Today I witnessed a performance that I’d never witnessed before in my entire life of following Arsenal Football Club. There have been some pretty poor displays over the years (as well as some brilliant ones) but today just takes the piss.
The 1st half lured me into such a false sense of security that I can’t begin to explain. We were awesome. The good old Champions types of displays were back, demolishing the opposition and having the game won by half time. We were flying; we were 3-0 up by 15:10. Some of the best football we have played since the likes of Bergkamp, Henry and Vieira graced the famous red and white. Unfortunately for us, whilst the away end was lapping up copious amounts of alcohol at HT, Arsene and Co were taking for granted what we had.
A lot can be said for manager’s roles in sides but they earn their corn with their HT team talk. We seemed to appear with a blasé attitude. A game plan that now constituted of getting through the next 45 without any injuries. We are 4-0 up, and the game was won with only 45 minutes separating us from its obvious outcome. Surely we’d take advantage of what was in front of us and we’d boost our goal difference. Unfortunately for us our side decided they weren’t going to give a shit.
Sadly, the method in the madness was out of the window 2 minutes into the half. Djourou picked up an injury and he was replaced by Squillaci. Then a true moment of madness, Abou Diaby completely lost the plot on 50 minutes, pushing around Barton and Nolan. Now Diaby may lay claim to excessive tackling but after we had literally taken the piss out of the opposition for 45 minutes, you have to expect they will try to rough you up and let you know that you are still in a game (not to the extent Stoke do by the way). Down to 10 but in all honesty it was not a great concern, he was probably the worst of 11 players we put out there. Newcastle then found a bit of belief and weren’t far away from being rewarded. A goal came duly arrived, all be it via a debateable penalty. Barton coolly slotted home and it was 4-1. No big deal for the fans, we are still cruising to victory. The players however, went completely into their shells. Denilson said last month that we had no leaders, well he wasn’t their today but his point was well emphasised. Cesc disappeared out of St James’ Park and not one of the remaining players decided to take it upon themselves to sort out the mess that was about unfold. 15 minutes from FT and not only had Newcastle already had a goal chalked off for offside but we were still winning 4-1, when Leon Best (Leon Fucking Best, not Pele)made it 4-2. Suddenly there were a few nervous looks around the travelling faithful but surely we weren’t going to throw this away? I’ve said in the past that throwing leads away at the likes of Wigan, West Ham and in recent North London Derbies, will only become easier to accept if we learn from these bad experiences and learn how to close games out. Well we got tested today and we folded without putting up a fight. The reason the penalty was given is beyond me, the trigger happy linesman didn’t have any doubt. Barton slotted home again and it was well and truly game on. Now whether it was a penalty or not is neither here nor there, we shouldn’t have put ourselves in a position to question this. Then with 3 minutes to go Newcastle got their reward for a terrific test of their resolve and character, Tiote scored an absolutely worldie from 20 yards or so. He ran the length of the pitch and probably in all honest could have sprinted through Eldon Square without our side noticing. 4-4 FT.
I remember losing our lead 4-2 lead against Stratford and feeling inconsolable getting in the house at 03:30 am. Today could have only been worsened if it was against them. We hung on for a point and to be honest, I never loiter in the ground afterwards but I was still in the ground when most had gone. Asking did that really just happen? Only 60 minutes earlier I was queuing to get a few beers and enjoying a great away day. Now? I wanted to go home and be left alone and wake up 2 minutes before we kick off against Wolves. This was supposed to be a great weekend but thanks to Arsenal I now in an endless world of getting shitty texts off part time Newcastle fans who didn’t even now they existed pre-Keegan. This was also not helped by the masses queuing outside the away and signing 4-0 and you fucked it up? That song is beyond ridiculous on so many levels! How was that song even imaginable?
So where do we go from here?
I have no idea. Arsene’s tactical naivety has again been called into question. We were experts playing with 10 men. No doubt the roll of shame will be exposed tomorrow with Diaby being the 198th (exaggeration) player sent off under Wenger. The players have again caved under pressure. Last season we folded after defeat at SHL. Just when you need them to stand up and be counted they wilt and disappear off the face of the earth. Now this will no doubt be a massive over reaction but I’m livid. Man Utd have gone and lost tonight and I’m not sure if I want to laugh or cry. When are we going to learn? I’m not sure we will. This may be a case that we have to accept such performances and just move on. Is that acceptable? Not at all! Is this the sort of performances that Championship winning sides dish out? Too right it isn’t. I cannot explain how we go from such fantastic football to such ineptitude in the space of a 15 minute interval. Maybe if there are any AC Milan fans out there, please get in touch. You suffered much worse than I did today. A few fans were blaming the ref as we left the ground but in all honesty the bentest ref at any level of the game couldn’t turn around a 4 goal deficit today. Yes, he contributed but maybe we are feeling the backlash to Cesc’s fall out on Tuesday? The ref will have some answering to do but we should be above this and he is not the sole reason behind us conceding 4 goals. We rarely got out of our half and at no point did we string 10 passes together in the 2nd half.
We are now 4 points behind United and we are 2nd in the league. We need to learn how to hack the pressure in bigger games than we’ll face today. Birmingham away was a classic example from last season. This team needs to start showing their resolve because I’m beginning to question their bottle and determination to win silverware. Its one thing to say “We want to win trophies” but please prove me wrong Arsenal. Man Utd have bigger games ahead, notably against Chelsea and Liverpool away. We need to get back to winning ways and capitalising on slips ups by other around us. We should be 2 points behind 1st place tonight. For now though, Chelsea have an opportunity to close the gap. If only they’d have spent 72 million to push their title challenge eh?