By Walter Broeckx
So here we are. Alive and kicking. The ones that had been burying us in the Europa League and I think about 120% of the media has been doing this in the last couple of days can change their story line for a couple of days. Will they say they were wrong? Of course not. They will pretend that they never even hinted at the possibility of Arsenal not reaching the group stages of the Champions League.
But I didn’t wanted to write about the media. No I have seen a rather strange event in our last game. When checking and analyzing the ref review report I got a moment where I suddenly had a bright light in my head saying: have a close look at this. And when checking a few things I found a rather strange coincidence. How strange? Well I leave it for you to calculate the possibility of anything happening like that in a very similar way.
Let us go back to Camp Nou (sorry but you need to). Minute 52. Arsenal take a corner and Barcelona head it in their own goal. Arsenal is qualified for the next round at that moment. Barcelona is out.
Up steps the poor man in the middle walking around with his guide dog for the blind. He must do something to change the game and to prevent Arsenal yet again turning the game around against Barcelona like they did a few weeks before. Why don’t we send off their best striker? And so just 3 minutes later, in minute 55 to be precise Van Persie is shown his second yellow card. From then on it is only a matter of time before Barcelona win the game and scores two more goals. One on penalty if you remember.
The fall out from the game is a ban for Van Persie and Nasri because he has said some harsh but true things I presume. And also a ban for Wenger for saying the truth.
Meanwhile much has changed in football land. Ref Busacca is now no longer ref but he is responsible for the refs in Europe. What Mike Riley is for the Premier League, Busacca is not the same but for Uefa. A nice promotion one could think.
The Arsenal crumbles in the PL in the closing stages and so we have to play qualifiers to get in the CL. And we are a bit unlucky as we draw the toughest opponent we could get with Italian side Udinese. First leg we have ref Blom. And he does rather a good game. A bit like the ref did when we played Barcelona in our first leg at home last season. He gave more calls to Udinese but not that there was a big difference in the let us say wrong calls or important calls.
And then we go to the second leg. We go a goal down short before half time. As we did at Barcelona.
And then we step up in the second half. Arsenal plays some very good stuff from the start of the second half and the inevitable happens as in the 55th minute we score the equaliser. Arsenal has qualified. Like last season against Barcelona. Udinese has to score two goals. Just like Barcelona had to score 2 goals.
And exactly 3 minutes after we have equalised, the exact time that Van Persie got sent off at Nou Camp, the ref suddenly points at the penalty spot and gives a ridiculous penalty for Udinese. And this similarity struck me. 3 minutes after securing a place in the next round last year the ref did us.
3 minutes after securing a place in the next round (group stages) the refS tried to do us again. This time by awarding the softest of penalties given in the champions league. Now I’m sure that the 5th ref behind the goal gave the penalty but still the ref on the field could have easily ignored the call. That is why I want to point at the extra “S” behind the word ref.
Was this the Busacca moment? The moment that the refs played all or nothing with Arsenal? Was this the long arm of Platini? Or the long arm of Busacca? We can only be happy that the strongest arm on the night was the one of our young Polish goalkeeper.
It was Szczesny who saved us from the mental blow we got as when we lost Van Persie. By the way I liked the way he stood in front of Di Natale before the penalty telling him that he would stop his shot. What a guy. You just got to love him.
So this time our keeper saved us from the “mistakes” from the ref. And I keep on wondering: is this really a coincidence that every time within 3 minutes of Arsenal scoring a vital goal that will keep them in the Champions League the refs come up with something so ridiculous and try to spoil our game? And try to destroy our believe.
Ah well, if it evens out we will be the lucky ones on a few occasions in the next years. Will we?