Premier League review: Arsenal fans must stick together, not boo
Alex Sharp looks back at another action-packed instalment of Premier League football, as both City and United sealed wins
Like many other weekends in the Premier League, anger, discontent and controversy soared through the action.
Mario Balotelli can’t go a week with stamping his name across the back pages but this time it’s overshadowed another pulsating encounter.
City’s 3-2 win over Spurs has surely made it a two-horse race for the title in Manchester but should the marvellous Mario have been on the pitch to nonchalantly poke in the winner?
Criticising Howard Webb for failing to spot the offence is ridiculous, Balotelli was on the spin, off balance and these sorts of instances occur countless times in games.
However, we all know by now that if Mario is in a mood and doesn’t like a challenge, his volatile fuse can snap.
It wasn’t a clear cut offence and charging the striker is simply baffling. The FA must be 100 per cent sure Balotelli meant to harm Scott Parker and that’s impossible to know even from the video replays.
Nevertheless, Harry Redknapp must have been seething when the ever reliable Ledley King rashly chopped down Balotelli to gift City their 15th home win on the trot.
Anger also spilled over at the Emirates – but this time in the stands. A long story short: the misfiring Gunners have lost three on the bounce for the first time since April 2007.
Time to panic? Maybe. Portions of the home fans turned on Arsene Wenger on Sunday, with a selection of the crowd booing his decision to sub the sensational Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the inadequate, lazy and out-of-form Andrey Arshavin.
To boo your own manager and team is completely unacceptable. Arsenal have a history, such as the booing of Emmanuel Eboue against Wigan in 2008. It’s futile – it doesn’t help anyone – and it boosts the opponent.
Arsenal were level at the time, and yes Arshavin was at fault in the build-up to the winner, but the unnecessary pressure exerted on the team by booing is inexcusable and indicates how fickle modern football fans have become.
On the other hand, spectators have a right to air their views and Arshavin has been embarrassing this season. He lacks presence, shows no sign of effort and must be offloaded this transfer window.
Wenger needs to rally his troops immediately – they have a Champions League tie with AC Milan on the horizon, have Aston Villa in the FA Cup (probably their only realistic chance of silverware) and must recover in the league to overtake the faltering Chelsea.
It’s promising Oxlade-Chamberlain was given such a prominent role in such a crucial game on Sunday but Wenger must cut free of his stinginess in the transfer market and shore up the fragile backline.
It’s also staggering that Wenger hasn’t installed a defensive coach at The Emirates. Former Arsenal centre-half Steve Bould, who won the double in 1998 alongside Tony Adams, would be perfect as he has been working with the youth team and adores the club.
More discontent was aired at the Reebok Arena after Bolton temporarily escaped the clutches of the drop zone, following an impressive 3-1 win over Liverpool.
Kenny Dalgish normally defends his players until the cows come home but he unleashed his anger on Saturday.
The Scot was livid with his players’ performance but a huge portion of the blame falls on him. He splashed a whopping £50m on the likes of Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing in the summer. They’re not world class and none of them have performed to their level of last campaign.
And he hasn’t attempted to find a system to work for Andy Carroll, his huge £35m buy a year ago.
King Kenny and Wenger need to channel this anger soon, otherwise they are likely to end up scrapping over Europa League spots rather than the promised land of Champions League football.