I did not write anything about this game last night out of sheer despondency. The boys played such good football in the first half; they were purring on the pitch. A disallowed goal, hitting the woodwork twice… and then there was that sending off and subsequently converted penalty at the death of the first half. It almost changed everything in a flash. Still, it was 1-1 and we might have been able to win this game by sitting tight and trying to score one on the counter. But then Moutinho scored a nigh impossible screamer in Leno’s right top corner and we just knew this would be one of those cruel, horrible, freak games that are out of our control.
I don’t blame Luiz for the sending off. He tried to put off Jose by getting close to him but he never wanted to foul him. If there was contact it was minimal. A penalty was given and the sending off was a joke, but what’s done is done. I also don’t blame Leno for his sending off. It was an instinctive reaction to a bad, misjudged bounce of the ball. He came out to cover for his defenders, as he is instructed to do. It all happened in a flash and the rest is history. Arm chair goalkeepers will say he should have done this or that, but that is disrespecting the goalkeeper’s need to act in the there and then and the fact that everyone, even the best, make a bad judgement now and again. Leno is only human and the ball is round (and the pitch was soaked).
Most of us are rational Westerners and love to understand a football game by looking at cause and effect, who can we blame, etc, but as this game showed sometimes things just don’t go your way, the ball hits the woodwork rather than go in, a goal is narrowly ruled offsite (correctly), the ball bounces differently than expected, a referee judges a player on their past behaviour rather than the actual act, etc. This was just not to be for the Gunners; it looked more like a Greek battle between the gods high above Molineux, influencing the game with wind, rain and shrinking woodwork etc. And we lost out; it was out of our hands and feet.
I saw a fantastic first half and a heroic second half by the team. I saw a real team in both halves. 11, then 10 and then 9, heroes on the pitch and they all get a nine from me except for Pepe who gets a 10.
Let’s forget about this freak game and bring on the Claret and Blue army on Saturday: we are going to give them a game of football.