The end result was 1-1, but really it was Phil Dowd vs Arsenal, not Leeds.
Yes, Leeds played okay, but they are a Championship side and played like one – any XI versus XI is a match, but when you don’t play well and you have a nightmare of a referee, AND I mean, a nightmare of a referee, then it’s never going to be easy.
The line-up was strong, with a few key players such as Arshavin, Chamakh and Song – named in the first XI:
Eboue – Squillaci – Djourou – Gibbs
Denilson – Song
Arshavin – Rosicky – Bendtner
With a bench of Fabianski, Clichy, Miguel, Ramsey, Cesc, Vela and Walcott
The performance itself was disjointed to say the least. The line up included a few players, the likes of Eboue, Gibbs, Denilson, Rosicky, Arshavin and Bendtner who were all very rusty and all very out of sorts – without much game time between them, their rustiness was shown by a general lack of fitness, a general lack of passing and movement – but what do you expect from fringe players. But that’s no excuse – the XI was definitely good enough to cause more damage.
For me Niklas Bendtner was absolutely rubbish – if he can’t do it against Championship sides – at home! – then how can he be the world beater that he wants everyone to believe he is. We have had a huge amount of patience with Bendtner – when he was super rubbish and now he seems to have regressed back to his old self. Why on earth Arsene has so much faith in the player, I really don’t know. He seems to give him chance after chance after chance. Why was Chamakh not brought on against Man City and why was he taken off yesterday in preference of Niklas Bendtner?
For me, Bendtner should be going out on loan, not Carlos Vela – having said that, the Mexican’s recent contributions have been woeful – but at least he is a different option.
Denilson has really played himself out of contention this season – he is a completely different player to the player he was last season. Yesterday he did all the basics wrong – his passing was off, his positioning was off, and the penalty he gave away was abysmal. Arsene has other players in Diaby, Wilshere and now Ramsey, so it’s not a problem position in terms of any necessity to play Denilson, but Arsene needs to get him back to some sort of form.
I try my best not to concentrate too much on refereeing decisions, but the performance of Phil Dowd is something that should never be allowed – the same fouls against us were not given, but against Leeds, were – twice, a Leeds striker was offside, but he referee and linesman continued play – niggling fouls were consistent but consistently not given by the referee, and a handball by Leeds int he first half again