Sunday 14th September 2014
Packing my passport, currency, Eurotunnel booking and maps this morning it is a little bit disappointing that I cannot put three points in the bag too. On the other hand we could be sitting here with nothing, no matter how cruel that would have been.
Of all the TV dictated kick-off times I quite enjoy those moved on a Saturday. The evening ones very much extend the pre-match activities whilst giving the game that added night time ingredient that is often so special and although it usually means an early start the lunchtime versions, like yesterday, mean there is still plenty of your Saturday to enjoy even after the match has finished.
We all knew Man City would prove a tough test but on the day I felt we thoroughly deserved our point at the very least.
In the first half an hour we were excellent and totally dominated the game, Danny Welbeck’s chip no more than half an inch from giving us a thoroughly deserved lead. A combination of bad luck when a fine challenge on the half way line saw the ball stay in play when it looked to all of us like it was heading out for a throw in and our visitors being clinical from the position the situation had presented them saw us go behind completely against the run of play.
Gutwrenching to say the least, especially having played so well. In a game packed full of them, an incident shortly after going behind was crucial for me, Chezz making a fine save to prevent City doubling their lead and probably giving us too big a mountain to climb.
As it was we went in at half time hugely disappointed to be behind yet upbeat about our performance.
I don’t like to complain too much about referees and officials. I do believe they have an extremely tough job out there and we all tend to forget they are human beings and not robots. I do wonder sometimes however, how decisions are not made as a team when they don’t have one pair of eyes but four!
Mark Clattenberg is one of our top referees in my opinion. Fernandinho, although a fine player, is known throughout the country by us fans as someone who makes sure promising situations are ‘stopped’. Every team needs one and although it is an extremely cynical side there are many of us who accept it is part of the game. In the opening exchanges he made a scything foul in the middle of the pitch and received a stiff warning. From that moment he committed foul after cynical foul for the remainder of the time he stayed on the pitch and nothing was done about it.
I like referees who do their utmost to keep cards in their pocket but the above was bordering on ridiculous.
Jack had a great game for me and his goal was a move and finish of beauty. London N5 erupted and it was thoroughly deserved. Back on level terms, now to go on and win it.
If the move wasn’t anything of note, Alexis’ stunning volleyed finish to put us into the lead certainly was. Bang! 2-1. Get in!
The next few moments were frantic to say the least but just as we had settled down and looked in total control that dreaded injury curse struck yet again, this time Matt Debuchy laid on the turf in considerable pain.
It was a break we could have done without and arguably changed the direction of the game. It gave our opponents time to think, gather their composure and assess their situation when before the minutes were running short and we looked in total control of our winning position.
If our visitors’ first goal had a degree of bad luck their equalizer was totally avoidable. The header was far far too easy and between Chezz and Flammers it probably should have been kept out. Disappointing and hugely frustrating.
In the few minutes of normal and added time that remained it was the one and only time in the whole match where City had the upper hand and we could have ended up with nothing. To be winning so late on however, the satisfaction of a point and our performance was tinged with a little disappointment as we headed back to the pub to discuss.
It’s certainly no disaster however, and we head to Germany still unbeaten if a little battle scarred.
Being my 4th visit there is no other stadium outside of the UK I have been to more (other than Bad Waltersdorf!), a defeat, a draw and a victory the results from the previous 3. Another from either of the latter two would be a hugely positive start.
See you in Deutschland.
Come on you mighty Gunners!