ESPNSoccernet: Arsenal threw away the chance of a fifth straight Premier League win as West Ham battled back to earn a 2-2 draw at Upton Park.
Telegraph: Redemption Sunday for Rafael Benítez but, come May, an equally important narrative from the weekend’s football could be Arsenal’s sloppiness in failing to punish slips from so many rivals in the Premier League title race.
Why, it’s the Arsenalist of course!
Man of the Match
Alessandro Diamanti, all he did was come on and win the game, I mean get the point for West Ham. You could say we were naive, you can blame Chris Foy, but Diamanti changed the game.
Quote of the Day
In our job you have no luxury to miss opportunities, unfortunately. You have to get points when you deserve to get points, and sometimes to get points when you don’t deserve to get points. Today we didn’t get the points and we deserved to get the points. We play well, we are a strong team, and we want to learn, of course, to finish these games off when we can and that’s basically the most important lesson of the day. — Arsene Wenger.
I promised to look Chris Foy up in my archives, and sure enough I came across two examples of his refereeing prowess: the insanely officiated Charity Shield match at the beginning of the season and Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Bolton back in January. While liveblogging the match yesterday I commented that Foy was “having a nightmare” but in retrospect, that’s just his officiating style; utter shite. He will allow Ballack to elbow Evra in the face just like he will allow Diamanti to elbow Cesc in the face. He will allow Hines to try to break Clichy’s ankle, the same way he allows Kevin Davies to murder people in broad daylight. But the one thing he can’t stand for is a tap on the ankle in the box! That’s a stonewall penalty!
The thing is, as much as I’d like to blame Chris Foy for his mavericky, throw away the rule book style of refereeing, you can’t. He’s consistent across the board and Arsenal need to just adjust to him. Besides, if we’d have put in a single decent fucking cross last night we would have easily won that match 3-0 or even 4-0.
Sorry for the cursing there, I have no other way to describe Bolton’s striker than to call him a “Kevin Davies.”
Arsene Wenger and the Four Keepers
In Mooney, Manny, Fabby, and Sneezy Arsenal have four goal keepers and not a one of them seems ready for the rigors of an entire season of football.
Mooney (Almunia) seems to have done something wrong and is now in Wenger’s dog-house. Exactly what transpired after the City game is not public record, but from the press conferences and interviews one could make a guess that Mooney either lied about getting a chest infection and was subsequently dropped or that he was dropped and that Wenger used the chest infection excuse. I know, I’m not really telling you anything! That said, my suspicion is that Mooney was the one who caused the problem and the reason I say that is because Wenger had a sly smile ever time he said “chest infection.” Either way, I can’t see him coming back in this team except as an emergency replacement.
And now Manny (Mannone) seems to have made a hash at keeper as well, though we really shouldn’t be too hard on the lad, he’s young and it’s not his fault that he is learning his trade in the toughest league in the world and playing for a team which seems to enjoy throwing away games. I’ve seen enough of him to think that he has a bright, bright future but that he needs to learn his trade before playing in these high pressure games. His reaction time is absolutely amazing, and while some people think that Mooney might have saved that penalty, he went the right way but Diamanti hit an unsaveable penalty, one inch to the left and Manny saves it. As for the free kick, that left-footed in-swinger to the near post is hard to parry away and probably not something he’s seen before.
Fabby, I haven’t seen enough of him to be convinced. In fact, back in pre-season, folks like East Ave Arse were already saying that Manny was better than Fabby. Frankly, they both suffer from lack of experience so for me it’s 6 of one… We’ll see, he’s going to be tested by Liverpool on Wednesday.
Sneezy is Arsenal’s unknown, but if Manny isn’t ready and Fabby isn’t ready then Sneezy is, erm, double-plus unready.
No offense to any of these keepers but this is something that can only be solved in the transfer window. Funnily enough, Arsene supposedly ran the rule over Robert Green and considering the fact that his mistake gifted Arsenal our opening goal, I’m not surprised he decided not to go for him.
Throw away a lead twice in a season? Could be costly, but certainly not a problem. Throw away a lead twice in a week? That’s a problem.
Arsenal are a team that is custom built to outscore their opponents and two things seem to be happening with this team at this moment: they are both not scoring enough and not defending their lead. Silly mistakes at the start of the season were papered over by eye-popping scoring displays; 6-1 at Everton, 4-1 against Pompey, and 6-2 against Blackburn Cloggers. Silly mistakes in the last two matches have not been papered over with eye-popping scorelines and so Arsenal have suffered point-wise.
Tellingly, Wenger didn’t talk about the need to defend the lead, he talked about the need to be more clinical up front, to put in a better cross, and to take our chances. For those of you out there who were hoping that these two examples this week would lead to a defensive revolution, you might as well bury that hope deep, deep, inside. Arsene is going back to London Colney with only one thing in mind: get this team to score more goals.
I’m not pushing the panic button, yes we wasted a chance to gain on everyone this weekend, but this team has the quality in every position (except maybe keeper!) to win the League(s). We just, I guess, need to learn how to score more goals.
I think a 5-6 goals per game average should be safe. Maybe.