Same old Eboue, same old Arsenal.

*Originally posted 18th April 2011

I’m writing this post straight after the Liverpool game whilst I am still seething, whilst my blood is still boiling, whilst I am still incredulous at what happened this afternoon.
I am not going to waste anyone’s time by saying much about the 90 minutes of regulation time except to say that whilst I don’t think we played particularly badly we certainly did not do enough to win the game, we did not do enough against a Liverpool back line that was pretty much as far removed from their first choice defence as you possibly get, especially after Carragher had gone off with what looked like a bad injury. *I’m glad to say reports after the game say the Liverpool stalwart is ok.
I don’t think we had close to five serious chances on goal, I do not recall Pepe Reina being seriously troubled, we never really looked threatening in and around the box, not quite listless but not far off it.
It’s hard to castigate any one player but at the same time why did we have to wait until so so late in the game to have the ball in the back of the net, Van Persie’s offside effort aside.
Even as we entered the eight minutes of stoppage time there was little sense of determination and that Andrey Arshavin had begun to look like our MOTM after only having been on the pitch since replacing Theo Walcott in the 72nd minute almost says it all.
In the 98th minute Jay Spearing brought down Cesc Fabregas in the Liverpool box and the ref pointed to the spot.
It was real heart in the mouth stuff as Robin Van Persie stepped up to take the spot kick but he sent Reina the wrong way and slotted the ball into the bottom left hand corner.
It was simple, all that need to be done was to hold out for just a couple more minutes, too keep the ball, to run the clock down – the ref hadn’t minded so much when Liverpool had tried a little of that prior to the penalty,
But no, in true Arsenal fashion we fell apart. Nobody took any control over the situation, there was almost 101 minutes on the clock and it seemed that aside from Reina every man on the pitch was in or around our penalty box. The ball pinged about with no one seemingly able to get control of it, we just needed someone, anyone, to hoof it up field and surely that would have been it, game over and three points closer to United, but we managed to give away a free kick on the edge of the box. In truth whilst it certainly wasn’t a penalty you would not have been surprised to see one given but the ref got it spot on.
Suarez took the kick but there was little threat and again all that was needed was the ball to be hoofed up field and kicked into touch anything…

You knew it was coming, could feel it.

As the ball fell to the ground with Eboue following it, Lucas Levia nipped in front of him. The ball had already bounced away from both men and all Eboue had to do was stand off the Brazilian and it was game over but the Ivorian couldn’t control his natural urge. With all the grace of a teenage boy attempting to remove a bra for the first time Eboue was all over Lucas and the Liverpool man went down. Penalty…
Dirk Kuyt stepped up and put it away without too much trouble and as soon as the ball had hit the back of the net the ref blew for full time.
Eboue had already been appealing to the ref as soon as he pointed to the spot but was now wildly gesticulating and Wenger did the right thing, walking onto the pitch and sending Eboue away, it is a shame that when asked after the game if it was a penalty the boss couldn’t say the right thing and admit that it was.
I know the Wenger is going to get grief from the press for the spat with Dalglish on the touchline but in his defense it wasn’t Dalglish the boss was gesturing towards, the Liverpool boss approached Wenger. That said I can’t see why Wenger is moaning about the time, the eight minutes was a minimum and enough happened in that time for the ref to feel the play should go on longer. Had the penalties been reversed and we nabbed a late point rather than loose three the Frenchman would have applauded the officials for keeping the play going – but that’s football in a nutshell these days it seems.
Anyway, my main gripe is with Eboue. He is not an inexperienced player it was his 160th start for the club. He knew what was at stake, he knew how big those three points would have been, he knew that as our players walked back up field after Van Persie’s penalty that his captain Cesc Fabregas had urged the players to remain switched on to remain focused until the end, he knew that the slightest of touches on Dirk Kuyt could have resulted in Liverpool being granted the opportunity of a spot kick – he threw it away, he really did.
The blame cannot be laid at the referee for keeping the game going; you play until the final whistle, it’s simple.

I’m not sure where Emmanuel Eboue goes from here, at this moment in time as far away as bloody possible, but in terms of his time at Arsenal he must be done. I don’t go in for all of the ‘Cult of Eboue’ it’s all a bluff by Arsenal fans to A: Cover up the fact that we have a player with such a poor attitude, let alone technique & B: most of the cult members who spout this rubbish are those who booed him off during the 1-0 win over Wigan in 2008 and feel a little bad about it.

I’m not sure how close Sagna is to a return, and if it is not close enough to see him come in against Spurs on Wednesday night I’m not sure who else can cover at right back but Eboue cannot play, he isn’t switched on nearly enough. He hasn’t got the mental aptitude to compete at this level and he certainly is not a right back. He goes wandering forward often giving the ball away cheaply either with bad passing or indeed during one of those moments he thinks he is Lionel Messi and attempts to take every opposing player on, he leaves the space behind him empty and he leaves team mates exposed.
I guess in an attempt to spare Eboue total blame we can point to the fact that we should have given Liverpool a much tougher time of things during the previous one hundred minutes or so. I can’t dispute that. We looked slow at times and we certainly looked tired, but still you expect these players to have enough in the tank especially as they hadn’t played in a week.

Jack Wilshere, who was rightly named PFA Young Player of the year last night, looked out of sorts. He kept going until replaced, never lacking effort or desire but he couldn’t get into the game in the way we have become used to this season. Another sign that he deserves a rest over the summer.

Cesc was sloppy with the ball at times in my view, I know we can play outstanding football on our day but there have not been many of those days of late and I think at this stage of the season when you are in a real fight neat little lay offs and back heels have to take a back seat, more important to keep possesion and at times play a little more directly.

We are always accussed of trying to score the perfect goal but surely the players must know that at this stage the goal that wins you the game is the perfect goal. The goal that gets you three points is the perfect goal when you are ina title race.

We will no doubt see a lot in the press about our lack of leadership and how it costs us time and again but  there is plenty of experience in our first team squad. When Carragher & Carroll were receiving treatment Djourou could be seen given a bit of a pep talk, telling the players to lift their game.
For me the Swiss centre half has to be our player of the season, after a year out of the game with a serious injury he has played far more football than was expected and has done it exceptionally well. If we can keep him and Thomas Vermaelen fit next season I think they could be an exceptional centre back pairing, in the mould we so admire and require.
Maybe now next season is what we should be looking towards, but, and I know I’m being foolishly naive here, it is still not impossible that we can win this league.
Going down the Seven Sisters Road on Wednesday night to take on Spurs is not the ideal follow up to this game. They’ll have had a week to prepare for the game having not played over the weekend, they need the points for the race for fourth place and they’ll want to make sure they can do as much as possible to end our chase for the championship.
I’ll be praying to any god who will listen over the next few days, praying that Newcastle can beat United on Tuesday, praying that we can respond in the manner we’re so often told we are capable of. These prayers may well fall on deaf ears and prayer may be the last refuge of a desperate man but prayer is all I have at this moment.
Wenger said after the game –
“We will have to give everything until the last game of the season and see if it is our year or not”
That all sounds pretty hollow to be honest, if we have the ability to fight until the end of the season we should have the ability to fight until the last minute and longer of individual games, not give away penalties, not make foolish mix ups between defenders and goalkeeper allowing silly goals to be conceded, we obviously do not have that ability, at least not throughout the side.
This is the oddest unbeaten run of all time; a winning unbeaten run is something to shout about, this is far from that kind of form.
A friend of mine said after the game that the last sixty seconds of the game sums up our season, how right he was.
It isn’t quite over just yet, but in a few short days it really could be, so we need to be far far more switched on then Eboue was this afternoon.

In a small bit of good news not only was Jack named PFA Young Player but he, Samir Nasri ,who was runner up in the full catagory, and Bacary Sagna were named in the PFA Team of the Season last night. Lets hope we can get Sagna back in our side sooner rather than later.

Thanks for reading.

Up The Arsenal!

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