Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Seville's as good a place as any to lose.

And so ends the longest unbeaten run - in all competitions - in the club's history. Not with a bang, but with a bit of a whimper out in Andalusia.

Being the calm rational lot I know you all to be, I hope you took this defeat in your stride because, well we have to, and also, more pertinently, it was quite a good game to lose.

Obviously, you never want your team to lose. But the logistics and reality of modern football prohibit interminable unbeaten runs. Anyway, if Arsenal never lost, it would hardly be exciting.

Yet, there are good times to lose and bad times to lose.

A bad time to lose? At the end of a 49-game unbeaten run, at the home of your bitter rivals, in a game dogged by poor refereeing decisions, simulation and cynical fouls. Losing a game can, and did on that occasion, knock the stuffing and belief out of a team.

Last night's defeat, whilst still having the poor refereeing, simulation and cynicism, will not knock the team out of its stride, and a few positives can even be taken the game.

Obviously, it would have been nice to win the match, top the group, and have a favourable draw in the second round. But look what happened last year: we topped the group, drew PSV - a 'weaker' team - and were promptly knocked out. The year before we drew Madrid, and recorded one of our most historic wins. In fact, aside from the final, the team we struggled most against in 2005/6 was Villareal. The Champions League is based on big games, and we've tended to well against big teams in the last few seasons. Bring them on, I say.

Moreover, several players will have gained vital experience. Armand Traore was given a rather torrid time, yet is an extremely talented young player and will learn from his travails. Nicklas Bendtner, who was one of our better players, will have gained more belief in his abilities from the game, and would also have been pleased in the faith shown in him by Arsene. Eduardo also notched a very decent goal, which he needed. I think he will surprise a lot of people in the second half of the season.

The major concern is Philippe Senderos who appears to be going backwards. Where was the rock who, according to recent reports, was very nearly made captain in 2005? He seems lost at the moment, and he needs to regain some confidence by the time Kolo heads back to Africa in January.

Certain players needed a rest before an exceptionally heavy December fixture list; we have three away matches coming up next week which are far more vital to our season than the game last night. As long as Cesc hasn't tweaked his hamstring too badly, last night was far from a disaster. In some ways, it might even have been a good moment to unsaddle ourselves of the burden of maintaining the unbeaten run. Sometimes, there are good times to lose.


Anonymous said...

I fully agree with the article. To lose is part of the game. Nowadays it's very difficult for top teams not to lose.Anyway the gunners lost to a good side which AW said could be good enuf to win the cl.
On the other hand questionsmarks remain abt PS.He needs to improve in all aspects of his game.Indeed I say he needs to show significant improvement other wise Arsenal's season could end in tatters.

Anonymous said...

Hey Goonerboy, great articles! I just found your site and it seems to me that you've got a good grasp on things.

Like you I am not pessimistic about facing stiff competition in the round of 16. We shouldn't fear anyone. At least if we play a top team, the boys will definitely be up for it. They seemed much less hungry yesterday.

I think when Toure is gone during the early part of next year, we will need some reinforcements from elsewhere. While Gallas is excellent, Senderos is clearly not the answer. Neither IMO is Djourou when he gets back. Song and Gilberto are acceptable, but I think AW will need to buy a world class center back during the xfer market. If Gallas were to get injured, we'd be in dire shape with the current roster.

Anonymous said...

So many of these sorts of Blogs spout tremendous amounts of bullshit. This, on the other hand, is a very good piece.

I heartily agree.

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Anonymous said...

Before the game on Tuesday night would we have accepted a defeat if we were promised 7 or 9 points in our next 3 away league games? Too sure we would. As you say Goonerboy, there are good times to lose and Arsene Wenger knew that if we lost against Seville it wouldn't dent the teams confidence. I think it gave a lot of "fringe players" valuable experience. A lot of them did very well and in the context of the long season ahead, that in my opinion was far more important than 3 points.

Who cares who we get in the first knockout stages? Who have we got to fear over two legs of football? I think "topping up" the "fringe players" playing time was a very clever thing for Wenger to do. He used the game for that reason.

Arsene knows.

Anonymous said...

Hello Goonerboy and all readers of my comments! I'm a regular reader of your blog and I got some of my own comments about this post.
This defeat provides valuable experience to the fringe players but I feel that the team must be able to bounce back and win against Aston Villa in the next match or face the first real crisis since Henry's departure. I knew that an unbeaten run of more than 30 games in all competitions and I knew that if that were to happen, it means a quadruple is in our hands. Fortunately being 28 games unbeaten shows that our chances of the EPL title in our hands (based on my guessing) will be around 60% to 70% and the CL in our hands will be around 40 to 50% and the league cup in our hands will be around 50 to 60%. I can't say about the FA Cup as the competition starts in January and things can be very different then.

Anonymous said...

Being the same anonymous at 12.12pm, when I say fortunately being 28 games unbeaten I meant that it is lucky that the defeat happen at a good time.

adefunke said...

Hi, I agree with you, the defeat could not have come at a better time. At the end of December we would know if AW indeed decided to 'stoop to conquer'. As you rightly pointed out, our seed position going into the draw for the knockout round don't mean nothing, the important thing is to advance into the next round which we have. I hope Cesc's injury isn't to serious and that he would be back in time for the 16th. Also we need to do something about the central defense position, we all know the relationship between Senderos and Drogba doesn't favor The Arsenal!