Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Sunday February 11 2007
I have read Mr. Mustchin's post match rant and I have to concur on one point, it's been a long time since I've come away from an exciting victory feeling so apoplectic with disquiet. Having read the thread I can only thank my lucky stars I was not subjected to sky's coverage of the match. I cannot really comment on that, beyond the fact that sky is owned by hardline right winger and owner of the fox network (ridiculed for its nauseatingly pro Republican agenda) and a side like Arsenal, whose fanbase and playing staff is the paradigm of multi culturalism. Well, we are hardly going to be numero uno for that particular broadcasting network. All I will say is be thankful they do not cover the Genral Election if you know what I mean!
The reason for my disgruntlement lies with the fact I feel I have been ripped off. My season ticket costs me a lot of money, had I been making an individual match buy my seat would have cost £66 today. That's around about a pound per every minute of Chris Kirkland's time wasting. We all know all clubs do it, but there has to be some limitation, Kirkland was openly mocking the referee and the crowd. Time wasting violates the rules of the game, therefore it is cheating. I am sick of referees not punishing this crime appropriately as goalkeepers waste minutes at a time placing the ball and drinking from their water bottle. Dowd did not once stop his watch or even make a pretension towards rectifying this clock eating which turned into farce.
In fact, Adolf Dowd's ineptitudes were so numerous, they could have been catalogued. The disgusting decision to book Toure for the most miserly of fouls following several worse challenges from Wigan players. The failure to book Baines for an identical challenge. The next sentence will qualify the sort of performance Dowd turned in, Jens Lehmann was cautioned for time wasting, Chris Kirkland was not. Of course Jens' piss taking was incredibly funny, maybe he pushed the envelope a little far when he trotted to the other side of the six yard box. However, if Dowd would have been doing his job as opposed to orchestrating an act of sporting masturbation, Kirkland would have been booked and there would have been no need for this recourse. In fact, if Kirkland had not have been so flagrantly cheating in the first place, there would have been no incident to mock. This is where I slightly disagree with Paul with regards to Henry's celebration. Again, if Kirkland is booked and punished for his folly, Henry would have no need to make the point. Kirkland was cheating and therefore deserved no sort of courtesy. It is also crucial that we do not dilute the passion in the game, nobody got hurt, a point was made, albeit vociferously, it was over in seconds. For the same reason I did not bemoan the Wigan players castigating Clichy for what was quite a blatant dive which blighted a wonderful run and another sterling performance.
Similarly, Henry should have been booked in the first half as he lost control of the ball and decided to throw himself to the ground. This is creeping into Thierry's game with alarming alacrity, as is his laziness which was as glaring today as Dowd's rank stupidity. Time and again Henry was caught flat footed and did not chase down any pass played in front of him. He's playing like a penguin at the moment, never on his toes and this points to a mental entrapy which is becoming destructive to his game. In my experience, the second players become idle, Wenger ships them out. Petit, Overmars, Vieira all turned in a very laboured last season in a Gunners shirt before they were sold. Thierry must leave his ego at home.
I believe Wigan could have had a penalty, Flamini did have his hands on Heskey, and strictly to the rules it is a penalty. But the contact was minimal and Heskey is a serial diver. People may ask why he would dive in front of goal, having seen his finishing today, I would say the reason is pretty clear. This will be no consolation to Wigan, but from our point of view we were penalised for an identical incident at Boro last week, so we've got one and not got another. You win some, you lose some. Having seen the replay in the concourse after the game, Flamini was marginally offside for the equaliser, but he was as far offside as Adebayor was onside minutes earlier when he incorrectly had a goal chalked off for offside. Wigan have absolutele every reason to feel aggrieved that Josip Skoko was not allowed back onto the pitch following treatment in the build up to our late winner. There appeared to be no logical reason for this beyond the fact that Phil Dowd has a huge sack of excrament where his brain should be. I took a strong disliking to Dowd earlier this season, on two occasions, once with van der Meyde versus Liverpool and once with Diouf, having produced a red card he attempted to physically lead the player off the pitch, dragging them towards the tunnel by their arm. This smacks of a bullied little schoolboy lost in his own meglomaniacal authority fantasy.
As for the game itself, I feel aggrieved that we made this so difficult for ourselves. Wigan began the game with a high line and with the collective pace of Walcott and Henry we threatened to bury them. Henry inexplicably firing over with a casual blaze. But complacency took hold as the Latics took a shock lead, a magnificent long range drive from Denny Landzaat. Arsenal looked lost thereafter, either hitting aimless long balls, or looking on as Henry once again was not concentrating on the through ball. Frustration increased as we failed to really test Kirkland, and our bluster was rarely accompanied with any sense of pinache or composure. Emile Heskey went through on goal, only for Jens to faintly tip his shot onto the inside of the post. I really did not get the feeling that we were going to stage yet another fightback. Oh ye of little faith, for once Arsenal put together a well constructed move, Adebayor playing in Flamini dpwn the right, his low cross was put through his own net by Fitz Hall. (Whose afternoon really had the seal put on it when he injured himself with a sickening hack on Clichy).
The Gunners grabbed a winner with five minutes to go. Rosicky was found by Clichy, the ball was nudged over to Baptista and he whizzed a cross in that was gleefully headed home by Rosicky from close range. The replay was amusing, the pace on the cross nearly took Tommy Gun's head clean off. Dowd then contrived to blow the final whistle with Arsenal through on goal. The loss of that one goal could cost Arsenal millions, similarly being denied a penalty could cost Wigan their Premiership status. Phil Dowd has a lot of explaining to do, anturally, the F.A will protect him and punish Paul Jewell for having the gall to get upset about it. Dowd be not proud. LD.
Date:Sunday February 11 2007
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