f course it should never have come to this. Son hit woodwork twice, Darlow made two spectacular saves, three or four other very good ones, and in the final half hour our attack ground to a halt as if we wanted to give them a shout at a result. I though Bergwijn in particular offered nothing in his stint—Son’s hamstring injury is a huge blow and Ndombele wasn’t much better. But we stayed in control of the proceedings. Generally but for the horrible Davies clearance off Hojbjerg that could just as easily have bounced past Lloris for an embarrassing equaliser the defence did fine. Organised. Calm. In control. Until Andy Carroll entered the party and the Premier League scriptwriters decided to torture all of us even further.
Roy Hodgson said it best yesterday after Joel Ward received an even more ridiculous handball penalty than Dier’s. “It’s ruining my enjoyment of the game of football” (Sky Sports). Precisely. A game dominated by one side is turned on its head because a defender makes the mistake of leaping for a ball alongside his opponent in the penalty box. And when you leap your arms are outstretched.
There is no way to do it if one is serious about trying to win the ball any other way. And then purely by happenstance, from a distance of about one foot, the ball bounces off that opponent’s head and then off the defender’s shoulder and the game is utterly changed. And an undeserving team gets a point and denies the other two.
What is the point of all this? I could praise Winks. Observe that in this current formation Dele really doesn’t have a place with Lo Celso, Winks and Ndombele driving the engine and Hojgberg (or Sissoko in some games) holding just behind. Curse the bad fortune for Son hitting the bar twice, or Kane being stopped by Darlow twice with what looked like sure goals. It was our best all-around performance of the season, and we get one measly point because people that really are not respecting the game have decided to make a mockery of it.
The rule is wrong. The rule is grossly unfair. VAR bastardises everything. Just stop it please. Or we’ll never come back even when the doors finally open. Crystal Palace were robbed yesterday. Today it was our turn. Who knows who will be victimized by this utter cheapening of a great sport tomorrow? Steve Bruce said as much after the game. He knows.
Have it end now. Change the rule. Make it reflect the reality of the game.
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