Gutted!

First and foremost, I am proud of all our players. Some performed better than others and some were anonymous but I certainly will not abandon ship. The fans that left the stadium after United’s third goal are disgraceful. I’ve heard many people question the team’s spirit – a code word for ‘they’re a bunch of foreigners who don’t care about results or about the club.’ Utterly ridiculous, among other things! The early-leavers are not worthy of their match tickets or the privilege of being Arsenal “supporters.”

The Rover Sport broke down last night. The Rolls lived up to its reputation. Kieran Gibbs will make mistakes again, but he will also do many very good things for our club. It was a very unfortunate slip and we were punished.

Could Almunia have done better? Could he have seen the play developing sooner and reacted quicker than he did? Why was he raising his right arm as the ball fell to Park?

Taggart has bested Wenger again. English football’s top rivalry remains Arsenal vs. Manchester United. This CL tie will feed that rivalry – more motivation for Arsene Wenger. United’s swarming midfield and tight defence were well organized. They weathered our early attacks and shut down our main threats. Carrick, Anderson, and Fletcher were like hyenas on a carcass when we had the ball and would take turns going forward when we lost possession. Togo was isolated by Ferdinand and Vidic, Theo was in Evra’s back-pocket, Cesc was largely anonymous, RvP and Nasri huffed and puffed but little came of it. I commented early in the second half that Taggart had made a bad decision to not go for the jugular, to sit back, wait, and then catch us out. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Literally seconds after saying so and before we could build any semblance of momentum, United outpaced us for their third. It looked like a drill that every team practices but they executed it to perfection. Passage to the final was sealed.

Our captaincy has been an issue for some time. However, Cesc Fabregas is the Arsenal captain. Cesc Fabregas is our most beloved player. Cesc Fabregas is potentially one of our greatest players ever. But to be that great player, he has to perform far better than he has in career defining matches like the two legs we’ve just lost to United. Mid second half, I saw him attempt to gee up the players. I was glad to see that but his performance when he had to ask questions of United’s defence was inadequate.

Which player has draped himself in glory with us this season? Which player can leave and walk into any of the other three CL semi-finalists’ teams?

The media will continue to publish stories about players wanting to leave our club. Some will be true, some will be rubbish. Regardless, which ever player who wants to leave may do so. If you don’t feel up to staying and proving that you are capable of executing Wenger’s plan, you are a coward. And DO NOT show up at The Grove next season to watch us. Seeing Beckham and Flamini in an executive box – Beckham smiling ear to ear and rubbing his hands after United’s third is an image that will stay with me for a long time. It was a kick in the teeth.

That we didn’t give ourselves a chance in the second leg is the most annoying outcome from yesterday. We needed to be at no worse than 0-0 at half-time. We inflicted the worst damage to our chances ourselves.

Could Arsene have done better to ensure that we minimized mistakes over the two legs? Would William Gallas have made a difference?

We must stay the course. We must not allow the mindset of the early leavers to take us off our path. Many people are of the opinion that we are not good enough. Others feel that we lack depth. My feeling is that we are still just two players short – a top class central defender and a top class keeper. We don’t need more than that. I stand firm.

Those who feel that Arsene Wenger should be replaced don’t see the big picture or simply refuse to accept it. Those who say that he has no accountability sound ridiculous. Arsene Wenger is the most disappointed man on the planet today. He knows better than anyone else that we have failed to achieve what we set out to do. We are not on par with those in front of us. He will address that. Arsene Wenger is my manager. I trust him.

The day’s lowlights

• The doorman at the pub where I watch matches would not allow me entry with my protein drink. I binned it. Fuck him!
• I couldn’t go home after the match. I did everything but that. I got home well past 2 a.m.
• The barrage of criticism that was thrown at Arsene Wenger after the match was gratuitous, highly negative, and beyond offensive.
• I sang Almunia’s praises after the first leg – claiming that he’d come of age. Less than a week later, he’s shown why he is NOT to be trusted. WTF!?!?

I hate Manchester United even more than that great man I was so happy to see at the pub yesterday.

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