Morning from a bright but cold Belfast. It’s a weekend away for the wife’s birthday and so yesterday’s lunchtime kick off and the fact we were out and about meant I didn’t actually get to watch the game in full yesterday, but I followed what was happening and saw a few of the key moments in the match that framed my thinking as to how it went down.
It’s a weird one though because even now, the next morning and having had time to process, I’m still not sure how I feel about the narrative of the result. I mean of course disappointment at yet another draw which takes us up to double figures for the season, but there were mitigating circumstances that have led to a part of me kind of being like “oh well, we move on” about it.
Like the sending off of Auba with a good half an hour to go. When you’re level with a tam, they’re at home and are in the ascendency, you’re kind of expecting the worst when you go down to ten men. But the reaction of the players was good and we seem to have coped with being a man down, limiting Palace and even hitting the post. The sending off itself was clearly a bad tackle, we’d be livid if it happened to one of our players and we can be thankful that Meyer looked ok. But I’ve seen a couple of those this season on some Arsenal players and they seem to go unpunished. I’ve also seen Vin Dyjk take out a Napoli players legs and not even concede a foul. That’s where as a fan we get maddened because the consistency just isn’t there. Then there are those tackles where “he won the ball though” which sometimes is irrelevant. If you put both feet into a tackle but you get the ball as you also plough through a player, is that reckless? Of course it is. So that’s what we need to see more of and I will be very interested to watch the next time a player comes steaming in on someone like Pepe but “wins the ball” and takes him out. I will be wanting the same VARE application. I’m sure we won’t get it though. Or we might. What we do know is that consistency won’t be a factor.
But anyway, it’s done now, we need to find somebody else to score goals for us and we have to pray it’s Lacazette, because right now he needs a goal, because he’s been so pants in front of goal its unreal. He seems to have missed so many chances for a player of his supposed calibre and it feels right now like we’re never going to see him score a goal again. He is going to have to do something because Auba has been getting all of our goals this season and with him out for three games somebody else needs to step up.
So, back to the game and I have to be honest, I’m STILL not sure how I feel. A point when you’re down to ten men for a third of a game is probably ok. It wasn’t a defeat, we controlled the match in parts, plus the goal we conceded had a massive slice of luck in it. It feels like it has been going that way for us this season though. I think i’ve counted we’re up to about seven different goals I’ve counted where there has been massive deflections. Think West Ham’s goal at the London Stadium or the first Norwich goal at Carrow Road, for example. It just feels like we’ve had a bit of bad luck go against us in that regard and I know these things happen, but when you’re down then you do tend to get kicked a bit.
So it feels a little scabby to concede such a goal, but that’s life, and in a weird way it kind of feels a little better. I mean there was probably some better defending we could do in the build up to the goal, but in the main we looked ok and coped with whatever Palace could throw at us. And Arteta clearly has the players pressing more, closing down space and we can see with our own eyes that things are improving. That’s what we’ve all wanted for the last couple of months. We all know this season is finished for us and now it is just about starting to build something with next season in mind. So when we can see little changes in the team happening, the style of football changing and the players giving it their all, then we can all feel a little better. Next weekend we have Sheffield United at home and that will be another test, but it feels like even without Auba it’s a test that this team is capable of dealing with.
We just need to find some goalscorers from somewhere.
Right, that’s it from me, as I’m off to the Giant’s Causeway.