By Walter Broeckx
Sometimes you wake up in the morning and feel: this is going to be a bad day. And you cannot get rid of that feeling. And when you think: what could go wrong? You can only think of Arsenal.
In fact last weekend the first bad feelings started on Saturday when I came on Untold. Someone mentioned the fact that Utd got away with another penalty decision. Again. And then someone else told me that there had been two decisions going for United. And at that moment the thought suddenly hit me: “What is the meaning of fighting against something like that?”.
You can try to fight with other teams, on a basically level playing field. But if one team gets all the decisions and you are hit by a big number of decisions going against you it hit even me on the nose. At that moment I realised one again deep inside of me that Arsenal is not just fighting against 11 man on the pitch but also against something else. And at that moment I lost faith in the cause. I really asked myself: why do I bother believing in something that cannot be won?
And then my thoughts went to the players. And I was thinking: how would this influence you as a player. You see penalties given against you for nothing and then the team you are fighting with for the title can do things in their penalty area that are 10 if not 100 times worse than the things you do and nothing is given. If you just look at the two almost similar penalty incidents. Djourou-Sturridge and Ferdinand-Anicheke. Almost copies of each other. The one when there was no contact was easily given by the ref and the one at Old Trafford where Ferdinand was pushing with his arm was not given.
Our players are not blind. Our players are not stupid. Some tweets in the past have mentioned the refs. But in a very mild way. A bit of sarcasm sometimes. So the players notice this. The players see that they are only allowed half the things that other teams are allowed.
I must also mention the match reporter in my country who said that we are first in a few league tables. We are first in hitting the woodwork. 21 times this season we have gone close but the woodwork denied us a goal. So this points at some bad luck. Maybe the football gods didn’t want us to win it. But this is something we just have to accept. The woodwork is there to shoot the ball between and when you hit it … well sometimes they go in and sometimes not. In our case it usually didn’t go in.
Another league table in which we are first is penalties against us. And when you look at two of those penalties in the last weeks… I feel another sentiment coming up. Maybe apart from the (non existing) football gods I mentioned there could be some other people involved in football.
People who certainly when it comes to money can have an influence on even good refs to not give a clear penalty for Arsenal but can give a non existing penalty against Arsenal. Twice in a week. It doesn’t matter if our keepers saves it or not. No just the fact that the one has been given and the other one for us not must be a bitter blow for the players. It is a bitter blow for me, just imagine being a player out there. How hard to take are all those accumulating bad decisions? For me as a supporter they are hard to take, but I’m not even on the field and have to live with them and feel the pain during and after a game.
But nothing can be done about it, except take note, mention it in my ref reviews and feel bitter about it.
So when in the last minute last weekend the bitter moment came of swallowing a bitter and in my opinion an undeserved defeat I knew that the feeling I had all day was right. That day was the final blow for all who love Arsenal, the players and the manager.
People are out at Wenger again. If he doesn’t show emotions they say: he doesn’t care like he did before. And if he does show emotions they say: he makes a fool of himself. Sorry guys but make up your mind: if you dislike him for whatever he does, just say it but don’t hide and pretend.
So the title race is now virtually over for Arsenal. And this leads to some looking back. Of course we are all down and sad. But this is the end of April. The last game we played in April and we lost our final hope in a cruel way.
But, for those who are now calling for heads of manager and player ask yourself the question: how many of you would have believed we would be in this position let us say at the start of the season? Of would have believed we would be in this position after our defeat against Chelsea? Or after our defeat at home against WBA? Or after our defeat against Manchester United? All moments in time when some of our fans declared the season over and done.
Some of you declared the things you are saying now. And yet you feel angry and want the manager and the team to be shot at first sight? Again? Because it is the same manager that has kept us in the race until now. It are the same players that have kept us in the race until now.
With some better finishing, a bit of luck when hitting the goalposts, a bit of better refereeing and yes a bit of better defending, we could have and should have 7 points more right now. Just from this week alone.
They have finally got what they wanted: Arsenal out of the title race. And as disappointed as we all are I still believe that this team is very near to being there. Because when you are in it when the last games in April are played it just means that you are not that far away from being there. Because if we wouldn’t have been good enough we would have been out of it after our defeat against Chelsea, or WBA or MU in December.
Remember the fact that we were in it till last weekend. We couldn’t beat all of them but our time will come. There will come a moment when even the combined forces will not be able to kick us out again. I’m sure of that.
Now let us take a deep breath, back the players who did their best to win this game and support them for the next weeks. Come on you Gunners!
Untold Arsenal on Facebook here
History of Arsenal including the series on the failures of Herbert Chapman
Making the Arsenal – the book of Arsenal death and rebirth