Tuesday, 15 March 2011

A couple of things that have got to me...

I've kept quiet over these past few weeks.

I'm generally a positive Arsenal fan. I completely understand and agree with what Wenger is trying to achieve. The negativity that the internet seems to breed is too much - I'd probably do something silly if I read all of it - so I've just avoided it almost completely.

The last few weeks have been hard to take even for me - the Carling Cup final loss, that night in Barcelona, going out in the FA Cup quarter final to Utd and the injuries - it's been terrible.

However, I'm still positive about his season - we've 10 cup finals from now to the end of the season and, unlike others, I don't think we even need to win them all to be champions. Just keep going one game at a time, and who knows what will happen? Utd will drop points between now and mid May, that's for sure.

Reflecting on the past couple of weeks however, there are a couple of things I just can't let go.


Cesc's behaviour in the tunnel before the game at the Nou Camp

Say what you want about his overall performance in this game....

  • Was he fit? Who knows? - he didn't look up with the pace of the game at any point, that's for sure, and I hope he hasn't compromised his participation in the rest of the season by playing. 
  • The backheel that gave away the first goal? Stupid, but look, players make mistakes in big games. Hopefully he'll come back stronger from it.

....one thing is for sure though. His behaviour in the tunnel before the game was a fucking disgrace.

This was a MASSIVE MASSIVE game against one of the best teams of all time in one of the biggest and most intimidating stadiums in the world and we were going into it, leading the tie, with an inexperienced first eleven.

It's at times like this you need your captain to be there for you. He's at the front of your line, big, strong, pumped up and ready to lead you out. Maybe he turns to you all, pumps his fist and tells you this is it? Tells you that you can do it and that TOGETHER we can win ('Victory Through Harmony', anyone?).

But no. What did Cesc do? He fucked off. Fucked off to have a chat and a hug with the opposition.

The tunnel at Highbury was extremely narrow. Narrow enough for Vieira to get in the face of Keane (or was it the other way round?!), but also narrow enough for players who knew each other to shake hands quickly - you're essentially standing next to each other. Even then, players would ignore the opposition in favour of concentrating on their game or on their team mates.

The tunnel at the Nou Camp is enormously wide. Cesc broke from our line up, walked 7 or 8 steps away from them and then got all huggy huggy, kissy kissy with the Barca players.

Say what you want, but we'd given ourselves a brilliant chance of beating Barca in their own backyard and here was Cesc, our captain, sending out all the wrong signals before a ball had even been kicked. He'd psychologically put us on the back foot.

I hope he looks back on the pre-game tunnel footage and feels embarrassed. At that moment, the captain was letting all 10 of his players down in a big way. I hope he learns from it.



Come in number 52, your time is up.

Now, before you quickly scroll to the comment section or head over to my twitter to abuse me, hear this... I've always been supportive of "Super Nicky Bendtner".

However, there was always going to be a time when the talking had to stop and he had to step up to the plate in a big game and have a big moment. A moment which would underscore the confidence he has in himself.

In the final couple of minutes at the Nou Camp, that moment came. And went.

Jack Wilshere, who fought all game and was magnificent, somehow managed to win the ball just inside their half. He took a touch, found himself some space and put in a sumptuous ball right into Bendtner's path. That was Jack's big moment in a big game and he did his job perfectly. If I were Jack, I wouldn't be able to look Bendtner in the eye. He's stolen that moment from him.

Anyway... you're goal-side of the defender. The ball has been played into your stride. The pitch is perfect and the keeper is committed. Score and you've won the tie for your team. What do you do?

If Bendtner has a first time shot and misses the target - he'd probably get some stick. People would ask why he didn't take a touch and comment on how he's not an instinctive finisher.

If he has a touch and misses - he'd take even more stick as, after a good first touch, the goal would have been at his mercy. The keeper would have been committed and a low finish into either corner would have done the job.

But, TO NOT EVEN GET THE BALL UNDER CONTROL? Terrible. Especially for a player who thinks so highly of himself. His brain must be struggling to comprehend it all. "How didn't I score? I'm the best striker in the world."

Sometimes you wonder if managers look at players and make decisions about their futures based upon how they've made them feel during a game? If I was Wenger, I'd be pondering Nick's future after that.


Ah well - feels good that that's all off my chest.

On to West Brom for the first of 10 cup finals. Will Cesc be hungry to make up for Barca? Will he realise that, as a leader, he let us down? Will Bendtner chip in with some much needed goals in tight games?

I bloody hope so in both cases.