Sunday, April 12, 2009

4-1 to the Arsenal

"We are Wigan and they are Arsenal... I would not claim that we would have won the game but I do know it is easier to beat Arsenal when they have 10 men."

- Steve Bruce, not claiming Arsenal are dirty, lying cheaters

I considered staying up to watch the match, but decided against it. It's getting painful to stay up past my  bedtime. When you're young, you survive for weeks at a time in an unfocused, sleep-deprived lassitude, but when you're older,  you kind of value an uninterrupted ten hours of sleep.

It sounded like a good one from the match report, though. It's always nice to win 4-1, and it's always nice to do it coming from behind. It shows a bit of character. We're not the same Arsenal that used to kill teams off in the first 20 minutes, but as long as we stick it out to the end, we'll get the points. Two of our goals were scored in the last few minutes, which goes to show that the Arsenal play the full 90 minutes these days. 

But seeing as I didn't see the game, I can't really comment on it. All I've got to go on is the match report, and a couple of highlights that I haven't seen yet. 

What struck me from the match report was Steve Bruce's comment. Firstly, he states that he can't claim that Wigan would've won if Gibbs had been sent off, and then in the next breath, he implies that they would've won, probably. It's a bit of sophistry that's right up there with "If I've given offence, I'm sorry". It's unreasonable, but I'd like to see a manager come out and say that a decision was atrocious and cost their team: a goal; a win; safety from relegation; European qualification; the league title.... 

Sometimes, I just want a bit of emotional honesty from our managers. 

But I suppose managers are PR men these days as well as trainers. They have to talk the talk, pump up their players, placate the sponsors, suck up to the media and spout platitudes to the fans. They've got to appease so many people that it's little wonder that they speak in couched, carefully-worded inanities. 

Which makes this interview from Arsene Wenger a breath of fresh air:

"I think I have been tough because I continued to believe in this team when nobody else did... you can't do a public job in a big club, not win matches and say they are all imbeciles."

I have to admit, I thought Wenger was a bit unhinged. Around December, when he was saying we were 2% away from winning the Premiership and he was calling Eboue his "pass master", I was worrying about his mental well-being. So it's reassuring to hear this admission. Turn outs that Wenger wasn't just a crazy man with way too much faith in his charges - he was just lying to us. Somehow, that's a bit more palatable. 

Anyway, we won 4-1 against Wigan. And if we beat Villareal on Wedneday, we're into the semi-finals of the Champions League, against a team we thrashed 4-0 earlier on in the season. If things keep going well, Wenger won't have to lie again for a long, long time. 


Anonymous said...

You wonder Bruce was far more controlled in his post match interview after watching his side play against a team with 11 men get thumped in the end? It is because he wants our players on loan or permanently. Unlike a Mark Hughes or Phil Brown, he's almost always spoken good things about Arsenal which is a bit strange considering he's a Old Trafford legend.

With regards to the fact that Arsenal score 2 late goals, I think, this team for the last two seasons have been doing that a lot more often. In fact two of our wins against Utd in the last 3 seasons have been late winners, Ade at OT in 06, Henry in 07.

I think we're going to beat Villarreal, but being favourites seems to put a strange pressure on Arsenal so you never know. I wouldn't rule out a Utd win against Porto, they seem to thrive more when people rule them out also.

Connolly's agent said...

We'll do alright against Villareal. Senna's not playing. Djourou's out, but you know, Silvestre comes in. We've an endless conveyor belt of injury-prone defenders these days.

Bruce does pick up a lot of our players and targets, doesn't he? Even so, I would've liked him to be a bit less circumspect and a lot more honest. Makes it interesting.