Another theme of Arsenal’s frustrating season has been a stroke of bad luck. Whether it be the Wojo/Koscienly mix up at Wembley (99/100 times he doesn’t fumble that ball), goals coming after the apparent end of injury time or missed referring decisions, the Gunners seem to have gotten the short end of the stick. As the saying goes, you make your own luck. There is truth to this, but there is no denying Arsenal has been extremely unfortunate in a few moments–key moments that hampered their title push.
Coming off the devastating Carling Cup final, Arsenal needed a convincing Premier League win to right the ship. Sunderland at home, however, did not provide the desired relief.
The game ended in a 0-0 draw and set off a run of draws in the tail-end of the season, effectively kneecapping the team’s title chances. This time, though, Arsenal fans and players alike felt hard done by.
Taking a 0-0 scoreline into the second half, nerves in the Emirates were stretched thin. The little Russian, though, appeared–twice–to answer the prayers of the Gunner faithful.
First, Arshavin was sent free on goal with a long through ball. Slightly ahead of his defender, Andrei rushed into the penalty box. As he shot, he was shoved in the back. Though he managed to stay on his feet long enough to fire wide, replays showed he was put off and was falling mid-shot. A clear cut penalty–and a costly refereeing mistake.
Second, only a few minutes later, Arshavin darted across the middle of field and met a slide rule pass, which sent him one on one with the keeper. Cooling rounding the goalie, Arshavin fired home. The linesman, however, flagged Andrei for offside, negating a potential winner. Again, replays showed the referees were wrong–and Arsenal lost out to human error.
Arsenal continued to pile on the pressure, but in the end, it wasn’t enough. Two points dropped. And unlike Sunderland away, Arsenal deserved a victory. To get only two of potential six points from Sunderland over a season is unacceptable (but probably made Steve Bruce’s year, as he secured another United title).