Saturday 11 September 2010
Arsenal 4 Bolton 1 - a victory for football
As I stood up for another action packed ninety minutes at the Emirates I have to admit the starting eleven wasn't the one many of us had predicted. It was great to see Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere get the nod, Tomas Rosicky also deserved his starting slot on the right of the front three. The full eleven was Manuel: Eboue, Seb, Kos, Gibbs: Cesc Wilshere Song: Rosicky Chamakh Arshavin.
The first half wasn't the most sparkling of halves but we created enough to have had the game sewn up by half time. Arshavin forced the bright ginger Bogdan into a very good early save from an early one on one. Early doors Davies was very lucky to escape a booking, he walked a tightrope all day long. We created plenty of chances before and after the goal, but the crucial goal itself came from a lovely cross from the excellent Wilshere, it was cut back by Cesc for Koscielny to bundle home.
More chances came and went, some spurned wastefully, some good saves and Arshavin unlucky not to get a penalty when he had his legs taken as he shot at goal, Eboue also had a very good penalty. Bolton created very little and we gifted them their goal when Koscielny misjudged a back header, Almunia forced Lee wide but his cross was dispatched powerfully into the net by Elmander. One one it stayed til half time. Several Bolton players were very lucky to avoid yellows, Steinsson, Muamba and Cahill to name but three, while Gibbs got an incredibly soft yellow which it appeared that the ref gave when he hadn't actually seen the 'foul'.
We started the second positively and despite Bolton having some intermittent pressure, only one team really looked like scoring. Cesc, who was a tad erratic but intermittently lethal, did well to cut a lovely little chip to the back post, Chamakh arrived in timely fashion and headed home to make it 2-1. Now to the controversy, as Bolton chased the game they slid into tackles in slightly reckless fashion, first Arshavin managed to hurdle a tackle, then Cahill slid in recklessly through the back of Chamakh. I have to say that Chamakh did very well to get out of the way of Cahill's slide, if he hadn't been so agile it might well have been another striker out injured for us. The referee was poor throughout but Coyle's claim that the red card was a turning point in the game is absolute nonsense, the game had swung in our favour before the red, no doubt the red made it much harder for Bolton to come back though.
For me the tackle on Diaby by Robinson that came a few minutes after Cahill's red was an appalling challenge. Diaby was in the better position, Robinson could only get the ball by diving in recklessly with his studs up, he went through the ball dangerously with his studs up and it was nasty enough to put Diaby out of the game. I will study the replays later but this looked a red card offence to me on first viewing, the referee didn't even give a free kick. I really hope Diaby is ok, if not then I think a few people should get to work on Robinson's shins with a hammer to show him just how it feels to be attacked so violently.
In the end it could have been way more than the four. Alex Song, who for me resembled the Terminator on steroids, capped a magnificently commanding performance with a great third goal, a great burst of pace then a delightful dink over the keeper made it 3-1. Vela then added the icing with a delicious fourth, some cheeky possession football saw the young Mexican played through, he finished excellently, slotting home into the bottom left corner with his left peg.
Overall I was mightily encouraged by this performance against quite a decent and a very robust Bolton side, it was the kind of game in which we may well have dropped points in recent seasons. Other than the goal which came from Koscielny's error, Bolton created little and our centre back pairing were nicely aggressive and commanding. Jack Wilshere put in another good shift, Song was majestic, I think the Terminator on steroids sums him up well. Cesc was erratic but cutting, Chamakh came into the game in the second half, Arshavin is much more involved and seems to be returning to some better form, Tomas Rosicky was impressive and always involved, Kieran Gibbs looks a better defender than Gael Clichy, he is stronger and more robust. I am broadly encouraged.
The young referee was awful. He was too fussy and never let the game flow. He didn't enforce any discipline, allowing several Bolton players to get away with murder at times. He missed several clear fouls, one stone wall penalty on Eboue in the second half stands out. He was generally useless. He is clearly so young that he can't have played the game at any level himself which is a big problem with many referees these days. They simply do not understand what is reckless, what is dangerous and what is cynical. They do not have the insight because they have never tackled or been tackled themselves. It is like becoming a wine taster having never tasted wine, it is crazy.
There a a rather nasty violence present in the games of several sides in the Premiership at the moment. Bolton were not too bad systematically today, Davies is Davies which is a nasty violent c*nt, as is Cahill and Robinson but the rest of the team weren't too bad and there wasn't that much cynical shirt tugging and tripping. Having heard what went on at Fulham today it is clear that a lot of referees are simply unable to enforce the rules of the game coherently and fairly, this is allowing cynical cheating to prosper and it creates an environment in which skillful technical players will really struggle to develop.
It is no wonder that England struggle on the international stage, violent thuggery is not tolerated at that level and we simply don't have the technical talent to compete. It is not a 'man's game' to allow reckless violence and cheating to prosper, what planet are these morons from? It is a game for thugs and cheats if we fail to properly enforce the rules of the game, I for one do not want to see the likes of Stoke and Wolves prosper, if people want to watch this kind of stuff then they should bugger off and watch something else, it is simply not football.