EPL 2006: Day 10 (Arsenal 1 – Manchester City 0)

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
October 22nd, 2005 • 10:22 pm

Good Lord. What a painful game to watch. The Gunners were utterly ineffectual. The referee had a horrible game, and that includes the penalty kick decisions, although I thought the second one looked more convincing.

And what a penalty kick it was. Robert Pires had taken the first one so beautifully. It was obvious to me that Thierry Henry should have taken the second one. Instead, they tried this really, really stupid thing. And they screwed it up. Big time. The Guardian call it “Le cock-up” and they are generous. It’s the kind of thing you only try when you are 5-0 up and in demonstration mode.

Based on what transpired after the game, it was Thierry Henry’s idea. Well, after his mid-week exploits in the Champions’ League and the new club scoring record, I am sure he disappointed a lot of people today. It was unnecessary. It was idiotic. It was arrogant. It was everything that Thierry doesn’t need to be, and obviously can still be on occasion. It was, in a word, embarrassing. (And on top of this he has the gall to claim that, from now on, he’ll be taking the penalties. If memory serves me right, he has never been such a good penalty taker. And if it was his idea, then there’s no point in blaming Pires for anything. Pires could have refused to participate in this, but Thierry is the captain now, so he makes decisions. He has to do so in a responsible fashion.)

You might argue that one of the great aspects of this Arsenal side is that they do try to entertain us. And, in a way, this was part of an approach that emphasizes the playfulness of the game, which is intrinsically a good approach. But surely the benefits of such an approach have to be weighed against the obvious dangers. The Gunners were only 1-0 up, and had been far from impressive. Manchester City could easily have got an equalizer, and in fact they did later on, although they were denied by a debatable off-side decision.

The only good news in all this, of course, is that our league position is starting to look a bit better, as we’re only three points behind second-placed Charlton Athletic. (Let’s not mention Chelsea’s run today.) But it’s hard to imagine a more disappointing way of achieving this. And let’s not forget that, amazingly, Wigan Athletic is still ahead of us—and so are our opponents for next week, Tottenham Hotspur, who did well at Old Trafford and who will surely be tough to beat at home at White Hart Lane.

I think that next week’s game will be a defining moment in our season. It’s a big derby game against eternal rivals. Either we can get our heads and our playing together, or we continue to screw up and then, surely, Tottenham will punish us.

One Response to “EPL 2006: Day 10 (Arsenal 1 – Manchester City 0)”

  1. vaag says:

    The Guardian’s description of Cruijff’s penalty, “instead of shooting directly at goal, one passes sideways for the other to score”, is not accurate as one can see on this video snippet:
    Cruijff playes the ball sideways to Olsen and then gets it back, which I think is an essential part of this penalty execution. Furthermore it is interesting to see how Cruijff misleads the keeper in the first place by repositioning the ball on the penalty spot, an essential part too.
    Now, this first part of course was very badly executed by Pires, and we will never know how they would have finished it, which really is a pitty. I don’t think this method in itself is “a stupid thing” or “arrogant”. There is nothing wrong with using the games rules to one’s advantage.
    During the eleven seasons Cruijff played for Ajax, he had never taken a penalty. But in his last season for Ajax, when he was 35 years old, he finally took this special one, which he had practised with Olsen for a couple weeks. 5 december 1982, Sankt Niklaus day in The Netherlands!
    Ever since this day in 1982 I wondered why nobody else tried this again. (I mean, once in a while you see the Panenka variant.) Now I know: it just takes a real genius like Cruijff to execute it well.

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