Arsenal 2 Huddersfield Town 1 - Still oop for t'Cup
Arsenal, Nasri and Kos excepted, played their second string against Huddersfield but played well enough and did enough to get a result. We did so with ten men against their twelve for 48 minutes and virtually nine men for quite some time towards the end of the match.
Mark Clattenburg. What can you say. He made a game of it by applying the standard F A Cup refs handbook and guide to the letter. Don't book anyone for ages (no Huddersfield player booked until the 68th minute). Check. Put on the blinkers for any dirt from the underdog (two reckless fouls on Denilson were totally ignored). Check. Wave play on when there is no advantage. Check. Pick on anything resembling a foul from the big boys, an underdog falling over or backing in will do. Check. Make a controversial decision against the big boys (red card for an obstruction). Check.
I do wonder whether Clattenburg's wig might make a better official than him. His wig is at least consistent.
As a game of football it didn't go as we might have wished but it was a good game to watch for the neutral which is the first test of any Cup game. Winning with an own goal from mighty Nic and a penalty from Cesc might not be ideal but the bottom line of any and all Cup matches is to be there for the draw for the next round. We're still there along plenty of other Premiership teams: West Ham, Citeh, Villa, Stoke, Brum, the Chavs & Everton, Manure, Mighty Fulham and either Bolton or Wigan. Plenty there to present problems as we get towards the nitty-gritty rounds.
The media will inevitably go down the plucky Huddersfield route, hard done by, deserved more, a fine effort. They will do so because its a better story than an Arsenal player being sent off for an obstruction before half time. They will say we needed a late penalty. Which is true but if you get shoved over when you're bearing down on goal what else would you expect. Other than a red card of course. Cesc's stuttering run up was ace. Deliberately celebrating for a long time by the corner flag was professional. Leaving the ball there when they'd finished celebrating was what a good captain does and an ace piss-take. Clever. Well played Huddersfield, good luck with the rest of your season. Their long ball hoof it up the middle game early doors was disappointing to see because you just know that if Wenger is prepared to lend them a player they have to be a team that normally play football the proper way.
The plus sides were match time for Squillaci, albeit brief, some match time for Rosicky who did ok following his illness, match time for Diaby who started slowly and improved, Gibbs who did well enough, Chamakh who has somewhat lost his mojo and Nic who is finding his. Not to mention Almunia whom I'd almost forgotten about. The big down side was Nasri's hamstring going when tearing through for a one on one with their keeper. Denilson also had what appeared to be serious hamstring problems late on, he collapsed just before crossing a ball, but we'd used all our subs by then. All credit to the lad for playing on in what looked to be severe pain.
59,375 my arse. John suggested that perhaps the stadium has had it's capacity increased while we weren't looking - which might account for all the empty seats. My guess was maybe only 48,000 in the ground was a more realistic figure. Big blocks of unsold seats in the upper tier. Many unused seats in the prawn circle. More gaps than usual where season ticket holders normally sit in the lower tier. Bigger gaps where season ticket holders normally sit in the upper tier. An early Sunday game, a very cold day with the game going out live on the box, lowly opposition and shed loads of games all coming up at once account for it. But two attendance figures would be appreciated. The ticket sales and the actual attendance. Couldn't even give a ticket away for that one.
The red card was described as a professional foul. Can anyone explain how a professional playing a professional game can make anything other than a professional foul?