By Tony Attwood
Football via a time machine.
So, after Walter publishes my preview after the match I suppose in future I shall have to put up my post-match reports before the game starts. Fortunately my great grand-father was a good mate of HG Wells and was bequeathed all his sketches upon the death of one of our great writers (sadly now only remembered for a handful of books), and thus I can indeed accomplish this feat.
But for now I write of yesterday. Tomorrow I shall do a review of our second unbeaten season.
In the first minute the WBA goal keeper (the pantomime horse that is Myhill) started time wasting, taking over a minute to take a goal kick. By the 5th minute the time was up to 90 seconds and the crowd was howling and booing.
Now normally when this happens and a ref is trotting away from the goal area to get ready for the upfield action, the ref turns around to see what the crowd is making so much noise about. But this ref? Not a chance. Head down he ran away, leaving the keeper to start his run up, stop, wave, start it again etc etc.
Strangely no matter how many times he did this, and no matter how many times he placed the ball in odd places, moved it, stopped, started and everything else, the ball always curved to the left and ended up on the WBA left wing. After a few times Arsenal got the hang of this, and we all knew where the ball was going.
Then after 7 minutes Ridgewell was injured and so how to go off. Having wasted the usual 90 seconds in not taking the kick keeper Myhill, on hearing the whistle quickly ran up and kicked the ball right up field. The substitution was made, and the ball then retrieved.
My point is that Myhill should have had a yellow for his time wasting from the start, and then had a second for kicking the ball away. So he would have gone off, WBA played with 10 men and the 3rd keeper would have been in goal.
In that regard the false penalty we were awarded in the first half would not have mattered since we would have been playing 10.
Thus I argue, if you are going to suggest that the penalty was not a penalty, fair enough. But you also have to look at other referee mistakes and consider the consequence of those, too. Otherwise the debate is lopsided; one of those crazy “we’ll only include wrong decisions if they benefit Arsenal” type articles that now dominate the press reports.
As it was we got 59% of possession, which is a bit more like it, had 19 goal attempts, and reduced WBA to just one goal attempt on target. Our forward line was having a day when they missed when it was easier to score, but still, the effort and forward passing, so missing in previous games, was there again.
WBA did not look like a top 10 team, let alone a top 5 team, and I suspect they will now sink without trace by the end of the season. Not to relegation perhaps, but certainly not a top half side. The ref ought to be put on a training course, and Arsenal will be doing all this forward passing stuff on auto pilot within a match or two.
And one more thing. Jack Wilshere. He was both a defensive midfielder and a classic number 10. Not a perfect performance from him, but some of the forward passes were in the mould that Bergkamp is remembered for. What an amazing player, and one still very much in the making. If we could have Diaby back and play Jack as a number 10…. oh what a joy that would be to watch.
(Incidentally Jack squared up to one of the WBA players at one time. The top of Jack’s head come up to the guy’s neck. Most amusing).
Alex O-C disappointed at moments – I thought he would have been further on by now, but like Jack, he is young and has plenty of time. But he is willing and if we look at his performances overall he is improving.
Next up, the report on the league cup game, followed by the preview. But to ponder for a further second the issue of Myhill – why waste time from the first second of the game? OK, if you are 1-0 up away with injury time left, yes maybe you do this. But not from the very first goal kick of the game. At the end, rushing to and fro to get the ball and take instant goal kicks, he three times kicked a moving ball as a goal kick. Linesman and ref did and said nothing. But then, that’s how they played the whole game.
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