So with Chelsea doing us a favour against Manchester United in mid-week, we had the chance to go be just one point behind, having played the same number of games, if we beat Sunderland.
As easy as that might seem on paper, we have to remember they beat us at the Emirates last season, if I remember correctly. Yes, Bent left, but they still have a pretty decent game. They might have lost their last 4 games, but as usual, teams ALWAYS reserve their best for the Emirates, especially the goalkeepers. It’s almost as if goalkeepers think they’re auditioning for a spot at the Emirates. Very maddening! They always have blinders when they’re playing against us, but as early as the next game, they make blunders! How about making your blunders against US?! We already have a first-choice goalkeeper in Szczesny, thank you very much! Sigh…
Anyways, enough of the mini-rant. So what really happened yesterday?
The line-up for the game was:
Sagna – Koscielny– Djourou – Clichy
Wilshere – Denilson
Nasri – Diaby – Arshavin
I could not watch the game, as I was out on the road, but I was able to follow the game on Twitter. And going by the majority of tweets on my timeline, here’s what happened: “F*ck”. “F*************ck!!!!”. “What the F****ck”. And on and on and on all game. All the frustration was directed at Denilson, Diaby, the referee, Arsene, and anyone who so much as misplaced a pass! It was a massive game, one we really ought to have won to put the pressure on Man U. But is all lost? Ofcourse not. Seeing as I did not watch the game, I watched Match of the Day in the evening, and what I saw was an unfortunate game. We threw everything at Sunderland. All the chances they showed were Arsenal ones, until towards the end when Szczesny had to make brilliant saves.
From where I was sat, we pushed and pressed and pressed and pushed and… but Sunderland were resolute. They defended really brilliantly, and we could have and should have won. Arshavin was a real thorn in Sunderland’s side. Had decent chances to score, but fluffed his lines. But he should have had a penalty! Titus Bramble the offender. A ball over the top, and Arshavin beat him to it, and Bramble was struggling to catch him. He got into the box, and as Arshavin was about to pull the trigger, he fell over on his own accord, according to the referee. But did he!? Titus Bramble definitely fouled him. Twice! He pulled his shirt and when that did not work, he pushed him, with both hands! But the referee did not spot either, and we were denied a clear penalty. And Bramble would probably have been sent off!
Arshavin was at it again, this time putting the ball into the back of the net, but the linesman flagged. And he was clearly onside! Arsene was apoplectic post-match, and he had every reason too! It was tough enough having to deal with a dogged Sunderland defence, but to have to deal with dodgy refereeing decisions as well? Especially at this point of the season when every point is crucial. Listening to the MotD guys, and they did make a valid point. We started too slowly. We’ve scored the most number of goals inside the first 15 minutes than any other team, but we were dreadful for pretty much the first half. If we’d flown out of the blocks the refereeing decisions might not have mattered in the end.
It was frustrating, though. But it wasn’t so much for lack of trying, because we did create lots of chances, Chamakh hitting the bar with a bullet header! It’s one of those games to file under “unlucky”, I think. And we did not lose. I’d be more alarmed if Sunderland played us to death and we only managed to scrape a point. It could have been more though. But Mignolet, the Sunderland reserve ‘keeper had a blinder! Cue him making a massive error next game, mark my words! Sunderland could have nicked it as well though, with Szczesny, having not had much to do all game, producing good saves towards the end to deny Sunderland what would have been an undeserved 3 points. A draw was just about a fair result, and if there was to have been a winner, it should have been us. But it was not meant to be. As it stands, we are 3 points behind United and if they lose their game against Liverpool (on right now), we’d be 3 points behind with a game in hand. That only goes to show you that all is not lost. Obviously it’d have been much better if we won yesterday but you can’t win them all, realistically. The key is to NOT lose. And we didn’t do that.
On to the next one. And what a mahoosive game that is at the Nou Camp. But as someone said on Twitter yesterday, the League IS the priority, with the Champions League a luxury. We’d love to win it, but the league is THE one. We can do it- 10 games left. Just remain positive (you can go berserk if come full-time against Fulham in May, we’re not the League winners). But for now, keep the faith, and hope and pray that Liverpool do us a favour in the next 60 minutes, or so!
Come on, Arsenal!