Were Eboue Not Sent Off, Arsenal Would Have Thrashed United…

Now that I’ve gone and got your attention with a malicious over-exaggeration of a bad lie, it’s time to deconstruct the requiem to a pretty awful performance. But before we jump on many blogs’ bandwagons of “Give the fans their money back”, I point you to a little moment in time when a certain Thierry Henry dropped to the floor in agonising pain, his sciatica kicking in heavily just minutes after being brought on against PSV Eindhoven…

The season was of course, 2006/07, and Arsenal had just been dumped out of the Champions League by an average Eindhoven outfit destined to be swatted by Liverpool later on in the Quarter-final stages. Having not progressed to this stage themselves, Arsenal ‘fans’ decided to boo the team off the pitch, chanting at Thierry Henry ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’, in a season that (apart from the opening of the new stadium) was generally a write-off.

-{…no one could have seen a damaging scoreline like 4-0 in a fixture that is usually too close to call.}-

Arsenal ‘fans’ have a history of jumping on scape-goats, including the likes of Alexandr Hleb, Alexander Song, and of all people, Arsene Wenger. And this time is no different, with fans (with good reason) outraged at an insipid performance by Arsenal against the old rival, Manchester United, losing 4-0 at Old Trafford to be dumped out of the FA Cup.

I could go into detail about the events of the match, but there is no point, given there are so many match reports out there that will give you a reasonable clue as to how dire affairs were out there.

There have been a number of consenus’ regarding the Gunners’ performance last night. They range across:

  • Even with the injuries we have, that team was capable of actually competing with Manchester United.
  • Without the injuries, a win would have been more than possible.
  • Eboue is a wanted man who should be shot on sight.
  • Every player embarrassed themselves out there, apart from (arguably) Jens Lehmann.
  • Traore and Hoyte are “not good enough for Arsenal”, and should be shot on sight.
  • Gallas and Toure had a stinker, and Arsene Wenger is clueless and all need to be shot on sight.

With regards to the first two, while I expected us realistically to lose this one (and really did not mind us losing), no one could have seen a damaging scoreline like 4-0 in a fixture that is usually too close to call. There is more to this point that I want to get to later – while it is dangerous to overelaborate on a shambolic performance at this stage of the season, there is so much that still needs addressing.

-{I would definitely prefer Senderos to deputise alongside him while Toure gets his head together, especially against AC Milan.}-

Let’s get the Gallas, Toure and Wenger bit out of the way. With the way they played in the first half, I really, honestly felt that Wenger’s gameplan was simply to ‘not get injured’, such was the low priority of the FA Cup. I find it hilarious that all the pundits are going on about how ‘Manchester United just love this cup’ after they completely forfeited their place for the poxy World Club Championship (which, be honest, means nothing), but whether Man Utd really want the added cup fixture list to the defence of their title is debatable.

Gallas and Toure had large parts to play in ‘that’ performance, if it can even be called that. Toure has now shipped 8 goals in his last two games (against Ghana, and now Manchester United – add whatever it was against Egypt and it’s might be 12 in 3), and looked quite bemused on the pitch last night. Gallas got too fired up, lashed out at a Man Utd player that could see him suspended upon video evidence, and missed countless tackles in an offside trap that did not work with Rooney’s pace. While Gallas can hopefully write this performance off, I would definitely prefer Senderos to deputise alongside him while Toure gets his head together, especially against AC Milan.

As for Wenger, whoever is bringing up the ‘Wenger Out’ slogans can pack their bag for somewhere very compact, low on oxygen and high on gas-heat and kitchen grease. I’m sure LG and Samsung can work something out.

To the rest of the players, and there was no-one who can claim to have washed their hands clean of that trainsmash. Hoyte and Traore were notable strugglers – at times Traore looked more like a track-specialist than a football player, and one decent cross out of seven horrible ones is not good enough. Some reckon his future lies on the wing and not at wing-back, but he has a huge amount of work to justify any of the hype surrounding most of the crop his age.

-{While Fabregas has been up and down in the form metre of late, it still does not leave him free of criticism…}-

As for Justin Hoyte, he did all the backtracking the right way when Nani attacked, but forgot the basic defender’s instinct, and that’s to commit yourself to blocks and tackles. What good is slithering back in front of a winger if you are just going to constantly allow him to get in crosses (or nutmeg you for the fun of it) every time. Some might argue that he needs more of a run in the side, but I point to last season where he got a very decent run, and reached the echelons of ‘decent player’, which is still not good enough for Arsenal’s needs. On last night’s performance, he did not even do that billing justice. It might be safe to say his time has passed.

While Fabregas has been up and down in the form metre of late, it still does not leave him free of criticism, as he found himself crowded out and made anonymous by Anderson and Fletcher – two names I will never have time for as players, so frankly Fabregas should feel very badly about his contribution. Hleb did okay in parts and average in others, Gilberto Silva was to central midfielders what Justin Hoyte was to right-backs last night, and while Eduardo looked dangerous on his one or two dribbles towards the Manchester defence, he and Bendtner got very little service to speak of from an outplayed midfield.

And then there is Eboue.

The red card was needless. It puts too much strain on a very heavy injury list, and if you are going to injure a fellow player (which I would never advocate, unless it was Roy Keane or Ivan Campo), do it with a bit more gumption than a pathetic little stud into the thigh.

Yes, he has been an embarrassing player many times to Arsenal’s cause, but people’s ire being directed towards him (our scapegoat of the moment) miss the point that we were already 3-0 down in a needless fixture when he got sent off.

Without Eboue, who would have played on the right wing? Randall? Barazite? Our injury situation called for his being there, and the team did not show up tonight, and then some. Eboue is part of that team. Not -the- team, so save your ire for a good Gulag-style socialist redistribution around the whole of the team.

Which of course, brings me back to the ‘we want our money back’ brigade. For those that traveled, wanting an Arsenal win in the FA Cup, you were more than likely hoping for too much. With our injury situation, with our priorities lying elsewhere, with our own manager once berrating his own player for going to full on into a challenge against Porto in that 0-0 draw…what were you expecting?

-{Supporting a football team involves moments like these where the team does not show up…}-

Of course, you were expecting a better performance than that. So was I. But in the end, a 1-0 loss in the cup is the same as a 3-2 loss in the cup, which, despite what intuition might say, is the same as a 4-0 loss in the cup.

Yes, it is gut-wrenching to watch, but that is what is part of supporting a side. If you want to watch robots nutmeg another robot, or see sterling miracle fightbacks in every match, stick to youtube, or support Chelsea if you’re so obsessed with cash. Supporting a football team involves moments like these where the team does not show up, where for whatever reason there heart does not seem to be in it (the pre-match gumph suggested otherwise), or things just don’t click on the day. Every team gets belted by their rivals every now and again (ask Spurs), and every team has their rivals win the title in their own back yard too (ask Spurs again, and maybe Man Utd too).

You take the good with the bad. The only pity is that this had to happen against Manchester United. If this were against Birmingham, Bolton or Blackburn (but not Barnsley…), this might have gone down a bit different with the fans. There are many fanatical supporters out there who travel the length of the country to follow whatever side they follow, and while they may not pay as much as Londoners have to, they also have to put up with more dreary results than the Londoners have to. It’s football – this is how it works.

To wrap things up, it is important to simply write this result off. However much it might sting a delicate ego (or a wallet), this result must be written off and focus must be put solely on AC Milan and Birmingham. The FA Cup has not been a priority for a while, now, and while we want to win a trophy this season, the most likely one we will win is, thankfully, the biggest of the lot. That’s the Premier League. The one that counts.

It hurts that it had to be 4-0. It hurts that it had to be Manchester United. Yes, Eboue just plain hurts. But life goes on.

And if life is our Premier League bid, then life is still going on, ebbing and flowing, unabated.

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21 Comments

Filed under Arsenal, Blogging, English Premier League, FA Cup

21 responses to “Were Eboue Not Sent Off, Arsenal Would Have Thrashed United…

  1. I agree entirely. Do these people really want to blow winning the league. Spoilt kids throwing toys out of pram.

  2. Dave

    Probably the best response to yesterday’s game that I’ve read on the internet. Spot on!

  3. Jim Brown

    This defeat was painful and hard to accept.It was similar to the 6-1 beating in 2001.AW has to make sure the two full backs never play together again.The Mu players weregiven so much time and space even my grand father could nick a goal or two.
    Seriousl AW needs to beat AC and BC and then things will be back to normal.
    I can expect more noises coming from Ot regarding the title chase. I expect Arsenal to win the title at OT and silence those braggarts who have been spending obscene amounts to win the titles so much so one saf thinks it is his trademark.

  4. BKK

    Well said, couldn’t agree more. The biggest prize is without a doubt the League, and the Champions League at a close second (simply because we deserve one by now, not because its any particular measure of being the best in Europe). Onwards now. Bring on Milan. We should take that chance to make a statement, and finally solidify our position as a legitimate footballing threat. I’m getting tired of reading about the team getting written off, over and over again. Hopefully Milan will shut some people up, including the ‘fans’ that you mentioned.

  5. AusGunner

    Good blog, there’s really not a lot to read into this match as disappointing as it was. The argument that Arsenal should refund the travelling fans who paid tickets is sanctimonious bullshit of the highest order. What fantasy land do these people live in? That’s not how things work and you know that going in to a football match where you know that anything can and does happen. It’s ridiculous and melodramatic.

    Still, the travelling fans were in fine voice last night, and they’re a great bunch, and I do feel sorry for them, but I hope they don’t come back thinking they have a diving right to be refunded or any nonsense like that. They were getting behind the team and the manager on the night, all night. You’d hope they weren’t just putting on a front for the United fans and they know that there are good things to come from this team.

    It stings a bit but I’m already hugely pumped for the game against AC Milan. I just can’t wait. That and Birmingham are the two major fixtures of the week.

  6. Rob

    Totally agree. This Eboue bashing will get us nowhere. AW will deal with him in his own way despite what he said in the media. We were completely shite on the night and the only hurt is that this season will probably be remembered by the two devastating loses inflicted on us by 2 of our most hated foes who will take years and maybe some similar reversal to stop talking about it.

  7. DFB

    ‘Fraid I disagree. I don’t believe a totally inept and spiritless 0-4 defeat is in anyway like a close, hard-fought 0-1. Also I don’t believe it’s so easy to simply write this result off. Whatever everyone says this will have demoralised the team. I truly hope the team make-up and performance were really due to injuries. I don’t believe that resting players is necessarily a good thing, playing well and winning games brings its own momentum – as does losing.

    p.s. It may have been 3-0 when Eboue was sent off but he certainly contributed to that score by being completely anonymous in the first half. He’s had a bad season with poor performances, fouls and diving. I’d like to see him sold.

  8. Dagnachew

    What a great piece of article is this!You have said it all bro!Well done!!!

  9. cdjones

    Is it demoralizing? Yes. Is it tough to accept? Of course. Losing without a fight to one of your greatest enemies is never fun. However, I think we might offically be on the tipping point of this season, in a good way if we want it to be. This loss doesn’t put us 5 points back, we are still 5 points ahead. It doesn’t mean we have lost to Milan, we still face them Wednesday at home. We put things right after the Carling Cup debacle, and we can put things right again. If Cesc, Flamini and Hleb all are fit and play against Milan? We win, with Adebayor to score (this man scares the shit out of ‘world-class’ backs). And as for the league, let’s see where we are come May. Probably somewhere good.

    PS However, Eboue pisses me off. Pretty sure it’s not just me. Would rather have had Diarra in the squad than him, and that’s saying something, because Diarra at least had an upside. I only see moaning and flopping in the future from Eboue.

  10. John Bull

    Aw shd take the blame for this bad defeat.he often likes to play players out of position. Of course there is both good and bad in that the player has an idea of how a similar player would react.
    IS Eboue a full back/midfield/winger?Pls play the player in the position he was bought for. What abt Walcott ?As a central striker he would be swallowed by the big central defenders.
    His reluctance to spend could be due to his economics background.Nothing is static in this world.The sooner he realizes he cannot keep on nurturing potential as opposed to buying established players could come to haunt him.
    I hope I am wrong but I beleive that only Arsenal can throw away the title.

  11. Anonymous

    no time for Anderson? ever? I think you will be forced to eat your words on that one in a year or two. Unless of course you think Ronaldo is crap too?

  12. Gary

    How people can defend Eboue on this site is beyond me? He is a poor right back and an even poorer right winger.

    Ausgunner, that is the sort of comment i’d expect to hear from someone who watched it from the comfort of their living room safe in the knowledge no one at there work gives a shit about football.

    I went to the game with my eyes wide open. I was aware we could possibly lose and i don’t mind paying to see us lose. Its the manner of which we lost that is leading people to ask for refunds. You probably can’t understand that though?

    ‘Of course, you were expecting a better performance than that. So was I. But in the end, a 1-0 loss in the cup is the same as a 3-2 loss in the cup, which, despite what intuition might say, is the same as a 4-0 loss in the cup.’

    The blog equivalent of saying its only a game. Missing the point again.

    I appreciate you are trying to make people feel better, but patronising people with the above wont help.

  13. Jammathon, the only post out there that is actually rational. This is all part of football.

    I actually agree with you in most of what you said.

    I will also add that a loss in the cup is a loss in the cup. A 1-0 loss is just like a 8-0 loss in the bigger picture.

    We have the FA Cup out of the way, and we need to focus on our remaining 12 games in the league. Even the Milan game isnt as important as any of our league games at the moment. We have to look at our squad, and be realistic about our chances and prioritize accordingly.

  14. hartmannvision

    As I’m a Man U fan I expect that most if not all of you will disagree with me, but that’s ok. First of all I would like to say that even though the FA Cup is the third priority (after the Premier League and Champions League – not necessary in that order)no team wanted to loose this game and worse to loose with big figures. I have in watch Arsenal play great football this year – over my expectations to be honest. However last night Man U really demolished Arsenal and it could easily have been two or three more goals (referring to both Rooney’s and Saha’s two great chanches each). But what I would really like to comment on is two things:

    1) Gallas should be suspended for the kick at Nani…how did the linesman miss that one??!! To be honest I was not surprised that it was he who did such a thing because I actually spoke to my friend – and Arsenal fan – about his character before the game. Eboue did a stupid thing but was in my eyes a bit unlucky too…however Gallas was just embarrising himself.

    2) I totally agree with “Anonymous” regarding Anderson. Even though I’m a United fan I can be honest a praise players like Adebayor (who has been amazing this season) and Fabregas. That’s why I can’t understand how Anderson gets neglected. As a Arsenal fan you have probably seen both games against United this season and Anderson – a 19 year old who makes his first PL season – has been fantastic in both…better than Fabregas. Sometimes you have to be a little humble…

  15. USgunner

    It was completely evident from the first touch of the football that Arsenal weren’t going to give it their all today. Yet I do agree they could have given it a little more, and avoid us fans the embarrassment that comes from such a heavy defeat.

    Two things became evident yesterday though:

    All that talk of not worrying about the FA cup and focusing on the two “important” competitions from bloggers this past week must have actually been was AW was thinking. I guess now, so be it, but I want to see trophies in the League for sure, and an extended run in the CL.

    The other thing is: Our Ivorian duo needs to get their heads back in the game. No way did I think the ANC would be so detrimental to Toure and Eboue. AW needs to have one of his famous talks with Kolo, as for Eboue the Club should consider letting him ply his trade at Juventus or Barcelona or wherever the hell he thinks he’s good enough to play. Besides I got the perfect replacement in mind: Samir Nasri–He’s french, he’s a young footballer with bags of skills, and he gets hurt about as much as RVP–He’d fit right into the squad.

    Hopefully this win is as Arsene says, “a one-off.”

    Let’s see victory over Milan midweek and I’ll believe him.

  16. the artist formerly known as Eboue's Hand

    We were just plain old shit. And we won’t dream of being so shit again this season. That might just have been the game that makes sure we win the league.

  17. jayboy

    our lose yesterday was due to terrible defending mostly from Hoyte and Traore, they were both involve in all goals score against us, it would have made a big deference if clichy and sagna would have played. and also i never thougth i would say this both for the millan game i prefer senderos over Toure cuz his level is too low rite now

  18. Behemoth

    Nice Post. Probably the best one Ive read on Saturday’s match.
    I agree It’s the worst Ive seen Arsenal play in a few years, It was extremely painful to watch as a fan. But it was the result of a number of factors like the huge injury list, focus on other competitions, Toure just returning from a tiring tournament and an injury, etc.

    But Im not trying to make excuses, the team didn’t show up, they displayed no commitment, no fight, and were frankly lucky to escape with just the four goals conceded thanks to some typical loose finishing from United!
    In these difficult times we should have faith in AW, he knows what he’s doing.

    So lets view this thing as a one-off, a blip, and lets show Manure what we are made of in April!

  19. Greetings from the Gambia. Your site is filled with interesting talking points and is very enjoyable.

    Its time Arsenal signed a Gambian player. Please see our open letter to Mr Wenger.
    http://gambiafootballsupermarket.blogspot.com/2008/01/open-letter-to-arsene-wenger.html

  20. TayGoon

    A team will be demoralized only if they put in an effort and still lost. We lost and we didn’t turn up. Plain and simple. We can get hammered by Derby if we don’t turn up. The players knows that and that is why this loss won’t demoralize them at all. Even for Man U, they know arsenal didn’t show up. That is why the win won’t be as sweet as they would have liked with a fighting Arsenal tonked 4-0. Not to front excuses and deny Man U of their deserved win on the night. Even the press who are Man U “groupies” didn’t dwell on it as they normally do. The team did what it had to do. Avoid injury at any cost. As a fan i never accept the kind of performance. As a former player and someone who had been involved with the technical/tactical aspects of the sport, i fully appreciate the position AW and our players found themselves in. We had Adebayor, Flamini, Clichy on “crutches” on the bench and Cesc himself was ill on Monday, Toure was a walking wounded from ACN plus the ones on bed rest with drips hanging by their bedsides. A 6-0 win to us with one or 2 more injuries would have killed our chances for anything this season. That is the FA cup itself, the EPL and the CL. I doubt if anyone here would have enjoyed that. It is Wenger’s masterstroke once again that may as well have saved our season.

  21. Emmanuel Eboue. The kid’s definitely lost his way. He must be feeling down with all the current criticism going his way. His current form is bad and his temperant antics on the field have not won him any favours. However, if he gets his head right and puts in the maximum application, he is still a hugely talented footballer. Yes, he lacks cunning and creativity. He is hardly an assistmeister but the current team have more than enough in Fab,Hleb,Rosicky. But, he can be a powerful marauding winger if we all remember his pre-season and early season form. Eboue is a powerful lad with pace and armed with a tricky and rather skilful jinkling style of dribbling and he can get past players. He did consistently power past a few decent fullbacks on a consistent basis in the Amsterdam tournament, esp against the Inter team. And we thought we finally had a messiah on the right wing did’nt we? He is never gonna make the sharp or incisive through pass with his “footballing brain”. But, he can still play to his strengths which other squad members lack. He was like a whirlwind, an “elemental force of nature” if I remembered the description correctly from you Myles. He just needs to produce it more often. I find that he needs to rediscover his confidence and sense of adventure in taking on defenders. He needs to have his head right. When tackled, get on with the gameplay fast and try harder next time around, instead of writhing on the ground feigning injury and getting sympathy marks from the referee. The kid just needs more bottle and stand up to be counted, and have the right attitude. He did put in a few good assists last season, where this season has gone horribly wrong for him. He could mixed it I remember, his crossing is average, like Glichy sometimes, but with his ability he can power off into byeline positions to cut back a pass or make runs from wide positions between defenders towards the edge of the box to square passes. He can be effective, and he needs to be for the crucial period of this season as long as Rosicky is always injured and Walcott is not ready.