Sunderland 1-1 Arsenal
Football has the capacity to bowl all manner of unpleasant googlies at you – if you’ll pardon my mangling of sporting metaphors – and the last-minute equaliser is right up there with the least pleasant of them all.
Sometimes you score them and sometimes you concede them, and yesterday it was our turn to concede one.
You can argue all you like that it once again highlights Arsenal’s soft underbelly – we wobble under pressure, don’t like it up us etc – but the frustrating thing about yesterday’s equaliser was that, to that point, we had actually defended pretty heroically and had given as good as we had got.
Squillaci and Koscielny had repelled all that had been thrown at them, and Almunia was (thanks, I believe, to his new tiger-stripe jersey sleeves) solid. Despite not playing especially well, we had looked like winning an away game in a tough encounter at a tough ground.
I wouldn’t say we switched off, but Clichy’s clearance – 25 seconds after the final minute of injury time had ended – hit Koscielny and fell to lifelong gooner Darren Bent, who put his pay packet before his poster of Ian Wright and levelled things up.
I cann’t be too critical of Clichy. The gaping goal was in front of him and a phalanx of marauding Mackems behind him. With the ball to his right-hand-side, what else could he do but try to clear it to his right? I suppose he could have wedged it skywards but under pressure it’s probably easier said than done.
All the same, under the circumstances, there’s no doubt it was two points dropped – especially so given we had the chance earlier on, from 12 yards, to make it 2-0. And would you credit it, Rosicky converted the spot kick before scoring the try. There I go with my mangled metaphors again.
Had we earned them, three points would have been a terrific return. Sunderland played very well indeed, and with Fabregas out injured midway through the first half and Alex Song sent to an early bath in the second, to have held on for the win would have felt very sweet – and would have sent us top.
But it wasn’t to be.
The red card for Song was, thinking about it now, written in the stars after a week of verbal jousting between Wenger and various enlightened footballing souls. I think it was a harsh one though. Song didn’t touch him for the first yellow – it’s no surprise he was frustrated.
Once the post-match blame game subsides though (and there was a dose of that on Twitter after the game last night), I’m sure it won’t look like the hair-tearing disaster that it felt like five seconds after Bent ruffled the net. Lady Luck might have deserted us deep into injury time but she’d been at our side when Fabregas kneed his spectacular goal in the first half.
As Bruce Hornsby once said, that’s just the way it is.