A Bit of a Shame
Wednesday 24th February 2016
Having written most of my thoughts on the tube after last night’s game, I thought I would give them 24 hours and read them again before publishing.
Overall I expected to think I might have been a bit over negative. But I’m not sure that is the case. A sense of resignation that not only were we beaten by a fantastic team but I almost expected it……maybe. But not negativity with the way we went about it on the night. In fact, I think we probably deserved something from the game. But the world’s best lack naivety, something we don’t seem to be able to totally eradicate from our game for a whole ninety minutes.
Although words like ‘inevitability’ and ‘expected’ spring to mind unfortunately, overall I feel a two nil defeat was a bit harsh.
But whatever way you look at it, we are all but out of the Champions League again. That’s not being negative, but anyone who thinks otherwise is not facing reality.
We are not facing a 2 goal deficit against a relatively mediocre French outfit like last season. Monaco’s frailties meant we always had a glimmer of hope, something we so nearly achieved down on the south coast of France 12 months ago. But being 2 behind before stepping into the home of the best club side in the world, that is game over for me.
For this blog’s ‘look at a previous fixture’ I was going to say a few words about Geordie Armstrong’s testimonial back in the mid seventies but having looked at the programme that has already been covered it seems!! Instead I am going back just the 17 years or so and to one of the Champions League games we played at out temporary European home of Wembley.
Despite crowds for every game we played at the national stadium reaching well over 70 thousand we all knew it was a gamble due to the attraction of playing there for all of our opposing sides. And so it proved with only 1 victory coming from our 6 ‘home’ matches over 2 seasons.
That October night against Barca was no different as a side boasting the likes of Pep Guardiola, Ronald de Boer, Patrick Kluivert, Rivaldo and Figo powerfully overcame us in a 4-2 victory. Our goals came from Marc Overmars and a quite superb Dennis Bergkamp finished move but the night was a perfect example of the issues we had playing our home games away from the comfortable surroundings of London N5. We went out in the group stages for the 2nd season in succession, something we, quite remarkably, have avoided in every single season since.
Success wise, after winning the double the previous season, our quest for another trophy came to an end with the very last kick of the season on a sultry night in Copenhagen in May.
The emotions we go through in the build up to any fixture can range from relaxed to nerve shredding. Last night however, I felt a bit odd. Despite rarely being anything other than positive I just couldn’t see us getting through the night without conceding.
And although admittedly it’s easy for me to say this now, all my fears were proved accurate.
The razzmatazz and colour in the few moments leading up to kick-off were impressive and contributed to a fine atmosphere from minute one.
And we started the game well. Our whole performance in the first period in fact was very good and other than a moment in the one minute of injury time, we looked both solid at the back and creative going forward.
Come the break it was a positive atmosphere present as we caught our breath.
That chance in the dying seconds of the half provided the warning of just what our visitors were capable of in the blink of an eye.
And despite us coming close on a couple of occasions and our overall performance being a good one, the opener definitely felt as inevitable as it was gut wrenching and disappointing.
I felt the referee was poor….again. In fact in my opinion if you get 2 teams playing against one another from 2 of the top 4 leagues in Europe you should always get officials from one of the other leagues in that top 4 (ie; Germany or Italy last night) .
The referee was out of his depth and it was obvious to all present. Probably as a result of refereeing the likes of Izmir v Ankara every other week I guess.
So a disappointing result on a night where we witnessed a quite superb football match with some of the current football world’s greatest players on show.
But this time of year there is absolutely no time to dwell on defeat and a trip to Man United will always find you out if you are not back on it with immediate effect.
In my opinion we should completely give up on any chance of going through in the Champions League. That might sound ridiculously obvious but I’m convinced that is not something our manager will consider. I understand his pride of course but despite being one of the thousands of Gooners who has spent a lot of money on a trip to the second leg I still believe we should cut our losses.
And by that I mean by now concentrating all our efforts on trying to be successful in one (or both) of the trophies we are still in with a chance of winning. We are a good side. Losing last night is no disgrace and on another night it could even have gone our way. And we need to take the positives from that.
That starts with trying to take three points from Old Trafford on Sunday lunchtime.
No easy feat of course.
Come on you yellows!