Time to take a leaf out of the cricket’s book

A great game of cricket concluded recently which saw India being crowned world champions for the first time since 1983. 28 years that saw numerous changes being introduced in the game. From shortening the duration, coloured clothing, power plays and aluminium cricket bats to arguably the most important change of all – the Umpire Decision Review System.

The system allows both teams two unsuccessful review request per innings. So, a fielding team may dispute a ‘not out’ call and the batting team may do so for an ‘out’ call. Not without its flaws off course, the system has invariably made the game fairer by the use of technology that was already available.

The decision however to adopt this technology hasn’t come without the initial opposition. As someone who has been following cricket literally from the egg I too wasn’t in favour of video technology from the off. I for one was always made to believe that officiating errors are and will always be an intimate part of how the game is played. The position of an umpire in cricket is a very different from that of a referee in football. A cricketing umpire holds the utmost respect where cricketers are always told to accept any decision without the faintest hint of discord. Dissent normally leads to fines and match bans.

So in such a hierarchy, to propose the use of technology that would inevitably make the umpire look like a chump was sure to meet with staunch opposition from the cricketing purists.  Thus any attempt to undermine the supreme authority of the umpires was routinely dismissed by the purists (a coterie I until recently considered myself to be a part off) who continued to revel in the belief the mistakes simply add to the charm of the game. A sort of romanticism that would be destroyed by the introduction of ‘unnecessary’ technology.

This kind of resistance did not however cause too much of problem until recently. Today, with the advancement of technology it often happens that a billion people around the world are able to catch the obvious flaw in a decision that appears to have eluded the umpire. Hawk eyes, slow motion replay and other technologies havallowed us to scrutinise each and every decision made leaving the hapless umpire to rely solely on split second decisions. This coupled with the fact that most sports had started embracing technology made the cricketing bodies stand up and take notice. And after much deliberation the UDRS was officially launched by the ICC (the FIFA of cricket if you may) on the 24th of November 2009 in the first test match between New Zealand and Pakistan.

there isn’t much of an argument for resisting progress

Football in spite of being the most widely followed sport in the world refuses to jump on the technology bandwagon. Call it stubbornness, incompetence or sheer corruption, the fact remains that there isn’t much of an argument for resisting progress. There is really no point in abusing the referee and questioning his neutrality. The referee in spite of what many fans would want you to believe does not –well, normally at least – have a personal vendetta against any club. Yes, like any human being he does tend to make the odd mistake and get unnecessarily influenced by fans and players alike. But in an environment where players are going all out to con the referee, you really can’t blame him for making the occasional gaffe. And the nature of sports is such that the referee will always be remembered for the goof-up.

With all the points in favour of implementing technology in football one does wonder why there have been so many roadblocks. How has technology so seamlessly integrated with cricket and why is football unwilling to take the leap?

To answer the above question one would have to understand the difference between the two sports (football and cricket of course) as sporting spectacles. As a cricket viewing you tend accept breaks/stoppages as a normal part of the game. There’s normally a minutes’ break after every over, drinks breaks, ball changes, fall of wickets and so on. To add to that, technology already has a very important part to play in cricket with run out decisions normally referred to the TV umpire (the 3rd Umpire). So a spectator is generally more sympathetic towards stoppages in the game.

Football on the other hand is non-stop and fast paced with only injuries and rare extremities causing any sizeable disruption to the flow. Thus any attempt to introduce breaks would have its detractors. So for technology to be successful in football it has to be instantaneous.

So what are the possible options?

Lampard’s disallowed goal in last summer’s edition of the world cup caused enough controversy that FIFA President Sepp Blatter publically apologised for the gross error and the event convinced the governing body to commission experiments into goal line technology (GLT).

In this respect two competing systems have been proposed to FIFA. Firstly we have Hawk Eye, the same technology that forms the backbone of the UDRS in cricket. The Winchester based company proposes using up to six high speed cameras in the stands at each end of the field to assess the ball’s flight path. The system however is not real time and would require the referee to stop and review the disputed play. Additionally, it requires at least 25% visibility to ensure accuracy. So the major criticisms of the system are that it would not only slow the game down, but the statistical margin of error would be very high.

The second system proposed jointly by Adidas and a German firm call Cairos Technologies places a chip inside the football which would send signal to the referee. The results are instantaneous depending on how you define ‘instantaneous’. FIFA requires that an indication of whether a goal has been scored on not be confirmed within 1 second. Many feel that this one second rule might be impossible to meet.

There would always be decisions that in spite of technology would have to be left to the interpretation of the referee. Video replay might help you review a yellow card but the final decision would still depend on how the person watching the replay views it. So introducing reviews in this case might turn out to be detrimental.

Considering all the possibilities – the questions according to me is that – as in cricket would allowing each side a couple of opportunities to challenge the decision of the referee really endanger footballs worth as a sporting spectacle? Would the time ‘wasted’ not be similar to that during a penalty kick? Most importantly – would it not make the game irrefutably fairer?

My argument of course is not infallible. But then, there is no argument for technology without the obvious shortcomings. If there was, then technology in football would have already seen the light of day. Yes, there are justified criticisms of the proposed technology but at the end of the day the greatest stumbling block is – as was the case with cricket – that such technology would appear to reduce the human element of the game. The sheer joy of debating blunders.

Other sports regularly change the laws of the game to react to the new technology. We don’t do it and this makes the fascination and the popularity of football. 

Sepp Blatter

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Arsenal takeover + FAQ’s

The end of an era

The Arsenal blogosphere has been buzzing today after news of Stan Kroenke having agreed to acquire the shares of Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith and Danny Fiszman taking KSE’s total ownership to a whopping 63% (62.89% actually. But let’s not get pedantic now). Thus in accordance with stock market rules he will have to offer £11,750 for the remaining shares, valuing the club at £731m (or $1.2 billion). This doesn’t of course mean anyone would be forced to sell their shareholdings.

The buyout does signify the end of an era at Arsenal Football Club and there are a few doubts that have cropped up in the minds of fellow observers. Some of them have been cleared by the FAQ section on Arsenal.com. Some of them that aren’t:-

Q. Is he going to saddle us with debt?

A. No. The offer clearly states that the takeover will not be funded by heaping debt onto the club. Which is great news really, considering the scenarios at United and Liverpool. Besides, Kroenke has an illustrious history of owning sports teams and none of them have been saddled with debt.

Q. Does this mean David Dein is back?

A. No. Unlike what many awesome looking but unreliable blogs would want you to believe, David Dein is not coming back to Arsenal. Dein has always been Usmanov’s man. So it is unlikely that he would suddenly be welcomed back by Kroenke.

Q. What about the fan shares I purchased? Would I be forced to sell them?

A. No one will force you to sell those shares. Not right now at least. Only if Kroenke were able to reach 90% ownership he could take Arsenal off the market and into private hands. Which is unlikely to happen considering that Usmanov holds a sizeable percentage of the shares and is unlikely to sell. And the last time I checked he didn’t exactly need the money. Kroenke himself is keen on supporter ownership.

Q. What does this mean for Arsenal?

A. Not much really in the short term. Stan is already on the board and believed to be a supporter of Wenger’s model of self-sufficiency. The most likely short term implication would be a greater commercial focus.

Q. Are we finally going to win the league then?

A. Well, I can’t say.

Of course if you want a detailed view of the takeover you should visit the consistently excellent Arseblog.

Cheers for now.

Arsenal is a fantastic club with a special history and tradition and a wonderful manager in Arsene Wenger. We intend to build on this rich heritage and take the club to new success.

Image courtesy arsenalfcblog.com

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Blackpool 1 – 3 Arsenal: We’re still in it, insists van Persie

Premier League
Bloomfield Road

Taylor-Fletcher 52; Diaby 18, Eboué 21, v. Persie 76

I was quite surprised because I thought Manuel was playing but all of the sudden he picked up some kind of minor injury and he told me ‘Well, you have to play.’ I couldn’t really afford to think about it and I didn’t have time to get nervous so I just played.
Jens Lehmann

It’s isn’t the most auspicious of starts when your 3rd choice goalkeeper decides to injure his knee during warm up handing the gloves to a 41 year old veteran who – in spite of fans demanding he gets a look in – we all (most of us at least) secretly hoped would just be there for moral support.

The Almunia situation aside Wenger put out the side most would have predicted with Walcott passing a late fitness test to be included in the substitutes.

Blackpool started the brighter with Arsenal looking nervous as they normally are at defending. Lehmann however had little to do in the opening half hour as he brought back that indelible stare we had grown all too familiar with during his first stint with Arsenal.

Arshavin and van Persie both had good chances to open the scoring with van Persie in a rather profligate mood today. Narsi then hit the post with well controlled shot that appeared destined for the back of the net. It was all one way traffic soon with Fabregas displaying a great range of passing as Arsenal began to look for an opening. And the goal did come in the 17th minute as Fabregas found van Persie (who in all fairness could have been a tad offside) with superb pass and the No. 10 laid it on a platter for Diaby to side foot from close range.

It was soon 2 – 0 after a neat one-two between Eboue and Wilshere with the former blasting it past Kingson for his first goal in more than two years. And by the end of the half we should have been a couple more to the good as Blackpool did continue to threaten towards with dying minutes of the half.

As is customary in game where Arsenal goes into the break with a seemingly commanding lead, the second half did turn out to be tense affair. And as was inevitable Blackpool did pull one back in the 52nd minute when Taylor-Fletcher converted from close range. Lehmann could have seen red when he tripped DJ Campbell inside the area, but the referee decided against taking any action. A sending off coupled with the Almunia injury could have potentially seen one of the outfield players between the sticks. My guess of course would be Eboue.

Blackpool continued to exert pressure on our susceptible backline. And the Tangerines can be justifiably livid when the referee Lee Mason denied them a clear penalty after Taylor-Fletcher went down under a sliding challenge from Koscielny. 2-2 at that stage would have been another recipe for disaster.

The controversy was made redundant (theoretically at least) in the 76th minute with Arsenal countering quickly as Walcott put in a low cross for van Persie for the third goal.

So we’re still 7 points behind Man United with a game in hand. We aren’t exactly in the driver’s seat, but there’s no reason but to agree with what van Persie feels. Till the next weekend at least.

Till then have a great Monday.

We have it in ourselves, we just have to prove it now. We are a great team so it’s up to us.
van Persie

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Blackpool (a): A response needed

Gunnersaurus Rex at the reverse fixture at The Emirates


It’s been a torrid few weeks at Arsenal Football Club. You’d have to go back to the 2nd of March to see the last time we won a game. And that was against Leyton Orient in an FA Cup replay we should have avoided in the first place.

You know it’s all downhill after Arsene releases his “No one expected us to even fight for the Top 4 this season” statement. And that happened sometime last month.

The Blackpool game tomorrow is – like the previous two – a must win if we are to harbour any ambitions in the league this season. The injury news is a mixed bag with Fabregas and Ramsey being passed fit to start this Sunday and Song, Sagna and Theo probably missing out.

More importantly is seems that Johan Djourou and Wojciech Szczesny will be back in the squad next week ahead of the home game against Liverpool. Which is a massive plus considering that those two were pretty much written off for this season.

Vermaelen could be back in training in two weeks’ time. Though, I wouldn’t read too much into that. The poor chap has been facing setback after setback in his bid to regain fitness. I’d say its next season for him when we can all hail him as potentially a ‘new signing’.

“[Aaron Ramsey] is fit. Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou are doing very well, both of them will be in the squad very soon. Johan Djourou next week and Wojciech Szczesny next week and Vermaelen maybe in two weeks.

Yes, that’s the training squad. Team squad, the only one who could be available for the Liverpool game Djourou and Szczesny.”


With Song out we should see either Diaby or Ramsey slotting in with Wilshere and Fabregas. I suspect it would be Diaby. Walcott faces a late fitness test although I doubt he’d be risked for this one.

The team could line up as: Almunia; Clichy, Koscielny, Squillaci, Eboue; Arshavin, Fabregas, Wilshere, Diaby, Nasri; v. Persie

I was quietly confident before the Blackburn game and on paper this Arsenal team should have no problems at Blackpool. But somehow you’re just not that sure anymore. It might just turn out to be a 6-0 mauling like the reverse fixture this season. Or it could turn out to be a laborious draw like the last game.

Injuries have crept back, morale is at an all-time low and Arsene seems to be slowly but surely sliding towards the twilight of his career at Arsenal. A career that would be remembered as much for his trophy winning sides as it would be for his obstinate philosophy. There is not a supporter however who could argue that the man had anything but the club’s best interests at heart. Perhaps he achieved success too early and almost too easily in his stint at Arsenal. Or perhaps he was simply a victim of his time.

April however is too early a time to be discussing his beautifully flawed ideology and time at Arsenal. But come May and fingers will be pointed and answers would demanded for what appears to be another unproductive term at the office.

At the end of the season I’ll look back and see what we’ve done well and not done well. We should not go overboard. We’re second in the league so it’s not a scandal.

Paul Merson meanwhile believes we have “no chance” in the league this season. Well, I suppose we should all just go home then.

Venue Bloomfield Road, Sunday 1230 GMT
Reserve fixture Arsenal 6 Blackpool 0
Referee Lee Mason
Odds Blackpool 6-1 Arsenal 4-11 Draw 7-2
Suspended None
Form guide DDDWWD
Disciplinary record Y51R6
Leading scorer Van Persie 11


Image courtesy Wonker

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Blackburn(h): Things should start to get interesting right about now

It’s a rather early and quick blog today before I get ready for cricket final this afternoon. The international break has successfully rekindled my love for the gentleman’s game. And with the home team playing it should turn out to be a memorable finale.

Coming back to Arsenal, early team news confirmed that van Persie and Bendtner have sufficiently recovered from any knocks they picked up during international duty with Ramsey the only casualty. Joining them after a hiatus would be Cesc, Walcott and Song who would all be expected to start today.

Wenger is urging the FA not to include Wilshere in the U21 championships this summer fearing he will ‘hit the wall’ at some stage due to excessive football. Wilshire wants to play, which is understandable considering the false bravado of invincibility that comes with being 19 years old. We’ve all been there. Some of us rather recently.

However, there isn’t anyone more experienced than Arsene when it comes to young players and we wouldn’t want another Walcott situation now would we?

“You know this car will hit the wall at some stage and you see it a little bit earlier than somebody who has less experience. I think, in the world, nobody has brought more young players through than I have and I have a good experience of what kind of stages they go through.”


We could see the team line up as: Almunia; Clichy, Koscielny, Squillaci, Sagna; Nasri, Fabregas, Wilshere, Song, Walcott; v. Persie

Or maybe Wenger might prefer to use Walcott as a sub and start with Arshavin who tends to do well against Blackburn.

We’re at home and there isn’t any doubt who the better team is. So forgive me for feeling more than bit confident about this one. And I’m not only talking about the cricket. Let’s just hope there aren’t any hangovers from the last two weeks. So have a great time wherever you’re watching the match.

Cheers till tomorrow.

Venue Emirates Stadium, Satuday 1730 GMT
Last season Arsenal 6 Blackburn 2
Referee Phil Dowd
Odds Arsenal 2-7 Blackburn 12-1 Draw 26-5
Suspended None
Form guide DDWWDW
Disciplinary record Y50 R6
Leading scorer Van Persie 11
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The lull before the storm

Cricketing loyalties coupled with the international break meant that I haven’t exactly been in the loop with all the happenings at Arsenal over the past couple of weeks. A tardy perusal of the popular blogs this morning confirmed that it’s all rather quiet in the Arsenal Blogosphere off late. I suppose it’s a mix of relief provided by the international break and a bit of fear that our players would return home from their respective friendlies in a suitcase.

With the number of Arsenal players on international duty there was a sense of inevitability that some of them would return conked. But the injury news is pretty promising for a change. Yes, van Persie is injured, but you are bound to get injured when you’re made of, well, bread. The injury isn’t too bad however and he is even expected to start this weekend. Bendtner and Ramsey have a few niggles and we’ll just have to wait for the official announcement to see if they’ll be playing any part this weekend.

On the positive front Cesc, Song and Theo are all back in reckoning. We could really do with the three of them having injury free run-in from here on. Fingers crossed on that one eh.

Lehmann played for the reserves during week in a 2-1 defeat against Wigan. Opinion is divided on his performance. I’d say it’s still early to thrust him back in to first team. No choice but to stick with Almunia and pray he’s more of an April person.

On some fantastic developments at the Grove, it appears we’re about to sign one of the former Invincibles. The famed striker from the legendary French football Academy, Clairefontaine.

No, it isn’t Henry. It’s Jérémie Aliadière, who’s without a club and hoping to make an impact at Arsenal next season.

“There are nine games left and we really have to go to it. Manchester United still have to come to the Emirates, and we will have to beat them there. That is the biggest we have to look forward to. Until then, we will just have to win every game.
In the dressing room, we believe we can win it. Hopefully the fans do too, because we need them behind us as well.”

Jack Wilshire

There’s really no other way of looking at it. Ideally we should win all those 9 games and hope United drop a few points here and there. But with the overall quality of both the teams at the summit, expect many twists yet.

Arsenalist meanwhile has an analysis of where we’ve lost all the points this season. Have a look and slap yourself in disbelief.

There isn’t much to talk about besides that. There is the persistent rumour linking us to Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon on a free next season. I could spend a paragraph or two about the internationals/friendlies. Wilshire played twice, Robin scored. Ah, I couldn’t really care to be very honest.

Blackburn preview tomorrow. Till then.

EDIT: van Persie and Bendtner both passed fit. Ramsey misses out though.

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West Brom 2 – 2 Arsenal : Not for the weak at heart

Premier League
The Hawthorns

Reid 3, Odemwingie 58; Arshavin 70, van Persie 78

I suppose it would be easy to blame one person entirely for what happened at the Hawthorns. There would be a simple vindication in adopting such a line of thinking. The belief that since a single incumbent is responsible for our misery so by replacing that one incumbent our problems could be solved. The problem(s) however at the Arsenal Football Club is/are more than what could be gauged on prima facie evaluation.

It really isn’t Almunia’s fault that he’s just not that good. He’s just another man doing his job. The same goes for Denilson, Rosicky, Squillaci and all the others they tell you aren’t fit enough to wear the Arsenal shirt. What are these men (well, kids in a few cases) supposed to do? Put in their papers and demand a transfer to Grimsby Town FC?

The buck essentially stops at those responsible for playing these individuals week in week out. For not replacing those that have left the team or have been unavailable due to injury. That there are problems in this team is for all to see and how Wenger chooses to turn a blind eye is beyond me.

Coming to the game, it was a surprise to see Ramsey starting. And he clearly was not up for it yet. His movement let him down on more than a few occasions and could be blamed for the first goal. He got a chance to redeem himself with a simple tap in later on which went horribly wrong. I suppose you can’t really blame the lad who’s still on his way back from a long term injury.

Being one nil down at the break the onus was on Arsene to take the initiative. And he didn’t disappoint with Chamakh coming in for the abysmal Denilson. West Brom did have a chance to double their lead some ten minutes into the half and we ought to thank some profligate finishing on their part for keeping the score at one nil.

It was 2-0 soon thanks an absolute howler from Almunia who came well out of his area allowing Odemwinge to guide the ball into an open net. There’s no point discussing it really. A truly unforgivable mistake at this level. Have a look and name one keeper in the league who wouldn’t have done better. Sorry state of affairs really. You might say he’s our third keeper after all, but he was the undisputed No. 1 when the season kicked off. At this rate Lehmann may just turn out to be more than emergency back-up.

“Mathematically we lost two points, but psychologically I think we won a point, because when you are 2-0 down with 20 minutes to go, you cannot be too unhappy with this comeback.”
Arsene Wenger

So at 2-0 down anything from this game could be viewed as gain but in the context of the league especially with Man Utd being gifted a goal at Old Trafford, this would be seen as two points dropped rather than a point gained.

But to get anything from the game at two nil team did show some character that has been missing this season. Some great play between Arshavin and Chamakh led to goal that, well, only Arshavin could have scored. And with 12 minutes to go van Persie got us level with a gritty finish after an Arshavin cross that appeared to have been knocked down by Bendtner’s arm.

The final ten minutes saw some great pressure exerted by Arsenal as we went for the win. It was in vain however as the home team hung on to deny Arsenal the victory thereby allowed Man Utd to stretch the lead at the top to 5 points, with us having a game in hand.

With our next game in two weeks’ time this wasn’t the ideal way to sign off. We are still unbeaten in 12 Premier League games, so that’s hardly a bad run. So there’s some optimism for you.

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West Brom (a): The title chase resumes

So the first time in some while that Arsenal have failed to reach the Quarter Finals of the Champions League. The optimist would tell you how this would reduce the fixture congestion over the next couple of months, allowing us to concentrate on the trophy that matters the most.

It has been a strange season up till now. A neutral’s delight they tell you. But then, does this fabled ‘neutral’ really exist? The sort chap who enjoys football for, well, football’s sake alone. I haven’t met one yet. If you’re the sort then do drop in a mail. I might send you a gift coupon or something.

The reverse fixture at The Emirates earlier in the season was nothing short of diabolical. To be 3 nil down in home game against a newly promoted team does not exactly bear well for a team aspiring to win the League. That particular result was partly due to some shoddy goalkeeping by our then No. 1 Manuel Almunia, whose less-than-exemplary performance saw him being dropped down the pecking order. The ‘official’ reason stated though was a ‘mysterious’ ailment. He was not to be seen playing a Premier League game again.

His replacement wasn’t exactly someone not prone to the occasional bungle, but on confidence alone a certain improvement. However it wasn’t until Szczesny came to fray that I felt our goalkeeping worries were finally behind us. They were right behind us because as fate would have it Almunia is back to continue from where he seemingly left off.

Joining him in the squad would be our new/old keeper, the former Invincible Jens Lehmann. Injuries to both Fabianski and Szczesny meant Arsene had to bring in an emergency replacement which meant he basically had two options:-

1. To buy an experienced keeper from somewhere at this point of the season.
2. To re-sign Lehmann who happened to be at Arsenal trying to earn his coaching badges.

Could not have been the most difficult decision Wenger has had to make. With team and fan moral at an all-time low, Lehmann’s presence would – as was the case with Sol last year – come as a boost. Although at 41 and having retired from football at the end of last season he does not inspire the sort of confidence we could do with right now. I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see how this one pans out.

Injuries to Song, Fabregas and Diaby, in addition to the long term absentees, presents another opportunity for the likes of Denilson and Roskicy.
The line-up we could expect today: Almunia; Sagna, Squillaci, Koscielny, Clichy; Nasri, Denilson, Rosicky, Wilshere, Arshavin; van Persie.

It has been a very nightmarish fortnight, as Wenger rightly puts it. Cup heartbreaks, crucial injuries, inexplicable refereeing, fortunate neighbours and what not. Why even the weather’s been terrible down here. But this isn’t the time wallow in the inequities of the past. It would be just like the Arsenal we’ve come to know over the past few seasons to crumble at this stage. This isn’t the time to wonder about the ‘what-if’s’ surroundings the events that have conspired in the last couple of weeks. Now is the time to pick ourselves up and to stop feeling sorry for ourselves.

So here’s to three points at the Hawthornes. One nil would do just fine for starters. Cheers to wherever you’re watching the game.

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Cup Dream(s) over.

FA Cup, Quarterfinal
Manchester United 2 – 0 Arsenal

It has been a rather odd few weeks in the life of an Arsenal supporter. From being to only club in the top tier of English football to be competing in all four major competitions and seemingly having one in the proverbial bag, to being knocked out of all three cup competitions (cruelly, if I might add) and having both our first choice keeper and defender out for season. Perhaps it would have been better – in hindsight ofcourse – to have got these cup ‘distractions’ out of the way earlier in the season itself. Football however, like life in general, does not allow one the luxury of hindsight.

The FA Cup has been particularly taxing. Having to go through irksome replays inspite of playing lower league opposition and losing players to injury en route last night’s game at Old Trafford.

There was a sort of inevitability to last night’s game. The better team did win. Have no qualms about that. Great teams are not those that possess greater talent. Great teams are those that can utilize the talent available in a system to grind out a result. And Ferguson has, for all his faults, ingrained in the team an indelible character, an innate desire to win. Qualities that this Arsenal team could surely imbibe.

There were a couple of positives however. It was great to see Ramsey have a seemingly trouble free 20 minutes on the pitch. His first for the team in more than a year since the ghastly injury at Stoke. He would surely be getting more minutes between now and the end of the season. More so with the ever increasing injury list at the Grove.

This Arsenal team just does not seem to be capable of recovering from a goal down. And after the first goal when it, it became more and more likely that we’d be caught again on the counter. The misery was compounded by having a listen to fifty people giving an inebriated rendition of “Glory Glory Man United…” and the girl at the table besides me rhetorically asking “Who’s my Old Man?” every time Van Der Sar would make a save.

So where now for this Arsenal team. The wheels seem to be coming off at an alarming rate. What once appeared to be a promising season appears to be ending like the last (or the one before). Beyond the first eleven the team isn’t really good. Fabregas is essentially the heart, lungs and kidneys of this team. A team lacking inspiration and leadership in his absence, and often even in his presence. It does look rather gloomy from here on. I would love to be proved wrong, but come June and another trophy-less season beckons.

Cheers for now.

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