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Fighting performance makes a point

Fighting performance makes a point

A point at Arsenal has been a rare thing for Wolverhampton teams down the years.

You have to go back as far as December 1980 for the last time we came away from Arsenal with a point.

31-years is a whole generation, OK so we might have only made the trip on a handful of occasions, but that doesn't make the result any-less valuable.

It would seem that whenever Mick McCarthy's side has its back to the wall, it will always come out fighting and that spirit should never be questioned.

The goal from Fletcher was instinctive, the sending off for Nenad Milijas was unjust, but the performance of Wayne Hennessey optimised the performance and perhaps gives McCarthy another couple of weeks of breathing space.

southbank60's Reactions:

Sorry for the delay in making a comment but I had to wait until my heart rate came down from the ceiling. What a great fighting performance, especially after the early goal and the unfair dismissal of Milijas. It sets us up nicely for the Bolton match and will make potential recruits more favourably disposed towards us ... Sorry ..... I have to go ... my wife ... is dragging ... me ... from the ............... keybo ......

After my euphoric comments penned shortly after the match, reality has to intrude. Here is my considered overview of the match, written secretly and in haste before my wife drags me away from the keyboard and tells me off for not resting my neck ... and, rewritten, after appearing as a featured thread.

First of all, the good points.

We may have been lucky but the players displayed great spirit and resolve to keep Arsenal out, especially in the final 20 minutes. In a sense, we may have benefited from going a man down because Arsenal forgot about their slick passing game and tried to bludgeon us into submission.

It was also good to see Jarvis flying down the wing again, ably supported by Ward. Shame about Zubar on the other flank. He adds so much to our play going forward that I hope that he recovers quickly, though I am not optimistic. It was gratifying to see MM blood an Academy player too. I thought Forde played well: perhaps we should give other youngsters more of a chance.

As a further bonus, we possess quality players at both ends of the pitch. WH kept us in the game with a string of remarkable saves, while in Fletcher we have a striker who can convert his chances. His header yesterday was perfectly placed.

Unfortunately, both men are often poorly served by the players in between them.

All over the pitch, we still give away the ball because of poor passing or being caught in possession. Although improving as an enforcer- he was in the thick of the action yesterday- Henry is particularly bad. Whenever he does not pass immediately, I worry because he dithers and loses the ball, often in a dangerous position. It could have cost us yesterday.

We are lso failing to make best use of our assets, especially our tricky, fast-running wingers. While Jarvis is beating his man again, he, like Hunt and Hammill, still have trouble in weighting their crosses properly. With Fletcher in the middle, it's unforgivable.

At the back, all four/five performed heroics yesterday but, fortunately, in the final onslaught Arsenal played to our lads` strengths. Instead of passing the ball around on the ground and exposing our CDs` lack of mobility, they pumped balls into the middle. CB and RJ swatted these crosses away with ease: Berra was awesome in this respect.

That our back four leak goals is not entirely their fault as our midfleld frequently goes AWOL for long stretches of the game. It did yesterday. So, the opposition sweeps on to the byline or into or around the box, putting added pressure on the back four. Normally, such pressure leads to a goal, as Wenger remarked. Thank goodness for the brilliance of Hennessey ... and the resolve of our defence.

Crete Wolf rightly highlights our shortcomimgs in this area and it is something that we have to address in January. Fortunately, Frimpong saw us at our battling best yesterday and might fancy his chances of making his mark and boosting his own profile.

As MM has cautioned this morning, it will all be wasted, if we lose to Bolton on Saturday. Let`s emphasize the good points but remember our shortcomings and work hard to eliminate them. Even so, I am still elated with the result which really does feel like a victory, especially after our customary early in the match generosity.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Date:Wednesday December 28 2011
Time: 11:10AM


I look forward to the return of southbank's full blogs rather than the comments, but at least it gives us a flavour of his views!
28/12/2011 11:12:00
As for the sending off for Nenad Milijas I couldn't believe what I was seeing, it wasn't two footed, it wasn't high, there was no intent, so for that to be a straight red card the game is going soft and could have easily cost us the game if it wasn't for the brilliance of Wayne Hennessey.
28/12/2011 11:14:00
I reckon he was sent off for having his studs showing and for his feet being a couple of inches above the turf.The fact that he won the ball is of no matter then. As with the RJ challenge in the Stoke game, the letter of the law was applied. In that case for tackling from behind. Again, the fact that he won the ball and didn't injure the player is of not for consideration.To open the debate up a little, I think that this 'interpretation' of the laws is serving to open the chasm between the top clubs and us mere also rans.Those clubs that can attract the most skillful players are being helped by having the opposition not being able to 'stick the boot in'. The game seems to be heading inexorably towards becoming a non contact sport, or, at least, no contact allowed by a player not stood upright as he makes a challenge.Those of us that can remember the deliberate crippling of players (Gordan Cowans in Spain-well and truly 'butchered', or the almost surgical precision that 'chopped' Eddie Gray out of the cup final replay against Chelsea) will concede that things had become so crude that simply attacking the best player on the other side was a much used ploy.However,rather than find a balance, things seem to have now moved to the other extreme.Couple that with the glaringly obvious favouritism being displayed by the refs towards bigger clubs(ie not applying the same criteria to challenges made by their players) and it just keeps getting harder and harder to compete.
28/12/2011 12:04:00
I don't think that refs are conciously biased but I do think that the game is becoming so fast and furious that it is becoming harder for one man in the middle to keep up with play, also remembering that his decision needs to made instantly without and video replay. Some of yesterday decisons across the Prem were poor yesterday but we are not walking in the refs shoes. I don't agree with assistant refs behind the goals as in the Champions league but maybe a ref in each half would help them to stay with the play and some sort of penalty area only, video replay would help. The Scots are trialling a brilliant rule wereby a player can be suspended for conning the ref into making a wrong decision such as a dive in the box that gets a penalty or a player sent off. If we used this then it would only take a few bans to stop players diving all over the place.
28/12/2011 13:16:00
I don't think the Milijas decision was a case of the ref making a mistake, or of him being conned into it.Going by previous decisions that i've seen,coupled with explanations of them that i've heard, I think he'll say Ned wasn't in control of the challenge and, therfore, was liable to be shown a 'straight red'.These decisions, I feel, form a seperate debate to the one concerning video replays/multi officials.I wouldn't want a ref to refer to video replays for challenges like that, because I don't think it would change the decision and would only serve to spoil a game.It seems to be the case that the players and officials are at cross purposes regarding what is and what isn't permissable regarding challenging for the ball. I don't like how the game has gone, but i'm aware it has, all the same.But as long as there isn't a law expressly forbiding sliding tackles then yesterday's sending off is going to be repeated over and over. If the showing of studs whilst making a tackle is forbidden, then that pretty much outlaws sliding tackles without that being, directly, written into the laws of the game.Remember KH was sent off there after having withdrawn his feet from the tackle and eventually making a minimal amount of contact with his shins.As I said earlier, there's quite a lot of middle ground between Chopper Harris's approach and no contact. I think it's proven to be beyond the powers that be to find it.Or put another way; the route they've chosen is the simpler one of the two. Far less complicated.As for technology, i'm all in favour of refs using video for the 'was-it-wasn't-it' moments concerning the goal line-but that's all.I don't think it should be used for penalty appeals, that's up to the officials to call and for the players not to con.As regards to the further issue of players 'simulating' fouls,I like what the Scots have done in punishing a player after the match, if evidence clearly shows he cheated but feel the onus should remain on the players to clean up their act- and if being 'officially' being branded a cheat helps them to see the light, fair enough. If it doesn't, do them anyway.
28/12/2011 14:22:00
As you point out, A4D, the rules of the game do not expressly forbid sliding tackles. As a result, referees have to make value judgements in individual cases. Seen in this light, Ned's tackle was perfectly legitimate.What was an offence was Arteta's deliberate attempt to win the foul and get Milijas sent off. And, if we are talking about dangerous play, why didn't the referee give Song a red card for two reckless tackles? Is there one rule for the top clubs and a different one for the others?
28/12/2011 14:32:00
I was alluding to the Song challenges at the end of my first post,SB.In response to Rustmonkey's opening line, the less biased, neutral watcher,would point to the challenge on Song (I think it was Fletch) that appeared to lead him to make his own lunges as retaliation.Had the ref blown for the original challenge on him (which i'm sure he saw) then he wouldn't have felt the need to turn a blind eye to Song's obvious fouls, at least in terms of showing cards.Having said that, I still feel that refs do favour the bigger clubs, consciously at times, maybe unconsciously at others.I still maintain, though, with ref to the ref and the Milijas decision, that no matter the reaction of Arteta,challenges are now considered sending off offences merely because they carry the threat(however minimal) of injuring the player on the receiving end, with or without any such malicious intent on the part of the tackler.It's quite literally a case of how bad a tackle looks as oppose to how bad the tackle was.Granted, a player can help a ref make his mind up by means of overly dramatic reactions to being challenged but i've 'seen them given' even without the am-drams.The theory that used to do the rounds was that FIFA were conscious of the amount of women playing the game (especially in the US) and were pandering to that, by removing overt contact from the game.Ah well, in a discussion on the game 'going soft' I suppose someone had to mention 'girls' eventually!
28/12/2011 15:18:00
A4D: I take your point about the initial foul on Song but how many times have you seen the retaliator being punished rather than the original culprit? And Song's double attack was particularly bad.
28/12/2011 15:32:00
There seems to be indeed a rule apart for the top clubs ,especially if those clubs come from the capital .Last season's Heurelho Gomes incident springs to mind. Did this unwritten rule apply also when WW were a big club? I doubt it. Over to you, Southbank...and do keep it short, please.
28/12/2011 15:54:00
I agree with you totally,SB.Not only should he have blown for the foul on Song, he then compounded his mistake by not booking him for retaliation,at the very least. As you point out, however, the tackles were dirty to boot (sorry!) and would have seen Fletch sent off, in my opinion, if the original foul was on him and he had responded as Song did. Now then,SB, I don't want to sound like your missus, but i'm not going to encourage you any further. I know how difficult it can be to stay out of discussions on here but if the quack says it's not going to help with your recovery then i'm not going to prompt you any further.It only keeps you away from The Mol for longer and I don't see why you shouldn't suffer with the rest of us!
28/12/2011 15:58:00
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