Thursday 9th March 2011
For me luck is as important as any other aspect in football. We can analyse and give opinions as much as we like but I would be lying if I didn't say my overriding emotion right now is one of feeling cheated.
You won't find me writing these thoughts claiming we have played absolutely brilliantly in the last two games. Like all of us I know we haven't been at our best. The fact remains however, both results were directly affected by extremely poor decisions by the officials. With such thin dividing lines between success and failure it is this that I find so frustrating.
The offside decision on Saturday was wrong but we've all been going to football long enough to understand that occasionally these go against you.
The penalty not being given on the other hand, is simply unacceptable. In my opinion it was a referee simply not applying the rules of the game.
Players are heavily criticised if deemed to be diving these days. This is only fair however, if the officials give free-kicks when fouls take place and the player does everything in his power to try and stay on his feet. The Meerkat did just that on Saturday but didn't receive the correct decision.
Whatever happened in the match, the game ended 0-0. That fact alone means the incorrect decisions cost us two points.
By the time we touched down at Barcelona airport on Sunday afternoon Man Utd had lost again and depending on whether you are a glass 'half empty' or 'half full' person things certainly felt a lot better than on Saturday evening.
Barcelona is a good city with plenty to entertain all tastes. In the expected fashion our group very made the most of the delights on offer well into the small hours culminating in the Fan Park laid on similarly to last year on the day of the match. A thoroughly entertaining way to enjoy the match build-up.
Last year we were well beaten in the second leg but I have always felt it was wrong to analyse that result too deeply given how many of our squad were not available that night.
This time round we still had players missing and others just returning from injury but generally we were in better shape to take on arguably the best club side in the world.
We all knew there could be long periods of the game where we might not have the ball but by making as few mistakes as possible and keeping our shape we had a chance. If we could get an away goal our position would be even better.
Early in the second half we got just that and near on five thousand travelling Gooners high up in the huge Nou Camp went doolally.
For the second time this week however, a quite ridiculous decision arguably lost us the game. The reason I can say that I feel is because at the time RVP was sent off the score was 1-1 and we were in a position where we were going through.
Of course our hosts might still have gone through. Like every Gooner I am well aware of that. What is so intensely frustrating however, is the chance to battle on an even keel was taken away from us so we will never know.
We can look at Man Utd away in two ways. Of course it is an extremely difficult game but it could be just what we need to kick on at the end of a disappointing couple of weeks.
Make some noise at Old Trafford.
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