It’s hard to find positives after a performance like that. Before that, let’s make a couple of things clear. This has been a real topsy turvy season. It’s not all disappointments. We’ve beaten the best at the Grove. The wins and complete performances against top sides like Barcelona, Manchester United and Chelsea are ones to remember. Then, there’s the disappointment of losing home games against sides whose best player might not even get on our bench.
This being the last home game of the season, it is about giving the one last effort to show the thousands of loyal Arsenal supporters that this team deserves all their backing and support. While a win, no matter how resounding it can be, will not change the course of our season and will not win us any trophies, it will be a good send-off to the supporters. Sadly, on the basis of the match performance, my sentiments are not shared by those on the field wearing red and white.
I’ve allowed myself 24 hours to regroup before posting a review of the them. Partly because I was really angry and upset at the result but mostly because I was too disappointed to pen anything down. Five minutes into the game and there’s already lots of angry Gooners on my Twitter time line. I forgot who and I’m really sorry for not crediting you with the actual quote but it went along these lines;
If these players can’t give a toss, why should I?
That quote summed up my feelings as well. We started the game like we didn’t care about the result and was just going through the motion of the 90 minutes. Do they not realise that there is a lap of appreciation at the end of the game? Appreciation of the financial and physical effort of supporters turning up at various stadiums all over the country to ensure that the team gets the backing in each game.
Have we not learn the lessons from this and the past few seasons? No team in the world can expect to just turn up for matches and be rewarded with the 3 points? Do the players not realise that in 90 minutes of football, even a minute or two of slacking can cost us? And that is exactly what happened. Twice Aston Villa attacked us with intent and twice they scored. Our defensive line were all over the place and Darren Bent was able to pick through our offside line with ease. On both occasions, he showed his predatory instincts and finished with aplomb.
Bacary Sagna was guilty of not following his men while the midfielders were guilty of standing off Kyle Walker when the latter made the pass. It’s suicidal defending. Sagna should have followed Bent and not just hope for an offside call. If the flag is raised, then fine. If not, at least he would have been in place to block the shot. Sebastien Squillaci was the culprit for the second goal. Holding his line without realising where Bent was. Again, it was the space between Squillaci and Sagna that the England striker exploited.
One would think that being 2 goals down after just 15 minutes of the final home game of the season against a team who have nothing to play for (no European spots and not fighting against the drop), that we would be roused by that. Sadly, the opposite happened. There was no urgency from anyone in our side to wrest control of the game. There was no desire to claw back into the game.
Yes, there were chances for us to pull one back before half time. However, it still amazes me that Brad Friedel had nothing to do up till that point. Jack Wilshere picked up Aaron Ramsey’s run and a good touch later, the Welsh captain was one-on-one with the keeper. Clumsy Richard Dunne slid in and blocked off Ramsey’s attempted shot and did not even touch the ball. Definite penalty and a sending off. I’m sure Michael Oliver will look back at that and feel ashamed of himself.
While we were guilty of conceding the 2 early goals, it cannot be argued that we were denied a clear penalty which would have at least gave a chance of a comeback in the second half. Why? Because Robin Van Persie might have scored the penalty and we could’ve attacked with 10 outfielders against 9 outfielders for at least another 45 more minutes. No doubt that we’ve been very very unlucky with a lot of refereeing decisions this season.
Oliver had another say in the second half, denying Marouane Chamakh his first goal for Arsenal since the start of March. How that can be defined as a push, I really don’t know. It was the softest of contact between Chamakh and Walker, yet the referee deemed it to be a foul. If that is the definition, we’ll have a penalty every time there’s a corner or a free kick to be taken. Utter utter rubbish decision.
When we did finally score, I had to checked to be entirely sure that the referee has not disallowed it. RvP was the scorer and that was his 17th in 24 league games. Add to that, his 7 assists and he practically contributes a goal a game. Truly a phenomenal record and big credit to him for staying fit for large parts of the second half of the season. Perhaps the only player that can look back at this Villa game and claim that he put in all his effort. In the end, his efforts were in vain and we lost the game.
Like so many others, I would gladly give up my arm to play for Arsenal Football Club. These individuals need to realise how privilege they are to be playing in the red and white of Arsenal. I can accept defeat because I get that no one team is truly unbeatable and will have their off days. What I can never accept is the lack of effort. We care, I only hope the same from my club.