Monday 15th February 2015
Mentioning the ‘V word’ in relation to yesterday is not going to happen. Nor will I use, no matter how accurate they might be, statements claiming how much I ‘loved’ yesterday or how we put all our ‘heart’ into the performance.
I will also refrain from using the ‘C word’. Not because I don’t swear now and again. But because it will no doubt be directly associated with yesterday’s referee. Slightly abusive perhaps but I offer no apology for my opinion.
And here’s why.
That was a fine game Sunday lunchtime between 2 very good sides, both who wanted and done everything they could to take home the 3 points.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Two decisions, above all others, are totally and utterly game changing. Awarding penalties and sending a player off. And for that reason the official (and his 3+ colleagues) need to be 100% sure before making that decision.
Yesterday’s man in the middle had a poor afternoon. His first decision of the above nature he got wrong. And it could have cost us the game. His second was very harsh too. And arguably it had a big outcome on us (rather pleasingly) coming away with a massive win.
Our win saw us with a home & away double against the Foxes of course, a feat nobody else has I can achieve this season but back the 1963/64 season it was totally the other way round.
Having got thoroughly spanked 7-2 at Filbert Street earlier in the season the return match at Highbury saw a 1 nil victory for a side with soon to be World Cup winner Gordon Banks between the sticks and a young Scotsman by the name of Frank McLintock in the centre of the park.
The game was celebrating 50 years of Highbury, Leicester being our first ever visitors after our move from Woolwich back in 1913. The programme was a ‘bumper’ issue of fully 28 pages. Amazing that yesterday’s corresponding production was over 80!
For a home fixture, leaving my house at just after 5am was definitely the earliest I have ever departed. And it felt even more unnatural on a Sunday!
Throw in a few nerves and that situation where we all knew if we got beat our challenge for the League would have been all but over, it all added up to a kind of unique home game experience.
In an atmosphere that crackled from minute one and steadily built to a crescendo just before 2pm I felt we started the game extremely well and looked up for it whilst our visitors’ abilities on the break were very apparent too.
Chances came and went and it look like we would go into the break relatively happy with how things had gone.
Then the referee became the ‘star’.
For me, the ‘grey area’ often described when it comes to penalty decisions is no more than a smokescreen. Surely there are 2 very simple aspects to keep an eye on. Firstly could the attacking player have stayed on his feet if he wanted to?
Secondly, has the attacker purposely wrapped his own feet/legs around the defender in an attempt to ‘buy’ a penalty?
Yesterday, even in normal time and speed it was blatantly obvious the answer to both questions was yes.
Personally, I’m getting sick of ex players and fellow pundits stating that a player has ‘every right’ to hit the deck if he is touched or even worse try and fool the referee by buying a penalty. That is basically saying it is perfectly ok to cheat.
It wasn’t a penalty based on the above and the referee did not have the ability to make the correct decision. My opinion admittedly but one I’m happy with when it comes down to accuracy.
I wouldn’t say it was doom and gloom at the break. There was more a sense of injustice and determination I felt. And the attitude that if we could turn it around it would be simply massive.
I’m not going to say it is 100% accurate that the referee felt he might have to even things up after his first half howler. But, even though I think a number of the Leicester players had got away with being more than cynical at times, it seems he couldn’t wait to send someone off. And that’s me saying that as a biased Gooner and realising the decision was to our benefit.
It meant for the remainder of the game we absolutely battered our impressive visitors into a last gasp submission that overall I felt our performance deserved.
The first saw the ground erupt, not just because it got us back on level terms but there was plenty of time to try and get that all important winner.
Roared on by a crowd that increased the noise levels the longer the game went it looked like being another one of those intensely frustrating afternoons. It just would not go in.
The very last throw of the dice came with a strangely off colour Mesut standing over a free kick.
Welbs rose and headed home and it was total and utter pandemonium. Limbs and bodies everywhere, facial expressions beyond belief, ear piercing noise and satisfaction that only football moments like that can give you.
Despite one person doing his utmost to ruin for all concerned, it was a quite incredible afternoon. Get in you beauty.
Such an early kick.off does mean you can get home much earlier too.
And I did.
And with fellow friends and Gooners I got drunk.
A very very happy drunk.
The FA Cup comes next as we renew our battle with the Tigers from Hull City on Saturday lunchtime.
It’s a road we are still on and have every desire to remain.
Come on you mighty Gunners!