Normally when I write a post I feel like I can give people some sort answer to a bad result, I like to think in some small way I can offer a little bit of solace or make things easier to stomach when things go wrong. Today though, I just feel totally drained as a Gooner. I feel like a little bit of me died yesterday. I honestly don't think I've ever felt a bigger anti climax... last night was like Nayim from the half way line, Bergkamp missing his penalty in 99 and Jens getting sent off in 2006 all rolled into one.
I took about a million pictures on the way in, the crowd were singing like I've never heard them sing, the flags made the ground look like a scene from some epic battle... it truly was one of the most electric atmospheres I've ever witnessed, felt or been a part of.
Arsenal FC, the management and the fans can be truly proud of what they achieved for the players yesterday. Like I've always said, fans always want to sing... you just have to create the right environment for it... which is the clubs responsibility.
The team sheet went up and it was the best team we could have put up... I truly believed something magical was about to happen...
Then my hopes were dashed... a slip of the foot, an 'in the right place at the right time' moment... and United were one up.
Maybe we'd win 3-1? Many had predicted that... it could happen right?
Ronaldo hits a freekick... Almunia slips... 2-0... inside 10 minutes.
Liverpool scored 3 against Milan... right?
Yeah they did... but lets be fair... Liverpool had a match winner in their team that night, ours was sitting in the stands.
Tonight, Arsenal were given a lesson in football... it was the equivalent of being bent over your fathers knee and getting spanked in front of the world. We had nothing... we could barely muster a shot for the most important game of the season... that my friends, is unacceptable. In fact, it's not unacceptable... it's a bit sad. I find it deeply disappointing that we don't have the quality to look threatening against our most feared rivals. All the potential in the world isn't going to change that.
My worry at the start of the game was where the moment of magic was going to come from. Cesc can create a match winning pass, he can't provide the match winning goal... outside him, we don't really have anything.
Theo isn't anywhere near the level expected... if you believe he is, I'm afraid you're a little too patriotic for your own good. Robin Van Persie is a bit of an enigma... I like him, but in a big games like last night he should be doing more. Adebayor... well... what can I say that hasn't already been said? He is a big and fast... lets leave it at that. He doesn't possess the quality to become world class... or make the difference consistently. Samir Nasri is young and finding his way... he isn't ready to make an impact.
Our fiddly football feels overly complicated. I know the Arsenal teams of old were accused of over elaboration, but at least there was a directness about it. We regularly peppered the oppositions goal... This current team seem to take half an hour to move up the other end of the pitch and regardless of the game, there seems to be a complete lack of urgency. We need pace, power and quality... we don't have that at the moment. We can talk about the potential of players till the cows come home... but we're now heading into year 5 of project youth and we have nothing to show for it. 5 years is half a normal footballers professional career... half a decade and we're still being asked to be patient... asked to see the bigger picture... shouldn't the bigger picture be the smaller picture by now?
Plenty of fans will be pleased with the two semi finals... pleased with the unbeaten run... and will run around telling everyone how spoilt Arsenal fans are. There will be a million and one excuses flying around the net... injuries, youth... bad luck... but when it comes down to it, Wenger selected his squad for the year fully aware that people are prone to injuries and he told us that if you are young enough, you are good enough. Now we know that we are not good enough... what happens? Can our players jump to United's level inside three months? Is anyone under the illusion that Liverpool, Chelsea and ManU will stand still this summer?
The simple fact is; once again, we've fallen short. Why? Because we're not good enough... we never go into a season with a squad strong enough and we waste too much time cultivating raw talent that buggers off when it matures.
I love seeing players like Gibbs break through... he's been immense since he's come in and I thought he played a blinder last week at Old Trafford... but tell me this... what good is tonight going to do him long term? 18 years old and he's just dropped a clanger in the first ten minutes in the most important game at the Emirates EVER... Then to top things off... he gets taken off? Talk about humiliate the guy... if that doesn't mentally scar him... I don't know what will.
I'm getting sick of being told about Wenger's genius every year... how every club will be copying him one day... why would they? Project youth has achieved nothing... and judging by tonight... it never will.
'Recently in the games that have mattered, like Chelsea and tonight, we couldn’t win. That of course needs thinking.'
Wenger knows... he's knows something has to change this summer because his system is failing.
Big clubs will continue to buy big players and will continue to win the biggest prizes...
Tonight was men against boys, you'll read that a lot today... when I was walking to the tube, weaving in and out of fans, that was the overriding summarisation by most. It was mostly said with a shrug of the shoulders and a meek acceptance of the truth. Tonight, it was all about quality... something I think we sadly lack when compared to the big three and the elite of Europe.
How thoroughly disappointing....
So, season over... prepare yourself fo the wave of spin that is about to hit you square in the chops. Life goes on, season tickets have to be sold and Arsenal only have a month to do it!
So... just incase you are unaware of what is about to happen, let me list the forthcoming events:
- Announcement of huge kitty available to Wenger... it's a recession, so expect a figure of around £60million to be touted to really impress.
- Re-emergence of Jack Wilshere. He'll get a few games in the run in... that'll get everyone excited about the future again.
- Announcement of intentions: Expect Wenger to tell you that no one is leaving and he is keen to add 2-3 'super' signings to the squad.
*All of the above statements are subject to terms and conditions. In the event that they are unfulfilled, please expect their to be maximum belief in the quality of the current squad come August 31st.
Roll on summer... make mine a Ribery and something solid at the back!
Almunia: His distribution was poor tonight and I felt he could have done more to keep out Ronaldo's free kick. I received a call to say he'd slipped and to be fair, I was standing with a perfect view of the goal and the ball did seem to dip about 7 feet. I'm not going to rewatch it to give myself a balanced view. He made a few good saves after, but the damage was already done. 6
Sagna: I thought he was pretty poor last night. He seemed to be getting a rough ride by both Ronaldo and Rooney who channelled a lot of their effort into taking him on. 4
Kolo: My star defender of the night. I thought he dominated aerial proceeding and he made some superb last ditch tackles. 7
JD: Not the best performance from the Swiss international. Struggled at times... but he was preferential to Silvestre. 5
Kieran Gibbs: Can't help but feel for the lad. He slipped for the first goal, it could happen to anyone. I thought he regained composure for the remainder of the half and I felt outraged that he was taken off at half time. The game was dead by then... he was playing ok, and the substitution only went on to highlight his mistake. I think something has to be said about the groundsman... Professional footballers have amazing balance, it's part of what defines them... if they are slipping over, does that not tell you that too much water has been put down? It's a weak excuse... but there is something in it. 5
Nasri: A positive out there tonight. He doesn't shoot enough and I sometimes feel he fails to deliver on his final ball, but out of the creative lot... he was the best. All three of our attacks centred around his drive last night. 6.5
Cesc: I called up the CSI team... apparently our captain was due to play last night, but failed to turn up under mysterious circumstances? Our very own European Champion went missing badly today. He should be driving the team on, motivating his men... leading by example. We didn't get any of that today. A very timid performance. 5
Song: I thought he played pretty well in the first half. He is much improved but at the moment, he doesn't have the skillset to drive us or control the midfield. 6
Walcott: Theo is just not my cup of tea. He did well against lowly Portsmouth at the weekend, but he couldn't raise his game for ManU. He excels at rarely getting a cross from out of his feet, running into people and the 5 yard back pass. Very poor for someone who wants £60k a week. 4
Adebayor: I can't fault his work rate. 5
RVP: Offered us a glimmers up front, but again... in the big games, he disappears along with the other players who could all be off to sunnier climbs this summer. 5.5
P.S. If you've sent pics and I haven't posted them up... I will do shortly! I've just been tied down at work... the bastards expect me to earn my money these days!