By Tony Attwood
Two things I learned from last night’s game. One is that I can never guess what Walter is going to say in a review and the other is that Arsene Wenger is changing his style of commenting on his players.
I thought Ozil’s goal was ok. Now I am not a referee, but even with the replays I could not see exactly if the ball hit the shoulder or the arm, and if it was the latter whether it was a deliberate arm ball. My understanding of the rules (something that is regularly corrected and updated by Walter both on the site and when we talk with each other) was that if the referee simply couldn’t tell, he gave the benefit to the attacking team.
But maybe that is just a bit of football mythology, and I am sure I will be corrected shortly.
My own view, which of course is worth no more than anyone else’s, was that had that goal stood, Arsenal would have taken heart and would have been able then to re-focus on the game plan. As it was instead of being a great positive moment it was an utter deflation. Another “oh he is that sort of ref” moment.
Two more incidents followed. One was the Campbell booking and the other the foul on Alexis on the half hour which made me feel deflated. Goodness knows what it did to the players.
It was just about this time that the Sprout commentator told us that “Bayern Munich don’t get enough credit” for the way they play. The words “planet” and “another” (although not in that order) came to mind vis a vis where the man is living. But then his co-commentator spoke on a monotone. I think I’d talk more rubbish than normal if I had that bleating in my ear for 90 minutes.
As for Mr W, there was a time when he followed the old George Graham approach of never ever being critical of his own team. He dropped that big time after the league cup match and he was at it again last night.
“You have to give credit to Bayern for their quality,” Mr Wenger said. “On top of that, we made things quite easy for them with our defensive performance. We were extremely poor defensively. We were not at the races. When we went forward, we had chances but with a defensive performance like that, you go nowhere.”
I think Gabriel Paulista is a superbly talented player but not yet the finished article – like Koscielny at the start, and I don’t think he deserves that criticism in general. I also thought Mathieu Debuchy was a very good purchase before his injuries. But what a life he’s had – bad injury, come back get thumped across the barrier, out for ages, come back and find the kid who replaced you turns out to be one of the best backs in England. I hope he has a good psychologist.
The Guardian asks today, “Could Wenger have started Mathieu Flamini instead of Campbell?” Hindsight is wonderful, but that too could have misfired as much as it could have worked. But the Guardian goes totally off the rails with the next point for they say, “Here, then, was a performance that furthered the argument that Wenger erred by not signing a tough midfielder in the Morgan Schneiderlin mould in the summer…”
The image is that had we done so we would have had him ready for last night. But would he have come to Arsenal if the manager had said, “actually I am playing Coquelin, who has better ratings than you, and Santi Caz next to him, but you might get a game in November.” I think not.
Of course one could argue that the whole system could have changed and maybe it would have worked, but what we do know is that in the Premier League our system does work, and we are equal top on points. Would we really say that a maybe is better than a “this really happened”? Well, not me.
So what now?
I don’t really want the distraction of the Champs League. I can’t see we are going to win it against Real Mad and Audi’s works team.
The point with both clubs is that they have the enormous advantage of playing in utterly balanced leagues. In Spain only three teams compete for top spot, and one of those only pops up every four or five years to have a go. In the much heralded German league, the table shows you what is wrong.
|8||FC Ingolstadt 04||11||4||3||4||7||9||-2||15|
|6||West Ham United||11||6||2||3||22||15||7||20|
|12||West Bromwich Albion||11||4||2||5||10||14||-4||14|
Bayern are already obviously champions, as they have been 10 times this century already and they have won the Cup eight times. They don’t do betting on who will win the league in Germany. At least in Spain they have two clubs to choose between with Real Mad and the Child Traffickers equal at the top. Atletico have had their go at the top and are giving it a rest for a while. You need to go to 11th to find a team on less than half the points of the team at the top.
And that’s the point really. Bayern has all the power, wins almost all the trophies and has sums of money to equal Real Mad and the Traffickers from its sponsors. Bayern’s main advertising partner is Deutsche Telekom. The main supplier of the club is Adidas. And that is before we get to Audi.
So yes, we can marvel at the quality of their football, but really, the story about the German league and its openness and competitive feel and… well. As is so often said. In Germany all the clubs start equal and then Bayern win the league.
We can, I guess, also wonder at the group we are in. Two of the four teams are under serious investigation for corruption and match fixing, with the owners and very likely the club being banned from European football unless they bribe their way out of the scandal. We have also played against a team using a player who failed a drugs test, and we’re bottom.
Personally I don’t mind us going out at this point so we can really have a bash at a third consecutive FA Cup, and a solid tilt at the League. I would genuinely also like us to miss the wretched Europa by coming bottom of the table, but failing that, I’d like the reserves and under 21s to play in those Europa games. That might be the chance they need to get a real breakthrough and would relieve our first team squad of trips to Albania and Uzbekistan or wherever it is Tottenham usually spend their winters.
Back home the injuries roll along and along, although even if you count Bellerin and Koscielny, we still aren’t top of the injury league table. Elsewhere the story is that Arsenal won’t offer new deals at the end of the season to Tomas Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta although the Standard says no final decision is taken. Apparently the one thing that Flamini is now particularly valued for (apart from scoring against Tottenham of course) is that he is very much Wenger’s man in the dressing room.
Coming very shortly…
- Ex-Arsenal player Danny Karbassiyoon on how to get into football scouting
5 November 1932: Gillespie Road tube station became Arsenal (Highbury Hill). The Highbury Hill element of the name was later dropped as the station adopted its long term name of Arsenal. (“Chapman’s achievements“)
5 November 1932: Following the 8-2 win one week before Arsenal beat Wolverhampton 7-1 away. Arsenal thus scored 3+ goals for the fifth league match running – a feat not repeated under 2008/9
Please like us on Facebook