By Tony Attwood
You may read that this was a 1-2 victory to Chelsea but actually Arsenal scored two perfectly reasonable goals. However, one was ruled not a goal because the ref, who was standing about 12 yards from the goal line, couldn’t tell if the ball had gone over the line. It had, beyond any doubt – I could see from my place near the corner flag looking along the line.
But for reasons not quite clear, the lines-being didn’t know either, although he ought to have scampered to the line in good time to check. He didn’t. TV later confirmed what my eyes saw. The ball was over the line.
For reasons even less clear than the lines-being’s ability to see the ball and the line, there was no goal-line technology in place – which as it happened wasn’t the only thing missing. Also missing was any attempt to train the people who accosted us the moment we got through the turnstiles. “Put your masks on” we were told in no uncertain and necessarily loud and indeed positively aggressive tones. We couldn’t because we didn’t have masks with us. “Go and buy some,” we were told at the double shout.
Looking up and finding only a tiny minority of other fans wearing masks we decided not to. Anyway, by then the lady in question had lost interest in us and was shouting at someone else. It seemed to give her a fix. Which perhaps saves her from being a junkie, but is annoying for paying customers.
Moving on, I suppose I can’t argue that letting in people who have no interest in football is a cock-up on Arsenal’s part – you can hardly make those wanting to come in take a test – but I’ll swear the two sitting in front of me didn’t once look at the match. It was disconcerting – although not as disconcerting as the violence the flared up in the north bank. Quite why Arsenal were not able to sort out who they were selling tickets to, and then designate an area (maybe we could have an “away section” – that’s an idea) and stick Chelsea fans in that, is beyond me.
And the second Arsenal goal – yes the ball was over the line. Even I could see that from my seat which by chance allowed a view directly along the goal line. Maybe Arsenal could have employed me to be the line judge if the technology was on the blink. Or maybe they had simply sacked the man who normally turns it on, and he’d left without anyone else being shown how to do it. Such things do happen.
As for the game, I think Xhaka’s appearance shows the whole thing about him toddling off to Italy or somewhere is as big a load of nonsense as you’ll read about Arsenal this week. His reaction to scoring was very much along the lines of a man who cares about the club he is playing for and wants to stay here.
Joe Willock who also came on as a sub, looked like a man who wanted to stay as well, and given his recent record at Newcastle I’d most certainly say, “yes, let the young man stay.” Besides he is a homegrown player and we hardly have any of those, so swapping him for a foreign grown type would be totally ludicrous. He is a free addition to the 25; why not??? The link above give more.
You can’t judge too much about a team from a pre-season match, but you can judge quite a bit about the state of the club. Arsenal put out statements that suggested we were going to have to show our vaccine data, which of course we had therefore brought along. But no we weren’t. What all that stuff on their website was about it beyond me, but I wasn’t the only person who was under the impression that a vaccine certificate was required to gain entry.
As for the Arsenal overall, I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with the team. We’ve had some good upgrades since the end of last season (three signings and the return of Joe Willock). No, it is the administration of the club that is a total disaster area.
Selling seats to Chelsea fans in the North Bank? Not having the goal-line technology working? Putting up notices that suggested we needed vaccination certificates when we didn’t. Even putting up signs saying “Beer Only” for certain queues, when in fact what they actually meant was Beer or Larger. Is larger a beer? I’ve no idea, so for dumbos like me, why not put a clearer notice up? And employing ladies to shout at paying customers (for that I think is how we are now seen) to put on masks, when masks are clearly not “de rigueur” is insane. Find her and sack her is my advice.
It was a shambles. But I’ve paid for my season ticket. So I’ll be there next time. Let’s hope by then sanity has returned.
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