Saturday, March 27, 2010

Birmingham 1-1 Arsenal: anti-climax

There was always the possibility that the prevailing talk of a three-team-race going to the wire was a bit premature.

The primary lesson of today was that dreams of Arsenal winning this season's title were always on the fantastical side. Why? Because you'll never win anything with a keeper like Manuel Alumunia. In stoppage time, he produced another clanger to add to his greatest hits collection, thus denying his team a hard-won three points. The momentum we had is now gone, and we are left with the all-too-familiar prospect of a once-promising season falling to pieces in the space of a few days.

I make no apologies for what I am about to say. The blame for today, and all the other adverse results he has contributed to, should not lie at the bumbling Spaniard's door. When a player is so painfully out of his depth, it is the manager's responsibility to take the appropriate measures. I appreciate everything Arsene Wenger has done for Arsenal, and I share his vision as to how the game ought to be played, but he has, as I've been saying through the poor results and THROUGHOUT OUR WINNING RUN, handicapped Arsenal's tilt at trophies this season.

It beggars belief to hear people say that Arsene spending a bit of money on a decent goalkeeper would be "spending for the sake of it". That is quite apart from other undermanned areas of the team, areas in which we've had to play players out of position because only our FOURTH-choice centre-half can't be trusted. But the goalkeeper was the big one. Everyone knows our goalkeeper is shit. It's the worst-kept secret in football. To the people who say that to spend on a goalkeeper would have been needless, I say, add up the points we've lost through goalkeeping errors (not just those of Almunia, but also his inexperienced back-up), and tell me where we'd be with those extra points. It's not rocket science.

This was, as it turned out, a HUGE opportunity to win the title. In theory. But where the practise fell short was in not giving ourselves the best possible chance. It is in a way almost like the manager applies for a license to lose every summer. I'm not saying it doesn't hurt him, because it clearly does, but I just don't understand how he cannot connect these things in his mind anymore. It is not just the goalkeeping situation, there are other flaws aswell, but the goalkeeping situation is the most glaring. It has run all season long. Every fan saw it as a ticking time bomb. And today, off it went.

No comments: