By Tony Attwood
A bad day at the office generally can be put right the next day. You know you are off-form and the more you try to correct it the worse it gets. In the end you just have to accept that it was a bad day at the office.
The trouble with football is that the impact of that day lingers for longer. We had a grotty match and we lost to a team we never imagined we would lose to. Nothing can be done to salvage that because we don’t play them again. All we can do is win the next match.
In the end the analysis is simple – almost everyone was having a rotten time. Passes were going astray from the start, and when it happened again immediately after half time you knew it was just going to go on like that.
And what it proved is that if you take something over half the regular starters out of a team, either because they are injured, or because you have a troublesome game coming up mid-week, in the end, it shows.
Worse, among those missing are the men who would otherwise be the heartbeat of the team: Theo, Cesc, Van Persie – and I would add Bendtner, whom we have seen in the past rescue games like this with a header into the net in the last minute.
Then there was the temptation to put out a strong team in League Cup for a change, to beat Tottenham. There have been millions of critics telling Wenger that he was wrong not to go for the Diddly Cup – and finally he listened to them. But maybe a bad Saturday against West Brom was the price to pay.
Of course in a perfect season you don’t get games like this, but perfect seasons are rare – as the KGB in Fulham have just found out with two defeats in a row, and as Man IOU have found out with giving away goals in the last few minutes.
Goodness knows how Wenger can pick the team up after that for a trip to Europe, but then we know he can, because he has done it before.
We had 19 goal attempts, hit the post three times – on another day at least one of those would have gone in, and had it been the first one, the game would have been different.
But we have seen once again how superb Nasri can be, and we have witnessed a clear statement from the EPL and the FA that time wasting is not an offence. It is a shame that WBA do engage in such flagrant cheating – the lying down, the two physios rushing on to the pitch for a player who is clearly not injured at all, the 40 seconds or more to take a goal kick, the keeper holding the ball for 10 seconds or more. In fact the success of the tactic was so great that in the near future we will see
a) two medics rushing on as standard – with all the extra time it takes to get off again
b) oxygen equipment and a medical trolly on as standard, and ditto the amount of time
In other words, every year another ploy is added by the little teams to beat the big teams. Throw ins in Shawcross-land now take a minute, injuries (feigned and otherwise) take five minutes, goal kicks take a minute… And the referees do nothing.
Such is the future of football.
But let’s end with another thought. We were poor, and although some people walked after the third goal went in, the majority stayed, and at the final whistle, there was applause for Arsenal from Arsenal fans. The message that we support this team and this club no matter what, has got through and is growing day by day. In the car on the way back to the Midlands, I switched on Radio 5 and they were saying “text in with which keeper you think Wenger should buy”, and I am sure there were many doing it. It just shows the divide that has built up between the Anti-Arsenal groups, and the real supporters.
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