Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool
Not much noise out of RotorGoat Towers I hear you say: this is because I have been struck down by a deeply unpleasant stomach ailment. This is not the time for intimate detail, let me tell you. All I’m saying is they need to paint a red cross on my front door to be safe.
Sitting like a beached whale on my sofa, I did of course catch the game on the telly. I thought we did pretty well for the most part, and was especially impressed after we went down to 10 men. We absolutely dominated the game when a man short, and Liverpool, somewhat unambitiously, seemed more than content to leave it at 1-1 with 20 minutes remaining. They could have gone for the jugular, but instead we did. I like that spirit.
I would say, overall and under the circumstances, that a draw was the right result, but I can’t say it’s a terrific result for either side. It leaves us desperately off the pace – though we knew that anyway – and though Liverpool are top, they’ve only taken 7 points out of the last 15.
I say that critically, but I shouldn’t: we are only marginally better off with 8 points from the last 15.
I think all talk of the title should stop now though, it’s total nonsense. As Andy Gray said on Sky before the game, 8 points would not be a mountain to climb if the club in question was capable of putting a 12-game winning streak together. That kind of form is but a pipe dream for us, so it’s time we lowered our sights to fourth, and concentrated on the gradual improvements that we are beginning to see. That’s the reality.
We’re off to Villa next, and that’s going to be such a tough test. We will be without Adebayor, who was very harshly sent off, and we will be without Fabregas, who has damaged his knee. At a time when our midfield is as weak as it is, the loss of the latter is depressing news indeed. The one bright spark in that department was the return of Nasri, who was excellent yesterday. Let’s pray that the gods of knee damage are kinder to us than the gods of refereeing were yesterday.
If Adebayor’s second yellow was really a yellow, then god help football. It wasn’t aided at all by the pathetic theatrics of Arbeloa, but that happens an awful lot in football, occasionally in our team too. I mean, the Rada-trained Eboue is a case in point.
Glenn Hoddle, in the post-match interview, maintained it was a red-card offence, which means of course that it couldn’t possibly have been.
Overall, I think Wenger is right to suggest we are heading in the right direction. The adjustments are not as fast as we might like, that’s true, but when the average age of the team is about 12, perhaps a miraculous turnaround in form was never going to happen.
Onto Friday we go – a real crunch game if ever there was one. Win and we go above Villa, lose and we are six points behind.
Sharpens the mind.