Save it Theo

Monday 17th October 2016

It is near on impossible to come any closer to grabbing a hat-trick as Theo did on Saturday afternoon. A ball hitting the inside of the post and going out for a goal kick on the other side of the goal seems almost a physical miracle! More important than all that however, it didn’t prove costly. You can only get three points and although I’m sure individually he is a little bit disappointed he didn’t go home with the match ball, we showed a little bit of grit in those final 20 minutes or so to make sure we didn’t lose a game that we should have won comfortably well before that last period.

Man City missed two penalties in their game for example. Neither would be remembered if the home side went on to take the three points. But they didn’t and those 2 missed spot kicks cost them two points.

Back on New Years Day 1983 The Swans came to Highbury for a league game watched by just over 25 thousand people. Alan Sunderland and Tony Woodcock helped clear the hangovers, their goals securing a 2-1 home victory in what was very much a stuttering league season overall. A run to the semi finals of both domestic cup competitions was the closest we came to any glory whilst the long drawn out signing of stylish Yugoslavian international Vladmir Petrovic gave an early insight into what overseas players could bring to the game.

New Years Day 1983

New Years Day 1983

Those of you who regularly read my thoughts know I enjoy looking back at old programmes as I really believe they give an incredible ‘snapshot in time’. The adverts are very much part of that whole package, JVC’s latest stacking system a perfect example of how life has changed over the last 30 years or so.

Fresh from our success in the November Daily Express 5 aside National Football Championship at Wembley Arena, the programme included a supplement advertising the ‘Atari Soccer 6’ tournament to take place at the NEC and yes, incredibly when we look at today’s game, it would include first team players in each squad. The sponsor didn’t pass up the opportunity to promote its latest games console giving all of us the chance to play the likes of Space Invaders, Defender and Pac Man in the comfort of our own homes. Hi tech stuff!

We all like Saturday 3pm games I think, more than anything because it gives us a chance to undertake our home game routines, many of which have remained pretty much the same throughout our Arsenal supporting lives. As a result our most recent example was thoroughly enjoyable on an unseasonably warm afternoon.

Every opposing team has their supposed strengths and weaknesses but when looking at any fixture pre-match I always feel it is more about us. If we concentrate 100%, we are sharp from minute 1 to minute 90+ and fight for each other throughout, our obvious footballing ability gives us a fantastic chance to win any match.

And Saturday I felt no different.

Until we conceded I thought we were dominating the game all over the pitch. Our 2 goal lead was deserved and looked like being extended at any moment rather than being pegged back.

People talk about ‘mistakes’ in football all the time. Every person analysing his team’s defending will say every single goal conceded was as a result of a mistake and likewise when looking at a goal scored for your team we talk about the good finish or the good run or the good offensive work.

Defensively, if someone lamps one in from 25 yards, not blocking the shot is called into question. Offensively however, it’s a fantastic strike. I think you get the picture!

One silly error on Saturday and we were punished in the harshest possible way. The Swansea striker still had plenty to do when he won the ball…….but credit where credit is due, he buried it from outside the box.

And from domination and comfort, that one tiny moment can change a game completely.

It was important to get through to half time I felt and we did that fairly comfortably and the second period pretty much started in the same way as the first. Again we looked dominant and Mesut’s stunning far post volley restored the 2 goal cushion.

A mixture of poor defending and good movement saw Swansea score again however, before arguably the biggest talking point of the game could have so easily seen us all go home disappointed.

For me it is a very difficult one to decide on an opinion. All we want as fans is consistency I feel. Or maybe an explanation as to exactly what rule changes there are. Because if that was a red card I’m not sure I know the rule.

We constantly hear the likes of Shearer, Lineker, Keown, Murphy, Neville, Kamara and the like talk about a tackle where the player ‘takes one for the team’. They even go as far as calling it a ‘good foul’. If that is the way a tackle like Saturday’s is looked at, almost lauded in fact, we cannot then be hypocritical and say he deserved to go.

Granit took the player down, knew he had done it and was ready to take the yellow card on the chin. Just like every other time we see a similar ‘tackle’ week in week out all over the country. But if that is now a sending off and warrants the ban that comes with it, I’ve missed the rule change. The coming weeks will determine whether others guilty of exactly the same receive similar punishment.

With over 25 minutes to go including the inevitable 4 minutes injury time, it looked a worrying situation. But, as a result of digging in and working for each other and of course our visitors missing a few good chances we got those three massive points. Hugely pleasing from a quite crazy game.

Theo could have put the game to bed during those latter stages of course but save your luck mate for another day when it could be more crucial.

Ludogorets Razgrad come to the Home of Football next as we look to build on our good start in this year’s European assault. I can’t claim to know anything about our friends from Bulgaria but I’m sure those most important within our club have done their homework.

See you on Wednesday under the lights.

Frank
@stubbsy70

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