Monday, 16 August 2010

That's payback for the Barca shirt prank, Pepe

291 words. Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 10 seconds

My belief in karma has increased markedly after the dreadful howler that earned us a point yesterday.

Even facing 10 men I couldn't see us rescuing anything having seen Reina tip Rosicky's late effort over the bar. But for once the fates were smiling on us and, in clear retribution for his cheeky joke at our and Cesc's expense during the World Cup celebrations, made the Spanish keeper to lose his senses and carry the ball into his own net.

It was a satisfying end to a match that failed to allay my fears that this will be another frustrating season. Yes, the new boys Chamakh and Koscielny put in encouragingly assured performances but there was little evidence that our defensive fragility has been addressed and our cutting edge sharpened. Nasri was covering plenty of ground but taking a second too long to make a pass; Eboue was back to his dying swan worst and Arshavin was just bad.

But at least we remain unbeaten and have already taken a point from our travels up north - if we had blitzed them 3-0 I would probably have been concerned we had hit our peak too early.

The most bemusing - and in some ways annoying - element of the day was seeing Almunia entering the pitch wearing the captain's armband. Here is a man who is not only one of our less inspirational or talented players but someone who in all likelihood is about to be replaced by Mark Schwarzer. How can someone seek to lead his teammates when he has that on his mind? At least it confirms how little Wenger values the concept of captaincy, reflecting a general lack of emphasis on the mental aspect of creating a team.

Ratings: Almunia 6; Sagna 6, Koscielny 7, Vermaelen 7, Clichy 6; Eboue 6, Diaby 7, Wilshere 6, Arshavin 4, Nasri 6, Chamakh 7

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