When death finally claims a terminally-ill patient after a long and painful battle against the inevitable, it is sometimes viewed as a relief. Although the overall feeling is one of sadness, at least the suffering is over and the grieving can begin.
That is how I felt when Cohen powered his header past Szczesny this evening. Time of death – 5.52pm.
The last two months has been a painful period for us Gooners for reasons I don’t need to rake over. All silverware is now out of reach and although that makes me sad, at least I don’t have to spend the next week worrying about whether our naive, panic-stricken team will beat the experienced juggernaut that is Man Utd. Another mediocre performance against inferior opponents saw to that.
We didn’t have the rub of the green today in terms of refereeing decisions, but we didn’t help ourselves either. The ref missed a blatant penalty for an early foul on Walcott and then awarded an extremely soft one against Djourou. Although it was saved, the decision against him unsettled Djourou so much that he seemed to forget the great strides he has made this season and played like a lost lamb, making basic errors which culminated in an appalling piece of marking for Bolton’s winner. If only he had an experienced campaigner alongside him to focus him and help him through these difficult moments. But Wenger no longer signs such players: Go out and fend for yourselves my young ones.
Cohen finally turns off Arsenal's life support machine
The fact we conceded to two soft set pieces – again – reaffirms such defensive frailties. Past Arsenal teams would’ve kept a clean sheet today and van Persie’s smart finish would’ve seen us grab a scrappy 1-0 win, much like United have done numerous times this season.
We had our chances in the second half, but Nasri of all people let the pressure get to him and he fluffed a one on one after a superb pass from Robin. Moments later he couldn’t connect with a Chamakh knockdown and then panicked in a great position when he had plenty of time, lost his composure and tried a first time pass without looking when he should’ve controlled and shot. Even Nasri is choking now – the Panic-itus is spreading through the ranks like wildfire.
Paul Merson noticed it and made an uncharacteristically intelligent comment on Sky after the match. He said the last eight games or so are completely different to the first 30. The pressure in those games is unbelievable (Merse’s favourite word) and although Arsenal may cope with the majority of a season, they can’t take the pressure of the last few crunch fixtures. He added that we’ve failed to negotiate a comfortable run-in and should’ve been playing Man Utd next week with the chance of overtaking them instead of being 9 points adrift.
Spot on Merse. And even Wenger finally acknowledged the problem. For once we were spared the insulting propaganda of him praising our mental strength as he finally admitted:
“It’s very unsatisfactory because it’s one of the easiest run-ins we’ve had for a long time and we didn’t take our chances many times. That’s frustrating because you feel the potential is there. We still lack maturity, experience and calm in important situations.”
The most worrying thing about that is the final line, which suggests he will keep faith with his group of young bottlers until the “maturity, experience and calm” eventually comes. So expect more of the same next season as Wenger eschews signing finished articles like Scott Parker this summer in favour of flogging his dead horses to try and beat some “maturity, experience and calm” into them.
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