04 November 2022

Arsenal 1-0 FC Zürich—meh...but at least we're not Man U.

Well, that was more frustrating than it had to be. Still, you know that throwing on a bunch of back-benchers and development projects in order to rest some regulars is going to result in some disjointed displays, but it was still grittier than it had to be, and some of that can be fairly laid at the feet of referee Erik Lambrechts, who seemed at times to be auditioning for a position in the Prem or at least a demotion to the Europa League Conference, preferably whichever has worse refereeing standards. Despite his worst efforts, most of our squad managed to finish the match with their shirts intact even as FC Zürich did their level best to take those shirts off our backs.For most of the first half, we smothered our visitors and peppered them with shot after shot. It seemed only a matter of time before the levee would break and the goals would come pouring through. In the end, though, it was only Tierney's brilliant strike, sent swerving through a thicket of players, that found the back of the net. It was then that Tierney almost accidentally revealed that he's actually a Japanese anime character whose father had given him an injection that would turn him into a man-eating Titan if he could only bite his own wrist. A bandage, however, prevented the transformation. More's the pity.

On too many other occasions, teammates, the Zürich keeper, or incompetence got in the way. Although we didn't get the scoreline we craved, we got the scoreline we needed. It's good enough to spare us the bother of the play-off round—the same one that Man U must now fight through. That's more than just two matches taken off our agenda: that's numerous high-quality opponents who will get dumped. 

Still, one must, if one is sane, offer a few queries regarding the referee's peccadillos. Apparently, it is acceptable to pull an opponent's jersey to the point that it rips almost all the way across? Should Mr. Lambrechts offer any comment, he might suggest that the jersey ripped too slowly. Had it ripped more quickly, Lambrechts might continue, he might have seen fit to blow his whistle. As it stands, then, Tierney should be thanking his lucky stars that he or his jersey wasn't booked for simulation. Not to be outdone, Eddie Nketiah (who otherwise had a the kind of night that reminds us why he doesn't start against bigger opponents) ran onto a clever backheel from Jesus and was through on goal only to have his jersey pulled. Unlike Tierney, though, his jeresy didn't rip. According to Lambrechts (I'm sure), had his jersey ripped earlier or more quickly, he might have pointed to the spot. That's quite a catch, that catch-22.

Anyway, the result's all that matters in the end, and the result means that we skip that play-off round. Two matches avoided. Many heavyweight opponents to be avoided. The playoff draw will be on Monday, and it's then that we'll find out who faces whom. The runners-up from the eight Europa League groups will be drawn to play the third-placed teams who have dropped down from the Champions League. Come February, we can sit back, relax, and watch Man U tangle with the likes of Barca, Sevilla, or Juve. Hey, at least Ronaldo will get a taste of something that resembles Champions League play.

Back to us, then. Arteta walked a tough balancing act fairly well, naming a side strong enough to win but mixed enough to rest key players ahead of Sunday's clash with Chelsea, so that's one job done. On to this next one!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Log in with Google, comment anonymously, or link your social media. If you go anonymous, consider "signing" off with a name/nickname in case others want to reply.