The way I see it - Wolves v Arsenal

Last updated : 06 February 2004 By Jason Hogan

Like most Gooners I was not overly upset by what happened on Tuesday night though it wasn't a surprise to see that many were more than a little brassed off about the headlines in the papers the following morning.

Personally I thought all the heavy handed stuff they wrote about Reyes in particular was so embarrassingly predictable, it made it easy for me to treat it all with sheer disdain to be honest.

Still, any Gooner that felt a pang of anger and resentment over the treatment the press dished out to Reyes didn't have to wait long to find out that there is indeed always somebody in the world that is far less fortunate - step forward everyone connected with Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Go on, people, take a bow!!!

I don't really need to tell any of you the story. All I will say is that if it rained a little on our parade then a bloody great monsoon and a force 10 gale descended on White Hart Lane on Wednesday night!! I tell you what; even the Arsenal will have to go some in order to top what is currently the undisputed highlight of the season for me so far!!!

Looking back to Tuesday, I have to admit that I can't grumble too much over the fact that we lost the tie over all but at the same time I have to say that there was no way that we deserved to lose on the night. I thought our play was excellent to a large extent and it was a mixture of individual errors and dodgy refereeing that cost us in the end.

I said to my mates at work that I would be more than happy to cheer Boro on in the final if they got past us but I have changed my mind. I was not impressed with them at all really and I think that if we had Aliadiere or even Wiltord available for either leg of the semi-final the overall outcome would have been different.

Still above all what was important for me on Tuesday night was not so much the result really but what we, as Gooners, could learn from the game and for me, one or two things sprung to mind.

I talked about the individual mistakes, didn't I? Well, when it came to that, Martin Keown was pretty much in a league of his own, wasn't he? The fella, quite simply, was an accident waiting to happen and fact the he ended up getting himself sent off was not altogether a surprise. I hate to say this about one of the truly great Arsenal defenders of all time but I'm afraid that he is definitely starting to look every inch the veteran he actually is. I just hope that he ends up doing what Seaman failed to do - go out right at the top hopefully with another medal of some description to take with him as a parting gift. It's the least the man deserves.

Having said that Keown wasn't the only one guilty of making mistakes. I've never been a fan of Pascal Cygan and I doubt if I ever will be. Any centre half that is REALLY worth his salt does not get beaten in the air by Juninho, I know that much for a start!! Without wanting to labour the point further let's just say that he didn't have the greatest of nights either.

The other thing that came to the fore in my mind was the fact that neither Reyes nor Bentley are naturals in the role of an out and out striker. Neither are naturals at playing on the shoulder of defenders or working the channels in between a back four and all our good work tended to break down in and around the penalty area.

As I have said before, I honestly believe that the kid Bentley should go for a spell on loan somewhere. I think that he really needs some genuine competitive football on a more regular basis if only to toughen him up and get him streetwise.

As for Reyes, well, the young man may have had an unfortunate night but he will definitely have better days before this season is over. The boy is on a learning curve, a curve that is not going to be the easiest to master overnight. I think that it's important at this stage for Gooners everywhere just to look for the little things that he does in games rather than expecting him to go out and play like Maradona from day one.

I have said this before and I'll say it again. I don't believe that he will figure too prominently in the hustle and bustle that is the Premiership. I think 20 minutes to half an hour over the next few weeks should be his limit but I have a feeling that this guy could certainly prove to be a trump card in the Champions League.

Still, moving swiftly on to Saturday when the Gunners will be heading to Molineux to take on the Wolves.

Now in the line of work I happen to be in. there is a multi-tiered hierarchical structure. Close to the very top of that hierarchical in my office happens to be my ultimate boss, Terry, who is not only a fervent Wolves fan but, all things considered, a thoroughly nice chap.

I bumped into him and a few of his old mates at a watering hole adjacent to where we both work and it didn't take too long before we got round talking shop (i.e. football).

The perception that I had of Wolves fans was that they felt that a place in the top flight was almost their birthright and that having finally made back to the top flight even finishing fourth from bottom would have been seen as under achievement.

What Terry told me was interesting in that he believed that there were too many fans up in the Black Country that genuinely believed that Wolves are the same club now that they were 20 or 30 years ago.

He then went on to point out that the younger generation are not as demanding purely because they have seen what the club has gone through over the last 19 years, have grown up with that and therefore look upon the current campaign with a touch more realism as opposed to unbridled expectation.

Terry also made no secret of the fact that he would be more than happy to see his beloved Wolves finish fourth from bottom this year and if they can do that and consolidate say over the next three years, the club could then maybe look to redevelop Molineux, boost the capacity there to say 40,000, generate more funds and therefore raise the all round profile of the club.

I think the points he made were more than feasible. I've always had this vision of Wolves being one of the truly grand old English clubs (along with the likes of say Burnley, Newcastle, Sunderland, Stoke and even Portsmouth), a club that has a rich if not charismatic history attached to them. These are the sort of clubs that could really take off if they ever gained any kind of sustained success make no mistake about it.

Without wanting to get too over romantic about it, I feel that Saturday's fixture really has an old fashioned feel about it and I certainly wouldn't be at all surprised if there is an old-fashioned cup-tie atmosphere to match on the day either.

When Wolves played ManUre a few weeks ago, I was 99% certain that ManUre would win comfortably. However there was a tiny part of me that felt if the Wolves fans created a cup-tie atmosphere and their players rose up to that atmosphere then they had a chance of getting something from the game.

As we all know Wolves did a little better than that and left Old Purple Nose looking like a bulldog chewing on a wasp after the game. Needless to say, as an Arsenal fan proud and true, there are not many things in football I enjoy more than that.

I honestly think that the Arsenal are in for a real test on Saturday not so much because they happen to be up against a team that has not lost at home in the since September but more because we struggled to stand up for ourselves at places such as Bolton, Everton and Leicester when confronted with a cup-tie atmosphere and teams that were prepared to play in a very direct, aggressive manner.

With Carl Cort now in the ranks at Wolves it's not beyond the realms of impossibility that Dave Jones will give his boys the mandate to use similar tactics against us.

There is little doubt that this is a banana skin game for the Arsenal. ManUre slipped up big style when they faced this lot. Let's hope Wenger and his men do not follow suit.