Sunday greetings. Dropping points at Upton Park was bad enough, but seeing Leicester and Tottenham both win comfortably today means it’s been a weekend to forget.
The irony that a new working week will now provide a timely distraction from football is pretty galling, but at the moment that’s the truth of the situation. So thanks Arsene, nice one Arsenal, good job Sunderland and cheers Manchester United – I’ve never looked forward to a nine-to-five more. I hope you’re proud of yourselves …
I suppose I ought to take a little look at the reaction from the West Ham game however, even if I’d rather do anything but. First up it’s Arsene Wenger, who gave his take on the game to Arsenal Player, saying:
We were [in control]. There are always a lot of positives. Overall, you can say it is not a bad result to draw here, but in the context of the league, where we are and what we want to achieve, it is a very bad result for us. I wanted to win the game. In the end we had the opportunities to score a fourth goal, but we were not calm enough. I think we rushed our game in the box and that is disappointing. One or two times on the counter-attack the pass didn’t come quickly enough out of the feet and that is why we missed.
A decent appraisal I suppose but about as comforting as a smack in the mouth. A few of our players also had their say on the match, with Laurent Koscielny bemoaning his side’s frailty in one-on-one duels and explaining how they should have defended the threat of Andy Carroll in hindsight. He said:
We are disappointed. When you are 2-0 up and they come back, it is difficult. We have played well in the game but lost some important duels. They played on the counter-attack to cross the ball to Carroll who is good in the air. We conceded the same amount of goals [as them] today and it is difficult to come away with one point when we wanted more. He is quality when it comes to heading the ball. If you want to win the duel, you need to be stronger and arrive early on the cross. You can’t let them get a cross in easy because they have some good players on the wings. It is a job for everyone, not just the defender.s The guys on the flanks need to help their team-mates with defending. We will fight (for the title). We are professional players and we want to win. They [Leicester] have some important games. We will fight to the end. Mathematically, it is not finished so we will try.
Mohamed Elneny also insisted the team would continue to give it their all in the hope that somehow, Leicester and Tottenham collapse in the last few games of the season. He said:
We will fight until the end, until the last game in the league, to achieve what we want. Let’s see the final outcome then. Today we wanted to snatch the win even though we were playing against a strong team. Maybe the final result is not this much in our favour, however we are doing our best in each game. We conceded two goals at a very hard time. We should have ended the first half 2-1 up but the equalising goal came at a very crucial moment. At the start of the second half we started organising our team to win the game and step up our performance, however we conceded a third goal so we tried and pushed to get an equaliser. We finally did that but we couldn’t snatch the win in the end. We are fighting for the league title, this is why we had to play in an offensive mode to win the game, but thanks God for the final result. The best is yet to come.
You have to admire the optimism of our Egyptian enforcer, even if it’s very, very unlikely to see it vindicated. Danny Welbeck was more sombre in his appraisal, saying all we can do now is focus on ourselves:
I said before the game that we wanted to win the game, so it is points dropped. With the circumstances, going two up and then a goal behind, to get the equaliser was good. It was disappointing [not to win]. Stuff happens in football that is hard to explain. It is just one of those things. We tried to. It was difficult and they were threatening on the break as well. It was a difficult game for us. We just need to focus on ourselves and play the game that we want to. There is no point in us looking at other teams because we can’t affect them.
No we can’t, sadly. I guess we should start looking over our shoulders at those just behind us in the league as much as we set are sights on overhauling Tottenham into second place, because even if we can still very feasibly finish ahead of our north London rivals, we also need to be wary of the two Manchester teams in the race to secure a top four finish.
As such, the one big positive from this weekend’s results then, must be that we now have a six point lead over fifth-placed United with just six games to go.
Have yourselves a wonderful, football-free Monday everyone.