Curb Your Enthusiasm For The Run-In

Looking forward with optimism is a basic necessity for footballers. Bad times will always be replaced by the good, the last game will be bettered by the next and if things are going well, temper your enthusiasm but not to the point of negativity.

It is also a complete anathema to your average football fan in the Premier League era; bad times mean spend more money whilst if the last game can be bettered by the next, sack the manager since he obviously has no clue as to what he is doing. Good times? A hit by Chic from before they were born that they sometimes see when scanning Youtube or the latest MTV style TV channel.

The Arsenal squad is a case in point. Reactions in late Summer and darkest Winter contrast with Autumnal joy with a Spring in the step. The players according to Mikel Arteta were surprisingly optimistic even when in the doldrums,

To be honest I was really surprised with the spirit when I came here – even when we were down it was so good. It is something you rely on because if you start blaming each other and shouting at each other it is not good.  

This group has always been positive, the manager has always been positive with the players and we have kept at it. We have the talent, we know we have the ability to win games and sometimes it is just about the balance in confidence. We have it all together now.

The optimism of now though is tempered; there is no second chance any more, this is the business end of the season. I am not suggesting that they were not beforehand but there is a definite focus in the players minds that is more evident than it was before. Perhaps that has more to do with the confidence borne of a winning run; might it be easier to talk aloud of ambition if others have ‘bought into’ the achievement of that end target?

A dose of realism has been injected into ambition by Arteta. Speaking of the chance of finishing third, the Spaniard observed,

If anyone thinks it’s all done now, then they are making a big mistake. We can’t take our foot off the pedal now. We have won seven in a row now, which is very difficult in the Premier League nowadays, and we have done it well, playing some high-tempo football, but there are some tough, tough games coming up in our last eight matches.

The run-in is not straightforward, the more obviously difficult matches are at home against Chelsea and Manchester City. The trip to the Britannia Stadium will provide Peter Crouch with another opportunity to fluke a long-range effort but there is no reason for Arsenal to fear any of those matches; all of the sides are beatable with obvious weaknesses to be seen.

More tricky in many respects are matches deemed to be routine, a feeling that just by turning up Arsenal will win. Those are the occasions in the past where mistakes have been made, costly ones. Sometimes it is too easy to look at the negative and believe that your opponents have a more simple life. Spurs run-in looks straightforward but there are tricky away trips mixed with home matches against teams fighting for survival. It is swings and roundabouts.

But confidence spreads in a squad. Gervinho was off the pace on his return from the ACN this Winter – a warning for next year when there is another ACN –  and is slowly coming back to form,

I spoke to the coach when I came back [from the Africa Cup of Nations]. He knew I was tired and I needed a bit of time to recover and to get back to my best. Now, I feel good again. I want to finish the season well and be a key part of the team in the last games of the season and help the team to finish in the top three.

Gervinho comes in for some unfair criticism, more noticeable since Andrey Arshavin went on loan. Like the Russian, he contributes more than goals to the side which is a curious way of looking at a strikers productivity. Occupying the wide position, he has to provide as well as score. This season so far, 4 goals and  8 assists is generous enough but it is only marginally more productive than Arshavin’s 2 and 4 respectively in his 26 games.

My view is that Theo Walcott offering an assist or goal in every other game on average, highlights the relative imbalance. Yet Walcott is more settled. The Ivorian and Russian interchanged their appearances and too often that is overlooked when assessing either.

It is the nature of the game nowadays that snap judgements are made over players and the simple solution is to shift them on without hesitation. Thankfully the manager has more patience – generally as well as enforced – and we may yet be grateful for that perseverance as one of those that has recently stumbled or dragged wide of the post, ends up in the back of the net.

As it is, surely the order of the day is to enjoy the next seven weeks or so until the campaign is over.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on March 27, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 138 Comments.

  1. first?

  2. hatrick for gerv against barton troop

  3. morning YW as always, another great write up.man city have been pretty much very average in their last few away games and the chavs have not been any better.i believe that with the unity and renewed belief now inherent in the squad we will not see any complacent performances from the boys…onwards and upwards

  4. GOOD MORNING ARSENAL. NATION………….

  5. Still nooooooo. MEERKAT….. DAMN

  6. Just FYI, The reason there’s another ACN next year is so that the Competition can be moved to the Summer (In a bid to raise its profile). We shouldn’t have any issues with loosing players mid-season from here on out.

  7. Paulie Walnuts

    Pretty , pretty , pretty good summing up of where we`re at Yogi.

    I agree about Walcott being settled & since Sagna`s return our right side has looked very potent.

    The early part of the Newcastle game highlighted a bit of an imbalance as AOC didn`t touch the ball for over 15 minutes & it appears to be much tougher on the left side as Arshavin & Gervinho would no doubt testify.

  8. I like Sol Campbell’s description of Tommy’s work rate and I would put that at the top of the list for any team that wants to win at this stage.

    They have the skill, they have the training, they must not lose concentration and must work bloody hard. Then they will win.

  9. Gervinho looked out of sorts from before the Afcon Cup. Actually as far back as a couple of weeks before the Ivory Coast Bafana match in Port Elizabeth.

    I am sure that most of his assists and goals came from before that time also, which makes his record up to then very good and the contrast a little bemusing.

    It looks like a confidence issue to me, but he looks like he is getting on top of it.

  10. To be honest, the only game that kind of concerns me is shitty at home. Roberto being Roberto ,he will probably come not to lose. If we can play at this level ,we should be able to harness maximum points from the remaining games. Mind you, the mental toughness required will be more important than anything. And to keep focus. LETS DO IT…….
    UP THE GUNS!!!!!!!!!!
    Manure and shitty will drop points. count on it..
    We just have to do our own thing…. that’s. All..

  11. Arteta speaks sense i hope everyone else in the squad listens…it aint over til its over so you gotta play your heart out every game till the last….and if im honest i have no reason to doubt that they wont…GOYG

    Gerv has been hit and miss this season, which is not too surprising really, what with it being his first season in a new league and being interupted by the ACN. He looks like he has it in him so its just a matter of settling down and getting the confidence levels up.

  12. Man City and Chelsea have very difficult games coming up against Arsenal and will have to be at their very best to live with us; I don’t envy them the task especially as both are ‘must win’ games for them …

    As with Theo and Rosicky (and potentially Arshavin), Gerv may well benefit from a side back to firing on all six cylinders – he looked very lively to me on Saturday. When he finds his feet and gets fully up to speed with the EPL he could be a real handful for defenders. Certainly, with the tracking back as well as the forward play, one can already see the attitude is there.

    Will be interesting to see if Kenny Dalgish survives the season and at what point the US owners, bereft of the sentimental attachment to the ‘king’ will act. Suspect he’ll be the next EPL manager to go either way …

  13. Great post YW. Arteta and Rosicky are really turning out to be elderly statesmen of the team.

    More and more, its becoming evident that the key players who left last season were the problem at Arsenal and the missingredient is something the current squad have in abundance.

    And on other matters football, has anyone noticed that Man United is a one man team? Where would they be without Wayne ‘the granny shagger’ Rooney, eh? And how the fuck did that ref miss that penalty or palanty as Chris would say? I wonder if Bill will think that it was just human error that Oliver missed the penalty incident.

  14. sixtay

    Issa Hayatou was the brains behind this so as per usual, it is fundamentally flawed. Even Hayatou cannot comprehend his idea any more, i.e. why there is a tournament next year rather than waiting.

    Rather than moving to summer, the rationale is that it won’t be competed in the same year as the World Cup. They could have made it coincide with European Championships or moving the ACN, Copa America and ECs to an aligned calendar basis. But no, that would be too much to ask for.

  15. @Sixtay, just FYI, the Africa Cup of Nations is being held next year to move it to odd numbered years so it’s not played in the same year as the World Cup. After next year the following tournament will be in January/February 2015 in Morocco, if they played in the northern hemisphere Summer it would rule out several countries from holding the tournament because of the heat.

    @YW, what was flukey about Crouch’s goal? A bit of credit where it’s due at least.

    Seems like there are plenty of good vibrations in the camp at the moemnt, long may it continue. Hopefully we can give Hughes a good slapping on Saturday!

  16. Gutted the little icons aren’t coming up still. My Larry David pic would have been quite appropriate today.

    Great blog today YW, thanks.

  17. YW – Nice write up, and nice nod to perhaps the greatest show on TV.

  18. Darius good morning.
    I agree . It should have been a penalty. It was a missed call. But fullham were pathatic with their tactics. At one point manure was on 80% possession. They deserved to lose to this not so impressive manure team. I think they thought the ball was radioactive. And to be avoided at all cost. And to goal united got was a massive defensive error. This manure team is nothing special. Teams playing them must come to believe that. Then they will have a good chance of beating them.

  19. Thankyou Yogi for the interesting post.

  20. True, no surprise that our right is more productive. They are settled. Many of our left flank players are relatively new to the first team (Gervinho, Ox, Gibbs, Santos, Benayoun). Some journo attributed Theo’s improvement in attack over the the last few months to him having competition for his place, which I think is utter bollocks. Sagna has made Theo a more attacking threat again, period.

    Liking the fact that we have no avatars lately Yogi. It’s not so obvious that I’m on the internet at work…

  21. Markus – competition for your place making you a better player is not utter bollocks! Its how it should be and works a treat. It minimises complacency, encourages good players to be better and the really good ones to be world class. It also serves to weed out those not quite good enough or those not willing to put in the required effort.

    For sure having a Sagna backing you up doesnt hurt but having a hungry Ox on your heels is quite the motivator, no?

  22. Steve of Chiang Mai

    If you look at Arsenal’s attack lately the bulk of our forward movement has been down the right side – so the right sided winger will get more opportunity. Also I think RVP is more efficient at scoring from delivery from the right.

    As long as Gervinho keeps getting in good positions he will do ok – also Jack will provide better supply when he returns.

  23. Deise, of course it’s a great motivator, but it has been all season. It is not the reason for his attacking threat lately.

  24. But its A reason though Markus surely? I mean Ox is now being used more due to the fact that he nearly always seems to make something happen. Theo knows hes gotta better the Ox to stay in the side.

    Having great players in the team (Sagna) with you makes you better but also knowing a good’n is waiting in the wings (Ox) helps keep you focused – Theo seems to have had that focus lately.

    Anyways its all good… 🙂

    Paper talk now that Song is set to be offered a new deal and that Arsenal will go back in for M’Vila……..

  25. Yann mvilla, had his leg broken yesterday. No??

  26. Quite recently, only a few weeks back, poor Theo was at the butt end of negatory comments, the usual pearls of wisdom “how long must we wait before he comes good” … “what is he being paid, what did he cost us” … “can’t think football, can’t score” … bla bla …

    I see a Song parallel acoming. Walcott, at 22, is one of the most exciting young english players to emerge recently and has a good 2 years further development before one might say “a mature player”. He is learning all the time, and of course the stats are utterly convincing, but Robin never needed convincing. Theo is his route to many goals.

    As for Gervinho, I just don’t see an “on-off” season. I see a player who consistently unsettles defences and creates team chances, who is not very good at scoring himself, who offers spontaneity, who is good defensively, and who got tired in an utterly draining ACN. I rather see Gervinho as one of the more consistent performers (when not just returned from a competition), and what you see is what you get.

  27. spot on ZIMPAUL.
    I might add, he is unorthodox and very hard to defend. 3gs that is. Like a drunken master….

  28. Zim – consistently unsettles defences yes but inconsistency in his end product is what I see. Hes got 4 league goals and he could have had more but his finishing has been erratic. Hes got about 8 assists to his name i think but again could have been more i feel. So while hes going well it seems to me hes just a little off doing great. I have high hopes for him from what i have seen

  29. Can’t wait until Dalglish is sacked, so I don’t have to listen to his extraordinary ability to rewrite facts. So I don’t have to listen to his ill-tempered responses to reasonable questions. So I don’t have to look at his face.
    He has all the judgement and honesty of the most biased Liverpool fan. Often completely unintelligible and always sounding bitter. It’s usually as though the gods themselves are conspiring against them. His handling of the Suarez affair was typical of his total lack of class. To be honest he is a stain on whatever is left of Liverpool’s reputation.

    @Maria – marvellous stuff yesterday, you sounded as though you’d been supping on Irish’s moonshine. Giddy on Sagna-juice.

  30. @Bob – “Doolalley Tap”. There is a term I haven’t heard since my mum passed – she was fond of it’s use. Let’s face it, I probably gave her good cause.

    It’s etymology is marvellous – a story dating back to 1861, when the British army established a military base and sanatorium at Deolali, about 100 miles north-east of Bombay.

    Frank Richards, who knew the camp well, wrote in Old Soldier Sahib in 1936:
    “The time-expired men at Deolalie had no arms or equipment; they showed kit now and again and occasionally went on a route march, but time hung heavily on their hands and in some cases men who had been exemplary soldiers got into serious trouble and were awarded terms of imprisonment before they were sent home. Others contracted venereal disease and had to go to hospital. The well-known saying among soldiers when speaking of a man who does queer things, “Oh, he’s got the Doo-lally tap,” originated, I think, in the peculiar way men behaved owing to the boredom of that camp.

    To say someone was doolally tap meant he was mad, or at least very eccentric. The first bit is probably the result of the standard British soldier’s way of hacking foreign-sounding placenames into something that sounded English. The second part is from a Persian or Urdu word tap, a malarial fever (which is ultimately from Sanskrit tapa, heat or torment). So the whole expression might be loosely translated as “camp fever”.

  31. Jonny – I actually struggle to hear what Dalglish says. Between his mumbled speech akin to some back street thuglife don in the seedy part of Liverpool and his actual accent, I do really struggle to “get” him.

    Most of the time I can’t even understand Fergie anyway.

  32. Darius – he’s doing you a favour. It’s better not to understand.

  33. pedantic george

    Andrei,here boy,come on ,here boy!!!
    Pfft.
    Nice post again Yogi btw.

  34. http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/special-report-carl-jenkinson-s-haircut

    One of the best videos I have seen on Arsenal Player and yet more proof of the togetherness of this squad! And it is free to watch as well!

  35. Jonny – I figured if it was that important, they’d use subtitles. But then again, the transcriber would plead unfair working conditions if asked to translate anything the King said.

  36. Yogi, thats perhaps the best thing i will see on the internets all week

    ha ha ha h a

  37. Continuing on Gerv’s form.

    He was excellent early on, but his touch lately has been a tad wasteful which is why the Ox has had the shout over him in some matches.

    That having been said I agree with Zim, he is a bloody exciting player and with a confident Arsenal around him his form seems to be getting a better.

    One wonders if he thrives when we are winning?

  38. Spark + Gunga after the Villa match I’d bet…

  39. Jonny (11.34) – perfectly put.

  40. Looking at heat maps of Arshavin & Na$ri* last season, they didn’t spend too much time on the LW. I thought AOC was/is trying something similar against Newcastle? Tennish tendencies, the O-C just can’t shake ’em off! Still, that Wenger is ruthless. ‘He plays where he is needed’ said the evil genius of AOC.

    *He wants to play as a No.10. So he left AFC where he had that opportunity this season to play wide midfield, occasionally, up at $iteh. Heh.

  41. Wengerball teams when in good form have always played the tip tap bang bang variant of tika-taka.

    Why do the revisionists have to demean themselves in futile attempts at gloating whilst bleating on about yadda yadda yadda – What do I mean? You know! Do you all remember the interview with Cesc F-Word and young Theo after the Chelsea Home game last winter? What did they say? Something about playing with a good (varied) tempo. Pressing as a unit (That useless TR7 has been inspiring them of late has he not?) Team work. Team spirit? Marvelous. Wasn’t it? Isn’t it? Mmmmmmmmm.

  42. AWAY FORM (last 8 matches)

    Chelsea:
    DDWDDLLL
    7 points, 6 goals

    Man City:
    LDLWLWLD
    8 points, 4 goals

    These are not teams to be feared. Respected, yes, but not feared.

  43. England clawing their way back into the test match against Sri Lanka.

    Sri-Lanka 72-5 and Swann has got his tail up.

    The spinners are rescuing an abysmal batting performance. Still we are 197 behind so a lot of work to be done yet.

    Good contest though.

  44. HOME FORM (last 8 matches)

    Arsenal:
    WDWLWWWW
    19 points, 21 goals.

  45. @ finsbury
    Tip tap bang bang tika taka yadda yadda yadda Mmmmmmm
    Are you some kind of writer, finsbury? Just wondering.
    If I’m not mistaken, I think/know Jonny is. Are you one also?

  46. Thank you YW for a good post as usual.

    I doubt if the lads will let complacency or over confidence set in. The vibes coming from the team is one of determination and rolling up of their sleeves to get the job done.

    Just a little on the majority of our attacking coming from the right, as many have said, it is mainly as a result of the settled combination of Walcott and Sagna over the years. The inconsistency of personnel on the left have contributed to this skewness. It was a little more balanced when Santos and Gerv played regularly together earlier in the season. The fact that we have no naturally left footed winger could be a contributing factor. Gerv, AA, OX, Benny are all players that can take on their man on the outside but love to drift infield to get involved more in the buildup play.

    I noticed that tech 9 was spreading his distribution to the left wing against Villa and they did well to launch some attacks from the there.

  47. @jonnyneale 12:51 pm

    250-odd will take some getting tomorrow supposing the Sri Lankan tail doesn’t wag too vigorously. The batsmen will have to apply themselves to make those in testing conditions, after the first innings the Sri Lankan bowlers will fancy themselves to wrap up the win.

  48. jonny a writer? He’s an chef although he does like his language, especially after a beer or two.

  49. Morning all,

    and thanks Yogi for another interesting read.

    Darius and goonerkam
    27 yr old Michael Oliver (youngest epl ref) was never going to give Fulham any penalty. Intimidation factor by the venue of OT.

    It was the poorest match I’ve seen him officiate this seasons, as ManU received the benefit of almost every tackle, many would have given Fulham free kicks and their only viable
    threat of scoring (last night).

    Having lost 0-5 at home, I can understand Fulham’s tentativeness.

    United’s play was atrocious. This team, on this form, will never win the league title. (imo)

    Darius, you are spot on,
    they are so dependent on Rooney and his performance last night was mundane.

  50. I agree Block 4. We lost this Test on the first day with defensive fields after the early wickets when we should have gone for them and then on day 2 with some shoddy batting.

  51. Cook will score a century tomorrow and that will be it for Sri Lanka. Of course, only if the bowlers get Sri Lanka out quick enough.

  52. Mingus
    My typing isnt the best, I can’t spell and i used to think that Grammer was a measure for weights. Nope. I can’t write.* But I can draw!

  53. Which reminds me of a time on the bus when I heard to girls talking about a job interview one of them was having the next day. The other girl, giving her advice said: “…and you mustn’t be late. Whatever you do, don’t be late, yeah. Punctuation is really important.”

  54. two! Spelling! F**k! Aargh.

  55. Yogi:

    Great post as always. I am really excited for this team to finish this season with this sort of confidence and style and go into the summer on a high note. Its getting way ahead but next season could be special if we can find some consistency.

  56. Mingus – was that the No. 53 bus to Plumstead?

  57. Darius @ 9:59:

    “I wonder if Bill will think that it was just human error that Oliver missed the penalty incident.”

    🙂 I’ll bite. It probably should have been a penalty. However, one of the worst calls of the year was the penalty that United conceded against Newcastle at OT and it cost them 3 points. They got knocked out of the CC by an offside goal and there were a couple of other calls that went against them. If you are going to use yesterdays call as confirmation of a conspiracy for ManU then you need to be consistent and admit that those other bad calls against them were part of a competing parellel conspiracy against ManU. This stuff is mostly random. I will certainly admit that over the course of a full season ManU might get a few more calls. The “top team” in any professional sports league always seems to get a little more benifit of the doubt, thats human nature, but to blame that on an organized conspiracy is taking things over the top by quite a bit. As hard as it is to believe in an organized conspiracy for ManU, our biggest argument on this whole conspiracy angle is your belief that there is an organized conspiracy against Arsenal which is much harder to believe then a conspiracy to help ManU since there is no real logic or financial gain for anyone to to hurt Arsenal.

  58. I didn’t mean that England are likely to win, more that we are back in with a chance. That looked unthinkable at the start of their 2nd innings. 5 quick wickets has changed the picture enough for a little hope. And yes, obviously anything over 250 will be a big ask but it’s by no means impossible.

    If we can rattle through their tail, we just need a few of our batsmen to stop making the same elementary mistakes that dogged them in the first innings and the last test series. Bell showed the right technique and shot selection in his 50 but was undone by a good ball. Most of our batsmen have been architects of their own downfall which has been disappointing.

    Jayawardene has shown what can be achieved with one big innings and some dogged support. Cook and Trott are both capable of such an innings.

    It’s a big ask, but if Arsenal can come within a whisper of overturning Milan then it seems premature to totally write off England just yet.

  59. Bill.

    Thought you’d never disappoint. Just for the record, it wasn’t a conspiracy – it was just a 27 year old referee scared shitless. He probably didn’t want to get buggered by a United manager old enough to be his grandpa.

  60. Bill : ” there is no real logic or financial gain for anyone to hurt Arsenal.”

    Just to add a counterpoint to that Bill. There is no financial gain to be had from favouring a financially self sufficient team either.

  61. Darius:

    Its always a controversial topic. I really wish the FA would do something about the whole referee issue. It really takes away from the integrity of the game when there are just so many unexplainable things that happen almost every game. There is almost never a game that goes by without a penalty controversy. Close off sides calls are almost completely random and at best 60/40 right to wrong. I still believe that the refs and linesmen have an impossible job, probably harder then the officials of any other major sport in the world. All we can do is hope that things come close to evening out over time which I believe they usually do in the end. Your team has to be able to take advantage of good luck and be tough enough to overcome at least enough of the bad luck. Thats whats happening for us right now.

  62. jonny,

    It was almost a shock that Cook didn’t score a ton! 😉

    I do agree though, some proper application from a top six as talented as ours and they have a chance.

  63. Markus:

    I don’t see the connection. How does the fact that Man City and Chelsea spend outrageous amounts of money on players and agents benefit any of the people who might have the power to influence our results. How does our being self sufficient hurt them? You have to postulate some gain for those “power brokers”. I have no clue why they would want player transfer fees and wages to skyrocket which is what Chelsea and Man City have done. Do you really think the league likes that? Perhaps Man City or Chelsea is spending money to buy referees or FA officials. But if they are going to do that they would buy influence to help their own team. Why in the world would they want to specifically target Arsenal? If anything they would hate ManU. Its easy to believe in something like conspiracies in the abstract but when you start thinking about all the details it just gets too strange and unbelievable. Plus trying to keep everyone involved quiet is probably impossible. Any one person could sell their story for millions to the tabloids.

  64. No one in cricket has scored more runs than him in test cricket since 2009. That said his scores in the recent tests against Pakistan were poor and then he scored a century in the ODIs which was all rather confusingly the wrong way round.
    Still he averages over 60 against Sri Lanka – if he gets ‘in’ then he is so tough to get out.
    Looking forward to tomorrow’s play.

  65. Just making the point, Bill. For me that statement is more acurate with the flip side added. I haven’t given a huge amount of thought as to how it may have an effect. I don’t know that much about the business behind the league.

    ”there is no real logic or financial gain for anyone to hurt [or help] Arsenal.”

  66. I don’t even get all that angst. It’s certain that Cook will do well when he comes back in and gets a bit of time to get accustomed. I’d almost wager a bet that he’ll lead England to victory.

  67. Bill, I don’t believe that there’s an organized conspiracy against Arsenal, but I do believe that there’s a certain xenophobia in the press, and that they reflexively say things about a Frenchman that they’ll never say about a Scot. And Ferguson, who really is a fantastic manager, knows how to exploit this and does not scruple to intimidate any chance he gets, be it refs, press, or FA. You make a call against ManU, especially at OT, and your life is going to be a living hell.

    Regarding the Newcastle pen, it was the wrong call, but not obviously so…making contact with the ball is not enough if you go right through the player. It’s instructive that it was a linesman, not the ref, who knows better. And it did NOT cost them 3 points. At most, it cost them 2, and even that is arguable, given that they had a 30 mins left to score, and half of that was against 10 men. If Arsene had gone off about such a penalty, he would have been castigated as a whiner, and there would have been all sorts of bullshit about lack of spirit in the team for not being able to overcome it.

    The Newcastle pen is so notable because it’s only the 8th pen against ManU at OT in the last 14 YEARS. The non-penalty calls are the most egregious. Remember Fletcher’s two foot assault on Arshavin when he didn’t get near the ball? I can think of 10 cases for Vidic alone. It’s worth 6-10 points a year, not only because of the decisions, but because it discourages visitors to know that it’s not an even game. We don’t get that at the Emirates, Chelsea doesn’t get it at the Bridge, and Liverpool doesn’t get it at Anfield.

    I find it interesting that La Liga has intentionally looked at this, and Barca is not getting the calls they used to. And surprise, surprise, they aren’t going to win the league.

  68. Bill – I agree. There are no conspiracies. There are inconsistant ref’s, and some bad ones as well. The nature of the game however ensures that we miss the numerous calls they get right, and in the main concentrate on the bad decisions they make. And even more specfic than that, the ones that affect our team. Only natural of course, but it does portay quite an inaccurate picture.

  69. @GA
    So you’d say that we have suffered the same amount of good/bad calls as ManU have?

  70. http://www.arsenal.com/news/news-archive/special-report-carl-jenkinson-s-haircut
    Only at Arsenal! To be honest, it looks okay now that the hair has grown a bit more.

  71. To quote Wenger: “The penalty decision was Old Traffordish”

  72. Evil – I could not comment as I have not watched every single game Manure play. I watch all of ours obviously, but not theirs. Even if there was a significant difference, I would still would not put it down to shady goings on. And here is the thing, many think we are much worse off than all other teams, however without watching every game for every team how is that conclusion reached?

    If we do, do we then have to assume than if we have many more calls in our favour than say Bolton, their fans could also claim foul play? Or is that just football?

  73. A few optimistic cricket fans on here today. Good for you.

    SL to post a lead of around 300 tomorrow.

  74. @GA
    I think that that’s exactly what some fans do. I think that most Stoke fans, when their team concedes a free kick will feel that it wasn’t really deserved, while the perspective of an Arsenal fan will be that it should’ve been a booking, too. Stoke fans will think their team are getting victimised for what they feel is normal physical play, while fans of “lighter” teams will see it as overly aggressive and not punished enough by referees.

    However what I also noticed is that usually it’s you or Bill mentioning “shady ongoings”, “conspiracies” and so on. I think out of the regularls on here that criticise referees on a regular basis, no one has ever suggested that there is a proper conspiracy going on with back room deals etc. But it still can’t be underestimated how much power certain people hold over the game. if you give a wrong penalty against ManU at OT, you can be certain that Fergie will come after you. And I do not think that, as a referee, you want to be known as the guy that f*cked it up at OT.

    In the end, Andy, as you said that you’ve seen all our games, how many times have you seen referee decisions in the last 12 or so months go clearly in our favour? I can think of the goal Everton scored a week ago that was incorrectly ruled offside and Szczesny not getting sent off in the CC Cup final. Can you think of any more instances?

  75. Evil – There are plenty. And of course, we tent to forget them much quicker. And even then you have to decide what consitutes a decision worth talking about. Many teams for loads of sides an offside is wrongly called; however the only time a big deal is made is if it is a goal chalked off for offisde. What about when somebody would have been clean through, only to be brough back. These types of instances are rarely remembered and certainly don’t appear in any type of stats on the subject.

    Fans like to use debatable decisions (as many of them are depspite the wronged set of fans deciding that it is “fact” the decision was wrong). I for one am glad the team don’t appear to buy into this way of thinking and start feeling sorry for themselves.

    A great example of this is the Newcastle 4-4 game. Did stuff go against us? Yup, they did. The pen against Rosicky (I think) I still can’t work out. But the other goals were all a result of our bad defending, but the fans concentrated on the decsions which had gone against us when in truth we still should have won that game comfortably regardless of the ref.

    On that note, I am off home.

    Laters 🙂

  76. Nolagunner:

    My own belief is that your first paragraph is partly accurate regarding the xenophobia and the English media “favoring” a ruddy Scotsman over an urbane, well spoken ultra-intelligent Frenchman.

    I have no clue how Fergie could intimidate a ref. Realistically what could he do to make their lives a living hell?

    As for the rest of your post, As I said before to Dariius, I do believe that overall ManU probably get more favorable calls then most teams. Same with Micheal Jordans Chicago Bulls or my favorite team to hate the New York Yankees, but just like with those teams I believe that the positive effect on results that the “favoritism” gives the Yankees or ManU is greatly over rated by everyone else in the league who love to hate them.

  77. @GA
    But at the same time you can’t deny that the referee did have an influence on the outcome of that game. His inconsistency clearly affected our players to the point that they lost belief. For me it’s not even the non-penalty that was given. It was the fact that he let Barton kick Diaby close to the end of the first half without giving as much as a foul (or the booking that would’ve been the correct way of handling the situation) and then let Barton continue that in the second half. Diaby was obviously correctly sent-off for his behaviour, but if the referee had done his job earlier, we wouldn’t have had that situation develop. And to this day I still don’t get why the Newcastle player who wrestled Szczesny to the ground wasn’t sent off, when Diaby was.

  78. Well we have just spent a night and day in Nashville. Strange, strange place. I have always had somewhat of an aversion to Cowboy boots and now I know why!! Good God did I miss New York City last night!! Talk about the land that time forgot. Don’t get me wrong, we had fun and it will definitely be one of the Cities that I tell people they must surely visit but Oh My God!! (as my 9 year old cousin Jordan would say) Nashville itself is a very pretty city, with a lot of really impressive new buildings, mixed in with a lot of equally impressive old buildings. Plus you really cannot beat the famous Southern hospitality, especially now that I finally relented and removed my NY Yankees baseball cap and bought one with just a skull on it 🙂

    Now it is back in the car and straight to New Orleans, the Big Easy as they call it. I have decided to track down and taste the local moonshine every where I go, The Girlfriend is not too impressed but when I pointed out that I am much more fun to shop with, and much more likely to agree to buying something stupid, after a few she happily relented.

    I am starting to realise what it is like for the rest of the EPL as I can only watch The Arsenal once a week now, really sucks!! Explains why most other teams supporters are such miserable c*nts 🙂

  79. Cricket fans,

    If the England top six bat their collective career average (which is as good a yardstick as any to show what they should get on a consistent basis) then they will get 280 or thereabouts. If you’re right consolsbob and the lead is about 300 then there’s a chance although the conditions are difficult.

  80. I’m crying…the boss doing the robot – fantastic!

  81. yw @12:12 I could play with that for hours all round family entertainment and a great baby sitter

  82. Evil @ 3.09 no angst but nothing is certain!

    @ Block4 the problem is that England’s Achilles has been slow subcontinent pitches and slow bowling. We got nowhere near our collective or individual averages in the 3 previous tests, against Pakistan. The wicket and conditions in UAE were similar to Sri Lanka and a similar performance in our 2nd innings would be 6 test innings in a row of collective batting failure. Certain players have got mental problems playing spin – Pietersen is almost walking wicket against slow left armers – others are just making silly mistakes and not getting themselves ‘played in’. Knowing when to attack and when to absorb the pressure is a fine balance and it’s one we are finding difficult to claim.

    I believe we can turn the corner because their bowling is, by test standards, really a little ordinary (at least Pakistan had the bamboozling mystery of Ajmal) and because we have such a deep batting line-up.

    But much rests on getting them out cheaply and getting a good start. If that happens then we have an excellent chance. As ever with England it’s a big IF!

  83. as far as the whole ref issue is concerned untold is a must read altough this is from and ARSENAL fan because hes a ref himself you get a good propectitve on games. he also reviews non ARSENAL games so you can see just how bad some of the refs really are.

  84. @GA. You really should go watch the 2nd half of that Newcastle match again. There are at least a dozen calls that were shocking. You could see us trying to kill the game by keeping the ball — we had scored 4 goals remember, we were sharp — and they just kept fouling us over and over, and not getting called. We upped our aggression to get the ball back, whistle every time. And when Szcz got yellow carded after Nolan headlocked him and threw him to the ground, you could see the players start to panic a little. It’s a horrible feeling playing when you know the ref is actually against you.

    The irony of it is that we did not just fold up in that game. Joey Barton finished that game without a card. It’s easily the worst game I’ve ever seen officiated. It was one of those decisive moments, like the Eduardo game where Clichy not only got the ball, he *only* got the ball, a minute after Adebayor had been mugged at the other end.

  85. I’m not in town at the moment, irishgray, but if you need some recommendations for entertainment, let me know (the nola in my name is New Orleans, LA).

    If you’re still there Saturday, watch the match at Finn McCools on Banks St. in mid-city.

  86. Evil you points re the ref influencing the game and just how badly that game was handled are absolutely spot on. We should not have had to overcome bad decisions on that day in order to win the game. The ref should have been censured over the appalling quality of his performance.
    It certainly changed the outcome but I still think Andy has a point – we should have also have defended better and not allowed them back in. I do not imagine that would happen to this team.
    The only answer for me is to have post match reviews of contentious decisions and allow them to be overturned. I’d also like to see a table for refs based upon overturned decisions.
    Sadly I do not believe this will ever be allowed to happen we like to enshrine our referees as much as possible. They do a horribly difficult job and perhaps the sentiment is to protect them as much as possible but I think the fact they answer to no one for mistakes and never explain decisions or hold heir hands up makes it worse NOT better.
    Most fans accept mistakes are part of the job but it would be easier if erroneous sending offs and the outright conning of refs allowed to be reviewed and dealt with accordingly.

  87. I would wager a bet that if the current side with the current mindset were 4-0 up at half time against Newcastle we would win the game. Regardless of the ref. I remember a few years ago against Liverpool we were reduced to 10 men fairly early in the game and the ref was really shite that day as well. There was no doubt which team were going to win the game though.

    If as Evil stated above, the players started to give up due to the ref, that would concern me. Rather player that think “fuck him”, we will get the 3 points anyway. Last years side were mentally weak, there is little doubt of that.

  88. In other news, it appears Denislon is going to stay another year in Brazil.

  89. Why dont the English cricketers follow gooch strategy of sweeping everything..I have not seen a single asian spinner who can counter that well

  90. i really cannot explain why man utd are top of the league.

    it is not as if they were the mourinho chelsea, which to be fair, was defensively solid. they don’t have the attacking prowess of previous teams and title-winning Arsenal teams.

  91. Early last season I copied and pasted some data regarding penalties awarded and conceded for the big 4 teams Arsenal, ManU, Chelsea and Liverpool. Someone actually looked up the numbers and found that if you take the difference between the number of penalties awarded and those conceded over the previous 10 year period, ManU came out the best but they were only ahead of Chelsea by 5 -7 and only ahead of Arsenal by 9. That means that United got the benefit of less then one extra goal from penalties/season compared with Arsenal over that 10 year period. No where near a significant advantage. ManU conceded less pens then Arsenal but were also awarded fewer penalties. In the end if someone was trying to give ManU an advantage during those 10 years they were not doing it with penalties. What we believe we see and how we judge a refs decision is controlled by our Arsenal colored glasses just like any other fan. I think the reality is that the advantage ManU or any team gets is much less then we believe just because like all fans we see with our hearts and not our brains.

  92. mumbai gooner @ 5:16pm

    That’s how Strauss got out in the 1st innings – LBW playing a predetermined sweep. DRS has effectively changed the rules.

  93. Mumbai – several of our players have gotten out, overusing that very shot. The sweep shot leaves you open to top edges especially against tall slow bowlers and even more so when played as a predetermined shot.

    For me it’s about picking the length and getting into position to play each ball on merit.

    Interestingly however Morgan recently removed the sweep from his game altogether, in spite of it being a productive scoring shot. It proved a mistake as his runs dried up altogether.

    Gooch was one of the best players of spin England ever had, but he is not getting the message through to his batsmen at the moment – mostly I think it’s just the nerves of unfamiliar bowlers and playing away from home.

    Makes for a decent competition – we would roll them far too easily in England.

  94. Dowd was dealt with after the performance in Newcastle. But they did it quietly and without causing any fuss whatsoever. I am not even sure if the media picked it up, but the weekend after the Newcastle disaster he was demoted to the Championship. Just for one game, mind you.

  95. And rightly so, he was shite. And still is.

  96. Dowd needs a DRS all of his own.

  97. merlot I agree that DRS has changed the scenario as in the olden days most of the time you will be judged not out if you plant your front foot forward and sweep

  98. @Bill, the info you supplied only included the penalties that were given by the refs. What it means is the fact that the one delibrately not given to Fulham will not get included in your stats in the future. And that is the whole point. I have been consistently watching EPL for the last 13 or so years and watched most of the games of the top 4 or 5 teams for sure. Someone has mentioned this in the comments up there before where ManU managed to be given 6 to 10 points a season by officials. Which were the points they needed to win the EPL at least for 3 or 4 years without even considering what their competitors muged at the same time. So if their challengers lose 6 to 10 points, it adds up to 12 to 20 points that within the margins of what ManU have been winning. Just saying.

  99. PL refereeing still sucks wet farts from dead pidgeons. Video tech now.

  100. Englands batsmen couldn’t bat their fukin eyelids. so its the bowlers bailing us out again.

  101. pedantic george

    Fuck the cricket.
    Where is my Meerkat?

  102. bollocks george this is a cultured left arm spin now.

    george wheres my cannon? so are we believing yogis story about the wordpress?? i mean surely it cant be that yogi was getting peeved with all the dog avatars?? is a bit of a co-incidence that since everyone started putting pics of their furry freinds it went tits up???

  103. nolagunner (3.18 pm and AGAIN at 4.43 pm) – absolutely spot on, very well said.

    (And your name’s derivation is interesting – I often wonder how people arrive at their online monikers!).

    I had no idea the criminally inept Phil O’Dowd was ‘punished’ by dropping a division for a game following his disgraceful antics in ‘charge’ of the Newcastle:AFC 4-4 draw.

    I never thought I’d see another referee as bad as Mike Riley, or a game more badly refereed than that 50th unbeaten AFC v Manure game when we were treated to a Manure masterclass in rotational fouling when the subsequently traumatised Reyes was LITERALLY kicked out of the game and Shrek’s diving would have made even Gareth Bale blush.

    But how wrong I was. The true scandal is that Our Phil is STILL around and is STILL continuing to deteriorate (if that were possible).

    There is something about bad refereeing that winds me up more than cheating players and I think it’s because we EXPECT the Diving Bale and the Granny Shagger to do whatever enters their tiny minds to gain team advantage.

    With referees, the ONE thing we expect is even handedness so when, on balance, we don’t get that in a game, it feels like some kind of cheating is going on or some form of corruption has occurred.

    Hate is a strong word and generally I hate no-one but I despised O’Dowd for his behaviour in that match – the contrast in his treatment of Chesney and Diaby v his treatment of Barton and Nolan was intolerable and there were plenty of neutrals who saw what we saw and were similarly appalled.

    The two big mysteries surrounding O’Dowd are a) how he can be so much worse at the job than ANY one of his peers and b) how he can possibly still be in employment as a referee at ANY level of the game, let alone the Premiership.

    When he’s in charge, it’s more like watching the Premiershit.

  104. The Real Stew Black

    Keep me up to date with the footy scores folks I’m on the wireless can’t watch cos I crash their internet…

  105. Chavs still at 0-0 Steww, Spuds the same and Everton just gone 1 up v Sunderland.

  106. Are you broadcasting tonight Steww? Remind me the station name if you are? Cheers.

    Half time in Champs League.

  107. Half time at the Spuds v Bolton; clearly the tiny Tots are continuing to fail to set their games alight …

  108. MIngus,

    “Mmmmm” was a quote from my third or fourth favourite football manager/part-time plundit, the comedy character Ron Manager:

  109. Cheers – have bookmarked!!! And tuned in with the Chav’s on safely on mute (hurrah!).

  110. Fins – it’s where the immortal “jumpers for goalposts” comes from! Classic.

    Almost as amusing is Real Madrid struggling to break down Apeol at 0-0!

    Chavs still at 0-0 (just kicked off again).

  111. On good form tonight Steww – very, balanced!

    And quite correct, very little actual football on tonight altho we live in hope …

  112. This Bogdan kid is rather good. No wonder he kept a clean sheet against us.

  113. Chavs lucky not to be one down and have just brought on Fat Frank; still no Dogba though.

    Spuds still drawing. All remarkably dull.

    Not a good night for the ‘arkhives …

  114. And Kalou finally scores for the Chavs …

    15 mins to go.

  115. Good – Chelsea to remain occupied with the Champions league. That should keep them well away from the 4th place fight and with the very tantalizing possibility of them getting to meet Barcelona. Surely, unleashing Messi on Sideshow Bob and John Terry has to be the highlight of the season. Not least because one or both of them will be sent off in all likelihood.

  116. I really want to see the Chavs play Barca. If we can do them 5-3 at their place, I guess Barca should be able to score a couple as well!

  117. Not a cat in hell’s chance of the Chav’s beating Barcelona (although they might bore them to defeat I suppose).

  118. Spuds winning 2-0 as are Everton v Sunderland. Chelsea hung on to an away win at 0-1.

  119. That’s my nightmare scenario. We finish fourth (which I think is the most likely outcome anyway), Chelsea finish fifth, but somehow manage to win the CL. As a result, we are out of CL next year.

    Just a horror classic.

  120. Agree SV! The stuff of sleepless nights.

    Another really excellent show on Somer Valley FM tonight from ‘our’ very own Stew Black – recommend this to anyone who likes a wide range of decent, good music and entertainlngly well presented (if I may say so). I think it’s repeated on Friday nights – tonight’s show just finished.

    http://www.somervalleyfm.co.uk/

  121. Looks like Gotze has signed for B. Dortmund.

  122. Are you serious?! I can’t see us slipping to fourth. With Chelsea’s other two cup competition distractions, including an FA cup meeting with the Tinys, who themselves will be (faintly) distracted by that competition, plus the fact that we are in great form, have momentum and are focusing on each game, I do not see us slipping up. You can have your sleepless nights. I am sleeping soundly.

  123. I wasn’t entirely serious mingus; as SV said, a nightmare scenario rather than a particularly likely one!

    Sleep well.

  124. pedantic george

    SV | March 27, 2012 at 9:45 pm
    That’s my nightmare scenario. We finish fourth (which I think is the most likely outcome anyway),

    You fucking what?
    Deary me.

  125. In fairness my little meerkat starved friend, SV was referring to the Chelsea winning the CL and thus depriving us of an ECL place as the nightmare, not finishing fourth per se.

  126. pedantic george

    Well I don’t read it that way Yogi.
    So its a “deary me” from me.

  127. We are firmly in the driving seat now, but finishing 4th is still a realistic thought. All it would take is a couple of dropped points and the Spuds to get some form back. They have easy (ish) run in as well.

    As it goes, I think we will now finish 3rd, but is is far from a forgone conclusion.

  128. ZimPaul | March 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

    On Arteta.

    Too true. I always say a great manager will make a good team great…….. presumably that applies to individual players too.

    Something that Nasri did not take into account when he loftily departed, nor Petit, nor Vieira, nor Flamini, nor Henry.

    Cesc is a great player, not regardless, but…. I would say it his technical skill combined with work rate. He can go anywhere and be sublime.

  129. Goetze already turned us down at the end of last season – why would he come now?

    http://www.footballgossip.org.uk/index.php/2011/08/30/arsenal-transfer-news-35m-goetze-bid-rejected-by-borussia-dortmund/

    Out of everyone we have been linked with he has got to be the biggest target. Reportedly described by the Brazillian coach and handler of Neymar as the difference between the two teams when Germany thrashed Brazil recently.

    Never fear though we have Wilshere – and don’t forget the unfortunate Diaby, who will make a big return.

    A quality striker, another quality central defender and cover for Song is what the squad has been shown to be lacking for the title challenge.

    Still awaiting that Man-Sour game. Pity Jack is not back for that one – it is a real test.

  130. Absolutely right GoonerAndy. This is one tough battle coming. We’ve done well to get this slightest of advantages, but we are only as good as our next match from here on in. Twitchy is not to be under-estimated as a crafty, even though his team are over-rated. Chelsea cannot be wished away, sadly. One must take into account their terrific form in the run-ins previously. So, we will need strong nerves at Arsenal.

    Which reminds me of something interesting. I was reading an old copy of “The Week”, that fount of superficial knowledge in tiny bites, and an article from a Norwegian academic study, specifically football, that statistically proved, and then showed how in brain scans, the theory of the “high-performance psychological stress” or “choking” as one might say of South African and previously English cricket. Simply, teams that develop a habit of not winning key matches will statistically underperform later in key games/moments and this is strangely difficult to reverse, years and even different squads later. Conversely, teams on a winning streak, who previously peaked and won key games, win more often. Or in plainer language, players are profoundly affected by collective psychology and those less stressed (by fear of losing) at peak moments give themselves more time and make less mistakes. Or in plainer language, the endless media onslaught about Arsenal’s “trophy drought” and losses at critical moments has, without question, affected the team and club psychology overall and this effect is cumulative. We have a rubicon to cross. Once crossed however the rebound effect works in reverse. Success statistically breeds success. So dig deep Arsenal!

  131. It’s so simple really, keep winning whatever it takes and you can’t lose. It gets easier. We will finish third. I think Chelsea will take 4th.

  132. Zim

    Here here to 8.55

    Was 8.49 just getting there?

  133. Confess did not read the post, just came home from work & watch AC vs Bacelona for 10 minutes, what I want to say is : I DESPISE YOU —-AC Milan

  134. I just want to say, if I want to win, I would love to win it fair & square, but not depends on the xyz$)&)$&@@ field!!!!!!!! SHAME ON YOU AC MILAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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