Good morning fellow sufferers,
A result in Zagreb that surprised and disappointed in equal measure. Not a terminal blow by any means with five games in the group to go and our qualification firmly in our own hands but a poor start. It is the result that in reason seasons we risked, for example in Brussels last year against Anderlecht, and before that against Liege, but invariably managed to pull the nuts out of the fire. We gave ourself a chance in the final 15 minutes to retrieve matters but, to be honest, that second goal did not look likely. Last night our walnuts were consumed by the flames.
I have no doubt in social and mainstream media the reasons for the defeat have been, are being and will be explored, the guilty men named and shamed and their fitness to wear the shirt questioned. I suspect Arsene’s name might be mentioned once or twice in relation to the matter. I do not propose to burden you further with my ramblings on the topic. You saw the game and will no doubt have made up your own minds.
Enough of this gloomy, self indulgent introspection, that is not what you came for.
To look at the positives I thought Ospina had a good game, made some crucial saves and some timely dashes from the line to cut out the position attacks. Unlucky with Ox’s own goal and nothing he could do about the second. Considering that was his first game of the season he is to be commended. Unfair on the Colombian that such a good night’s work will be remembered for the score line rather than his contribution.
Gibbs I thought played well, both defensively and in support of Sanchez in going forward. Another good display from a player who has been forced to cool his heels since early August but who stepped up with confidence. While Fate is cruel I have no doubt that Kieron’s display last night pushed him up the England left back list after Luke Shaw’s double leg break in Eindhoven on Tuesday.
Ozil played well. Sanchez, as ever, burned energy all over the pitch. Theo was sharp when introduced and took his goal well, and on another night was the man who could have snatched that elusive equalizer. Le Coq emphasised what an important player he is, first name on the team sheet as they say. My word what a difference a year makes to a player’s fortunes.
Beyond that I do not feel either heaps of blame or particular words of praise are merited. No one had a shocker.
The final positive aspect of the night is that Zagreb are not very good. I find it very difficult to believe that they possess sufficient quality to present as a genuine group stage winner or runner up. We have the opportunity to correct last night’s errors on Tuesday the 24th November. Make a note in your diary.
With regard to Olivier well, what can I say ?
Almost certainly nothing new. He has an irritating tendency, to me at least, to complain loudly and often to the referee in every game. Without doubt some of those complaints are justified. Some are not. And the difficulty for OG is that so repetitive are his complaints that the referee no longer can be bothered to sift the genuine from the contrived. And last night I am afraid he ran into the wrong referee, on the wrong night. A harsh red card but entirely avoidable. I looked up the Roumanian whistler’s stats and he is not some grossly inexperienced official who over-reacted to the pressure of his first CL game, as I first thought. He has been refereeing in the CL since 2011. I trust Olivier will learn from his experience and return a wiser and more effective tip of the Arsenal spear. On that basis a lesson painfully learned may have a benefit attached.
And the final positive ?
No time to dwell on last night. While there have been perhaps justifiable complaints that Chelsea have had an easier run up to the London derby than us with their home tie against Tel Aviv I am delighted that we have only 51 hours now to kick off at the Bridge and a chance to show our quality and spirit. I suspect Arsene and every single player feels the same.
Enjoy your Thursday.
And in the spirit of amity with our Croat brothers and sisters a little more of their delightful language for you to wrestle with;
*my hovercraft is full of eels