Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Crumbliest, Flakiest Team in the World

Newcastle - Arsenal
half time: 0-4
full time: 4-4

Where to begin.

A few things contributed to this unprecedented collapse.

With Song and Denilson out, Diaby was the only option as the more defensively-minded midfielder. When Djourou broke down early in the second half, the disastrous Squillaci was the only possible replacement.

Barton's challenge was a work of evil genius. He was less likely to face censure having taken a route through the ball to hit Diaby. He got the ball, kept going, hit Diaby hard. The Frenchman has been no stranger to damaging challenges, and Barton knew he could ruffle his feathers. Diaby lost the rag and a different game started. Newcastle had an extra man. They could not fail to outmuscle Arsenal's powder puff midfield. And they could launch attacks at the notoriously rickety pairing of Koscielny and Squillaci. Beside Djourou, Koscielny has looked impressive. Beside the toxic Squillaci, he has been dragged down to an appalling level of ineptitude.

Koscielny served notice of the impending meltdown with a jaw-droppingly stupid foul to give away the first penalty. There was no need to tackle so aggressively when the Newcastle player's back was to goal. Just stupid. Though there were only 23 minutes of normal time to go, Newcastle were heartened by the goal. They know, as everyone does, that Arsenal always give you a chance. Still, 4-1, 23 minutes, surely not... Gael Clichy is outmuscled by Best who slots for 4-2 with fifteen minutes or so left. Game on.

To be fair, at 4-1, Best was denied a legitimate goal by an offside flag. He was yards onside. But the decision for Newcastle's second penalty was mind-boggling. Twice in a week, Arsenal were victims of one of the worst decisions you will ever see. After Saha's goal, they were able to recover. This time, they were in front, but crumbling.

Tiote will never score another goal like that. Sometimes there is that weird atmosphere to a game, and anything can happen. The crowd sucked that goal in.

Arsene Wenger should have signed a centre back. Just like he should have signed a centre forward last January. He cares more about balancing the books than he does about winning the Premiership. Or else he is hopelessly deluded.

I am embarrassed to be an Arsenal fan.

Arsenal have a nice run of league games coming up, but if you can't close out a game you lead 4-0, clearly the concept of 'easy' has ceased to apply.

Manchester United will be Champions this season. FACT. Their loss against Wolves is relevant only in denying them the chance to finish a campaign unbeaten (praise Allah).

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