So 2010 is over. The first league game of the year saw Rosicky score a late equaliser against Everton, the final game saw Squillaci score a late equaliser against Wigan. Oh, hang on, for Wigan. Whoops.
After the fantastic display against Chelsea, it was always going to be a letdown that we failed to take three points from an easier game two days later. And while the performance was fairly poor, I cannot help but feel some of the reaction has been over the top. We drew at Wigan, that’s all. United have been drawing with poor sides away from home all season, and conceding a lot later than we did. I’m not saying we should ignore the failings (not pushing for a third, a little complacency setting in once N’Zogbia had been sent off), but a little perspective would be nice.
I am sick of reading that ‘the Chelsea win means nothing now’. Utter unabridged bollocks. Had Chelsea won that game, as was widely expected, they would now be four points ahead of us, not two points behind. Even if we had lost to Chelsea and beaten Wigan, we’d still be trailing Chelsea by two points. This ‘the Chelsea win is a waste now’ talk is garbage of the highest order, and I’m getting really fed up with this kind of hyperbolic overreaction every time we drop points.
The performance wasn’t great. Having got ourselves into a winning position, we slacked off, failed to kill the game and were punished. Many have accused the players of easing off when Wigan went down to ten men, and they have a fair point. If you’re going to be annoyed at anything, be annoyed at that. Not the eight changes, which simply rotated in fresher players who were plenty good enough, and not the comparison to the Chelsea match.
And if you want to look on things more positively, consider that we lost both games in 2009/10, so we actually gained four points this week.
Speaking of matches we dropped points in last season, today sees a trip to Birmingham, a match that has killed our season twice in four years. If we are a single goal up going into the latter stages, I really will be annoyed at us slacking off – Birmingham have made something of a habit of scoring last minute equalisers against us, and we cannot let it happen again. Many of the players rested since the Chelsea game are likely to return, with perhaps Wilshere missing out after featuring in both recent outings.
January is also the month of the transfer window, and for all my frustration at the continual exaggeration of angry fans, they are nothing compared to Sky Sports News, a channel I actually used to like (believe it or not, they were not always this annoying). Expect a month of ‘we understand’ and ‘according to our sources’, with Almunia and Vela rumoured to be joining everyone with a space in their squad. And some that don’t. For the record, I expect the former to return to Spain and the latter to move out on loan, if at all.
2010 wasn’t the best of years from a football point of view. There were a few highlights, but also some abysmal days, and we can but hope that 2011 will be far better. It certainly promises to be – we have no excuses for not ending our trophy drought by lifting the Carling Cup, and we have the healthiest squad at this point of the season than we’ve had in years. The game against Chelsea proved we’re good enough, now we have to find some consistency, and pick up points we previously would have dropped.
Today is one of those days. Come on Arsenal. Make it a great year.