On 58 minutes I turned to my wife (pictured above) in Oscar's bar in Lipscan, Bucharest and said, "It's going to be a long 30 minutes!" I had spent the first half wondering if Walcott was injured. When he came on, with McCartney at left back, there was only ever going to be one winner.
All summer I warned, either we buy two full backs or we are in trouble, but amazingly the obvious deficiency in the squad and team was not addressed. So today, McCartney, a carthorse in the Championship, was our only option at left back, and when Demel was injured - and his fitness record aint great is it? - Tomkins came on to play at right back. Game over!
To be fair to McCartney, only one goal came from Arsenal's right and Collins and Jussi have to share the blame. True Linda was trailing in Walcott's wake, but that was inevitable. Collins, however, was yet again at fault, playing the England man onside by dropping a yard deeper than the rest of the backline, and Jussi's positioning was wrong: where Green stood on his near post in the play off final and invited a shot across him into a gaping net, Jussi allowed far too much space at the neat post and paid the price. Credit to Walcott, he took the goal well, but Jussi made it unnecessarily easy for him.
That was as good as curtains, but Allardyce ensured an Arsenal victory when he then withdrew Diame and sent on Cole. The thinking exactly? We needed to score to save the game so why on earth, based on current form, would you send on Carlton? Meanwhile, the removal of Diame threw open the door for wave after wave of Arsenal attacks. It was a dumb decision and Arsenal rammed home a third almost immediately to prove the point.
Any pluses? Diame's goal was sublime. Noble's reverse ball into Vaz Te was as good and but for a professional block before the collision with the keeper would have almost certainly resulted in a goal. Noble knockers might also like to note that two Arsenal players were booked for fouls on him and Carroll should have scored from a Noble corner.
Diame made a mistake for Arsenal's equaliser but, that apart was very good. He is a huge presence in midfield. And Nolan could, and should, have scored twice.
We lost and Arsenal deserved to win. But so what? Arsenal will finish in the top four and will win many more games than they lose. We move on. The big worry centres on Demel. If he is out for a run of games, we will struggle.
Player ratings: Jussi 5; Demel 7, Collins 5, Reid 6, McCartney 5; Noble 6 Diame 8; Jarvis 5, Nolan 6, Vaz Te 4; Carroll 6 Subs: Taylor 6, Cole 4, Tomkins 5