Blackburn 1, Arsenal Didn't

Blackburn Rovers 1 – 0 Arsenal

1 – 0 McCarthy (84)

Such are the fine margins upon which football matches are decided. Four matches, one draw and three defeats, one goal deciding those reverses. Whilst Arsenal may not have deserved to win all of those three games, they deserved to lose none of them. However, a failure to apply the necessary clincal finishes at times when pressure has been exerted has cost the Club dear. Out of two Cup competitions and behind at the ‘halfway stage’ of the other, the media will no doubt class this as a ‘crisis’ which identifies more how much progress that the team have made over the past season and a half than the actual turn of events.

Then winning goal was a cracking strike; McCarthy finding the top corner was somewhat inevitable given Arsenal’s failings in front of goal and the expected incompetence from Graham Poll. A scrappy affair was decided by a moment of class, the surprise substitute – McCarthy surely has enough class to warrant a starting place – sealed Blackburn’s progress to the Quarter Finals four minutes from time.

I take my hat off to yesterday’s comments from Rob and LTHW (as you shall forever be known in these parts) for they were spot on. Blackburn were marginally more adventurous than the original clash but they had their chance and took it, something that the Arsenal team failed to do with theirs. I think it was Leong who commented after Sunday that you need Luck to win a Cup. If Luck equates to incompentence by officials then I am forced to agree with that assessment. Coming so soon after making a complete hash of sending Robbie Keane off at the weekend, Poll confirmed what supporters have long known, that is his complete and utter incompetence at officiating at matches at any level. Keane’s dismissal was farcical. It reminded me of a penalty Colin Todd conceded for Derby in a European Cup tie in the mid-70’s against either Juve or Real Madrid; the ball struck Todd’s shoulder – the brown ball mark on a white shirt a pretty conclusive piece of evidence in that respect – and the same for Keane; ball hitting shoulder and rolling down his body had sufficiently altered the trajectory to stop the shot and prevent a goal. Poll however decided that what little hand contact there was should be deemed to be a deliberate attempt to stop a goal.

If your host is incredulous at that decision, you do not require a PhD in Advanced Mathematics to guess my view on his refusal to penalise Blackburn for the foul on Ljungberg in the first half. Did I say foul. I should have used the plural. Not only did Poll fail to spot the ankle tap, he missed the shove and hack at the calf of the Swede as well. So what was the explanation for this?

I was concentrating on the upper half of the bodies

If it were not so decisive, I would laugh. Seriously, I would. But it was a decisive moment and curiously enough, I do not feel like laughing. I shall be scanning the papers over the next few days to see what Keith Hackett makes of Poll’s display last night; alas we shall never know for the Thing From Tring has given his paymasters a ready-made excuse for dropping him from the Liverpool v Manchester United match on Saturday, with an apparent calf strain suffered towards the end of ninety minutes. Not sure how he suffered this but the swan dive he managed in trying to get his useless lump of an Arsenal up with the play in the build up to goal seems to be prime candidate. A shame said dive did not happen after ninety seconds. It is not that I am surprised by him missing the offences – I am not – but the excuse beggars belief. Fundamentally, his reason is spurious; Ljungberg was ahead of Emerton so why concentrate on the upper half of the body? Surely contact is more likely to be an ankle tap or stamp on the calf in that situation? I would like to say Poll was right to deny Aliadiere a penalty as well but the thought of admitting he was right is just something that sticks in my throat. It is a penalty that you have seen given on numerous occasions, Friedel probably rescued by the fact that Aliadiere appeared to have lost control of the ball.

Despite the rant, Arsenal cannot blame Poll for the defeat. It is their own waywardness in front of goal that has caused this Cup exit, nothing else. Friedel made good saves from Baptista and the Brazilian headed over when, to use a footballing cliche, it seemed ‘easier to score’. Wenger has apparently made up his mind about Baptista and prior to these last couple of games, I think he has shown enough to be worthwhile perservering with over the next few years; I sincerely doubt that he will recapture the form he showed at Sevilla – he is playing a less advanced role – but he does link the play well. His evening was perhaps best summed up by the failed attempt at a bicycle kick in the second half; great vision to see the chance but poor execution. Indeed, that could be applied to the whole of the team for a lot of the evening for a high percentage of passes seemed to go astray, by this seasons standards anyway.

It is hard to say whether tonight was a hangover from Sunday; partly it may have been but a large part of it was the number of changes to the starting line-up. Arsene commented recently that the art of squad rotation was something he was still learning – here’s a small thought for him to bear in mind; Senderos is not a right back so next time Eboue or Hoyte needs replacing, Big Phil should not be sent to the right hand side of the defence. The absence of Toure was not particularly noticed such was the performance of William Gallas – his return to fitness cannot be doubted, proof given in the instant he made ten to fifteen yards up on Derbyshire (I think) in a race over forty yards, to force a rushed shot in the second half. But it was a rare bright spot on a drab evening. If you find this overly pessimistic about the performance, perhaps you are right and maybe I’ll feel differently in the morning.

A final word on a close run second for most useless t-sser of the evening; I had the misfortune to listen to Radio 5Live for most of the first half at work – see, I told you they were IB’s that I work for – and on the way home. I close with a quote from Alan Green that caused the bloke in the car in front to fear he was about to be the victim of road rage:

‘Thirty two minutes gone. Its great that Eboue had not been involved in a ruck’

Thankfully the kids were not in the car when I heard that for the air turned twenty seven shades of blue, to such an extent that I was still fuming when I arrived home. And to think, my Licence Fee pays that ignorant *@$!%&’s wages….

25 thoughts on “Blackburn 1, Arsenal Didn't

  1. The tone was set in the second minute when Poll missed a blatant stamp by Pederson on Eboue’s ankle, an injury he carried throughout the game and led to him coming off and senderos being put into right back. I’m sure Alan Green saw it as an attempted kick by Toure.

    I hope you see Wenger’s interview after the match, I doubt he will receive any credit in the media for blaming the lack of converting chances as the source of our failures over the incompetence of the officials. He also says he has no other options for strikers. He also explained that the linesmans report from sunday states Adebayor punched Frank Lampard!!!! and questioned why the linesman/video did not register other punches by players. The independent claimed Essien and Drogba can be seen throwing punches. Personnally even Eboue’s looks like a shove rather than a punch, bridge just falls over.

    The season hangs on next wednesday now, with wenger likely to rest players against Reading the pain of this week may not be over yet!

  2. This latest defeat shows Arsenal tend to overplay or string too many passes.I doubt even with Henry it could have made a diff.Henry could have been facing at least two or three defenders thereby nullifying his pace .
    I,m afraid that most have found out how Arsenal play.

    Play thru the midfd stringing passes and no high balls until the situation gets desperate.

    Failure to complete the job against PSV ,a stronger team than BR, would surelydeserve a rethink of tactics.The success of a manager is to be able to adapt just like in war yesterdays weapons are obsolete in a present war.

  3. Vivb

    Adebayor did lamp Fat Frank – you can see it quite clearly on the TV which is why the Club probably did not contest the decision on the grounds of mistaken identity. On the basis of the FA’s previous actions, the club are lucky that the ban was not increased for maKing a spurious appeal. Perhaps the FA took sympathy on him and knew that he is going to get an extended ban with the other charges so let this pass.

    If Henry is injured then the forward line is all that we have so be it. I think they missed Fabregas and Rosicky last night, their passing and movement is better than was on display at Ewood Park.

    As for Sunday, I am not concerned by Essien and Drogba. We know the FA are incompetent and neither of them is going to solve our Goalscoring problem.

    And yes Baptista is worth perservering with. He needs a run in the team to get his game together and that chance is about to arrive.

  4. Not sure that I agree about Baptista. His misses were obvious but his inability to control the ball and to make effective passes was driving me nuts.

    I agree with Vivb about the stamp. It was an appalling tackle and eventaully lead to Eboue leaving the pitch, it could have caused a ruptured achilles tendon (not pleasant) or even a break (very unpleasant). Samba tried to do the same to Aliadiere. Stamping is the commonest cause of metatarsal 1-4 breaks. (Not 5 because that is usually caused by landing awkwardly), so JA could have suffered a catastrophic injury. We will have to wait and see about the short term effect to both players.

    btw the Essien and Drogba incidents are every bit as obvious as the Adebayor and Eboue one. Assuming that A and E will get extra 2 match bans, the outcome of the FA examination will be Arsenal 13 player/match bans vs Chelsea 4 player/match bans. Fair outcome??? PFA involvement got anything to do with the nationality of the players? Would it have been different if a couple of English players had been involved? We will never know because none of the proceedings are made public – why is that?

    I think that AW’s intelligence, patience and composure deserves better treatment than the FA, Referees Association or Press/media are prepared to give him. They are all in positions of power and they all abuse that position….. bullies.

  5. It was an after the Lord Mayor’s Show performance. A scratch side which did reasonably well creating enough chances,Jimmy, to have scored but just didn’t have the umph.

    Credit Blackburn, they took 1 of their 2 opportunities, that I can remember.

    My beef with Poll was the cheap booking of Traore, when there was a lot worse going on. Technically a booking yes but Tugay must have committed 10 before he was booked.

  6. Just seen AW’s reaction to the officials’ reports and FA rulings. I think that he has been given the backing of the Board on this one. Could it end up in court? Go for it Arsene …just maybe some of these organisations will begin to get there come-uppance. Don’t expect any help from the press/media though. Changing those idiots will be a much, much tougher job. Worth a try though…maybe if Virgin begins to focus on content there could be genuine competition in football coverage and perhaps intelligence and fairness could be one of the differentiators.

  7. Hello, it’s me again. I thought it was a blog to comment on yesterday, so I figured I’d give it go today, and give you a probably biased view from behind blue and white tinted glasses.

    The first half was something of a blur. Two pints and no food made the players a little hazy. From what I recall, we had a good start, Arsenal came back into it, and had a two good calls for penalties. The first, I thought Aliadire (excuse my spelling) made a meal of it. However, if Graham Poll didn’t think it was a penalty, and didn’t think it was a corner, surely Aliadire should have been booked for simulation? I thought Ljungberg was fouled by Emerton, and we were lucky in the situation. In all honesty, that is all I can remember regarding the first half, apart form a freekick pederson whipped in, and Nonda’s ‘shot’ that ended up going for a throw in, and behind him.

    Second half, and now stocked up on two pies (typical northern diet!), my vision was more clear. Again, Blackburn started well, and looked more threatning around the goal. However, again, Arsenal weathered the early storm, and if it wasn’t for Brad Friedal, could have been easily two down. We seemed have possession, but the final ball, which needed to be inch perfect, was either foot to long, or a foot to short.

    I have not seen a replay of Ljundberg’s second penalty, but again, if Poll didn’t give a penalty, and didnt give a corner, should he not have been booked for simulation?

    I was just settling down for an extra 30 minutes of football, resigning myself to the fact that I would miss last orders at my local (my local not being in Blackburn), when a ball over the top to McCarthy (who looked suspiciously offside, and being McCarthy it would not be a surprise if he was) caused me to stand up. For once, he looked up to see his options but decided a route to goal was the best one, and the rest is history. However, there is always the nagging thought that overexcitement in the ranks would lead to an error and let Arsenal in. Thankfully, there was no such overexcitement.

    I thought that Hleb and Gallas played well for Arsenal. It seems an obvious thing to say, but you misses Cesc in midfield. In our three prior meetings he has been the outstanding player. I can only presume that he plays like that most games.

    The Atmosphere in the Blackburn End was blinding, so that may influence the fact I thought it was a good game…

  8. Rob,
    Thanks for letting us know about your experiences at Ewood Park, pies and beer etc. But perhaps next time you could watch the match before writing in.

  9. I have just looked at the video again and there is no conclusive evidence that Ade punched Lampard. I am not saying he didn’t but what appears to happen is that pushes between Lampard & Cesc splitting them then stands between them to stop it.

    If Ade had punched Lampard I think Lampard would have indicated that it had happened rather than just stand behind Ade.

    With the language AW is using they must be pretty sure of the injustice or why would they risk further punishment, to Ade & AW, by contesting Ade’s charge?

    AW was right when he called Jol a liar, because it was proved on video, but the linesman was perhaps mistaken rather than lying.
    Perhaps the word liar is something different in French.

    In any case the 2 most guilty Lampard & Cesc have effectively got off. I should include the hero Howard Webb, who provoked the incident by missing several pro fouls in short succession. He even restarted the game with a Chelsea free kick.

  10. Rob

    Thanks for the report but the Aliadiere incident is just what we were talking about yesterday.

    Aliadiere gets a poor 1st touch has pushed it too far past Friedle but is still definately brought down, certainly no dive, then Friedle does the shouting at the player business. It was no penalty no dive, absolutely correct decision.

    It is possible to fall over, you know, without it being a dive. This was the case with Freddie in the 2nd half, loses balance falls over no claim for anything no dive.

    Anyway go on to win the thing now, best of luck.

  11. I don’t think so Flint. If you say you saw something and it did’nt happen then in a court you would be accused of lying. Whether the little Uriah Heap fella whispering in the referees ear is deluded is neither here nor there. If you make an accusation which deeply affects a players career or clubs ability to function then you had better be damn sure that you are right. If the FA react to the challenge by sayiing ‘oh no, no,no no we can’t have this..more bans and fines please’ then I think that it should now be taken out of the FA’s hands. Arsenal should consider recourse to law.

  12. Flint,

    From where I was sat, it looked like everytime Ljundberg was tackled/fell over his arms flew in the air looking for a freekick/penalty, but again that is the game seen through blue and white tinted glasses.

    I predicted from the outset that we would make the semi-finals. I should have put a bet on it!

  13. Goodplaya makes an interesting point about the fouls to Yellow Card ratio being heavily weighted against Arsenal at the moment. It is incredible but seems to indicate that we are either being unduly penalised or else making a lot cruder tackles than opponents (which I don’t think is the case).


    Arsene will no doubt get his collar felt by the FA Beaks for his comments. Given he is an intelligent man, I would suggest he knew exactly what he was saying; he is of the firm belief that the club have been treated in an unduly harsh manner and part of the defence would be asking how the lino saw Adebayor yet missed the rest. The Club have to back him; indeed, DD should be asking the FA why no other Chelsea players have been charged?

    As for it ending up in Court, Clubs have to be careful about sueing the National Associations. Under the FIFA Statutes, any club that litigattes against an Association is suspended from competition – a sanction carried out against a Portuguese club fighting their FA through the Courts over a relegation issue in the summer – until the action finishes. You can sue FIFA without the same restraint being applied which is why the G-14 are backing the players wages on International duty through the Courts.


    The incident in the second half with Ljungberg and Samba was a simple coming together of bodies. Samba overreacted but that Ljungberg went down is not surprising given the defender is about four times his height and weight. He’s hefty piece of machinery!

  14. Poor old Freddie can barely stand up these days but Blackburn committed 29 fouls last night- not even Poll could get them all wrong.

    Goodplaya has some astonishing statistics on regarding our tally of bookings per foul.

    Frank – I think they should make a stand. You seem to know the law.

  15. I doubt whether Arsenal will go to law. However if there is a rule that prevents a litigant entering a competition because of a genuine greivance, then I would imagine there would be ample grounds for restraint of trade.

    The perceived incompetence of the FA , Referees Association and Referees is beginning to come to a head. Evertime this stuff happens it improves the case for a breakaway Premier League with professional (and technology supported) referees. It also helps the G14 case for a breakaway European League. The TV money will go to the clubs in these leagues.

    Those that want to watch the jumpers for goal posts, clog dancing type football with pies in one hand and beer in the other can watch all the wonderful teams still lined up under the FA. Won’t be any TV
    money around but that will be OK because it will only cost two and tanner to get in.

  16. According to Sky Blackburn committed 30 fouls, to Arsenals 11, but we both recieved 4 bookings each. I see your point re fouls/bookings ratio.

    Samba is a mountain of a man, and I thought he deservingly got the man of the match (as voted for by the Ewood faithful. Who got man of the match from the Sky pundits?)

  17. Fat Frank has issued a statement backing Wenger’s assertion over Adebayor. This serves Adebayor no benefit as under the FA Regulations the decision of the Appeal Panel is binding and there is no further right to challenge it. It may help him next week in his fight against the other charges so he may get away with a fine rather than a suspension although I am not holding my breath on that one.

    Wonder what Keith Hackett will have to say about it, now that the decision made by Bennett has been proven totally incorrect.

  18. Blackburn R. Cards
    Tugay 45 unsporting behaviour
    Dunn 76 unsporting behaviour
    Derbyshire 85 dissent
    McCarthy 87 leaving field without consent
    Arsenal Cards
    Traore 35 unsporting behaviour
    Clichy 78 unsporting behaviour

    Arsenal got 2 bookings from 11 fouls, the same as BR from 29.

    Tugay must have committed 10 before he was booked & most of those were deliberate (ie pro).

    This is nothing against BR but the stats show it is par for the course.

  19. The FA can clarify that contrary to Wenger’s allegations, the assistant referee’s report does not claim that Adebayor punched Frank Lampard. The report states that Adebayor’s attitude was aggressive, that he shoved into Ricardo Carvalho and that he aimed a punch at Lampard. It does not state that Adebayor struck Lampard.


    This is just sheer incompetance.

  20. This sheer incompetence is being perpetrated by an organisation whose CEO until recently was shagging the same woman as the England Team manager. The same organisation who have contrived to pay the same ex-England manager many thousands of pounds per week even though he is not in post. The same organisation has singulalrly failed to inspire new talent when the game is at its popular peak. In fact the same organisation has managed to victimise and alienate one of the few real experts in bringing youth through. Can you believe that this same organisation claims to be the authority and arbiter of rules and morals in a game which affects millions, operates secretly and whose officials are not democratically elected.

    I would suggest that the FA are almost criminally incompetent and if they are allowed to continue in their current form will preside over the destruction of the game.

  21. I am now off, as I should be working. This will be my last post until the Gunners and the Blues meet next season.

    I have to say, you have slightly altered my opinion of Arsenal fans, and you’re not all ar$eholes.

    Thanks for the finer banter.

  22. The Baptista loan was a mistake. He is always clumsy and unsure of what to do. This isn’t the only game he’s blown chances in, it happens everytime he plays.

    Senderos is another guy who happens to be in two minds at all times. First he stumbles against McCarthy and when he finally recovers, he chooses to back away and let him shoot????? WTF! And then Freddie Ljunberg showed the first touch of a brick wall, he should’ve scored, definite chance.

    Anybody see how sure the ref was that there was no foul against Ljunberg?? It’s like he knew 100% and when you looked at the replay, Ljunberg’s clearly being trampled.

    This game was painful to watch. I uploaded the highlights here.

    BTW, nice theme for this blog. Much better than the previous one. Great work.

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