I’m going to talk a little bit about Arsenal’s performance against Chelsea yesterday. No, I have not gone mad, and please keep reading! Arsenal played well yesterday.
According to an Arsenal-fan colleague of mine, his team had as much, if not more possession of the ball than Chelsea, they created more chances than Chelsea and had more shots on target. Yet Arsenal lost 2-0.
Following that defeat, no-one has started to doubt Arsenal’s credentials as a side capable of challenging for the Premier League title, and their fans (like my colleague for example), whilst being frustrated at the defeat, are not in despair. The point is that because they played well, no one sees any reason to start ringing alarm bells.
The same can be applied to Notts County after their home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday; a loss that was undeserved, particularly after their first half domination.
County came straight out of the blocks and Lee Hughes forced the Owls keeper into a good save less than a minute into the game. Shortly after, Kevin Smith shot wide from inside the penalty box, then on 10 minutes a Ben Davies shot went inches wide of the post.
The Notts onslaught continued, as Notts laid siege to the Owls goal; Hughes headed over the bar, Davies had a shot blocked, and Alan Judge and Mike Edwards sent efforts wide.
Even after falling behind early in the second half, the Magpies didn’t flag; Hughes had a header ruled offside, and Judge also went close.
However, a fourth red card in four games saw Judge sent off towards the end of normal time, and although Notts still pressed for an equalising goal, Wednesday put the game out of reach with a second goal in injury time.
Manager and players expressed their frustrations following the game. Boss Craig Short is fed up of seeing his side play well and lose. He said: "I am getting sick of saying we've played well when we've lost. We have got to win games we dominate."
Man-of-the-match Neal Bishop concurred with his manager as he said: "We controlled the first 30 minutes of the game and we looked like the team that had just come down from the Championship, which they are, so it's disappointing to lose.”
Bishop experienced a sense of dejá vu, adding: "Their first goal was a good goal, but it's a bit of a pattern at the moment. We went to Charlton and dominated but lost, and it's happened again.
"Frustration isn't the word for it, it's worse than that. It's unbelievably hard to take. We have to be harder to beat and we have to take our chances if we want to push on towards the play-offs."
Notts played confidently, producing attractive, attacking football, with no errors and no bad performances. They gave everything and should not be too dispirited that the result did not go their way. Sheffield Wednesday are among the promotion favourites and boast some ex-Premier League players amongst their number, and Notts more than matched them for most of the game.
They can also take heart from the fact that the best of teams can consistently play good football and undeservedly lose, just ask Arsenal. The main thing is not to panic. The positive signs are there for the Magpies, they are showing the right character. If they keep creating chances the way they did on Saturday, the goals will come.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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