View From The Armchair reflects on Arsenal's clash with Manchester City as the League Cup clash with Liverpool looms
Arsenal 1-2 Manchester City was a robbery if ever I saw one in this game, but I'm definitely not too despondent.
What a great performance from the boys, I haven’t seen too many teams push Manchester City as much as we did on New Years Day.
If it wasn’t for a couple of real dodgy refereeing decisions we would have been talking about taking all three points.
As it is we are left to lick our wounds and hope that not too much damage has been done to our confidence by conceding the winning goal in injury time.
It’s always a real blow psychologically to lose any game to a last minute winner, but in light of how well the team applied themselves all over the pitch this is a particularly bitter pill to swallow.
Don’t get me wrong, I can’t be too despondent, it’s just a bit frustrating.
Frustrating that the ref was not called over to have a look at Odegaard’s penalty shout in the first half.
Frustrating that the ball ricochets off a kneecap and directly into the path of Rodri for a simple poke home from six yards out in injury time.
The general consensus on the TV is that when the referee is called over to have a 'butchers' at a passage of play for a penalty, it normally means he is duty bound to give it.
Why is that so? And if that is the case, why was he not asked to go and have a look at Odegaard’s penalty shout which was equally as contentious?
They should be made to go and make the final decision each and every time if it’s for a penalty shout.
Gabriel on Jesus
I didn’t believe Gabriel deserved to be sent off, it was hardly a body slam when he stopped Jesus on the halfway line.
I for one am happy for it to have happened there than down the wings, where I would have been forced to get the words 'Jesus’ and ‘cross’ into the same sentence without tittering like a five-year-old.
He was a bit reckless trying to kick up the penalty spot for his first yellow but once that key decision was made it changed the course of this game instantly.
Whereas, prior to that we were on top, we were then forced to defend and try and hold on - but the team still performed admirably even when down to 10 men.
Looking at the penalty given for City, it certainly looked like a dive in real time, the referee waved play on at first glance, that was the right decision for me.
Slowed down you can see that Xhaka made contact with his knee, and also took a hold of his shirt, so maybe it was a fair penalty shout in slo mo.
Either way there’s no point crying about it now. Mahrez slapped the ball into the onion bag, the decision's been made and the ink is dry on the result.
Touch sensitive gimp suits
Me and a friend were watching the game on the 'Roger Melly', and we were discussing how to overcome the feigning injury and diving problem.
We arrived at the conclusion that footballers should wear touch sensitive gimp suits, a bit like laser quest, maybe on a traffic light system.
So, for example, Xhaka’s fingers brushing Silva’s shirt would be a green, nothing too see here kind of affair.
Escalating all the way through to a red, say for example the whack that Saka took from behind earlier in the season against Crystal Palace at home, which incidentally received not even a yellow card.
These hi tech touch sensitive gimp suits could be sold in the club shop as obviously times are quite hard for your average Premier League footballer, picking up only 300k a week - with enough disposable time on their hands to become professional streamers playing Fortnite as well.
It would also offer up some more space for some sponsorship deals, we would be able to plaster more advertising space for Visiting Rwanda.
Who needs schools, hospitals, and running water when you can see Ben White plastered head to toe with your next holiday destination in a touch sensitive gimp suit.
If that’s not going to make you want to jump on the first plane and go and Visit Rwanda then nothing will.
Maybe it’s also high time Arsenal football club stopped taking that cheque, maybe, if not in this lifetime maybe in my next one, that would be quite nice please Arsenal.
To my mind the referee could have been just as entitled to come over have a closer look at the penalty shout and book Silva for diving.
This is ultimately what I would like to see VAR getting involved in down the line, once the creases have been ironed out.
This is an area when it should be having the most benefit, this is what needs to change the most in football.
I’m sick and tired of the diving, the cheating. Football used to be a contact sport, there will be people opining online who will be clamouring to give Xhaka a hard time for conceding the penalty, but what else is he supposed to do?
Should he just stand there with his hands in the air and let the attacker skip past him?
There are football supporters of a certain age who still haven’t forgiven Terry Fenwick for allowing Maradona to go past him for his memorable second goal in the 1986 World Cup quarter final.
I myself can’t watch that goal without screaming at the telly saying please Fenwick just take him down, but these are the breaks, it’s not the first time fortune favours not so much the brave, but the champs, and I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last.
Well done to the Gooner crowd
What I took the most heart from Arsenal's performance, was, you, the crowd, and the unison that bought between players and the fans.
It sounded like a cauldron throughout that game. While I am far removed from the ground these days, it sounded like exactly the kind of atmosphere I have been typing about all season.
We saved the boo’s for the ref and the opposing players, and the cheers and the songs for the team, and they responded.
I said in my piece in the build up here, I felt confident we were going to put in a shift and they didn’t let us down at all.
We just didn’t get the rub of the green.
Liverpool over two legs loom
The most important thing now is not to dwell on the result and certainly don’t get too despondent, there’s zero time to reflect on it.
The big games keep on coming. Two Titanic matches up ahead against Liverpool with a possible Wembley final on the horizon, Tottenham away as well.
We need to reset the button and keep on doing exactly what we have been doing for the last five games.
I’m hoping that Klopp is going to field the kids against us. With Mo Salah and Sadio Mane also set to be missing because of AFCON, Liverpool certainly have bigger fish to fry than the Carabao Cup - and we will be doing him a favour by easing their fixture pile up by sending them packing over two legs with any luck.
He’s been having a right old moan up recently, probably a bit tetchy because City look like they are running away with it.
If you look back at Arsenal’s Invincible season I doubt very much that would have been enough to win the league such is the way that modern day football has changeg.
It’s about winning the games home and away now, three points or bust, draws are no good and we had 12 of them in that season.
No Fear - and a spot of Lady Luck
What we are going too need over the next month or so is a bit of luck. We shouldn’t have anything to fear from the games coming up, not after that performance against City.
It’s not all doom and gloom, I just hope and pray our fanbase doesn’t turn too toxic after another game slips by with defeat, cos that would be a terrible thing.
It genuinely seems to be that Arsenal are turning a corner and remember, worse things happen at sea, and Grimsby.
The crowd were immense against City, alongside Partey who had his best game so far in Arsenal colours.
As long as everyone gave their all that’s all really you can ask for.
Another 100mm to the right and Martineli’s clear cut chance hits the post, and goes into the the top of the bulging net.
These are the fine margins between success and failure, and judging by the support at the end of the game and throughout this match most Arsenal punters will be able to head off generally satisfied - albeit not ecstatic from beating City which might have happened on a different day.
One thing is for sure we have closed the gap a little bit between us and them.
Top four hopes
I’m still hopeful of nicking one of the top four spots to get us back into the Champions League - but it won’t be the end of my world if we don’t, I’m just happy to see that Project Arteta is on track.
With a few quality additions here and there, which I’m happy to leave him to pick to surprise us, I reckon he is on course to do it, even in his absence on New Year’s Day he was able to get his instructions across enough to give Manchester City one of their toughest game of the season.
Keep the support going
Let’s keep those voices loud, let’s keep the songs coming, it’s straight after a defeat like the one we have just had that the players need us the crowd the most.
It’s the time where a tiny little bit of doubt might creep into their minds, are they good enough to reach No1, because that has to be the goal for them.
Forget second and third places, the goal, if you play for The Arsenal should always be No1.
It’s just undeniable that the landscape has changed and whereas it was us and Manchester United battling it out for 20 odd years or so, you’ve now got five or six players in the game.
Rest assured points will be dropped, by all of the teams, and if the maths work out that one team romps it, it looks like City are going to do.
You just have to enjoy the ride all the same, find the positives and keep on moving. The little boy inside of me will be able to take some humour from watching another title go over to the blue corner, and not the red of Manchester if that’s how the chips fall.
As long as they are knocked off of their perch, I’ll keep on being able to enjoy the football served up along the way.
I’ll keep on getting behind Arsenal and reminding myself just how blessed we are to be able to say this is my team.
The cannon on the badge is enough for me on its own, well the old one is at least, need to get rid of that new snazzy franchise logo we ended up with - it’s a cartoonish horror show, and no matter how many seasons keep,on passing by.
I’ve still not really got any desire to Visit Rwanda on holiday, maybe a touch sensitive gimp suit is what I need to change my mind.
That and a lottery win to get over the cost of getting there.
Have a great year all, peace to you and your families
Keep on chuggin and keep on getting behind the boys, that was an amazing atmosphere on New Year’s Day by the sounds of things, take a bow the lot of ya.
Long may it continue. COYG !!!
VIEW FROM THE ARMCHAIR IS A LOYAL GOONER WHO USED TO WATCH THE ARSENAL FROM THE HIGHBURY TERRACES IN THE 1980s. READ MORE FROM HIM
RELATED ARTICLES FROM VIEW FROM THE ARMCHAIR