May The Best Team Win – Or At Least Have More Shots On Target Than Scored

may best team win

Arsenal supporters from a different era …

The salient points from yesterday’s game, courtesy of Northbank1969:

“I’m still looking on the bright side. We are still only two points from 4th place, the boys can turn this season around. They played some excellent football yesterday and no single player can be blamed for the result. It was just one of those days.
We’ll still finish above United.”

There’s famous old film footage in the Arsenal Museum of what appears to be a pre-war, pre-match game with what is definitely a pre-Payton Supporters’ Club member parading a placard around a packed ground with the words: ”May the best team win”.

Yesterday, the best team did not win.

But it was hardly the fault of Man u or, surprisingly, the ref. Of course, we can point to McNair’s ankle-breaker of a tackle on a wet pitch that went unspotted by the ref – and most others in the stadium, in real time. And Fellaini’s similarly unspotted, unpunished agricultural shove on Gibbs which led to the most unfortunate of deflected goals.

As is the case in every game I’ve watched this season, outcomes would have been so very different had video technology been in use. But it wasn’t in use yesterday so Jack’s assailant got off Scot-free and the simple pre-goal shove that took out two of our defence was legitimised by the honourable willingness of Ches to stagger to his feet rather than stay down injured, an act which in turn helped the ref to turn a blind eye to Fellaini’s rustic tactics moments before.

Our failure to score, having dominated Man u to the point of opening up a multitude of chances was the reason for the defeat. Not United. Not the referee. And certainly not the Arsenal Manager and his supposedly empty tactics book, his failure to by a DM or play with the handbrake on. Or off – or whichever charge is en vogue this particular week. It was hardly tactics that led to a slew of chances landing in De Gea’s hands or over his cross bar.

Like Stew, from yesterday’s post, United are the team against whom I most hate to lose.

Chelsea are a close second, admittedly, but they have a touch too much of the Johnny-come-latelies about them. United are – or certainly, under Red Nose, were – the ultimate visitors from the dark side. But, post-Ferguson, they look a very different prospect and its hard to see them returning to their dominant position in English football anytime soon. Yesterday they were very much there for the taking and once their post-match celebrations have ebbed away, their injury-hit squad’s inadequacies and it’s gaping vulnerability, will be very much apparent to all future opponents. The state of their defence, the fading of van Persie, the going down of the Young. The patchy contributions of their new mega-waged, mega-signings. All must be of immense concern to united followers who, deep down, will recognise the lucky win for what it was.

Today, of course, it’s all about The Arsenal, and the media and fair weather fans are again in inglorious cahoots echoing hideous harmonies rising and falling on our own perceived vulnerabilities. As is now almost traditional for this time of year, they merrily seize on any scrap of ‘evidence’ to justify and re-fuel the current orgy of criticism and abuse against the same club, manager and players they simultaneously still claim to ‘support’.

After yesterday’s result they must be feeling all their Christmases have come at once.

Indeed, so many of the ‘Arsenal ’til I Die‘ mob had left the stadium early to start up their celebration of failure in the bars around Holloway Road and beyond, that shockingly substantial numbers failed to see the extra eight minutes of added time, or witness the worldie from Giroud. They were certainly not present to give their all to support the team that was clearly giving it’s all. But a team that had failed to finish and ultimately was undone by a deflection and a hit-and-run winner as it worked over-anxiously throughout the match for a breakthrough, clearly deserved much more than it got, both from the gods of chance and at the hands of their own fans. Or some of them, at least.

As Northbank rightly says, we played some excellent football yesterday and though the result didn’t go our way, the end of the world is most certainly not upon us, whatever the Goners might have you believe.

The team will work to bring supporters back on side, the injured will continue to return, the squad will be strengthened by continued assimilation of the newbies and, doubtless, one or two January signings will catch the eye. The team will calm down, and will aim, we are told, to become more ‘efficient’ in defence and attack.

As ever, my only real concern is the mental state of some of our supporters but there is little to be done about that.

Had they stayed to the end and given as much as they demanded of their own team, I might have more time for them. I do understand people being upset and very much include myself in that – it was United, after all, and a mis-firing one at that. But before fans get started on complaining about players/manager/tactics going missing, they need to look at themselves and ask why they allowed themselves an early ‘in’ at the bar, to allow the 12th man to disappear with the best part of 15 minutes still to play? Why did they make themselves at least partly culpable?  It looks terrible when you see it happening at other clubs; with our record of turning games around in the last few minutes it’s pretty much unforgiveable to bale out before full time is up against any opponent.  Let alone Manchester United.

The squad will doubtless be devastated by the result – that much was evident at the final whistle.

But they’ll encouraged, too, by most of the performance and it will be that which is carried forward to the next game.

About ArsenalAndrew

Optimist and lifelong supporter of the finest football club the world has ever seen.

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108 comments on “May The Best Team Win – Or At Least Have More Shots On Target Than Scored

  1. Well I suppose there needs to be a balance in my comments, because complaining about someone else’s complaints is just as bad, and as boring.

    So let me also say, that I have found the criticism I mentioned above is not universal, and there are many who are prepared to admit that the result on Saturday was particularly disappointing because it flew in the face of all likelihood when we were going through our paces in the first 60% of the game, but that bitter disappointment was balanced, too, by the hope that our lovely football is coming back and someone will get a footballing master class in attack and defence in the near future.


  2. I agree with the comment about Phil Hughes. He and Bianchi are both decent guys and it is a shame that they have suffered life threatening injuries just doing their jobs.


  3. *
    If the lion of Uzbekistan was serious about his game there’d be none of this mincing about malarky. No slow burn attack on the club over years and years via the same discredited orifices. He’d simply pay his PR Experts who really have impressed all with their expertise and their associations with upstanding and credible journalists to produce and star in their own reality TV Football Manager programme. It’s what Murdoch wants to turn the league into anyway! He’s already halfway there…

    Usmanov’d make billions! Er…ok, he could still clean his billions! Job done? Sanctions busted. Sport and politics. We can’t ignore the connections (though I did my best to avoid the FUFA “revelations” last week). Unfortunately!


  4. Henry B
    Where I was sat in the ground I had the strong impression most would agree with your second paragraph above at 12.48. Maybe I only spoke to/ overheard/ passed by some nice people? Who knows? Maybe most of these people understand that with the incremental purchases of the likes of Chamberlian, Özil, then Alexis more or less season after season, with all of these players being very close in age, that someone, somewhere, does indeed have some kind of a plan? Maybe.

    To be fair it would take some effort to ignore all of the above.


  5. Of course there is a plan – but it is a long-term plan that doesn’t satisfy (or isn’t understood) by the short-term crew who make up so much of footballs’ support. The sad thing is that unless the club is taken over by a free-spending Usmanov type, the only way we are likely to genuinely challenge City, United or Chelsea is by a long-term approach – and of course there is no guarantee of that being successful, especially as players at the top of their game are always likely to move on after three years or so. Or be injured.
    Tinkering with the manager might bring a short-term improvement in immediate form, but it won’t change the fundamental point that we have yet to reach the financial level that will allow us to always bid for the very best players. And so after any improvement will come an almost inevitable coming-up short for the new man, and so the merry-go round begins with ever-more impatient and entitled fans baying for blood.

    So although I know that the team I support is more likely than not to end up occasionally sitting at the top table but more often than not feasting on whatever crumbs of comfort come our way, I do at least know what to expect. and that, of course, makes any success joyously celebrated, seasoned as it is by the inevitable disappointments of not quite always being good enough. And that for me is enough, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  6. Finsbury/Foreverheady,

    I think that anyone mooning over Usmanov or any other financial benefactor hoping they would come in and spend the club to success, would be in for great disappointment if that were to happen.

    The days of the Financial Wild West are over and the FFP, rules to everyone’s surprise, no doubt, have begun to bite, and altho’ Citeh and Paris St Germain have got off relatively lightly for their transgressions, I think no one else will be able to spend the requisite Billion pounds necessary to achieve parity with those teams and the Chavs in the near future.

    The Arsenal financial model is the correct way forward, and like everything else in life, the correct way can take a bit longer to achieve its ends.
    I think of it rather like someone who may take years of hard work to achieve success, compared with the guy who robs a bank, and if successful, will bypass the ‘long years of hard work’ in a day. Most of us would accept the former is the right way.

    Usmanov or any other billionaire buying into the club could not simply pour in money into the club to achieve instant gratification by winning trophies – the FFP regulations will to allow that anymore.

    In the next few years, as the artificial investments into the Chavs and Citeh are watered down, Arsenal will eventually stand four square with them. But to really get in among them we need to win a ‘substantial’ trophy (and we will) and that will attract another major billion pound sponsorship deal such as Manure has got – and it will come.

    That much maligned word ‘patience’ has never been so apt.


  7. ‘the FFP regulations will NOT allow that anymore’ — Sorry.


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