Birmingham City 2-2 Arsenal
Posted on February 24, 2008
Filed Under Matches
I said to myself yesterday that I would bring the blog back online ‘today’ if we got a good result against Arsenal. I didn’t have the chance to post yesterday due to a certain amount of being sick, coughing my lungs up and generally regretting the fact that I’d celebrated the McFadden equaliser much too hard. You see, I’ve been sick and stressed for the past seven days and each day I think it’s going to improve, it doesn’t. I’ll openly admit that a certain amount of it is down to man ‘flu… but the rest is connected to problems that I’ve had since I was a kid.
So after jumping around like, what can only be described as ‘a maniac’, I can then justifiably lie down pathetically on the couch and squeak that I’d actually quite like to be left alone – but a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits wouldn’t go amiss. And that was my afternoon. A cuppa in my Tim-Tams mug accompanied by the boys on ‘Soccer Saturday’. Just why does Matt Le Tissier dislike Liverpool so much? He’s turning into a hero of mine, that man.
I’m glad I didn’t get to post, by the way. As well as dying of bird ‘flu (it must be bird ‘flu, I caught it off Mrs Aff) I was suffering from a severe case of Wengeritis. This dreadful condition manifests itself in the boiling of blood and the muttering of idiotic and incorrect statements at inappropriate times and places. It’s a temporary bug and tends to leave the body after just a few hours. If I’d posted what I felt yesterday, I think I would’ve come back today, deleted the offending post and pretended as if the blog was broken for a few more days…
Time is wonderful for a bit of perspective and unlike his captain yesterday, Arsene Wenger had the option of giving himself a break in time before issuing any sort of response to the media over the horrific incident that happened in the third minute of the clash at St Andrew’s yesterday afternoon. After all, how many times do we see managers send their #2 down to talk to the press every single week on various footy shows? Or even send a message to the waiting press to say that all that Arsenal are focused on at the moment is the welfare of their injured star and that a response will be forthcoming tomorrow?
And speaking of Eduardo… I’m sure everyone is united in wishing him as speedy and uncomplicated a recovery as possible. No-one likes to see incidents like the one yesterday and they affect us all whether you’re red or blue. We’re all fans of the same sport and whilst our views may wildly differ on many issues, no-one likes to see a player sustain the type of injury that the young Arsenal striker did yesterday, especially at such an age – he turns 25 tomorrow.
The actual incident… Initially I couldn’t watch it again (I recorded the game) and I point blank refused to look at photographs of it. Several forums carried photographs of it but I blanked them out by quickly scrolling past with squinted eyes and my hand over the screen in front of me. The Sky coverage showed the tackle again before they went off air. They said that you couldn’t see the damage done to Eduardo but could see how Tiny went in and how the damage might’ve been done.
Since then I’ve seen several photographs and saw the coverage again… Originally – having seen it just once – I agreed with David Platt and thought that had the damage not been done that the game would’ve gone on with nothing more than a free kick. However, having seen the evidence again, I backed up and agreed that the referee was correct in his assessment. It was a red card offence.
Depending on which photo you look at, Taylor catches Eduardo anywhere between the knee and the ankle. It’s impossible to tell from a still where the contact actually takes place and choosing a photograph that you believe to be the point of impact probably dictates how you want to paint Taylor in this – villain or slightly awkward clown. My point is that photographs can be deceiving. After all, one has caught Tiny ’smiling’ at the damage he’s just done to Eduardo, if you choose to believe that. I hope that with the stats below, you’ll realise that this isn’t the case.
I don’t think I need to say, from a Birmingham City point of view at least, that Taylor isn’t that sort of player. His record stands up against anyone’s and before I wrote this article I was going to look up his full discipline record for his whole career. Thankfully I didn’t have to do that because a poster at SHA had already done it for me! Taylor has made 234 career appearances and up until yesterday, received just six cautions and one red card. And that card came in a Championship-level game in 1999 – a game that saw 3 reds and two penalties. Overzealous refereeing perhaps? Taylor came on as a sub in the 44th minute and was sent off after 63. I have no idea what for, I cannot locate a match report anywhere.
Many people have come out in staunch defence of Taylor including three of his ex-managers in Glenn Roeder, Graeme Souness and Steve Bruce. Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson both supported Taylor on MotD and Blues issued a statement last night stating that they fully supported Taylor and know that his challenge was certainly not meant maliciously.
And that’s the crux of this particular matter for me… intent. Just like in real life, accidents happen in football. We inevitably have to find a villain to blame for something that has gone horribly wrong and having searched (not particularly hard either, I sadly report) for reactions to the incident today, there’s a lot of upsetting stuff floating around with regard to Taylor from Arsenal fans.
Which is a shame because Arsenal are usually the club that you expect to do things right out of the big four. The club that seemed to have kept their feet closer to – not on – the floor than the other big three in the Prem. Wenger has crafted many great sides there and brought many Premiership fans some memories that they’ll cherish. I suppose like any genius, he has his flaws and I find it sad that so many people seem to have took his first statement and amplified the nastiness of it by so much.
Of course there is exceptions and of course, he later retracted it. But I’ve seen both interviews – the one from Sky TV and the one done by the BBC – in full and he said a lot of potentially damaging things and anyone who is anyone knows and understands that in the modern game, mud sticks. Which parts did he retract anyway? It wasn’t exactly clear although I do understand him not wanting to go through something potentially embarrassing for him and his club with a fine tooth comb.
It’s easy to forget that under all of this controversy that we nicked a point from a very, very good outfit – the second time in a number of weeks – and our new signings are really beginning to settle in. I won’t go in-depth about it but Big Eck’s changes were spot on and exactly what was required and McFadden’s coolness under pressure beggars belief. Three goals in two matches having earnt us two points is a big slice of £5m in today’s modern game.
I’m sure Arsenal fans will claim that the injury to Eduardo played some part in such a lacklustre performance, especially in the first half and yesterday, I rejected this somewhat angrily. I was frustrated that all the credit of a hard-working display had been taken away from us. Besides, Blues players also saw the state of Eduardo’s leg and surely anyone who’d seen such an injury would be struggling to refocus? However, on reflection – and having seen the incident again – Arsenal players looked distraught and calling the game off wouldn’t have been the worst decision – although I’m sure 27,000 would’ve disagreed with me.
The first half seemed to take on a surreal air and I felt a little guilty when McFadden put us one up. By the time Arsenal took the lead, I was too busy whining about what a shockingly bad commentator Ian Darke is to remember how I felt less than an hour ago. Football is funny like that. It seemed as though a lot of people had forgotten by the 90th minute and I wonder if Gallas would’ve exploded the way he did if the referee hadn’t given the penalty.
I don’t really have an opinion on Gallas. That’s an Arsenal matter although I’m glad I hadn’t taken my slightly skittish nephew along to the game along with a friend and his kid for the £50 offer and sat in the Paddock – right by where Gallas kicked. Not a brilliant example but maybe somewhat understandable? Like I said earlier, Gallas couldn’t remove himself from the situation like Wenger could. There was so much going on yesterday that it’s impossible to encapsulate it all in one blog
Going over the incidents such as Arsenal’s first goal, our free-kick and the penalty shouts seems a bit empty and hollow really. There’s an extremely talented young footballer lying in a London hospital right now with his career possibly hanging in the balance, another guy who, I have no doubt, is going over and over the incident in his head wondering what he might’ve done differently to avoid inflicting such an excruciating injury.
And I do worry about Taylor. From what people have said about him, he’s a gentle giant and causing that sort of injury – and then being vilified for it – must cause huge self-doubt and worry. I hope his is mentally strong enough to come back from the scars and the mud being flung in his direction by people who simply would not stop and think about it for more than about five minutes.
It’s probably best to leave it there… Simply put: Get well Eduardo, we hope to see you back soon. Come back soon, Tiny. We believe in you. Hopefully the relationship between the two clubs will go back to what it once was once all of this has settled down.