By Tony Attwood
55% of the play, the most shots (10-6) and the most on target (3-2). We suffered a ludicrously wrongly given goal – and when you hear Sky commentators saying it should not have been allowed on two separate counts, you know the officiating was bad and bent. Especially in a league where according to PGMOL referees hardly make any mistakes at all.
The Unbeaten run began on 12 April 2014 and now includes
- 12 April 2014: Arsenal 1 Wigan 1 (FA Cup semi-final); 4-2 on penalties
- 15 April 2014: Arsenal 3 WHU 1
- 20 April 2014: Hull 0 Arsenal 3
- 28 April 2014: Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0
- 4 May 2014: Arsenal 1 WBA 0
- 11 May 2014: Norwich 0 Arsenal 2
- 17 May 2014: Arsenal 3 Hull 2 (FA Cup Final)
- 10 August 2014: Man C 0 Arsenal 3 (Community Shield
- 16 August 2014: Arsenal 2 C Palace 1
- 23 August 2014: Everton 2 Arsenal 2.
What’s more 7 of those games were won in normal time, one was won in extra time, one was won on penalties, and one drawn.
Of course the anti-Arsenal movement will say it was lucky, we left it late etc, but forget to admit that at least one Everton goal if not both should not have been allowed. And of course forget to admit that like every club that has ever won anything, we had dodgy times in all our successful seasons. We happily sing “We won the league at White Hart Lane” (or at least those of us who know the words sing it) and sweep aside the fact that we actually only drew that match in the Unbeaten season) because of an utterly stupid goal let in at the end.
And because I am now old I can say I still remember the 1970/1 Double season, which opened with, oh what was it, I can’t remember, now do remind me, err… oh yes, a 2-2 draw at Everton (Charlie George and George Graham scored), and was followed by a 0-0 at West Ham. By match six that season we’d won 2, drawn 3 and lost 1. (Sorry I wrote 6 here earlier – my mistake) If the AAA had been around in those days they’d have had Bertie Mee’s head on a plate.
But in the end it is the results across the season that count.
So it wasn’t a 6-1 or 7-0 as we have seen in the not too dim and distant, but we got a draw, and kept the run rumbling along. It was also an early lesson for those players just joining Arsenal in what referees can do to you when you play for Arsenal. They would have been told by their fellow players, but it probably took the seeing of it to convince them. Now they know. With Arsenal you don’t just have to defeat the other team. You have to beat the ref as well.
I was going to say that the press, of course, won’t mention the offsides, but the Guardian gives a grudging half nod with “an Everton goal that could have been disallowed for offside” – “could” mark you, not “should have been disallowed for an earlier foul and an offside that even Sky saw, and the ref should have been removed at once from the pitch and been placed in the bucket of iced water that seems to be all the rage.
Arsenal ran the second half, knowing that they had to take on the officials, and not let any rule bending get them down, and they did – and that was indeed heartening.
It was good to see Alex O-C stepping up and trying a few pot shots. He’s not quite there yet but he’s getting very close indeed. And some of our passing movements looked extraordinarily good, especially considering we had two players back in who were clearly not yet 100% and hadn’t played since going into the after-match party that is winning the World Cup.
Mesut Özil will get better and better, very quickly indeed, and already he is putting in those extraordinary passes that only he can see. They are not all working yet but they will soon.
I see in the papers this morning that (again in the words of the Guardian) “Everton had dominated the game” and yet that doesn’t quite explain the disparity in possession. At least they admit that Giroud, still not back to his best, “could easily have had a second-half hat-trick.”
As it is he has now scored 41 goals for Arsenal – and that apparently is a good reason to sell him (according to the 3% doom and gloomies at any rate). Given that he is playing in a side where other people score goals as well that is not a bad return.
Last season Giroud got 16 league goals in 36 games – fractionally under 1 in 2 (I add that for the sake of the AAA – I know everyone else can see that for themselves). I’d expect that ratio to go up this season. So far he has scored two in four games (including all competitions), and I think we’ll get higher figures as time goes on.
The point about Giroud is that he not only scores but also drags defenders off beam in order to allow Ramsey to get into scoring positions and that’s what we need. When Ozil gets himself fully in gear matters will get better again.
I’ll conclude with a final comment from the Guardian. “Had Giroud been on the field for the whole game, or even if he had found his range a little earlier than the 90th minute, Arsenal might have had all three points. They certainly had the chances, and though they took a battering in the first half, by the end it was Everton who looked the more fragile. That’s another thing you don’t tend to hear every week.”
At least after those earlier comments, they had the decency to admit what all of us (other than the AAA and their media exponents) could see.
A final postscript. There is a most appalling comment in the Independent today which says, “those Arsenal fans who remained in the Bullens Road Stand chanting that Everton had squandered a two-goal lead – or words to that effect – would probably have been the same ones who had spent season after barren season demanding that Wenger spend some of Arsenal’s vast financial reserves.”
While it is true that a few away fans have turned on Arsenal, the number is tiny. Our away support has been solid, loud and positive. As I have said before, the AAA which the media feeds off, represents about 3% of those who comment on Arsenal on blogs, and a handful in the stadium for league games. The famous pic of the turnip holding up a “spend some money” caption behind Mr Wenger two years ago, was taken at a match which (like most) I attended, and there was just a tiny number of negativists there even on that day. The infamous Black Flag protest got about 500 people at it, compared with 60,000 odd in the stadium. This type of gibberish from the Independent is insulting, and they need to be reminded of that.
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