A colleague recently introduced me to the TV series 'Breaking Bad'. I have been engrossed in the series and recently heard the phrase that is the title of today's post. "WHY DONT YOU LEARN TO TAKE YES FOR AN ANSWER"
Usually people don't like taking 'NO' for an answer. You will be surprised that not taking 'YES' for an answer is even more common because the packaging for the 'Yes' is not how we expect it to be or we sometimes might not believe our luck that we got a 'YES' answer.
Anyway back to football. It is a fact that all football matches end in one of 3 outcomes. A win, a draw or a loss. Depending on your team's circumstances at that particular time, either of these outcome might not be a bad thing.
How is a loss a good thing I hear you say. Cast your mind back to the Arsenal versus Monaco match in last season's UCL Round of 16 first leg. Everybody now agrees that a 2 - 1 loss rather than the 3 - 1 result would have been a good one for Arsenal. Wise heads on the pitch, or equally savvy heads on the touchline would have realised same and when Oxlade - Chamberlain pulled one back for Arsenal on the night, the advise should have been for the boys to see out the match at 2 - 1 and not go chasing an equaliser. That didn't happen and the rest is history.
Earlier on tonight, I watched Alexis Sanchez level for Arsenal to make the game 2 all. I immediately said to everybody watching with me that Arsenal needed to kill the match for the next 10 minutes and if they succeed, then go in search of the winner in the last 10 minutes. Unfortunately the ball was in the back of the Arsenal net within minutes.
If I as a fan, know that you are more vulnerable after scoring a goal, how come highly paid professionals don't realise this? Clearly we should have taken the draw rather than this loss that leaves us bottom of the group with zero points.
For me, I will forever disagree with pundits and commentators who believe Wenger is past it. He has 2 back to back FA Cups to show for his 'past it' ness. Wenger's biggest problem as far as I am concerned is his football communism / socialism orientation. Arsenal under Wenger will always allow the other team play football. We will not employ any skulduggery or game management or dirty tricks. We are too good for all of that and therein lies my problem with Wenger.
Arsenal as a team need to be a bit more street smart. If the players on the pitch do not realise when you need to close a game out or you need to disrupt the flow of the game then the people on the bench need to intervene. It is all well and good to have a purist view of the game and to trust your players but often, something extra is needed from the bench and I believe this is lacking.
On the issue of rotation, I was more comfortable with the starting 11 today than the team for the Zagreb game. I rate Ospina. I am a huge fan of the man's professionalism and his goalkeeping abilities. Yes he blundered today and chose the wrong match to blunder. Unfortunately for both him and Wenger, his error today would be held up as further evidence of how crap a goalkeeper Ospina is and Wenger's missmanagement. Unfortunately I agree with neither. We have seen our number 1 goalkeeper this season make some errors. World Class goal keepers make errors and some are fortunate that there errors go unpunished or does not cost their team. Others are unfortunate and Ospina was one of those today.
On this goalkeeper issue, Wenger and Ospina made the mistake of not playing the percentages. When you are facing a must win game, when form is patchy and the team is a bit brittle, in my opinion, you play safe. The safe option was Petr Cech today. If Cech had made the same blunder, some of the anti Wenger noises will be less and I doubt if Cech would have attempted what Ospina did this evening. As for Ospina, the safe option was to punch that ball, not attempt some exotic save that ended up costing your team a goal especially with the absence of goal line technology.
But match is done. We have lost and it hurts. Today's match highlights our frailty as a team and further demonstrates the overall malaise afflicting the English game. Next up is Sunday's match versus the league leaders. I dare say Sunday is a another day to play safe. There is a lot of high emotions out there especially amongst the fan and the minimum expectation I believe is a draw. For me, a draw with a very assured defensive display is the least I will take. If we win, all the better but with Mr Anthony Taylor of Manchester as the man in the middle, watch out for some interesting calls as Mr Taylor has his own rule book which is totally different from most referees. You think Mike Dean is awful. Wait till you experience Mr Taylor in HD