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Monday 29 September 2008

To Err Is Human, To Forgive Is Divine

...and in contrast to our neighbours continued capitulation, I think we can afford a little forgiveness?
Nuff Love

From our seats in the lower, we had the perfect view, directly in line with Geovanni and Almunia’s goal, so that almost from the instant the Brazilian’s wonder strike left his boot and arced its way into the top, far corner of our net, I knew it was a Goal of the Month (if not Goal of the Season) contender.

Nevertheless, although there was nothing for it, but to graciously applaud the “worth the entrance fee alone” quality of Hull’s equaliser, the way in which the Gunners’ defence positively invited the Tiger’s midfielder to take his phenomenal potshot, by failing to exert the slightest pressure on the ball, was symptomatic of the sort of complacency, some might even say arrogance, that was responsible for Saturday evening’s upset. Doubtless this was the reason why Wenger was left spitting feathers, to the extent the he felt his team had afforded “too much room to West Brom”!

I can accept getting turned over by the better team on the day, but after satisfying victories on the road against Blackburn and Bolton, getting beat at home by Hull was a bitter pill to swallow, knowing we’ve the ability to give Premiership’s latest arrivistes a good hiding.
Sadly we once again witnessed the lack of that killer instinct that’s cost us dear in recent times and the absence of which could well prove to be the decisive difference between us and our principal rivals. It’s hard to imagine Chelsea or Man Utd letting Hull off the hook in a home game, after going a goal ahead and we were more than capable of killing this match off as a contest, after McShane helped the ball into his own net early in the second half, with Hull having finally been undone by one of Theo’s blistering bursts of pace.

Yet where against Sheffield Utd. the previous Tuesday night, Arsène’s young protégés had scored with gay abandon, almost every time they strode forward, on Saturday our more experienced players reverted to the same old allergy of wanting to walk the ball into the back of the net, seemingly lacking the youngsters carefree hunger and determination to grab the goal scoring responsibilities with both feet.

All credit to Hull, their fans and their manager. Even if Brown does look a prize plonker with his radio mic attached to his ear – I’m always half expecting him to break into a Boyzone song & dance routine and he very nearly did when the Tigers took a shock lead. Yet while their fans maintained a raucous racket throughout the 90, I sensed that their team couldn’t possibly sustain the same levels of commitment seen during the first-half, for the entire duration and was hoping our superior ability might begin to tell as fatigue set in.

However as it turned out, we failed to really test the Tigers fitness, as our own intensity dropped once we’d taken the lead and instead of going for their feline throat, we reverted to producing pretty passing patterns, as if we’d a divine right to achieve a two-goal cushion. It was bad enough that we were all gob-smacked when fate gifted our guests with such a humdinger of an equaliser, but when more slipshod marking saw us concede a second from yet another shamefully defended set-piece, there was a side of me that couldn’t help but feel that the vast majority of 60,000 present, who’d been sitting there in silence, expecting a perfunctory 3-point return to the top of the pile and the lackadaisical players who’d been found severely wanting for sufficient focus and concentration, had received exactly what they deserved, as these Premiership upstarts went and rubbed our faces in our elitist arrogance.

I mistakenly assumed that despite the tender average age of this Arsenal squad, there should be enough seasoned campaigners to appreciate (especially after our Craven Cottage wake-up call!) that there are no “gimmes” in the Premiership fixture list nowadays. Sure ourselves and a couple of our competitors might be blessed with sufficient talent to get away with giving less than 100% every now and again, but eventually you will get found out, in the fiery cauldron of a competition, where entire careers are on the line game by game. With the margin for error having become so slight in recent seasons, there is absolutely no room for complacency and ultimately the team that takes the ribbon in the Premiership marathon is invariably the outfit that’s best equipped to cope with this crucial fact.

Meanwhile if it’s true that “to err is human, to forgive is divine”, we Gooners will all be a little closer to G-d if we put things right against Porto, even if those of us of the Jewish persuasion should be praying in a different temple altogether on the occasion of our New Year. Although after spending Saturday morning fretting about making it to the match, whilst delayed in Dublin airport, I doubt my pal’s son Danny was feeling too forgiving, when he returned back to school in Kildare on Monday morning, to face a barrage of scorn from the Man U brigade!
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Anonymous said...

With all the criticism of the team(understandable tho it is) - i feel that many of the blogs out there were guilty of the exact thing that the team are being attacked for.
Everyone assumed it would be an easy 3 points, confidence was high, first teamers were under pressure from the kids - so concentration levels would be high etc