Tomas… It was up for grabs then…

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.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. rick jones

    Right on. Fair and accurate account of an unfortunate afternoon oop north like. Rosicky must be feeling low. Onward.

  2. young

    Blessing in disguise,AW would have a second chance before Jan window to review shortcomings and put in corrective measures,if the recent Braga result has rose-tinted his glasses. Need to go a step further,not only to cover for more injuries,but overall defensive structures and focus.

  3. Peter W

    Last night was ‘Birmingham’ all over again! Feel just as gutted and down as I did then!

  4. Mishari

    I totally agree that we defended heroically, however i have to disagree with your assessment of clichy, it is true there was a scramble and he was facing his own goal, however he cleared using his left foot, so that can’t be an excuse for the scuffed shot.

    Furthermore, while there were sunderland players behind him, nobody touched/tackled him for his clearance to be so poor/weak.

    Lastly, you mention that under pressure wedging a kick upwards is easier said than done, however this is not gibbs we’re talking about, its clichy, the same player who switched off and conceded a penalty against birmingham, the same who slipped under no pressure and allowed spurs back into a game they had no business being near drawing, and its the same clichy who goes on the official website every year and harps on about learning from mistakes and gaining experience.

    If all these instances and first team football don’t teach you calm in those situations, what does? I might be excused for scuffing the clearance but then again i’m not a professional footballer at a top club with over 4 years first team experience.

  5. 433

    A gut-wrenching way to end the match, but I’m enjoying this season.

  6. Sajit

    I think this team is growing.. And yesterdays defensive display was heroic.

    Nothing to feel ashamed about. Looking forward to the season.

  7. agooner

    Arshavin and Clichy both need to be dropped to the bench. Gibbs deserves his chance and Arshavin is just not good enough to merit a starting place anymore. It is not like we have a shortage if midfielders willing to work a little harder. Very frustrating to watch him miss chance after chance and not try harder.

    Kos,Squil and Almunia have just been impressive. It would be interesting to see what AW does when TV is back from injury.

    Overall we are moving in the right direction.

  8. RotorGoat

    Mishari – at least left-back is well covered – Gibbs is desperate for a crack. He could well get it soon.

  9. oparsenal

    Definitely looking forward to seeing Gibbs get his run-out tonight. I fancy Jollygood to find the back of the net, as well. Should be a good one and I look forward to reading the write-up tomorrow, mate.

  10. gavin gregory

    I keep replaying this game in my head and it hurts even more now than it did at the time!!!

    Tomas why oh why!!!!

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