Good morning bearers of the Positive flame,
Such are the risks of contesting the final of a competition, that the prize is tantalisingly within one’s grasp, and when one’s reach is not quite sufficient to make that final fingertip contact , so the disappointment is all the more acute. Wembley for the past seven seasons has been an almost perfect ground for us, so to experience defeat was an unusual taste.
In truth we were beaten by a better Citeh side yesterday and I have no complaints.The steepest defeat I have ever seen Arsenal suffer in a final. Our opponents were worthy winners and 3-0 was a fair record of their superiority.
Of the game itself ? Neither side started particularly well in a scrappy first half as we all saw. A moment of inexplicable defending by Mustafi allowed Aguero to pounce but after that both sides traded footballing blows. The Sky Blues probably made the better of their possession but we had chances to strike, with our best work coming down the flanks. Jack and Fernandhino were clearly excited. At half time I had no concerns.
Second half ? Well they stepped up a gear and we were comprehensively pinned down. I thought we defended solidly but when we did manage to get the ball out our midfield foursome just could not build anything with those scarps of possession, or keep the ball. I felt that where in the first half we had an ‘out’ ball to the wings after half time our attacks became much more narrow, and passes were cut out or misplaced as we tried to thread them through a very busy midfield. Even the usually immaculate Mesut appeared unable to pick out a team mate. PEA became increasingly isolated and we were reduced to the ‘long punt’ to make any sort of impression on the Citeh back line or to involve Bravo in the game.
Most ‘UnArsenal’ but Citeh worked very hard to contain us and to control the game. They had a confidence in that second half that we lacked. The inevitable happened and we cracked under the pressure, the result of great perspiration on their part. At 2-0 it was probably over, at 3 we were holed below the waterline and sinking to defeat.
I do not intend to engage in a witch hunt against individual players, coaches or our manager. Clearly we did not play to the standard that on other days we have managed, and will manage again. I thought Sead Kolasinac played well, as did Jack and Laurent. In spite of his early howler I thought Shkodran stuck to his work and made several good last ditch tackles.
We shall dust ourselves off, clamber to our feet and move on.