TV Appeals As RvP Heals
The news that Thomas Vermaelen‘s red card at the weekend is to be appealed is welcome. If the Football Association accept the decision was fundamentally incorrect, the Belgian will be available for the trip to St. Andrews this weekend. How Martin Atkinson decided that it was a clear, goalscoring opportunity from behind the incident is beyond reasoning; his Assistant gave the penalty and had a clear view that Franco did not have the ball under control. He should have advised the referee of that fact; perhaps he did and Atkinson chose to ignore it which compounds the original error.
The danger for Arsenal is that the appeal may be deemed ‘frivolous’ which would double the original suspension. It is a risk although given the appeal is heard today, that seems unlikely as it is generally an additional punishment reserved for those who follow this course of action to allow a player to play in a match in the meantime. If the suspension is upheld, Wenger has cover. A partnership of Silvestre and Campbell seems unlikely given the respective ages of those players and the fact that Alex Song is a more than capable deputy. Any claim that we need more cover at centre back is frivolous; three of the four ‘first choice’ centre backs are out with injury and as Wenger observed, you cannot have six exceptional players for two places in the side, discontent will surface before long.
It strikes me that there is a genuine grievance about the suspension. Arsenal rarely appeal bans, although they have been out of practice as I read over the weekend that Vermaelen was the first Arsenal player to be sent off in 68 games. Given that the number of red cards accumulated in the first decade of Wenger’s reign, that is an impressive turnaround. We still appear to pick up bookings quicker than other teams, less Arsenal fouls tolerated, than those received, per caution. How much truth there is in that I cannot say since my anorak isn’t that big but that is my perception. Perhaps officials perceive that Arsenal fouls are most likely to have an element of retribution in them hence the apparent swiftness to display a card in those instances.
It was a day of general good news. Sol Campbell might have been less than flattered when Tony Adams described as a ‘big unit‘ but Robin van Persie‘s nearness to a return is a cause for celebration. A month away he may be Arsene but less than a fortnight ago, you were still telling us that it might well be mid-May before the Dutchman was ready. van Persie himself has noted that he needs to build his physical strength over the coming weeks but a return by mid-April puts him back for the last four Premier League games and potentially the Champions League semi-finals should Arsenal overcome Barcelona.
There is an added benefit for Arsenal. Knowing that van Persie is close to a return puts pressure on the forward players in the team now. It keeps them on their toes, hopefully ensuring that the good form that they have shown in his absence continues. It is also good for van Persie to know that he may not necessarily walk straight back into the starting XI – although you would expect him to do so once he is fit enough – and it indicates that the squad is in a lot better shape than the naysayers would have us believe.
Posted on March 23, 2010, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Premiership, Soccer and tagged Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Robin van Persie, Soccer, Thomas Vermaelen. Bookmark the permalink. 354 Comments.