Arsenal 1 (Adebayor 16) Wigan 0(Premiership)
First off, it is worth remembering that we actually won a football match on Saturday, and finally followed up a huge win at Chelsea with three points that meant that, for now at least, talk of a false dawn can be put to one side. And for all those who say the performance was poor, no-one at United is complaining about their 1-0 victory, and as one of the accusations levelled at us is that we cannot win ugly, it was a satisfactory day, at least from the footballing perspective.
Adebayor got the goal, although the build up was a little scrappy. Cesc put the ball into a dangerous area, Song tried to control it but it squirmed through his legs, and Adebayor was the first to react, slotting the ball calmly into the corner.
A word on the finish – it doesn’t matter what Ade does, he is criticised from certain quarters, but he really is turning into an excellent finisher. The number of goals he is now passing into the corner of the net shows that he knows he will score, rather than hitting and hoping as he used to. Encouraging signs indeed, and a goal that put him into double figures for the season.
The rest of the match was tense. Van Persie had a couple of openings, one he made for himself, shooting just wide, and the other the result of a fabulous through ball from Cesc. Adebayor fired against the post, as did Denilson in the second half, but in the end we were indebted to a brave save by Almunia, throwing himself in the way of Melchiot’s late close range effort.
At the final whistle, there was relief that we got through the match unscathed, especially as the rest of the top six all won. But this was eventually overshadowed by what happened to Eboue in the final moments.
Now, I want to caveat what I have said and will say on this by saying that Eboue is far from my favourite player, in fact he is possibly the most frustrating player I’ve ever seen play for us. And to top that, he had an absolute shocker on Saturday, and Wenger describing him as a liability was absolutely spot on. I have absolutely no qualms with his decision to take him off, no matter what embarrassment it causes the player. With a one goal lead to protect, he has to put the interests of the team first, and had Eboue caused the equaliser, as was looking likely, Wenger would’ve had serious questions to answer from all of us. Eboue had lost his head, and had to come off.
However, as I said at the time, the joyous and humiliating cheers that accompanied his departure from the field were downright disgraceful, in my view. Yes, only a player like Eboue would ever be booed by our fans, but it still gains nothing. The player and manager will already know how poorly he is thought of, and it was clear Wenger was aware of the issue because he took the bold step of taking Eboue off, having started him from the bench in the first place.
It is one thing when a manager, who has shown faith in you, snaps and takes you off, refusing to really defend you in post match interviews. When someone who has nurtured and believed in you gives you a public dressing down, you will react well if of the right mindset. Whether Eboue is or not is questionable, but Wenger has shown his displeasure and it is up to Eboue to react.
But when thousands of baying fans rain down their boos, it helps absolutely no-one. Instead of the kick up the backside from the manager, it is a clear message from the fans that they won’t want Eboue at the club anymore.
And that may be true. But like it or not, Eboue will play for us again. He is our backup right back, and with no fit right wingers available, he is likely to fill in there too. So to publicly destroy the man is completely counterproductive. What happens when he next appears at the Emirates? Does he fear the reaction? Now he’ll feel like the whole crowd is on his back before he starts, and how is that going to help our cause?
In my opinion, Eboue has always had the talent to be a success at Arsenal, but he hasn’t improved in the way he should have, and his theatrics have detracted from the good player he could’ve become. And quite possibly, he will leave in the summer and not be missed. But in the meantime, he will play for us and we need to support him. Not to mention the knock on effect this has on the squad – remember that he is actually popular amongst the players. What will they be thinking?
I would like to think that Eboue will react well to this, but I’m not sure he will. And while he has himself to blame for the predicament he is now in, he should’ve been given the chance to react to Wenger’s ire before the masses turned their back.
This is a topic that has stirred much discussion, and I can certainly see all sides of the argument. Nobody is blameless – Wenger for not kicking him up the backside earlier, Eboue for not sorting himself out, and the crowd for the way they reacted on Saturday. Groans would’ve been enough. But public humiliation of your own player is too far.