If you were to not watch the game but ask an Arsenal fan what would constitute an absolutely horrendous night’s work in the Toilet Bowl arena, they would probably include any of the following:
- Early goal conceded
- Silly unnecessary goal or penalty conceded
- Red card to an Arsenal player
- Big defeat that could have an impact on confidence
- Injury to a key player.
Last night we ticked not just one, two, or three, but all of those big boxes in what turned from a bad night to a terrible night which leaves me genuinely worried about the impact this match might have on our game on Monday now.
Arteta couldn’t play White as he was still not recovered from his hamstring issue and his absence forced the use of Cedric who, from before a ball was kicked, I was terrified what Son might do up against him. Cedric was poor and surprise surprise, he was the man at fault for the first goal. It’s a soft goal, it’s a frustrating penalty to concede, but in the box you are asking for trouble when that happens. And with this utterly abysmal referee – let’s not forget he allowed a barge in the box on Jota in this very stadium this year, as well as a Kane lunging tackle on Robertson that was a clear red card – that was always going to end one way. It was idiotic from Cedric and is exactly why I’d prefer we saw less and less of him.
But sadly that won’t be the case on Monday night because we’ll be forced to play him, what with every other defender appearing to be unavailable as the season reaches its climax. No Tierney through injury, we’ll probably be without Gabriel for the remainder of the season if it is a muscular injury as he came off last night injured in another instance in which we could really have done without, but we’ll also be without Holding after his utterly moronic 30 minutes in which he got himself sent off.
Now, we all know Son is a cheating, diving, conniving little SOB, but what Holding should never be doing is body-checking him when already on a yellow card. It was crazy from an experienced player who should know better and is now unavailable for the next match. Idiot. What Holding should have done was to make the most of the slightly swung out elbow that Son made at him when they were both on the floor. VAR would have looked at it and it might have been us playing against 10 men, not vice versa. Instead Son stayed on the pitch and as you’d expect, made a material impact to the game.
So we miss Gabriel, we were already missing Tierney, we’re now missing Holding and potentially unless White is fully fit then we will have just Tomiyasu as the only fit guy who can play centre half. I suspect that White will be back because he was fit enough to be on the bench and warming up last night, so an extra few days will be important, where we will have to hope he’s back up to 100% because now we absolutely need him for that game.
And as Arteta said post match, we have to just forget this game. That’s kind of where I am at this morning. I don’t really want to talk about it. Imagine that, a post match blog in which I actually don’t really bother talking very much about the game!
But’s that where everyone with a stake in The Arsenal has to be this morning. If you’d had told me a month ago that we’d go in to the last two games a point clear of the Scum to secure top four I would have said “yep, I’ll take that”. I think our task has been made massively more difficult as a result of what happened last night and as I said on Twitter before, during and now after the match, my biggest fear is the psychological damage that this defeat has inflicted, but it is up to Arteta to get these players pumped for the game on Monday. And I think that will be front and centre of his mind. He will focus on those first minutes leading up to their goal because we were the better side before stupidity and naivety stepped in on our part. If we set up in the same way then we will have a great chance of winning the game. If we go there meek and mild then Newcastle will do us over. We can’t have that. We need to go in to that last game of the season with it still in our hands and now is the time that we find out so much about this young and inexperienced team, young and inexperienced manager. Now is where we’ll see just how good Arteta is.
I’m going to leave it there for today. We’re all hurting and there’s no point getting to caught up in it. Last night I deliberately avoided social media and today I will do the same with all websites, etc. I might listen to an Arsenal podcast when I run later, but that’ll be it from me.
Catch you all tomorrow for some more thoughts. See you then.