|05 Feb||3:00 PM||P||Newcastle United (A)||4||4||Draw|
Arsène Wenger is a great manager. A man who has assembled a great bunch of young players over many years, rising above slur after slur from all sorts of directions.
We are also clearly the best footballing team in the country. By a long shot. When a group of players tear a team away from home with three goals in quick succession right from the off, on a shit pitch, with 50,000-odd home fans bellowing right at you, you've got to be impressed.
But what followed next, after twenty-five minutes of world-class football, of putting a team of thugs right in their places, simply is not on.
I agree that this was as scandalous a performance from a referee, sorry a "referee", that we will have ever seen. In the English language, a word which means "to refer", "to report", "to judge". Three verbs you cannot attribute to the disgraceful Phil Dowd in an absolute horror show. It was so appalling it actually looked deliberate as he set the thugs of Newcastle on their way to the unlikeliest of comebacks.
But while Dowd's despicable showing warrants an explanation from him and from the Premier League, neither of which we will probably get, our team's embarrassing switch-off to absolute meltdown warrants more than just an explanation. Explanation and punishment, in fact.
None more so than from Vassiriki Abou Diaby. Now, those of you who follow me on here will know that, a few good top corner finishes apart in his time, for me Diaby is nothing more than a trashing liability. And he showed just why again today, in abundance.
Not only was the midfield getting dominated in that second half where we stopped playing, a situation made all the more easier with the apparent "new Vieira" filling in for Alex Song's absence. No. For what followed ten minutes into that half just beggared belief. He simply took it upon himself to take the law into his own hands, grabbing dirty Joey Barton by the neck and simply throwing him onto the deck! A reaction worthy of a sordid cage fight, not a football match, however horrifying Barton's "tackle" was.
Phil Dowd had certainly had no control, no true integrity over proceedings in allowing pathetic challenges from the likes of Barton, from the likes of Kevin Nolan and Leon Best. The sort of challenges that they were simply allowed to get away with, giving them the numbers and the sheer tenacity into allowing them back into the match, not to mention a penalty that wasn't, of course. But Diaby's reaction was just as criminal, if not more so. A reaction that proved costly in, both, this ultimately harrowing affair, and probably for the rest of the season as a whole.
Moreover, here was a terrible sign of losing control, over an affair where we had complete and utter control over. A feeling that simply transmitted itself spectacularly to the rest of the side. The midfield now decimated, the supply to the front cut short, and the defence showing the wobbles of old, the wobbles that we thought we were rid of. Of course, wobbles that are in no small part thanks to the enforced introduction of Sébastien Squillaci for the injured Johan Djourou. Still standing by not signing anyone, Arsène?
Standing by it or not, it does not matter. It is make do with what you've got time, and barely a week into the closure of the transfer window, in almost a deliberately cruel twist to events, we look dangerously exposed in the team's defensive department.
Whatever happened on the day, injuries, red cards, shocking refereeing, what happened from 4 up against a team of non-footballers battling for survival cannot be excused. I fear we watched just why we will not, why we cannot win the title for yet another year.
As for the so-called refs in our game, and following Cesc allegedly questioning officials' integrity in the week, I cannot say anything but that he cannot be far wrong. Time for a clean up.
© 2000-2013 Arsenal Mania. All rights reserved. Page processed in 0.13 seconds.