By Walter Broeckx
The Ox recovered from his injury that forced him off early against Lincoln and he remained in the team. No Özil however not on the bench as he had been reported to have a hamstring problem. A player that has recovered from his illness was Welbeck and he started in the team.
Arsenal taem: Cech, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Ramsey, Xhaka, Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexis, Welbeck
On the beach: Ospina, Gabriel, Mertesacker, Elneny, Coquelin, Iwobi, Giroud.
Arsenal with most of the ball but a long run from the WBA left back leading to the first penalty area ball but his cross found only the assistant referee at the other end of the field. Alexis with a fine ball to Monreal but the keeper could prevent Walcott from putting it in goal. WBA playing with all their players round their penalty area when Arsenal was in possession. The ref already letting go a blatant foul on The Ox then made a bit of a mess when giving a throw to Arsenal, then changing his mind and give it to WBA. WBA breaking but Cech could palm the effort away. The usual Pulis tactic with a defender man marking Cech so he couldn’t come for the corner that was headed in from close range by Dawson. 1-0 for WBA after 12 minutes. It is illegal to block the keeper on a corner. But probably not in the PGMO rules football.
But it didn’t take Arsenal long to answer and fully within the laws of the game. Xhaka with a lovely lofted pass to Alexis on the left flank who cut inside and shot in goal from the underside of the crossbar. GOAL!!! 1-1 after 14 minutes.
Alexis being fouled a few times but the ref ignores it, the shirt pull was clear but hey, this is PGMO rules football. Alexis gets a talking to for stating the obvious against the ref. Welbeck being blocked off the ball but again the ref sees no foul.. The Arsenal players are getting fed up it seems after Alexis is being brought down when he wanted to start a counter after a WBA corner. Well at least the foul was given…. 1-1 after 30 minutes.
WBA with a counter but Rondon’s shot went wide, while Arsenal had 75% possession. Ramsey with a good effort that ended up between Walcott and Nyon and despite trying 2-3 times the ball was cleared in the end. Cech then with a good save when a WBA player found some space. Some pressure after the corner but the cross went out in the end. Cech then limping and signalling he couldn’t carry on. Not the substitution you want to make in a match as this is one outfield player less you can change. Xhaka with a shot from distance but well off target. McClean with a late challenge on Alexis goes in the book. Studs on the ankle. Xhaka would probably have seen red for it. Alexis needing treatment after being caught on the ankle. Maybe if the ref had given a few more correct fouls earlier on the WBA players might have been a bit more carefull…? Alexis has to leave the field after treatment….against the laws as a yellow card has been given…. Arsenal keep on trying to go forward and WBA defend with all their players and keep Arsenal away. 1-1 after 45 minutes.
No change to the image of the match and no change in the habit of the ref to ignore fouls from WBA. Arsenal the only team really trying to go forward and WBA trying to counter. Rondon heading wide on such a rare occasion. And then out of nothing WBA score. An offside or not decision not spotted and then Ospina had to come out, the ball fell to Robson-Kanu who could put it over the line. The first offside decision was crucial as the second phase the player who was maybe offside first didn’t interfere. 2-1 to WBA after 57 minutes. Another disputable goal.
WBA now even stepping up the time wasting of course. After 65 minutes Giroud came on for Walcott. A corner for Arsenal but Welbeck headed against the crossbar. When things don’t go your way…. Mustafi then kicked on the calf when he was winning the ball but in PGMO rules this is not a penalty of course. WBA counter but Ospina can stop the first effort and then Mustafi clears the rebound. WBA defending in numbers and Arsenal finding it hard to beat the zebra wall. WBA get a corner and again the WBA players make sure that the keeper is not able to come out and WBA head in a third goal. 3-1 after 75 minutes. Placing yourself in front of the keeper to interfere and to prevent him from having a free run is a foul. Alexis is then taken off and Iwobi comes on after 78 minutes.
Neanderthal tactics clearly are too much for Arsenal to deal with, certainly with a ref who is himself from the neanderthal generation and probably don’t know the modern version of the laws of the game about interfering on corners. Only in Pulis land such tactics can work and seem to be allowed. Too many Arsenal players with their heads down after the third blow they had to take.
2 highly disputable goals, 1 non given penalty but surely people will say the ref has no influence…
Arsenal now risking to be without European football next season if they can’t turn things around soon….or will they then go on to win the league next season?