With Christmas around the corner the pantomime season is in full swing and Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue assumed the role of villain at The Emirates on Saturday.
It was the ultimate humiliation for the Ivory Coast star after Arsene Wenger decided to substitute Eboue, who was himself a substitute.
Eboue arrived as a 32nd-minute replacement for the injured Samir Nasri, but he had an afternoon to forget as everything he attempted went wrong from miscontrolling the ball to giving away possession at every opportunity.
It was a case of: “It’s behind you.”
His horror show was met by a barrage of abuse and catcalls from sections of the home support and his departure in the final minute was applauded by parts of the Emirates faithful.
Those fans will rightly point out that they have paid their money so they’re entitled to voice their opinions, but there is no real benefit to deriding your own team’s player and there is nothing more counter-productive to the team’s efforts.
Wenger afterwards revealed he was forced to withdraw Eboue saying he had become “a danger” as his side protected a slender 1-0 lead against Wigan to seal a good weekend for football betting as the Premier League’s Big Four all recorded victories.
It certainly was a brave call by the Arsenal chief, who will now surely have to put a comforting arm around the player and make sure he doesn’t fluff his lines again.
However his decision to play the 25-year-old in midfield seems a puzzling one. Wenger seems insistent Eboue is seen as a wide midfielder, but from my experience his ball-playing ability looks limited and his natural position is surely an uncompromising full-back.
Team-mate Kolo Toure though has urged fans to support Eboue: “He came on after six weeks out injured and that was his first game.
“The fans gave him a hard time and that is not usual at Arsenal. He has all our support because we know he is a great player. He tries his best for the team even if he is not 100 per cent.
“I was surprised because normally our fans are nice always. I think the tension was really high and that is why they were hard.”
By Phil Tomlinson