Zico Frustrated

After a match we’ve dominated (26 shots on goal to 8), we are rightfully on top of Group H. Olympiacos would have signed up for a point before the game and it looked as though they’d get that point – their keeper, Antonis Nikopolidis, was fantastic. Robin and Andrey Arshavin rescued the points after a memorable display by Nikopolidis. It was very much like what we witnessed at Craven Cottage this past weekend except Vito’s side won.

Olympiacos fans must feel gutted. Imagine how you’d feel if Robin’s shot had bounced off the post instead of beating Schwarzer. Imagine if Andy Johnson and the prolific Bobby Zamora had both netted late goals Saturday. Maybe Wenger wouldn’t have complained about the officials but the feelings of disappointment and deep regret would still hurt today, five days later.

Besides their fans leaving London bitterly disappointed, manager and legendary footballer Zico has expressed his frustration. Quotes attributed to the former Brazil forward seemed to point fingers at UEFA for being insensitive to the fact that Arsenal are a very French club, at least on the pitch anyway.

“We had three French officials with a French coach [Arsène Wenger] on the opposing team and ten French players. Maybe we could have had referees from other countries. I don’t want to talk only about this, but perhaps it should be taken into account. It’s only a comment, but it’s my right to comment.”

I will defend anyone’s right to comment. I might not always agree with the comment but a man should have the right to express himself. Tempe Arizona Pastor Steven Anderson, Harry Redknapp, Alex Ferguson, Sam Allardyce, William Gallas, Arsene Wenger and anyone who wants to speak has a right to comment.

That Zico has commented on alleged insensitivity by UEFA shouldn’t upset Gooners. If he’s wrong, he’s wrong but it shouldn’t be a stain on him. He has spoken after a very difficult defeat. He has spoken in frustration. He has spoken after seeing Nikopolidis perform heroics yet still lose. Moreover, he has pointed to at least two factors – two major blows to the opposition – that we as Arsenal fans would have found very difficult to accept if we’d been on the receiving end.

I firmly believe that missed penalties we should have had, blatant fouls against us that were not called, offsides goals against us that were not ruled out, etc., balance out over time. So when Zico points to a handball by Alex Song before our second goal vs. Standard, and the off-sides position (cough! cough!) The Little Magician seemed to be in when he received the ball for his cheeky back-heel past Nikopolidis, we have to accept that it is painful for Zico and that he is speaking from emotions that we have felt before and, let’s be clear, will feel again one day.

Surely there’ll be attacks on Zico’s abilities as a manager in response to his comment but he does have some pedigree. He isn’t a Ferguson or a Lippi but he has won Cups and League Titles in various countries. He has steered Japan to an Asian Cup victory. For what it’s worth, he has won before. Let’s not get carried away and over-react to comments he’s made clearly out of extreme frustration.

The three points are ours. Five days without a game will do the boys a world of good. Blackburn Rovers visit The Emirates Sunday. It’s always nice to beat those stnuc.

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