All Things Footie

Helping the beautiful game keep it's looks since 2001

RSS feed

All Things Footie | Tuesday, March 30 | Jordan

A draw is a draw

At Old Trafford, a 1-1 draw felt like an Arsenal win, and yesterday at Higbury, a 1-1 draw felt like a United win. In the cold, harsh, objective daylight of today, the reality is that a draw is not a bad result for those who were miserable yesterday afternoon, and not a good result for those who were celebrating. I caught the train coming from St Pancras to Manchester yesterday, and there was a gaggle of teenage United fans parading up and down the train singing about the ‘Busby Babes’, I didn’t have the heart to remind them they were still 12 points behind the league leaders and two further points behind second place, with one less game to go.

The details of the match are purely incidental, but I’ll go over a few things anyway. Firstly, Giggs must be having a laugh if he thinks that Sol Campbell caressing his shorts as he tripped over his own feet is going to get a penalty. The only contact between the two happened out side the penalty area for a start, but I think if Ryan looks at the replay and looks at his feet, he’ll see him kick his own ankle. A more mischevious author may suggest that this was a dirty trick to try and win a penalty when he knew he was going nowhere, but not I.

You always expect to see the home team dominate posession, but only in their game against Fulham earlier in the season (when Chris Coleman’s side also came away with a 1-1 draw) have I seen Arsenal completely overrun a team for such a large proportion of the game. Up until the 70th minute, the posession stats were something like 64%/36% in favour of Arsenal, and most of United’s 36% was running off the pitch to pick up the ball for throw ins. The final 20 minutes saw United gain some composure and put together a few nice moves, one of which resulted in Louis Saha’s equalising goal. It’s difficult not to look at the otherwise excellent Arsenal defence for Saha’s goal, and it’s difficult not to lay the blame at the feet of Arsène Wenger.

For the whole game, Arsenal’s attacking threat and neat passing kept United at bay, and sacrificing two of the neatest and most threatening players on the pitch for Pascal Cygan and Gilberto was a really foolish thing to do. If it wasn’t for the fact that Wenger has done this before—conceding a late goal on that occasion too—it wouldn’t be so bad, but you’d have though such an astute manager and keen observer of the game would have realised that switching from a back four to a back five for the last ten minutes would only cause trouble. Pascal Cygan will get the blame for not tracking back on the left flank and stopping Sølskjær getting his cross in, but the real problem is that he and Gael Clichy didn’t know what jobs they were supposed to be doing.

It’s more difficult than all of that however, to criticise the man that’s just taken a team to a 30 game unbeaten start to the season. Records just crumble like stale bread around this Arsenal team.

The highlight of the match for me—ignoring Henry’s blistering, swerving, dipping, screaming goal—was Henry doing his caveman impression after Lauren failed to sqaure it to him in the last minute; something that would almost certainly have guaranteed a 2-1 victory for the home side. I’ve never seen Henry look so wound up, and there has been talk about a punch up in the tunnel with Lauren. Talk that sounds like a load of rubbish to me, as Henry did actually give Sky an interview in the tunnel, and he wasn’t attached to Lauren at the time.

Anyway, no more to say than that, United at Highbury? It’s just another game now.

I managed to watch the second half of Chelsea v Wolves on Saturday thanks to the absolutely fantastic (and I cannot emphasise the fantastic bit enough) Soccer Streams, for most of the time I watched, Wolves looked the better team. Lampard was sloppy, the defence a shambles and the forward line looking about as effective as a papier maché umbrella; that was, until Jimmy came on. On his birthday, the forgotten man of Stamford bridge put two fingers up to £40m worth of teammates, and received his deserved praise from the fans that never stopped supporting him. He’s probably not the kind of person you’d enjoy a quiet relaxing drink with, or you’d take home to meet your mother (were you that way inclined), but he isn’t half a good footballer.

With a whole host of guaranteed starters left out of the England squad, it’s an interesting—and experimental—line up for the friendly with Sweden this Wednesday. I could bawl on about how ridiculous it is to have an International friendly the week before Champions League Quarter-Finals, FA Cup Semi Finals, and towards the end of most European league seasons; but you all know that already don’t you? I’m happy for J’Lloyd Samuel and Shaun-Wright Phillips, who I think are really good players, and despite Samuel’s occupation of Aston Villa’s left-flank I’d like to see him on the right for England. It’s too early for either of them to be going to Euro 2004, but it’s good to see the ‘next generation’ getting a bit of recognition. I don’t know much about the Green fella from Norwich (and neither does Sven, who’s never seen him play) but I’m told he’s very good, but I doubt we’ll see anything from him seeing as he’s fourth choice.

Jermaine Defoe deserves a call up too, he’s been scoring freely in a poor side, and I don’t think there’s ever been any question over his ability. He’s another that’s probably a bit too young for Euro 2004, but it’s worth getting him involved early and may be useful as the contingency striker in the squad.

Six days until proper football starts again; and counting…

(0) Comment(s) | Permanent link to this article

Add new comment

10 Previous Articles

  1. A message from our sponsors
  2. Roundup
  3. The third biggest club in London
  4. Time up
  5. Drawn together
  6. Cream of the crop
  7. It’s all about the fans
  8. The ballad of Sir Alex
  9. Return to Europe
  10. They think it’s all over