In the 1986 classic comedy Three Amigos, cruel bandit leader El Guapo, frustrated that his evil ways are being hindered by the eponymous trio, castigates one of his men, Jefe, for not knowing the true meaning of the word “plethora”.
It leads Jefe to say: “Forgive me, El Guapo. I know that I, Jefe, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, and are looking to take it out on me?”
In much the same way, criticism of Olivier Giroud for his celebration when he scored an injury time equaliser against Bournemouth on Tuesday night feels like misplaced anger.
The French international was clearly lost in the moment, like many players when they score an important goal, and instead of grabbing the ball and racing back to the centre-circle he chose to enjoy the fact he’d scored and brought Arsenal level in a game which looked beyond them for long periods.
It led to an outpouring of criticism and suggestions he lacked the right mentality. He was held up in stark contrast to teammate Alexis Sanchez who, at the final whistle, tore off his gloves and threw them to the ground in frustration at two points dropped.
There are two things to point out here. Firstly, even if Giroud had hurried back and placed the ball on the spot for kickoff, there’s nothing to suggest that Bournemouth — down to 10 men let’s not forget — would have acted with the same urgency. Gutted at having let a three-goal lead slip and with the momentum of the game very much in Arsenal’s favour, chances are they would have taken their time anyway.
Secondly, questions about Giroud’s mentality don’t really add up either. People like to read a lot into body language, and on a night when Arsenal undoubtedly let two crucial Premier League points slip, the kind of frustrated posturing we saw from Sanchez resonates more greatly.
Fans can easily identify with that, after a performance and result that was ultimately disappointing — even if you have made a superb comeback in the last 20 minutes. Kick some hoardings, berate a teammate, throw your arms up in the air — you’re a winner who won’t accept anything but the best.
Sanchez’s ambition to win is unquestionable but players are not identikit. They come in all shapes, sizes, and characters. On the face of it, Giroud’s celebrations were a little ostentatious, but to question his desire after he, more than anyone, helped spark that comeback seems wide of the mark. He provided assists for the first two goals — from Sanchez and substitute Lucas Perez — before heading home the equaliser in the second minute of injury time.
Is that not a far greater measure of his mentality and contribution than a few seconds in which he took some joy from what was a very important goal for his club?
Much like Jefe and El Guapo, the ire is misplaced. It should be focused on a first half, and a good chunk of the second, in which Arsenal were a long way from their best. While Arsene Wenger certainly has some reason to be critical of the schedule, it doesn’t excuse the lapses in concentration from his players.
There is, of course, a correlation between fatigue and decision-making, but if you’re a team hoping to win the Premier League title, you have to be able to dig deep in games like this.
Aaron Ramsey and Hector Bellerin switched off for Bournemouth’s first goal while Granit Xhaka made a stupid foul as the home side went 2-0 up from the penalty spot. Then in the second half, the Gunners can have some valid complaints over the third from Ryan Fraser and a foul on Bellerin in the build-up.
Having got themselves back on track with two successive wins and two clean sheets, the team’s ability to self-destruct manifested itself again, and that’s something fans have seen from Arsene Wenger sides.
Arsenal gave themselves a mountain to climb in the first hour of the game, and that’s where the anger should be directed — not at a player who did more than anyone to help them then reach the summit.