Date:Thursday August 27 2009
'Rooney, cuts inside, Campbell stood off him for just a second, Campbell sticks a leg out, Rooney goes down, penalty!'
Van Horselrooy steps up . . . and well, the rest is history, the greatest unbeaten run in the history of English football comes to an end at the hands of Manchester United. Why? Quite simply my friends, a dive. The darling of Hansen and Lawrenson, everybody's favourite ogre, does a Greg Louganis (for the record: 'cheats') and we all end up feeling sick as parrots for several . . . aww heck, for the rest of eternity if we are all being honest.
Last night a player I have the utmost admiration for (a player whose career hung by a thread following the most horrific of injuries, but who gritted his teeth and fought back to regain his fitness with over a year's hard work) cheated. Let's not dress it up or explain it away. He cheated. He knew that his touch had been marginally, but crucially too heavy and that a goal scoring opportunity had been lost, so he made it look like the goalkeeper had taken the legs from under him. This fooled the referee, who awarded a penalty, from which the offending player duly profited. Thankfully, we went on to score two further perfectly legitimate (and well tasty) goals, added to that the fact that we had a handsome advantage from the first leg, so I don't think the (fabulous) Celtic fans would have been on their bus home last night thinking 'we was robbed' - they weren't. As a very gracious Tony Mowbray said after both legs of the tie, Arsenal were simply too good for them. We out-passed them, out-ran them, in short, we out-classed them. So there is no point in a bunch of grimey hacks trying to make a case for how 'it all might have been so different', no, the harsh reality for Celtic was that we had way too much for them. The introduction of Arshavin best exemplified the gulf in class between the sides, he was on another planet to them and that is not to say that the players who were on before him were not equally spectacular, with Eboue once again producing the goods to further shame those who booed him last season.
Bearing all of that in mind, it still does not mask the fact that one of our players took a dive last night and that eats away at me like a cancer. We are Arsenal, we hold ourselves up to a higher ethical standard. We conduct ourselves with propriety and are universally known throughout the football world as a classy outfit. Arsene Wenger needs to come out and censure Eduardo because it is the right thing to do. We cannot carp and moan about Rooney if we do not equally recognise our own short comings. I know it is never easy or popular to criticise our own. As I mentioned earlier, Eboue was harshly treated last year by his own 'supporters', and for what? Being temporarily shit? At least he put in an honest day's shift and came back for more. What Eduardo did last night was dishonest and where I certainly do not think we should hang him out to dry, his error of judgement should be noted. He should be fined by the club and that should be the end of it. Wenger came out and said afterwards 'maybe he was trying to avoid injury' - does anyone really believe that? Seriously? The dogs in the street (and down the Lane) know that he took a dive and in the long run it only hurts us if we don't acknowledge it. It takes the sheen off our tremendous victory somewhat and gives our enemies ammunition (that they don't deserve to be given) to hurl at us. We are Arsenal, purveyors of total football, we don't need to cheat to get to the promised land, coz we already have the necessary anyway.
What say you my fellow gooners? Should we simply draw a veil over it like every other time it happens or should we at last make a stand against the type of behaviour that so infuriates us when we are on the receiving end?
Date:Thursday August 27 2009
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