Oh, Diego Costa. You cruel, cruel man. The former Chelsea strike(r) artist broke the heart of Arsene Wenger last night with his single goal being enough for Atletico Madrid to beat Arsenal 1-0. 1-0 to the Atletico? Yes, it is the 21st-century version of the song they used to sing at Highbury.
Not that Costa actually deserves much of the credit because Arsenal, predictably, were the masters of their own downfall.
I have said it many times so I shall say it once more, Hector Bellerin sums up everything that is wrong about the Arsenal in this era. His defending for Costa’s goal, seconds before half-time, was embarrassing. Had Arsenal gone in at the break at 0-0, the game is still on. Arsene’s dream still exists. As soon as Atletico score? Finished. So what does Hector do? He is looking to push forward even though it is clear Arsenal are about to give it away in a stupid position. Look, I dislike Martin Keown greatly as a pundit but even I could understand his constant drivel about “enjoying defending”. The thing is, Bellerin was actually quick enough to get back and put Costa under pressure but the other thing is, Bellerin is made of paper so Costa only had to tickle him to hold him off before scoring over Ospina (and we won’t even mention how quickly he went down).
Smell the effing danger, Hector. Smell it. Defend with pride. And the other thing? Did anyone bollock the living hell out of him for that mistake? Of course, they didn’t. In the same way nobody screamed at Nacho Monreal for allowing Costa to bully him in the opening exchanges. Arsenal are weak, physically and mentally but hey, we knew that didn’t we. Do you think Diego Godin would have let anyone in the Atleti backline off making such basic errors? Hell no. Mind you, do you think any of the Atleti backline would have dared make such errors? Hell no, because if Godin doesn’t scare you I am sure Simeone at half-time does, and if that doesn’t do the trick I’m not messing with German Burgos, are you?
And so it is, Arsene Wenger was left feeling ‘very sad’ at Arsenal’s elimination.
It’s a tricky one, some of me feels sorry for him that his players let him down. And then I remember he signed them.
I’m going to throw something else into the mix which will be a little controversial. Koscielny is also mentally weak. Ronaldo, Messi, Salah et al – players at the absolute top of their game year in, year out do not get that injury. Their mental strength is one of the reasons they do not suffer injuries – they mentally train their body not to break down. I know, you are laughing at me but I believe that.
Why am I so irate about a club that I like ripping it out of week in, week out? Because I hate seeing any team not living up to their potential and Arsenal are an institution. And they have allowed themselves to become a laughing stock. They haven’t slipped into obscurity like a Leeds United or a Nottingham Forest, so far off the map that nobody cares. They are still there or thereabouts and that is worse.
I’ll be sorry to see you go Arsene, but you did create this mess.
A mess that is likely to happen but it might be interesting to watch, Steven Gerrard is to be announced as Rangers manager today. As soppy as it sounds, I’d love him to be decent. Mind you, I wanted Gary Neville to do well and I’d love to see Frank Lampard in the dugout at some point. There was a strong generation of players that are clearly intelligent and it would be nice to see if they have what it takes on the touchline.
Jose Mourinho has flicked to the end of his “reasons why I won’t pick a player” handbook and realised he has used every single one since he has been at United so is being forced to come up with new ones. When quizzed as to why Eric Bailly has not been featuring, when we all know the answer is that Jose doesn’t fancy him anymore, Mourinho claimed he was doing right by Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones as they are all battling to get into their national squads for the upcoming World Cup. Fair play, Jose. It’s an original one.
I am sure Mohamed Salah really is a humble guy and all that, but it would have been much more interesting had he come out and said, “you know what, the Champions League Final IS me against Ronaldo,” rather than doing the usual downplaying of comparisons, reminding us there are twenty other players on the pitch and all that. Yes, that is all true Mo but nobody cares. They just want to see if the new heir to the throne can kill the king in front of the global audience.
Shaqiri knows where it’s at. He has called Stoke City’s match against Crystal Palace this weekend a ‘war that we must win’. There’s no point telling us though, Shaq. It’s your teammates who need reminding of this fact. It’s obvious that these are the last few times Stoke fans will see one of the best players ever to have played for the club wear their colours mainly as Stoke are going down, but credit to the Swiss international for actually giving a damn.
With Danny Rose almost certainly moving on from Tottenham in the summer, the Poch is casting the net far and wide to source a replacement. Well, not that far and wide as it goes as there is a perfectly capable left back playing for his former club and it just so happens they might be going down. Therefore, Ryan Bertrand to Spurs could well be on. As could Swansea’s Alfie Mawson to Spurs. I would suggest, however, that the way to win the Premier League is not to only replace the players leaving with players that are involved in relegation battles. There will be a reason they are down there, you know?