By Walter Broeckx
Looking back one last time to last weekend…
Haven’t seen anything since coming home after being awake for 23 hours to see Arsenal play in a game. The longest trip ever made by the Arsenal Benelux that I know.
Let me start with the bad things: we didn’t win. We should have won the game but we failed. We had enough chances and the best one of course in the ultimate seconds. This all lead to a feeling of defeat at the end of the game. I can imagine the usual people declaring the end of the universe.
In the first half I have seen a team that scored rather easy. Two well taken goals by Giroud and Podolski. But what struck me then was the attitude of a part of the crowd in the stadium. Last week we had a few people from those who visit the games. They were having a bit of an attitude that those not attending the games should shut up because they paid the money to get inside the ground so they were the ones that were being ripped off. SO WHY TH F*CK DIDN’T YOU GET BEHIND THE TEAM WHEN WE WERE 2-0 UP?????
Telling people to shut up because they cannot attend the games is one thing, but where you amongst those few who attempted to support the team at that point? I did. And lots of those sitting on our coach did the same. But far too many just sat there. So it was a very strange affair when we were 2-0 up and the Emirates just being very silent. If those silent tell me they knew Fulham would come back to 2-2 they should have opened their mouth and should have been behind the team to lift it. I really don’t know if it was the strange atmosphere at the time that pulled the team back or just the thought of: okay we 2-0 up, we have had a hard game during the week so let us try to sit back a bit.
No matter what or how we just let Fulham get back in to the game. They accepted the gift and some sloppy defending saw us concede two goals. A real game was on. I can imagine a neutral spectator watching the game and enjoying every minute of it. I noticed a few heavy legs in our team and wondered if we would cope with it physically.
And it turned in to a real test of strength when we fell behind after a penalty. The crowd finally got behind the team in the second half. And I think the way we reacted to falling behind was wonderful. We suddenly went in to a higher gear and gave all we got. Giroud hitting the post and Walcott putting the ball back in for Giroud to head it home.
The team went for the winner and we should have won it when Dowd gave us our first penalty at home in the EPL since the season 2010-2011. Thanks Phil for allowing me this historic moment. As we know there are only two sorts of penalties. The one that go in are always good given penalties. The one that are missed are not good given penalties. So we can qualify the one from Arteta as a bad one. Leaving us with a bad taste in our mouth.
But I prefer to have a look at the good things. We are creating chances again. That is always a good sign. We had a few games when we created nothing. I said at the time that this was down to the fact we had no real speed on the flanks. With Theo, The Ox, Gervinho and Gibbs all being out at the time this was normal. Now we are seeing two of them coming back (in fact just one as The Ox still had to face a fitness test this weekend) but we could use some speed on the flank in the last two games. And the creating chances came back, and the goals scoring came back.
We still could use a few fresh legs in midfield for the moment. Some old and experienced legs if possible. Why not someone like Rosicky who is back training with the team. I think Cazorla and Arteta could use a breather. With players like Rosicky and Diaby back this could happen. The first one almost back but what about the second one?
But the best part for me was the fact that the team didn’t accept defeat when we went 2-3 down. How big the mental blow was going from 2-0 up 2-3, we stood up, dusted ourselves and gave it the best we got.
Was it perfect? Of course not. But Arteta scoring his penalty would have been an amazing comeback. And I can only praise the team for getting themselves back in to that position after seemingly having thrown away the game in the first place. If we just would have rolled over after going 2-3 down I would be very worried right now.
Now I know this team will fight for it. And a team that wants to fight is never beaten. They fought back and crawled out of the hole they had dig themselves against a Fulham team that had a few very intelligent and clever players like Berbatov and Ruiz. Players that can strike any second and they already showed it a few times this season.
Or was it just written in the stars that this game would end 3-3? Because it was my second visit in just a few months time that ended in 3-3. If you don’t like that score line, don’t worry I will not be coming over again in the first months.
A final message to you out there in the Emirates: when a team is having a bad run the only way to help the team is to get behind it. No moans or groans have ever won a game of football.
Don’t ask what your club does for you, THINK WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP YOUR TEAM!
And now some international friendlies????? Who invented this madness?