'In Defeat, Defiance'
'... on days like today I love this club more and feel lucky I picked the right team, the other fans will never know what they`re missing.'
Well said, sirs. I'm probably the first person to juxtapose quotes from Winston Churchill and our very own Professor Calculus. These gentlemen's words sum up my sentiment in such a way that compels me to write my first piece on Vital Arsenal in three months. (Apologies for my decreased activity here as I moved to a new job in a new city two months ago and am still settling in while travelling quite a bit for work.)
Much has been said about the way we lost the game at Old Traffod or, I'd rather say, the way the result went against us in a game that we should have won by performance (personal opinion). I'll hop over to LD's piece in a bit, but I'm sure he has given a clear, good account of the colourful events and his views already.
I thought it must have been just me as a Gooner when I felt the world was so unfair at the end of the game. It was a good call to spot Robin van Persie's offside goal which would have been the much needed - and deserved - equaliser had Gallas been onside. But I felt so hard done by that I truly sympathised with Arsene Wenger when he closed his eyes in disappointment, just one second after he had celebrated the goal that wasn't.
The (yet another) ludicrous decision to send Arsene Wenger off with seconds to go was a classic rubbing of salt into the collective wound of all Gooners last night. I had nobody else to speak to so I asked the resident United fan, i.e. my dad, in desperation, 'He didn't do anything did he? Or did he say anything wrong to the official?' Even my dad was shaking his head when he answered, 'The ref's awful.' Then today I've just realised that all Wenger did was that he kicked a water bottle in rage. Big eff-ing deal.
After the fourth official Lee Probert called over referee Mike Dean, Wenger was told to go into the stands and he did. With nowhere to go, he stood among some abusive-looking home supporters in defiance. With the sort of abuse that other fans often throw at Wenger on our away trips, you can imagine the sort of treatment he got when he had been sent off like that. Especially when we're talking about a hypocritical bunch who had fun booing Eduardo for diving after celebrating a penalty won and scored by England's Hope by, er, 'deceiving the ref' (personal opinion too). The ridiculous situation ended with Mike Dean blowing the final whistle just seconds after the Arsenal manager stepped up to a platform in the stands and looked down on the officials in defiance.
It has emerged in the news today that after speaking to Keith Hackett, the head of the Premier League referees body, the League Managers Association chief executive Richard Bevan made some scathing comments about the way the situation was handled at Old Trafford:
'Although correct in "law", it was completely out of context in the game and it was followed by the nonsense over where Arsene Wenger should sit.
'I've spoken to Keith Hackett and he fully recognises the situation was an error and an apology will follow to Arsene Wenger.
'Lee Probert totally failed to manage the situation and created a needless pressure point taking the focus from what was happening on the pitch.'
In typical Wengerian defiance, the boss offered a dignified response to the situation, even with a bit of bonus humour that Churchill himself would have been proud of, I think:
'I kicked the bottle of water when the goal was cancelled from disappointment and the fourth official called the referee and sent me off. Frankly, I don't know what to say. Thirty seconds to go. It was really spectacular. I didn't even know where to go. He told me to go into the stands, but there was no way to get into the stands. Just because I kicked a bottle of water, I didn't say a word to anybody. And it was quite a good kick.'
As our fellow Gooner Professor Calculus said, this is one of those times where you know better why you love this club.
PS: You can also read a neutral Liverpool fan's view on this by clicking here.
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