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By Walter Broeckx
I can imagine the AAA brigade going wild, and enthusiastic and enjoying the occasion. After having to keep their mouth shut for a while they can let themselves go after our 1-1 against Leeds. Now we all can have some things to say about our game. We can make our remarks on the game, we can make our remarks about the team that started the game. But we do have to keep things in a bit of perspective.
We were absolute crap they tell us. But I do like to know how many crap teams manage to have 23 attempts on goal in one game. I’m sorry but being crap is like Man City with having zero attempts on target in 90 minutes. THAT is crap. Against Leeds we had 13 attempts on target.
Schmeichel had to make no saves is another thing thrown around. Now if you look at just the statistical number of 13 shots on target this baffles me a bit. How can you say Schmeichel had nothing to do? There was 13 stops to be made.
Or the more mathematically literate ones try to say : Schmeichel had to make only one decent save in 90 minutes. I do wonder which one this was? Was it his save on the one on one with Arshavin? Or was it the time that he saw the ball going in but when a defender saved the ball on the line and hacked it out.
Okay, this isn’t a save from the keeper but without the defender it would have been a goal. Or the one from the corner where another defender had to kick it out from going in just a bit after the first one saved from the line? Or the shot from Arshavin from outside the penalty area? Or the low save from Bendtner? Or was it the save in the last seconds when Denilson had a shot? I think this does look to me that he had to make more than one decent save.
So this is just a bit silly. If you do have something to say, please make sure that you are a bit in line with the bare match facts as they are visible if you want to see it.
Others like to make it look as if we have been escaping all day long of the beating of our lives. What a beating as Leeds had only two attempts on target. A penalty and one header. That’s it folks. And they also had 4 shots off target. So 6 in total. Compare this to our 23 in total.
If you ask me if I ‘m happy with the game and the final result, the answer is No, I’m not. As I would have liked us to win the game. But my desire of winning the game can be separated from my view on the game.
This was the FA cup. And what is the FA cup all about? About little teams upsetting the bigger ones. And as Arsenal is a bigger team we are the ones that can be upset. If we win against Leeds no one will say anything about it. But if we don’t win: the end of the world is near. I hope not as I still would like to see us lifting a few things in the next months so please do keep the globe spinning around for a while.
So Leeds got very close to an upset. An upset like we have seen last year when they went to Old Trafford and went on to win their game. It was painful for Man U, and how we laughed at the United fans. Those things can happen all the time in the FA cup and in fact they should happen each year in the FA cup. (In fact it happened last night to Derby County; it happened to Herbert Chapman against Walsall, and it certainly happened to George Graham).
And it might mean that we one day have to face such thing again. This is part of football at its best. And let us not forget this Leeds is a rather high placed team in the championship and last season when they went to Old Trafford when they played a division lower. So this wasn’t the walk in the park occasion as some of us might have expected. (I never expect a walk in the park to be honest. I just hope for a win. Any win. You will never hear me saying we will tear them to pieces. I hope we do but I never expect it as each game is difficult and hard. )
Let us blame Wenger then. He picked the team. Yes, he did. But how many fans told Wenger to play Gibbs in the place of Clichy? Well he did. We couldn’t play Sagna as he was suspended so it had to be Eboue. And giving Koscielny (whom they say is worthless most of the time) a rest is not that bad given the games he has played recently.
And in midfield he gave Wilshere a rest. Don’t forget the lad is 19 years young and has played an enormous number of games so far for such a young player. And next we have to play the semi final of the Carling cup and I think Wilshere will be in this game to start. So playing Denilson wasn’t that bad of an idea. We must give him game time as it will bring him back to his level. And doesn’t the anti Denilson brigade look a bit dumb right now? For years they have said that Denilson is useless as he never sticks his leg in and just let them run away. I think it was Denilson who stuck out his leg to concede the penalty. Not a wise stick of the leg but he did what the AAA brigade have blamed him for not doing.
Rosicky is also a natural replacement for Cesc. So again I see nothing wrong with resting Cesc if possible. It turned out to be that it was not possible so Wenger brought Cesc on the field when needed. But he didn’t have to play the whole game.
Nasri had a knock from the City game and Van Persie had a knock. Se we couldn’t play them. Or maybe we could have played them and lost them for a while. So bringing in Arshaving, Chamakh and Bendnter was a valid option. And yes it didn’t work out that good. A lot of lost balls at times. But maybe this is just part of not playing enough games together in that formation? And because of not playing with the best midfielders behind them like Cesc and Nasri and Wilshere?
And the same that have been blaming Wenger for giving Theo a lot of games in the last years are now crying for Wenger to be sacked because he didn’t play Theo from the start. Some people have to make up their mind: should Wenger play Walcott every single minute in every single game or is he really useless as they tell after every missed chance he has?
But the Wenger-out shouters have had their day out. For me this was just one of the nice games in the FA cup you always see in every round. True, this time we nearly got knocked out, but we are not knocked out. We have made life more difficult for ourselves. And now we have to work harder. But working harder is no problem. Now we know that we also have to be careful when we take on the championship teams. And this could be a help when we go to Ipswich next week.
And it also will help the team never to give up. At a moment when the AAA-brigade and the Wenger out brigade had given up, our players hadn’t given up. They kept on working and if there would have been one team that would have won the game at the final whistle: it would have been Arsenal. We just made life more difficult for ourselves than we needed but don’t try to tell me that the game I have seen 3 times by now was a game that was the worst performance ever by any Arsenal team. I won’t buy such crap comments. I have seen much worse.
And let us not forget what has made the reputation of the FA cup so big worldwide: it is the giant killing. It has been part of the history of the FA cup in all these years. Even Arsenal have been the victim a few times.
Even this round we have already seen Derby, WBA, Blackpool, Sunderland and Newcastle out of the cup. And together with us we have Wolverhampton, Stoke and Manchester City who have to go to a replay. That is still a possible 8 EPL teams that could be out of the FA cup after the replays. And I only count the ones that did not have to play another EPL team. This is just part of the FA cup and it always will be part of it. It even happened to United last year, to a second division team. This just is football and the FA cup.