Arsenal 2 – 3 WBA and the case of the flattering result.

September 27, 2010 19 Comments by Sian

If you were to look objectively at this result, you’d think West Bromwich Albion had had a great game. You’d be right.

Were you to look at the scoreline in terms of Arsenal you could assume we had fought to the end but had had some decisions go against us and had only missed out on three points by a yard or two. You’d be wrong.

In about the 90th minute of the match on Saturday I thought to myself, fairly chilly in the stands and already annoyed that I was wearing a duvet jacket in September, that it would be a bit of an embarrassment were we to nick a last minute goal and salvage a point from it, because it would have been entirely undeserved.

Throughout the match, or at least up until we went 0-3 down, the boys (mostly) looked like they were running through thick mud. With a hangover. In high heels. Granted, WBA were very good and, as so many people have said before, are a team who like to actually play football so it isn’t as though it was all Arsenal’s shortcomings that led to the 2-3 result. Helped though. We gave the ball away. We were about a two seconds behind the match throughout the game. We didn’t really look that bothered.

By the way, if I get things wrong in this blog it’s because I saw the match live and that’s all. Instead of Match of the Day I watched Mock the Week and I am not ashamed. Contrary to a comment I had in the Sunderland blog, I think that being there live generally gives you the worst idea of the match as a whole… how many times have you had to ring someone watching at home to ask whether the replay showed it was offside/a good goal/a penalty/a red card?

Anyway, by half time it was still 0-0, Manuel Almunia having saved the penalty he gave away shortly before half time. I did think to myself he would save it, as I’m sure many of us did. The man is good with penalties, and has now saved 5 of the 6 conceded at the Emirates in the Premiership (stat courtesy of @ArsenaLos). Sadly he didn’t have the best of second halves, definitely at fault for the second (from where I was sat he sort of ‘helped’ it in, no?) and I’ve heard people say they think he was at fault for the third too. Not making any excuses but shortly after the penalty, he was holding his arm as if he was carrying an injury. The fact he’s been ruled out of the Partizan Belgrade match now shows that he was indeed carrying an injury.

West Brom scored three good goals in total and we scored two. End of the match.

Obviously the Anti-Almunia brigade were out in full-force post-match (I have so written that sentence before). I understand the frustration but as I said last season after Birmingham where we had people saying Almunia needed to be led in front of a firing squad (yes, an actual person said that), since when has football been a one-man team? If we’d been all over West Brom, first to every ball, retaining the ball like we normally do, with a referee who really wasn’t helping, and THEN he’d committed some howlers, then yes fairplay what an idiot. But they were all (with the exception of Nasri) running (no, jogging) around like headless chickens. Would having had a super-duper un-droppy covering-his-near-posty massively-long-armedy goalkeeper have won us the match on Saturday? It might have stopped us going 0-3 down yes. Would it have won us the match? Er, not with the rest of them playing the way they were.

Almunia is not the best keeper in the world. Almunia has made plenty of mistakes in his time. But he was not the only one at fault for Saturday’s result. Nor, vomit-for-brains, does he deserve to be struck down by cancer. Yes, an actual person said that in the aftermath of yesterday’s match too. Really makes you proud to be a fan doesn’t it? Thankfully these cretins are in the minority (the tiny, tiny minority), but the “I told you so” army are not. I can imagine these people are the ones everyone has in their friendship group. The whinger and the drainer. The one who would have only looked at the negatives in a 6-0 win post-Braga two weeks ago. Since when was it OK to be smug about being right when a player fails? When you are a so-called fan of a team, the answer is never.

The real annoyance though is that after going 0-3 down, we looked as if we’d had rockets strapped to our backs. Like their bedroom alarm clocks had finally gone off. Had we kept playing, we probably could have salvaged a draw, maybe even a win… so why weren’t we playing like that at 0-1 down? Or even when it was still 0-0 at half time? It’s easy to forget we did have some very, very important players missing (Cesc, Nicklas, Theo, Vermaelen, Ramsey), but with the team we put out on Saturday, we still should have won the match and that is the end of that. They can only say fair play, good game to West Brom.

Thankfully Wenger was about as harsh in his post-match comments. He rarely criticises our team but he was right to in this instance. What a nightmare. Oddly, Saturday’s performance makes me a little bit more confident for our next Premiership match with Chelsea. They’ve had a right dressing down and there’s not a chance we’ll play like that again. Admittedly, Chelsea and WBA are hardly the same team, but I still think we’ll put up a decent fight.

Partizan Belgrade away in the Champions League tomorrow and this week in Goalkeepergate we have Almunia out and Fabianski in. I could join in with the “I told you so” team or join in with the people criticising Wenger for not signing a keeper (YAWN) or all the other broken records out there but I think I’m going to buck a trend here and say I wish him all the best and hope he has a great game, along with the rest of the team. After all it’s the team that we support. Isn’t it?

19 Comments

  1. @Arsenal_Away
    2518 days ago

    West Brom scored 3 goals with 5 shots on target, they out played us on our own pitch passing the ball not kicking lumps out of us. If a team like them can reek so much damage what will better team man ure, chavski or barca do

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2518 days ago

      @Arsenal_Away Quite.

      Reply

  2. Treez
    2518 days ago

    Since AW has given us no choice, we better had wish Fabianski luck. He is due a decent game but I don’t think our defenders are confident with him behind them so they get jittery and he is jittery enough already.

    What I don’t understand is, when Jens made a few cock-ups, Almunia was put straight in almost as a punishment – why doesn’t he do the same with Almers and Fabianski?

    I really hope Lucasz has a great game but I’m fearful he won’t.

    Reply

  3. COGGSTER
    2518 days ago

    We saw last season what tose teams can do against us!

    Reply

  4. White Ox
    2518 days ago

    Whilst we weren’t at our best sometimes the opposition makes you look second rate rather than the other way around. Chris Brunt is an outstanding little player and he ran the show Saturday. Our cracking little player ran along the sidelines for 60 minutes before we were 2-0 down. One might argue Jack was not capable of the 90 minutes after the 120 against Spurs. I’d argue we played with “rockets on our backs” when he and TR7 came on. We can play without Jack OR Fab4 but not without BOTH.

    As for Manuel, he probably would pick the ball out of his own net less often if he had a back four that positioned themselves roughly where they should be to prevent a ludicrous amount of space and goalscoring opportunities. Let no-one kid themselves about the penalty and first goal, Manuel’s minders left him high and dry; shambolic defending. Siany you nailed it, not only is he a person and a good one at that, but he doesn’t deserve the moronic boos and ironic cheers that are raining down on him. It’s garbage, fair-weather supporting stuff. It infuriates me.

    Sorry about the rant, my posts are usually brief but I just want to add myself to the list of Gooners who don’t want to top myself nor see Manuel suffer the same fate. We were done in by a team that had a right go at us and got what they deserved; well done West Brom. Over to you Arsene, you’ve got a big two matches to get it right.

    Reply

  5. sianyr
    2518 days ago

    @Treez I agree. You keep thinking his good game is just around the corner. Let’s believe it is.

    @White_Ox Completely agree, the only thing is: Nasri managed 120 minutes in the week AND 90 this weekend.

    Reply

  6. Marvick
    2518 days ago

    As a lifelong baggies fan I am so pleased following the last 7 days. A win over Birmingham (my most hated club) a reserve team win over Man City reserves and 3 points at the mighty gunners.
    Its pleasing to hear from you Gooners that we deserved to win and shows you up as the fair mined fans you are.
    As anyone who loves football will say I always look out for your results because you play the game the way it should be played. It must be frustrating for you as you must hear this all the time but hopefully this result will be a kick up the backside for your boys and now you can go on to pick up some silverware. Good luck for the rest of the season. Boing boinb !

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2518 days ago

      @Marvick In as much as Arsenal deserved nothing from the match on Saturday, you deserved the three points. Opposition teams are rarely applauded off by the home support at the Emirates but they were at the weekend: just wish our actual players had shown WBA the respect they deserved by actually showing up! Thanks for leaving a comment!

      Reply

  7. Essexpieboy
    2518 days ago

    Does that mean the writer’s block is going? That’s two in a week if not mistaken (ok so that sounds stalkerish, sorry!).

    I feel for Almunia to some extent. Not his fault he is picked. Is he actually meant to tell Wenger “sorry I’m shit, pick Lucas”? Still, worrying that if he was injured then Wenger doesn’t trust Fabianski enough to use him as sub.

    Maybe Cesc could play in goal. Unlikely to ruin his hamstring from there, distribution likely to be good, can still take penalties…

    My fave moment on Saturday was the apoplectic fan a couple of seats away from me who having called every Arsenal player a cunt so many times that it lost its impact even to him finished referring to Clichy and Almunia as a “biscuit” at every opportunity. The one laugh I got all afternoon.

    Reply

    • sianyr
      2518 days ago

      @Essexpieboy Exactly, Almunia is played because he is picked. He’s not got the other keepers locked away pretending he doesn’t know where they are and leaving only him as an option. According to Jose Mourinho, Sergio Ramos and Sami Khedira are the next option for playing in goal for Real Madrid should Casillas and Dudek get injured so maybe offering Cesc up as an option is not such a crazy idea!

      Reply

  8. Sam H
    2518 days ago

    @SianyR – although it seems perfectly logical, Essexpieboy is *not* me ;)

    Reply

  9. Milles
    2518 days ago

    I wish all the best for Fabianski tomorrrow too, if only because I really think someone needs to believe in them to give some confidence so we can win the game. Great post. Thanks for posting.

    Reply

  10. Jason mark yates
    2517 days ago

    Great report…..As a Baggies fan i can only hope that we are underestimated for a little longer yet….our reserve team is as good as the first……cant remember the last time we had that situation.

    Reply

  11. Alan
    2517 days ago

    Spot on again. I didn’t feel that bad at the game because West Brom played really well and deserved their win. After the match, though, I felt totally pissed off that so many of our boys just couldn’t be arsed and that the opportunity to make up points on our rivals was so totally wasted.

    Reply

  12. brada_wba
    2517 days ago

    Full credit to Arsenal who have been very gracious after the result. This doesn’t happen very often for a team like WBA – in all my years as a fan ive never been so proud of a performance. Again, thank you for not spoiling our moment and good luck with the rest of the season.

    Cant help but think Shay Given and a Essien/Van Bommel style midfielder would add the required balance to your team

    Reply

  13. Daniel
    2517 days ago

    Congrats to West Brom… and nice blog! We were 2 seconds behind everything, you’re right. Just felt like things weren’t gonna happen that day. Probably about 4 or 5 games a season I watch Arsenal and think “they just can’t be arsed today, they look hungover.”

    While not condoning the words of some spiteful ignoranuses regarding Almunia, I am very upset we are still relying on him and Fabianski in goal again this season. It’s just not good enough – especially when (as you do too) many of us are paying a grand a year for a season ticket.

    I grew up watching David Seaman and, while I doubt many are as good as him right now, we could certainly at least think about signing someone with more than half of his talent. It’s not like we didn’t have a chance to.

    Along with many Arsenal fans still left, I clapped WBA off the pitch on Saturday… well done, brilliant performance :) Hopefully we’ll stuff you up at your place!

    ps. Even though you don’t see the offsides, fouls etc, I think you get a better idea of how a team are playing when you are at a game. How they are interacting and their shape. The politics of a game, as I like to think of it.

    Reply

  14. Daniel
    2517 days ago

    ps. I think Almunia is, like Lehmann said, a good reserve keeper… I probably sounded a bit harsh in my last comment but I just think we are so close to having one of our best ever teams this year.

    Reply

  15. oldbird
    2517 days ago

    Your usual insightful amusing report. WBA and their fans deserve full credit for the win and good to see them here.

    The last visiting team I remember applauding off the pitch was Hull 2 seasons ago, before the spitgate saga. I do hope the Baggies don’t go the same way…….but there again they don’t have Phil Brown! Good

    Reply

  16. Byo
    2517 days ago

    Pertinent questions:
    Why was Sagna ball-watching, and later get skinned on the first goal?
    Why was Song doing same on the back heel on the secod goal?
    Why was Song bombing forward all game, leaving defence exposed?
    Only after these questions are answered can we get to Almunia.

    Reply

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