Arsene has finally started rotating players more regularly. Over the last two seasons, I felt, he persisted with the same starting eleven for too many games, resulting in some tired performances and niggling injuries at crucial moments. Perhaps, he has more confidence in the squad now. Certainly, the likes of Denilson, Bendtner, Diaby and Song are better players now than they were two years ago.
Wenger has tactfully avoided calling it rotation. He knows only too well, the mess that media can create, if things don’t go well when players are rested. He’s skirted the issue by calling it ‘picking the most efficient team’ :-). And efficient it was.
This was our most fluid performance so far this season, although I am not too sure what the formation was. In a mixture of 4-4-2, 4-5-1 and 4-4-1-1, the movement up front between Diaby, Bendtner, Eboue and Eduardo was delightful. Song and Denilson were excellent in a more supportive role, as were the fullbacks. The sight of center backs heading the ball clean out of the danger areas was like icing on the cake.
Celtic worked hard, were well organized and gave their best. But they just didn’t have enough in the final third. It was almost an encore right up to the most crucial moment. There definitely was contact. Not enough in anyone’s books but the referee’s. Dudu made the most of the contact and the resulting penalty. Contest over. Eboue then finished off a move that showed we always had an extra gear. Arshavin got of the mark with a classy finish.
Sadly, the talking point of the match has been the penalty incident. I can’t believe Eduardo is at fault here. The ref saw Boruc’s knee clipping the outside of his right shoe. It was clearly visible from two angles. One angle was that facing the Celtic goal which was also similar to the view of Mr. Gonzalez. The other was from a camera almost parallel to the ground right in front of the place where the Crozilian fell. Claims that he should be banned and that it was a blatant dive are silly and wide off the mark. Frankly, if Eduardo is banned retroactively, Madrid risk losing ₤ 80 Million as Ronaldo could just end up getting a life ban from cumulative punishment for all his offences!
There are plenty of blatant dives in modern football. Theatrical falls when the defender is nowhere near the artist. This certainly wasn’t. I am a firm believer in punishing simulation. It is unfortunate that the authorities have not been stricter on such issues. If the video evidence is clear that the player has dived, a 10 match ban across competitions should be handed out. Stringent action would automatically reduce the number of such incidents. This would also make the referee’s life easier, the game cleaner and fairer for the fans. But, unless the likes of monsieur Platini have any accountability, there is very little hope.
On the other hand, Arsene is accountable and there is a lot of hope this season 😀