Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Murky waters

I'm not sure I even want to dip a single toe into this whole thing. If you so much as open a newspaper's (or rather, click on one) sporting section across the globe, you'll have seen all of the details, opinions (including these interesting comments from Scotland goalkeeper Craig Gordon. Hey, Craig, by the way, the tie was over. "They pay the games" and all, but it was over), facts, misstatements and over-reactions. I have some remarks, draped in what was, at the time, disgusted brevity, down below from last week (remember the Match Pricks motto, scroll, baby, scroll!).

Now, after Eduardo's dive and the "witch-hunt" as Arsene Wenger put it, he has indeed been - rather arbitrarily, mind - suspended for two games in the Champions League group stage. Am I angry about it? Yeah. I think it's unjust finger-pointing and I definitely have a major whine here in the treatment of Arsenal as a special case. Whatever that complex is, it's real. And the anger was only multiplied on Saturday against a Manchester United side that showed nothing in the face of an Arsenal team that looked like they'd be winners from the start (in spite of a rather toothless effort in the very final yards of the pitch).

First, Arshavin is torn down in the box with a clear chance on goal. The defender hadn't even considered the ball. He flew in with both feet in the space that Andrei owned. Ball or no ball, he took the space with a foul and it was in the box. It was a penalty. But it was at Old Trafford, wasn't it? No penalty. Didn't matter much as a clearly steamed Andrei Arshavin belted in a magnificent effort with zero run-up or planting to the ball (for the Americans out there, it was like Brett Favre throwing a zipper across the field on his opposite foot). 1-nil to the Arsenal at halftime.

Anyone who has seen United knows it would have been important to survive immediately after the half. Arsenal didn't. Rooney went down in the box in one of those penalties that just really grinds your gears, you know? What is the keeper, Manuel Almunia, supposed to do in that situation? He went for the ball on floor, Rooney was going down. It wasn't a dive, it may not have been a clear penalty. In my clearly skewered opinion, it was a 50/50 ball that both players had a right too. Rooney won the penalty and Almunia won a yellow card for the effort. 1-1. And you know what it reminded me of? Jens Lehman's sending off in the Champions League Final against Barcelona in Paris in 2006. Then, that was unjust. This week, it's still unjust. To top it off, a circus own goal from the always-improving Abu Diaby gave United their only other chance and a 2-1 lead. Arsenal responded well after the penalty, poorly after the own goal. But they still played football. They just didn't have the cut in the final 20 yards of the pitch to make the difference.

The final thing I was reminded of with the dives and penalties this week? Rooney's dive against the Arsenal to snap the 49 game unbeaten streak. Remember that? Hmmm, not much of a furor there, eh? Or what about every single time Cristiano Ronaldo stepped on the pitch? Or what about Didier Drogba, a man who has even claimed that, yes!, he dives all the time?

Can of worms and all that. The points have been covered. I'm just angry and I have a very sour taste in my mouth right now. Damn good thing I watched the match in the solitude of my living room as I had to scoot off to a wedding straight away. Not sure how I would've been in public. Anyway, here's Arsenal's response and I fully agree with them. I also appreciate the backing they are giving their player. We know he dived and made a meal of the confrontation but everything that has come after sure doesn't seem in line with the way the world has been cast.

Look, there's a laundry list of incidents that stir the bile and I'm fully aware that it's the same case for every team out there. But for now, Arsenal supporters will clearly feel aggrieved. (SIDEBAR: those drunk-driving commercials with the guys in cars filled with booze, olives, cranberry juice and beer ... whew, I don't know about you but the last thing they make me want to do is have a bevvy and drive even a single block.)

But then again, I said it myself last week, didn't it? What goes around comes around. Sometimes, in a win, you create your own luck. Sometimes, in a loss, you create your own bad luck. Jintaodenfreude. Just sucks when you're on the receiving end of it.


MulderBurns said...

Hear hear. I don't understand the level of attack thrown at Eduardo. Look, I can't stand diving. I never did it, and never would. Was disappointed at Eduardo, but Christ, diving is everywhere. And it's not as if he has some sort of history of doing it.

The Rooney penalty was ridiculous. Still seething about this game. Man Utd were completely impotent, totally non-threatening, and yet they get 3 points out of that game. Really stings.

And Arshavin was just levelled in the box, and nothing. That was a quintessential penalty. Man's lining up to take a shot and another man comes flying in and just takes his legs out. If that's not a penalty, then just do away with penalties.

This is brutal that the international break comes now, and everyone has to stew about this for an extra week. Want the Gunners to get back on the pitch and annihilate someone. And now we get to visit Ade and the City boys. Fun times.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that you can tell he'd never done something like that before. Because he did it so badly!