The slight delay in me getting my blog out this week has been purely due to my baby girl turning One last week and us hosting her Birthday party over the weekend. Organising and planning a first Birthday party is more tiring than a night out…who knew? In any case Happy Birthday to my little Gooner, Elle.
To the game. The pattern was clear before the game had even begun. We knew it was going to be a question of possession and patience. With the score 0-0 at half time this became even more important and not resorting to our previously brand of football frustration. As it turned patience paid dividends and we took the lead. The game was then ours to lose, simply because all we had to do was be better at football than Burnley to win. They are best when they have something to defend and play for, when they are chasing the game, which has been so often away from home this season, they just don’t know what to do. Staying in the game as long as possible and then potentially nicking something is their way. Even when Man City went down to 10 men at home to Burnley, they didn’t quite know how to approach the situation and ended up conceding before making anything happen. A similar pattern was unfolding and then we went ahead and made the game interesting to every blood thirsty media mogul and neutral fan out there. Granit Xhaka, who seems to have earned the reputation of the hard man and tough tackling midfielder without actually doing any of those things (yet), misplaced a pass and then his prideful annoyance at the situation led to a terrible challenge. A red card, no question. It was similar to the red that Bournemouth’s Simon Francis received when taking out Aaron Ramsey. No complaints on the decision whatsoever. He really isn’t doing himself any favours with his decision making and it has cost us points already, and could well prove to cost us more in the future. The push on Fraser v Bournemouth comes to mind, the penalty v Stoke (harsh but again not smart decision making). I understand that the Swansea one was a complete shambles of a decision, however he hasn’t helped himself. This was once again poor from him in a situation where he really didn’t have to make the tackle.
The refereeing is the next point to discuss. On the whole John Moss didn’t have an atrocious game but it’s the inconsistency that rankles with me. The first (and not so great decision) was to not award Mustafi a penalty when he was so clearly tripped in the box. Mustafi later got booked for dissent towatd the linesman, however Moss was happy to allow Barnes to scream in his own face at the award of a penalty to Arsenal. No consistency. Barnes also carried on to elbow Arsenal players on two separate occasions and go unchecked. No consistency. Burnley were then awarded a penalty in the dying embers of the game (rightfully so) for a challenge that mirrored the one on Mustafi. No consistency. They scored and Wenger was then sent off for pure frustration more than anything else and then professed to push away Anthony Taylor’s arm. He’ll be in trouble for that without doubt (he’s been charged already) however I’d see a hefty fine and a brief touchline ban incoming. The talk of a 10 game ban is ludicrous and it’s no surprise to see the media hypercritically jump all over an incident because that’s all that gets clicks nowadays. Myself I was in the car on the way home from my little ones Birthday party and I had left the venue in the know that the score was 1-0. I had the sat nav on through my phone whilst heading home and when glancing at it I saw the following message: “Ah Shit. Penalty to Burnley”. Balls, I thought. They scored obviously and the whatsapp messages of anger and annoyance followed. I was still feeling pretty serene because of the day I’d had but the messages began to hit home a little. The title challenge was well and truly over at this point. There was no way that a 10 point margin was attainable in my opinion. I was resigned to hoping against all hope for a Champions League miracle. A few minutes passed and I saw the following message pop up: “ALEXIS SANCHEZ”. Those two words filled me with hope once more. Having got home and heard the story of what had happened from my cousins completed the perfect day.
Having seen the action back Koscielny was definitely offside but also definitely fouled, kicked in the face actually, so I was a little surprised to see Mee stay on the pitch. I didn’t particularly care, however it just capped of the inconsistency of the officiating. Alexis thankfully scored (quite brilliantly) and kept us just about in the title race. With all the other title challengers dropping points it turned out to be a pretty good weekend for us. I was hoping that City beat Sp*rs, simply because of the way each of the two play football. I’m a purist see and can’t stand teams who tactically foul teams into submission. Hopefully whoever does end up winning the league doesn’t do it the Leicester way (nothing against Leicester as with their resources their style is acceptable).
Lastly I’d like to touch on the Granit Xhaka controversy at Heathrow airport. He’s been accused of racially abusing a worker by calling her a “white Bi*ch” in Terminal 5. Now he’s denied it and an investigation is on going, however I’d like to make my stance on this completely clear. If proved guilty then he should have the book thrown at him. People like John Terry and Luis Suarez have no place in the game in my eyes. They shouldn’t allow racist people to be role models to millions. Now I know that people suggest that certain cultures are different and things are acceptable in one vs others, but I don’t buy that for one second. Prejudice by separation through ones ethnicity, which is what is alleged here, is unacceptable and has no place in our beautiful game. I said a fair while ago that I would have hated having Suarez at our traditionally wonderful club and if Xhaka is proved guilty (I pray that he isn’t and it’s a case of hyperbole from the accuser) then I’ll be nothing but indifferent to his presence in our team and at our club. People will beg the question that “what if he scores the winner in the Champions League final for you” etc etc, however that is something that will obviously be celebrated wildly on my part for the club but I don’t think I could bring myself to forgive the racist behaviour through a temporary material gain. Like I said, I do hope that he isn’t proven guilty in the same way that Terry and Suarez were.
Have a wonderful week folks.
Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1.