Heading up the M6 to the Old Cowshed in the middle of a Europa Semi was always destined to be one of the least tasty sandwich fillings. Adding some match fitness to Mkhitaryan’s comeback and giving the youngsters a run out while hoping the scoreline didn’t do them any lasting damage, seemed to be the main aims. Fairly lowly expectations for a trip to our old adversary they were. The presentation to Arsene before the game was all very lovely but giving credit to their fans for applauding a man they’d abused quite hideously for so many years seemed a bit rich for my liking.
The game began in fast and furious fashion with both sides closing down quickly and buzzing toward either goal without there being too many clear cut chances.
The Manc goal came after a quarter of an hour and we all thought it might herald the opening of the flood gates. When Hector was waiting for the cross to come in, he glanced behind to see Sanchez in acres of space behind him, but, inexplicably, did nothing to close the gap. By the time the ball was delivered to the back post, his only option was to attempt the block Sanchez’ goalbound header. He did manage to touch it on to the post but the rebound favoured Pogba.
Was Nelson fouled in the build up to the goal? One thing was certain, the ref wasn’t going to be giving us much of anything during yesterday’s game.
Micki nearly brought us back level 5 minutes later but failed to bend the ball around De Gea into the far post corner. A couple of headers from Aubameyang and Nelson were our other reasonable chances in the first period, the first powder-puff and the second wide of the target. 1-0 at half-time which was as good as most expected; with our defence largely untroubled with Mavropanos looking confident and assured.
The second period got off to a fine start with Henrikh squeezing a shot into the corner of the net through the defender’s legs, fooling De Gea. The assist came from Granit winning the ball back high up in the manc half – wonders will never cease!
Some of the Arsenal football was very encouraging with swift interplay, the youngsters enjoying their moment in the limelight.
Lukaku went off and was replaced by the ineffectual Rashford. Martial and Fellaini came on for the excrescent Herrera and lively Lingard. So, Maureen’s plan B was to put their most skillfull forward on to have a crack at our right flank and if that failed, hoof it up to microphone head. When Rashford was waiting to come on to the pitch, he was shown a book of photos, presumably detailing team layouts. I wonder what Fellaini was shown?
Danny came on with fire in his belly and had a fine driven effort after winning the ball back, but it was straight at the keeper.
The final stages of the game saw us unable to hold on to the ball, so it seemed like a non-stop procession of balls humped into our penalty area. Could we hold on for a deserved point, all things considered. No, was the answer as a Young cross skimmed Xhaka’s head and skidded off the afro beyond Ospina’s left arm. The keeper just touched the ball but the combination of short arms and the proximity of the post meant that he couldn’t keep the ball out. Fellaini celebrated as if he’d won the Cup which was a depressing end to what turned out to be a rarity for the Gunners this season, a fine away performance.
All in all, it was a case of job done as Micki seems fit, the kids did not get hammered by any stretch of the imagination, our new Greek colossus had a fine debut and youngsters Maitland-Niles, Nelson, Willock and Calum Chambers all played well.
Ospina – Didn’t have to produce too many saves – I wish his arms had been longer for the second … 6
Bellerin – Thank heaven he didn’t get injured for Thursday as we have no obvious back up – no idea what his thought process was for the first goal … 7
Chambers – Seemed to respond to being the senior partner of the CB pairing and played very well … 7
Mavropanos – Had Lukaku in his pocket, not afraid to inflict a little bruising; in a most cultured Arsenal way, of course – excellent debut … 8
Kolasinac (Monreal) – The Beast seems to always pass the ball back from whence it came with his arm raised that it needs to go over the other side of the pitch – Nacho came on and perked up the left flank for the last half an hour … 6/7
Maitland-Niles – Still not sure what Ainsley’s best position is, but he looked classy in Arsenal’s midfield yesterday … 8
Xhaka – Got a bit of a clumping but one of his strengths seems to be his durability – great turnover and assist for the equaliser … 7
Iwobi – Scampered around probing for an opening and looked more comfortable than recently – perhaps being surrounded by other youngsters helped … 7
Nelson – Still looks a bit lightweight and was sometimes bullied off the ball too easily – a summer in the gym will do him some good; muscle and his undoubted ability could be a potent combination … 7
Mkhitaryan – Looked dangerous and accomplished, though Ashley Young attempted to ruin his recovery by kicking him at every opportunity (why wasn’t Young booked for persistent fouling at the very least?) … 8
Aubameyang – I get the impression that Pierre is in a period of stasis at present – he’s playing in meaningless league fixtures but not in the games which matter – doesn’t look as though he’ll get us a goal out of nothing for the time being, but I’d imagine he’ll explode as an Arsenal player from the start of next season … 7
Willock and Welbeck both contributed but sadly not enough to help us avoid defeat 6/6
This game was an annoying mosquito buzzing around the Club’s ears with Thursday looming on the horizon. However the team produced a very good performance, so much so that, when we finally conceded to the mancs’ route one tactics so late on, it was bitterly disappointing for at least a few seconds after the final whistle.
Hey ho, on to the big one.
Written on Saturday soon after the managerial announcement, this comment from one of our respected bloggers already seems prophetic with regard to the journos’ insatiable need to stir up discontent within the Arsenal support. ‘Did he jump or was he pushed?’, ‘ Wenger lets rip at hurtful fans’ etc etc. Anyway back to the question, What does your support of Arsenal Football Club amount to?
Now see what happens…..there is no will he won’t he leave debate anymore so the press with all their “wisdom” need something else to generate some much needed ad revenue, and sadly Arsenal fans as so oft publicised are one of (if not the most) internet savvy/enabled/keen bunch of fans. So what are they going to do to get more hits, well make more stuff up obviously.
Seriously, has anyone really known any serious leaks to come out of Arsenal, ever, apart from discontented players when they leave or players that mis-speak in interviews. Those working in the club can give no comment as doing so will be seen as a “cover up”/“united front” and by not commenting and not denying they allow the rumours to persist. But they are inbetween a rock and a hard place and there’s no way out of the hell.
As Welsh Gooner predicts ( ed: that our ‘entitled’ fans won’t suddenly disappear) and the people Rocky refers to above (see Saturday’s post) we are not going to get away from this churlishness, neither in blogs or on the terraces, they will survive because unlike those of us who grew up in a different generation, football is apparently all about winning, it isn’t.
It’s about the the atmosphere, it’s the smell of burgers and fried onions as you walk up Avenell Road, it’s the sea of red and white shirts on their way to and from a game, it’s about sharing the same hopes and dreams.
Not once have I ever expected a win/demanded a win.
I’ve been disappointed, heartbroken, ecstatic, angry, joyful, satisfied and any other emotion you can think of whilst watching Arsenal, but isn’t that why we go? Isn’t that proof that we care, but if somehow you think because you’ve bought a shirt from the club shop or have a season ticket or go to one game a season somehow you are entitled to demand success. Then you are watching the wrong sport, in the wrong country in the wrong way.
Just extrapolate the thought process. “We should win every week” > if we should and could that means every opponent will lose, which means every opponents ground will be empty because why would they bother, and at that point it’s not sport anymore, and you never suffer the injustices, the hurt, the pain, so the wins are never going to bring you nights of elation.
If Arsenal could win every season I would not have jumped so high with arms outstretched smashed a light in the lounge when Mickey Did It, I wouldn’t have had that joy, that one moment of pure elation was probably enough for me, it’s lived long in the memory (I was 13) that’s 29 years ago. The fact that in the meantime we have suffered ups and downs, is what has made every trophy since joyful, and for some pretty painful evenings too. Giggs, Lehman, Koscielny/Szczesny (I could go on).
But Overmars at OT, Wilford at same place, Limpar from the half way line, Henry v Spurs mazy Run, Merse’s chips, Wright’s over and over and over v Everton, God v Newcastle, Rambo vs Hull and Chavs, Linighan v Sheff Wed, Morrow v Sheff Wed, etc etc these are the moments we cherish as fans, because they’re special, they’re not every day of the week.
I’ll support the next manager like I supported Arsene, like I supported Neil, Howe and Graham and yes even Rioch, because :
You are my Arsenal,
My only Arsenal
you make me happy when skies are grey
you’ll never know just how much I love you
until you take my Arsenal away,
la la la la la, oo,
la, la la la la, oo,
la la la la la la la la la la la”
Written by GoonerInExile