There is no doubt whatsoever that Arsenal’s chances in the home leg against Bayern Munich were destroyed by the referee. Whether he was right or wrong to send off Wojciech Szczesny, when Robben seemed to have tipped the ball quite far away from goal, is not the dicussion here. The fact is that it ruined the rest of the game for the neutrals and completely turned the tide against the Gunners.
We are still all in shock after Arsenal’s defeat to Stoke yesterday, and Arsene Wenger thinks that his strike force was ineffectual, but the defeat was simply down to a bad decision by the referee who awarded Stoke a penalty.
Wenger said on Arsenal.com: “I felt we had a good defensive performance and overall we are unlucky to lose this game. Offensively we didn’t create enough and our offensive game was poor considering our standards. At the end of the day we didn’t score because of that. We conceded a goal that was a nice gift from the referee but it can happen.
Let’s not kid ourselves Arsenal fans, Bayern Munich are strong favourites to retain their Champions League crown this season for good reason. They may be without Franck Ribery, Shaqiri and Badstuber but they have an awesome array of talent and the Gunners, as Per Mertesacker declared, will need to perform brilliantly and for things to go our way if Arsenal are to make the quarter-finals.
A good performance and result at the Emirates tonight will go a long way to achieving that and there are three key elements that I feel could swing the game in our favour. Firstly, the referee. I am not going on about bias or English teams being picked on. My name is not Manuel. What I mean is the style of refereeing we get tonight.
Arsenal head to Aston Villa tonight needing a win to go back to the top of the Premier League. Chelsea rode their luck a bit in the first half against Hull and came out winners, then Manchester City survived a tough test away to Newcastle, so Arsenal are back in third and have to win at Villa Park.
All Arsenal fans have got used to Arsene Wenger failing to see errors by his own team on the pitch, but blaming the referee when opponents get away with the slightest infringement, but after last nights game, it would seem that Wenger is correct in saying that Chelsea were helped by Mike Dean’s decisions.
Mikel’s tackle on Mikel Arteta would usually have been a straight red in any other game, but Dean seemed to make allowances for the weather and didn’t even book the Chelsea midfielder.
A lot of Arsenal fans will have some concern about tomorrow’s game against Manchester United, as traditionally there has been a feeling that the Old Trafford factor or the influence of Alex Ferguson has caused referees to be somewhat generous to the home side.
The man in charge tomorrow will be Michael Oliver, and I think it could be a good choice. He is 28-years old and this will be his first time in charge of the fixture. He has not been refereeing long enough to have been influenced much by Fergie, as if that would happen anyway, cough, cough.
There is little doubt that Arsenal should have won the game against Everton at the Emirates last night, but it seems to me that a lot of fans are taking it too hard. Yes, it was a great chance for the Gunners to fire themselves into a commanding position in the Premier League, but we are still in with a very good chance.
Arsene Wenger believes that Arsenal should have taken their chances and also won all three points in last night’s match against Everton, and he thinks that David Moyes’ men were overly ïntimidating” at times. Wenger was asked what his thoughts were after the match: “My first answer is that we should have won the game.” he replied.
“The second, it keeps us still in a strong position in the race for the top four. Basically, the game was very intense physically. I felt that in the first half the referee didn’t deal at all well with the intimidating physical challenges, but that we responded well to the physicality. We had fantastic commitment. It was detrimental a little to the fluency of our game, but we kept going and had good concentration.
Arsene Wenger watched his Arsenal side lose points to a direct rival at the top of the Premiership for the second week in a row, mostly due to another totally inept first half of the game.
Yet again the Gunners rallied in the second half but the damage had already been done and they had little chance to reverse the deficit. Wenger tried to galvanise the team during the break, and bemoaned the bad startsaid after the game: “Tactically we changed some things.” he said.
I know that Arsenal should have done a lot better after going down to 10 men against Manchester City today, but the players were furious and it is hard to calm down sometimes when you feel you have been cheated. It is not the first time that the Gunners have been on the wrong side of some dubious decisions at the hands of the same referee, and I wonder if he has it in for Arsenal for some reason.
The West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Clarke thinks that his team played well enough to earn a point at the Emirates yesterday, but they were denied any chance of taking something from the game thanks to some dodgy refereeing decisions from Mike Jones (and few Arsenal fans would disagree with him!)
Steve Clarke said: “There was zero contact, it wasn’t even close.
“There was clear daylight between Reid and Cazorla.”
“I’m not sure what the ref saw. It was a bad decision and changed the shape of the afternoon.
“It could’ve been a nervous afternoon for Arsenal, at 0-0 they hadn’t created much.”
David Moyes saw his Everton team fight back bravely after going 1-0 behind in the first minute of last night’s game, and he thinks that Everton deserved all three points and would have got them if the ref hadn’t have been so lenient on Arsenal.
After Walcott’s brilliant opening goal, Everton made a concerted assault on the Arsenal goal, and Szczesny had to pull off some excellent saves before and after Fellaini’s deserved equaliser, but perhaps the most telling moment was when Arteta pulled down Steven Pienaar in the second half.