An Essential Victory
Monday 13th February 2017
We all have differing opinions in life and football is no exception. And that is the way it should be. The ability to accept other people’s, especially when they are different to yours, is almost a skill in itself! I used to believe that comes with experience. The increased wisdom the older we all get. But when we look at the ‘debates’ we all have I am no longer convinced that is the case! Some get even more set in their ways and consequently their opinions as their age increases. One thing I think the majority of us agree on however, is the most important aspect of any league game is to come away with the three points. Everything else, especially as time goes by, becomes almost irrelevant. If you look back at your copy of the 1977-78 official Arsenal handbook and page 51 tells you on 15th January 1977 we beat Norwich at home 1 nil, only a minute few will remember the details of the game. But the result is in the book. A home victory. Nothing else matters.
Given the previous few days, Hull at home on Saturday afternoon was one of those. Freezing cold and largely forgettable, the 2 nil home win will very much do. We can save the more entertaining days for other matches.
I’ve mentioned it before but Sunday matches are the ones I’m not a fan of. Anything on a Saturday is fine by me and Friday and Monday are not the end of the world either. But if I didn’t say the walk to my ferry on Saturday morning was a tad painful I would be lying. Most of you will be expecting me to say that was as a result of a ridiculous decision to hit it hard on Friday night given the following day’s lunchtime kick-off but no, you would be wrong! I had a ‘quiet night in for a change’ as Smashy and Nicey used to say. But leaving my house, as night was just about turning to day, it was proper freezing. And that is my excuse for having a few breakfast liveners on my train journey into London! 🙂
The atmosphere was a little flat in the ground and that cannot be put down totally to the cold weather. None of us can be blamed for being a little downbeat after our previous 2 games. But there is nothing like a win the improve the mood.
The better team won on the day but there is no doubt it was a tough old game. Not until Alexis penalty in injury time was it put to bed and it needed some good defending, a couple of good saves and plenty of discipline to see it home.
Considering how advanced the game has become I think it is incredible that there are still a number of grey areas within the rules and laws. Penalty decisions, diving, simulation, call it whatever you like is certainly one of them and I’ve discussed that before. And handballs are definitely another. For me it must come down to the officials’ opinion and decision and nothing else. If the rule was changed that if the ball strikes your hand it is handball whatever the situation we would be faced with players just aiming for an opponent’s hand to win a penalty. And that is simply ridiculous.
Our first goal on Saturday was one such example. Did Alexis mean to put his hand there so as to knock it into the net? Or was it simply smashed against him from a foot and he knew very little about it? The goal was given so we can only assume the officials saw it as the latter. The referee has since been reported as saying if he had the benefit of a replay it would have been disallowed. But does that mean it shouldn’t have been a goal? That means if Alexis did know absolutely nothing about it and the ball went in off whatever part of his body it hit, that is deemed a ‘foul’. And that seems a little bit odd to me.
Fortunately for all of us it is a decision that has gone in our favour on this occasion. And it was crucial too, given the way the game had gone so far.
We’ll take the three points from a tough game on the day and move on and that of course takes us to Germany and our latest trip to Bavaria. The majority of our previous visits have been either for a group game or the second leg after a disappointing result at home. Although this one is different to that we have been in this situation before. On a freezing cold night in 2005 (those who attended will remember the snowball fight!) we got beat 3-1 in Bayern’s old Olympic Stadium ground and it was enough to put us out despite Thierry scoring in the home leg in a 1 nil victory. So, despite all our encounters, actually getting through against the Germans of Bayern Munich is not territory we have reached before.
Our 2 games over the next 3 weeks will determine if we can change that, starting with Wednesday night’s latest trip to the Allianz Arena.
Over Land and Sea!