Arsenal 1 (Nelson 55)
Leeds United 0
That was a real shame! Not because we are out of the FA Cup at the first attempt, we’re used to that by now of course and it might yet prove to be a blessing in disguise as we continue to hunt the real prize this season of promotion.
No, it was a shame because we could have made a real statement by beating Arsenal; a statement to the rest of English football that we are (almost) back as a force in the game. We so dominated the first half of this game that a visiting alien would have been hard pressed to know which side actually was the Premier League side! Had we just been able to stick the ball in the net with one of our 15 or so attempts we’d have gone in at the break at least a goal up and we’d have been cruising into the next round! It is a real shame too for Marcelo Bielsa, for whom victory last night could have elevated his cult status even higher than it already is… not that he’s bothered about that I’m sure, he’s far too humble a human being to be bothered by stuff like that.
But there’s the rub really; once again, for all of our domination and countless decent chances, we couldn’t make it count where it matters most – on the scoreboard.
Does it matter? Might it matter in the future? Who knows? This same group of players has completed the first half of the season to leave us well placed at the top of the table despite missing glorious chances all season and despite dominating virtually every game. Maybe we should actually be much further ahead at the top of the table than we are, but still we are there. The nagging doubt though will remain, that our lack of a clinical finisher in the squad “might” come back to haunt us. We are only halfway there as yet and we made it this far last season only to fail to complete the job as we struggled to put distance between ourselves and the opposition when we had the chance only to then get caught at the back with a sucker punch.
So, for now, it’s just a real shame. I think we did show the football world how good we are last night, but the watching world will also be aware what we are missing; what is leaving us just short of being a really, really, all singing and dancing outfit that could carry all before it. Maybe this January window can add the final piece of our jigsaw we really do need.
Arsenal Leeds Utd
Possession 41% 59%
Shots 16 18
On Target 5 6
Corners 4 4
Fouls Committed 16 15