Mathieu Flamini (right) watches as the ball ricochets off him, going past his goalkeeper for an own goal in the match against Swansea. – AFP Photo
WHERE the heck was Flamini?
That was on many Gooners’ minds when Chelsea’s firepower thrashed at Arsenal’s goal, wave after wave, last Saturday. Mikel Arteta who was on duty that night simply drowned in Chelsea’s rising tide, leaving his back four floundering and flailing on their own.
The Gunners were lucky they were hit with only six goals.
When the name of the French midfield bulldog was called out in their match against Swansea City on Tuesday, the collective sigh of relief among the Emirates faithful was palpable.
Unfortunately, the rest of the team did not turn up and Swansea took control of the game with ease. It was a bit of a fluke that Arsenal were ahead 2-1 as they entered the last 10 minutes of the game.
But this is Arsenal, and when things go wrong for the North London club, they go very wrong.
Cue own goal: On the 90th minute, Swansea’s Leon Britton surged into the box. Per Mertesacker intercepted the ball but it bounced off goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny to hit Flamini and ricochet right into the net.
Stunned by the own-goal blooper, the Gunners could only gawk as Jonathan De Guzman charged down on goal to steal a win in the five-minute stoppage time. Thankfully, Lady Luck appeared in time for Arsenal and referee Lee Probert blew the whistle during De Guzman’s run to give them a chance to save face with a point.
Their title dream, however, may just be beyond saving. The 2-2 draw was not the response any Gooner was hoping for Arsene Wenger after his miserable 1,000th game at Chelsea, and Saturday night’s 1002th, against Manchester City, does not look any better.
City had already thrashed Arsenal 6-3 earlier this season and their victory over their derby rivals United on Wednesday showed how hungry they are for the title this year.
Manuel Pellegrini gave a Zen explanation for his team’s brilliant performance but don’t expect them to show the Gunners any compassion on Saturday night. They were ruthless against United, and will no doubt take advantage of the Gunners’ low morale.
Arsenal’s defence will need to put their disappointment behind them and come back more aggressive to stop City’s fiery attack force.
Up front, the Gunners will also have their work cut out for them – their win over United gave City a fifth-successive clean sheet this season.
The best chance they have is to write off this game and minimise the damage. And pray for some help from Fulham to beat Everton.
That is their real fight now, with Everton, who they play next, for a top four spot.
Man City get food poisoning and Arsenal thrash them. We wish!