to do? There was 13 stops to be made.

Or the more mathematically literate ones try to say : Schmeichel had to make only one decent save in 90 minutes. I do wonder which one this was? Was it his save on the one on one with Arshavin?  Or was it the time that he saw the ball going in but when a defender saved the ball on the line and hacked it out.

Okay, this isn’t a save from the keeper but without the defender it would have been a goal. Or the one from the corner where another defender had to kick it out from going in just a bit after the first one saved from the line? Or the shot from Arshavin from outside the penalty area?  Or the low save from Bendtner?  Or was it the save in the last seconds when Denilson had a shot?  I think this does look to me that he had to make more than one decent save.

So this is just a bit silly. If you do have something to say, please make sure that you are a bit in line with the bare match facts as they are visible if you want to see it.

Others like to make it look as if we have been escaping all day long of the beating of our lives. What a beating as Leeds had only two attempts on target. A penalty and one header. That’s it folks.  And they also had 4 shots off target. So 6 in total. Compare this to our 23 in total.

If you ask me if I ‘m happy with the game and the final result, the answer is No, I’m not. As I would have liked us to win the game. But my desire of winning the game can be separated from my view on the game.

This was the FA cup. And what is the FA cup all about? About little teams upsetting the bigger ones. And as Arsenal is a bigger team we are the ones that can be upset. If we win against Leeds no one will say anything about it. But if we don’t win: the end of the world is near. I hope not as I still would like to see us lifting a few things in the next months so please do keep the globe spinning around for a while.

So Leeds got very close to an upset. An upset like we have seen last year when they went to Old Trafford and went on to win their game. It was painful for Man U, and how we laughed at the United fans. Those things can happen all the time in the FA cup and in fact they should happen each year in the FA cup.  (In fact it happened last night to Derby County; it happened to Herbert Chapman against Walsall, and it certainly happened to George Graham).

And it might mean that we one day have to face such thing again. This is part of football at its best.  And let us not forget this Leeds is a rather high placed team in the championship and last season when they went to Old Trafford when they played a division lower. So this wasn’t the walk in the park occasion as some of us might have expected. (I never expect a walk in the park to be honest.  I just hope for a win. Any win. You will never hear me saying we will tear them to pieces. I hope we do but I never expect it as each game is difficult and hard. )

Let us blame Wenger then. He picked the team. Yes, he did.  But how many fans told Wenger to play Gibbs in the place of Clichy? Well he did. We couldn’t play Sagna as he was suspended so it had to be Eboue. And giving Koscielny (whom they say is worthless most of the time) a rest is not that bad given the games he has played recently.

And in midfield he gave Wilshere a rest. Don’t forget the lad is 19 years young and has played an enormous number of games so far for such a young player. And next we have to play the semi final of the Carling cup and I think Wilshere will be in this game to start. So playing Denilson wasn’t that bad of an idea. We must give him game time as it will bring him back to his level.  And doesn’t the anti Denilson brigade look a bit dumb right now? For years they have said that Denilson is useless as he never sticks his leg in and just let them run away. I think it was Denilson who stuck out his leg to concede the penalty. Not a wise stick of the leg but he did what the AAA brigade have blamed him for not doing.

Rosicky is also a natural replacement for Cesc. So again I see nothing wrong with resting Cesc if possible. It turned out to be that it was not possible so Wenger brought Cesc on the field when needed. But he didn’t have to play the whole game.

Nasri had a knock from the City game and Van Persie had a knock. Se we couldn’t play them. Or maybe we could have played them and lost them for a while.  So bringing in Arshaving, Chamakh and Bendnter was a valid option. And yes it didn’t work out that good. A lot of lost balls at times. But maybe this is just part of not playing enough games together in that formation?  And because of not playing with the best midfielders behind them like Cesc and Nasri and Wilshere?

And the same that have been blaming Wenger for giving Theo a lot of games in the last years are now crying for Wenger to be sacked because he didn’t play Theo from the start. Some people have to make up their mind: should Wenger play Walcott every single minute in every single game or is he really useless as they tell after every missed chance he has?

But the Wenger-out shouters have had their day out. For me this was just one of the nice games in the FA cup you always see in every round.  True, this time we nearly got knocked out, but we are not knocked out. We have made life more difficult for ourselves. And now we have to work harder. But working harder is no problem. Now we know that we also have to be careful when we take on the championship teams. And this could be a help when we go to Ipswich next week.

And it also will help the team never to give up. At a moment when the AAA-brigade and the Wenger out brigade had given up, our players hadn’t given up. They kept on working and if there would have been one team that would have won the game at the final whistle: it would have been Arsenal.  We just made life more difficult for ourselves than we needed but don’t try to tell me that the game I have seen 3 times by now was a game that was the worst performance ever by any Arsenal team. I won’t buy such crap comments. I have seen much worse.

And let us not forget what has made the reputation of the FA cup so big worldwide: it is the giant killing. It has been part of the history of the FA cup in all these years. Even Arsenal have been the victim a few times.

Even this round we have already seen Derby, WBA, Blackpool, Sunderland and Newcastle out of the cup. And together with us we have Wolverhampton, Stoke and Manchester City who have to go to a replay. That is still a possible 8 EPL  teams that could be out of the FA cup after the replays. And I only count the ones that did not have to play another EPL team. This is just part of the FA cup and it always will be part of it.  It even happened to United last year, to a second division team. This just is football and the FA cup.

Want more ranting and raging, plus some funny bits.  Try Making the Arsenal.

39 comments to The worst game the world has ever seen: a retrospective

  • eche

    I have been reading untold for some years now and i really enjoy it. but what i will always disagree is the blindness of supporting even an obvious mistake, something that even the blind will see. yes, some players needed rest, but making nine changes after watching the repercussion of eight changes in Wigan game. i admire Arsene Wenger, he is a genius but he is also fallible. There are three sets of arsenal supporters (1) Those who are demanding the head of the AW (2) Those who support AW in all he does (even his errors) and lastly (3) Those seperate the chaff from the wheat. I will like to say that i belong to the third group but i will never attack AW or the players verbally neither will i cover their shit!

  • Keith

    Walter we certainly were not absolutely crap, but it was at times a disjointed performance with more than the normal miss placed pass.

    I am not one that expects each and every game to be the top most performance or us to win every game (although one does have that hope at the start of anygame!) -that’s fancilful and part of the AAA mantra.

    I think that given we need to keep players, who are on the bench, match fit it is not surprising that the free flowing football wasn’t fully evident until the last 30mins when Fabregas and Walcott made a huge difference.

    Leeds worked their socks off to close us down and whilst they only had 2 attempts at goal they were by far more enterprising that Citeh.

    You could see the uplift the players got with Fabregas, their leader, came on to the pitch.

  • AnonymousGun

    I like to look at the positive side.. at least this team, I hate to say this, but at least this B team got another 90 minutes to gel a lil bit more before the final cup game D:

  • RedGooner

    I thought the worst game in the world Walter was Villa 10 Arsenal 1 last night. You may just have to re write this one all over 🙂
    Despite the fact we have 15 or so players on loan the cryers will be harping on that the academy is starting to fail yes we are still joint top of the reserve league and have a game in hand even if Villa did take goal difference away from us last night.
    Interesting to see JET had pics of himself on twitter out partying the night before.
    By no means a tragedy but some of them need a swift kick in the backside after that performance.

    We will beat leeds in the replay anyway the game against Ipswitch will sharpen up Bendtner and a few of them they need the playing time.

  • shakabulagooner

    Walter, I totally agree with this piece and its function as a counter-point to the moanings that had gone on.

    However, correct me if I’m wrong: I actually think the AAA is toning down its vitriol against the team and the coach. Of course, they still come out to vent their spleen when the team loses but I am beginning to think that it is a strategic choice to ensure that their blogs have a strong following rather than a major emotional commitment from them that even a cup win cannot turn around.

    I also believe that it is easier to be all negative in order to build a following for one’s blog quickly. However, it is to Untold’s advantage to have chosen the more difficult road. Any day, Untold have more positive and more varied things to talk about in respect of the club and of football in general than the other blogs.

    This should make Untold’s readership less fickle than the others. So, bravo to this blog and the balanced perspective it continues to drive at.

  • Sam

    I sometimes get tired of the endless defending of Arsene Wenger on this blog. Indeed the man has some faults, the main one being his stubbornness and willingess to take a footballing risk rather then a financial one.

    But lately the drivel of the persons you call as AAA is also driving me nuts. Yes, we could improve, but we are not sh|te. I’m proud of the way the club plays and is managed, although I may not agree with absolutely all decisions.

    Especially, the current witch-hunt against Arshavin, Bendtner, and Denilson is appalling! Arshavin is a classy player suffering a lull in confidence and form. We need to get behind him and not harangue him. Bendtner is a Denmark full international with World cup experience. He is just 22 though and still as lots of scope for improvement.

    Remember, some time ago you were clamouring for Song and Nasri to go. Thankfully, Wenger does not makes his decisions by applying your logic.

    Seriously, you need to get a reality check, or better still – go and support Chelsea and Manchester city for instant gratification whilst the Arab/Russian money is still hot!

  • GoonerVance

    Okay rose tinted glasses. Anyone can look intelligent when picking the low hanging fruit. This is the second game in which this particular group have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the past few weeks. The Wigan game? Yeah, that happened.

    No one is complaining about Gibbs in for Clichy, as you said, Leeds had 2 chances, so why even bring up the defensive performance of the team? Like I said, low hanging fruit. Plus, Eboue, Squillaci, and company should have an easy time with a championship club. These are European and International players…they better hold Leeds to 2 attempts on goal.

    It’s Bendtner on the wing that is ticking people off. It’s the lack of incisive play in the box and, when Leeds crowded the box, it’s the lack of muscle in our attack. Leeds pulled a page out of Manchester United’s playbook, and the only reason it didn’t work is because they are LEEDS, and, oh yeah by the way, IT ALMOST WORKED!!!!!

    It’s the same stuff, different day and it is enough to drive fans mad and I completely understand it. After all, isn’t the definition of insanity, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”?

    Denilson is not a good enough CDM, I’m not even sure he is a CDM. The lad has a hell of a shot on him and he is disciplined enough not to go rushing forward, but, when I see the other team in the midfield, Denilson is not hassling them the way Song, Fletcher, De Jong, Palacios, Essien, hassle the man with the ball. Denilson does what Wilshere does(except Wilshere has far greater technical ability and the creativity at times to play some brilliant passes and make some decent runs for a midfielder), but I wouldn’t call Jack a CDM. Wilshere and Denilson are meant to play beside a proper CDM and behind the distributor, not in front of the back four.

    It doesn’t bode well for Arsenal that Chelsea have completely lost their way and that 3-1 win (against the title holders) is our source of confidence in this team, especially after Man City came into Emirates and got exactly what they wanted out of that game.

  • Alek

    Everybody talk about Arshavin one-on-one on 11 min.
    Let’s talk about Walcott (assisted by Arshavin) one-on-one on 86 min.
    The same situation and the same result.
    Some fans don’t want talk about Walcott one-on-one because he is man who makes “a huge difference” )))

  • gooner80

    It wouldnt be much of a headline if it didnt say arsenal got spanked.But leeds did play well and they didnt park the bus, I think it was because everyone expected arsenal to thrash them and it didnt happen. the first goal makes all the difference. The replay wasnt needed, not at the ems

    The case is this is the biggest game in Leeds season sofar at least, they are going to be fired up they had nothing to lose and they raised their level and arsenal being a little complacent dropped their level, we may have had a shots on goal in terms of numbers but I couldnt say leeds were on the ropes and hanging on for dear life.

    Theo is going to be are number one striker in two years did anyone see the way he took the ball down from a cross field pass that extra practice is paying off and now the king is back the prince can learn what the number 14 is about

    I personally think it is not likely to compete in all four competitions no one has done it yet and with the league becoming more competitive it might never happen someone winning all four competitions a part from the aspect of heads dropping IO would have liked us to come out of a competition soon if not the facup then the champs lge

  • gooner80

    @alek

    the difference between arshavin and theo is that theo is still learning his trade and reminds me of the one on ones henry used to miss before he found his shooting boots arshavin is 27 and supposed to be at his peak plus alot of people have the jury out on arshavin

  • gooner80

    correction 30 in may not 27

  • IvoryGoonz

    The real mistake was to underestimate Leeds and field 2 supposedly DM (Denilson+Song).
    Either you put Song or Denilson with an AM, or you put 2 AMs.
    But 2 DMs, one of which has a free card to go upfront, and another who has no vision of the game, is not gonna help you score.
    There should at all times be either Fabregas or Nasri for one of these 2 slots.

  • Ingo Marchand

    one of the very few blogs to read on here. typical cupfight and thats it.

    keep it up untold

  • Alek

    @gooner80
    henry is striker but arshavin is midfielder
    sometime arshavin perform like he is a great striker but he can’t do it every time
    he is not striker
    and no need to frustrate every time when he flops)))

  • dw

    News just in tv5 has a set back on
    He’s injury

  • flake

    Your right about most things but please dont keep defending Denilson and telling people he’s good enough to play because he isn’t. A.W had little choice but to play him in this game as both Cesc and Jack needed a rest but that dosn’t get away from the facts which are Denilson can’t head it dosn’t win it hides when we need him isn’t quick enough only goes sideways and dosn’t score goals. I’m not accusing him of not trying he just aint up to it and never will be. Please Mr Wengar sell him and buy another big lump who wins the ball to play in midfield.

  • aaa

    wenger out! hodgson in!

  • ak47

    jus kidding:-)

  • nicky

    A nice blog and interesting comments on it. Yet no-one has mentioned our so-called 50,000 supporters in the stadium, who gave little or no support to the team…..at the very time they
    (the second team) were having trouble breaking down the Leeds defence. This attitude was so obvious, even the cameras picked it up. I know that having bought their tickets, the fans are entitled to show dissent but without declared support they musn’t be surprised at the lack of success.

  • super sam super sam

    keith, if you’ve ever taken the time to look at a website like justarsenal.com or legrove.com you would realize that the AAA are quite real and terribly ridiculous.

    and of course, just about every website has it’s AKW’s (arsene knows worst

  • Dark Prince

    Lol…many interesting comments.

    To be honest, Making 9 changes wasn’t the problem. The problem is that most of them haven’t played for a long time. They need regular football to be sharp, and when they are not sharp, we get a awfull performance like we did against Wigan and Leeds.

  • Alek

    @nicky
    It’s really difficult to apprehend what was really happened on the pitch when you have seen it just one time. If you want to know more about game – you should see the game when your blood get cold. Walter Broeckx have seen the game 3 times. Supporters on stadium often reacted on inadequate way because their blood is so hot)))

  • Keith

    Super sam I have read le grove where their are so disrespectful to Wenger it’s untrue!

    He has his faults but what I was driving at was that the players not perhaps in the first team need match fitness and cup games are the bedtime option. It does, however as Dark Prince says result in players not being as sharp although it’s imperative that they play.

  • Keith

    iPhone predictive text! *best time

  • GoonerGaz

    I watched the game after as i had to be elsewhere and fully expected a poor display based on the nine changes and what people said.However what i saw was an overall display of football way above Man Utds best team.Our problem though is even with our best team out we are very wastefull with our chances.Like the shitty game it should have been a win by 3 or 4 goals however talk is cheap and the only answer is to put it in the back of the net.Sorry to have to call a player but Arshavin is just poor now.Before his foot injury he looked a world beater but since he has been a joke.He trains with Nasri, Fabregas,Wilshere and Van Persie seeing the tricks and flicks and tries to emulate them in matches.He needs a good clip round the tab and reminding that he should stick to what he did best when he arrived,direct running at defences and powerfull shots on goal.

  • super sam super sam

    100% agree keith. nothing else haha, honestly i think i used your name when i meant to comment on the comment from Sam!

    i’d like to see less flash from arshavin gaz. but like wenger says, it’s those incisive movements that can win games single handedly

  • All of this article was sensible, except for the defense of Denilson — which is still better than the defending of Denilson. It’s the FA Cup. It’s England’s version of America’s college basketball “March Madness,” only with even more teams involved, and, in the FA Cup, “16 seeds” actually can beat “1 seeds,” and 15s over 2s and 14s over 3s happen all the time.

    If we win the FA Cup, I want the Wenger Out Crowd to sound like the nation as a whole at 11:00 on November 11. And for a lot more than 2 minutes.

  • tahsein

    the very frustrating and scary aaa brigade will always say bad things NO MATTER WHAT!

    Last season-“song is the worst ‘dm’ ever!we NEED to sell him!”

    This season-“song is probably one of three best dms right now!

    last season-“nasri is a fat ponce!”

    this season-“na na na na…”

    so,you see they are fickle and they will always criticise someone!now it’s arshavin,bendtner and denilson!

  • tahsein

    btw,Tony nice article as usual.fantastic post!don’t listen to anyone.just as Wenger you’ve always kept the faith about the team and the players!i am proud of you and Wenger.the amount of time and enormous work you put in untold and h.o.a site is massive.true gooners will always remember your love,effort and passion for the red and whites!

  • RedGooner

    What strikes me as odd is that even so many here are harping on about Denilson and Arsharvin and getting on their backs much like at the stadium.

    Rooney has scored about 2 goals from open play in a year Or Fernando Torres anyone ? not exactly lighting the world up this year is he ? They cost a little more than our two.

    BUT you know what you dont see half of liverpool or Utd giving them shit every week and they play more regularly in the starting line up than denilson does and possibly even Arshavin does.

    But they will improve faster because they have the support of the supporters not like some of our clowns jeering in the stands.

    I have seen wisdow lodge knock liverpool out of the european cup before it was called the champs league and half their players were post men, lorry drivers a butcher and few unemployed.
    Blackpool knocked utd years ago out of the fa cup when no one knew blackpool had a team.

    Some people need to get over themselves its a cup tie 11 against 11 and anything can happen on any given day.

  • walter

    Red Gooner, this is the perfect example on how to say in one sentence what I have been trying to say in a whole article. 😉

  • Rhys Jaggar

    I dunno why people expected Arsenal to go out and murder Leeds. They’re a good side. They beat Man Utd in League 1 last year and came up and are showing no signs of being overawed in the Championship. It must be nice getting 8,500 supporters coming to an away game, won’t make it too hard to get up for the game, will it?

    If you look at some of their players, notably Schmeichel, Snodgrass, Howson, Vecchio you see people who will do fine in the EPL if Leeds get there.

    Arsenal seem to be on a bit of a yo-yo form-wise right now. A great performance follwed by an average one. Not a terrible one. An average one.

    Hardly a disaster, is it?

  • RedGooner

    I agree Rhy’s hardly a disaster at all.
    The best past is when watching a football team play is some of them could have a family member ill some could be like Nickolas Bendtner up all night with a new born baby. Some could be worried about something that could appear in the tabloids theres 100 and 1 reasons why on any given day a player or part of a team might not play not to take in to account our lads havent had as much football as they would like some of them to keep them sharp.

  • Dark Prince

    Rhys Jagger- would it be a disaster if Arsenal had got knocked out against leeds?? Hmmmmm…probably it would have. But thanks to our captain, we’re saved from that embarrassment.

    The point is that Arsenal’s biggest problem is still INCONSISTENCY. We play a superb game and then follow it up with a very frustrating game. We just dont seem to carry the confidence from match to match. Our record since christmas is WDWDD…3 draws in 5 matches…not something we expect especially when those 2 wins produced superb football.

  • only1

    gosh, some crazy ppl at it again. from the first post by eche right up to the usual (sad) Dark Prince, there are just people who knows nothing about football and management trying to educate us all about football and management.. damn it!! i always wonder why they are not managing a real football team and talking about their ‘expertise’ here..

    Making changes are part and parcel of football, its not like some computer games, the players needs rest.. and certainly, these players get frustrated when not given enough games. The team played at Wigan and Leeds have not played for long and certainly not used to the momentum without key players.

    From what i see, Arsenal have every chance to win at Leeds and Wigan, although we didn’t win eventually, but i see these as necessary risk to win the league.. (of cos, its easy to talk about ‘what needs to be done’ after it had happen, lets see DP ‘expert’ what should be done advice.. )

  • Samuel

    Fickle Arsenal fans don,t know what they want from game to game as it wasn,t that long ago that Fabianski was rubbish and should go or Song gets forward to much instead of sitting back and defending ,now we have Arshavin who has consistently said that London is far too expensive whilst earning 75000 pound ,weekly and can,t seem to get his shooting boots on target ,but no it,s Denlison and Diaby,s fault or someone else,s who hasn,t played for a while ,time to sell the little Russian ?

  • Dark Prince

    @only1- sad to see that you just know how to point fingers at everyone. Cant see one simple solution you have given regarding this article in your post. Well, that sums up what type of fan you are – useless!!

  • Tasos

    Get a grip people.

    We did not lose, all is not lost or won for that matter. Squad players have gained some more match fitness, whilst some have also added valuable first team experience. Both recent performances, against Wigan then Leeds were far from awful.

    We all hope Arsenal wins every game, unfortunately our opponents have their own ideals.

    Is it too difficult for some people to give Leeds credit. I was impressed by their level of fitness and they performed very well on the day.

  • GoonerVance

    People who generalize only do so to cover their weak opinion. Not everyone who supports Arsenal believed in the potential of Song, Fabianski etc, and not everyone that criticizes Arsenal didn’t believe in those players. You aren’t really having a discussion, you are more or less creating this anti-hero and parading yourselves around as “real Arsenal fans’. It’s quite farcical.

    This team HAS weaknesses, we HAVE been tentative to spend money, Wenger DOES have trouble letting go of his kids. Sometimes being young does not guarantee you will improve as you get older. Players peak at different ages.

    As for Rooney and Torres being out of form. There’s a difference between players who are proven in big games (not just 1 or 2 big games but many big games) and are out of form, and players that have given little indication that they have what it takes to produce at the top level. How many times has Torres scored in games against Chelsea and Man Utd? How many times has Bendtner scored in those games?

    I honestly think playing with Fabregas, Nasri, and Arshavin, flatters our other players. At the end of the day every player has to ADD something to the team, not just hide behind Fabregas and get out of the way (Denilson), or hold the ball 30 meters away from goal while the entire other team’s defense has time to recover and get behind the ball (Bendtner).