Midweek Magic

It could be worse you know. The deafening silence that confirms the exits from all knockout tournaments replaced by the howling that reverberates through the Alps, wailing about iniquitous refereeing that pervades competitions when Barcelona are at home. Instead there is bemusement that Uefa deems managerial opinion more damaging to the game than racist chanting. Twice as damaging if current fines are anything to go by with Porto escaping with half the financial penalty levied on Arsène Wenger.

I have no doubt that the manager probably merits the punishment, his frustration at Arsenal’s inability to score a fourth in the second half-needing to find a target to vent at. Given this is (potentially) the third such ban that he has incurred in the past two seasons, the impact on Arsenal will be negligible since he will deliver his pre-match talk away from the ground leaving the immediate preparations to whomever his second-in-command is.

Yet when I hear of initiatives here, there and everywhere by Uefa and Fifa, their inability to exercise more punitive punishments against racism strengthens my cynicism. It will not change either; to do so would be an acknowledgement that their beautiful game has a scarred underbelly, something the marketing euro does not want to hear. In that sense, Euro2012 may be the nettlebed that spreads through their garden of roses.

It is a salutary warning for those pinning their hopes on FFP making a positive impact on football. Financial irregularities will not go away, neither will debt or leveraged buyouts. Spending on salaries and transfers will continue to be excessive; the regulations are lip-service to a problem where there is no will to find a solution. Smoke and mirrors are the speciality of football’s governing bodies.

Onto Arsenal. The news surrounding Jack Wilshere is positive. It is tempting to put a more upbeat adjective into that sentence but one setback has already occurred on his quest for fitness. Quest makes it sound like an Arthurian legend, Wilshere a knight in search of some lost treasure that will free his people from tyranny. And in a footballing sense, there are some parallels. It is not just Arsenal looking for him to weave his Merlinesque magic across the pitch, his national squad view him as having talismanic qualities simply through the lack of comparable talent.

Therein is the danger. As in the case of kings from eons past, taking on that burden as well as the one for his club places incredible strain on one so young particularly with his body still maturing. Arsenal appear wary of this nurturing him back to health; England will not care, particularly if Stuart Pearce remains in charge. He has previous for paying scant regard to the real fitness of Arsenal players. It is selfish but part of me hopes Wilshere is rested for the remainder of the season to recover properly. Surely even England coaches realise that no matches in a season means a lack of fitness? Yet that will be supressed in the knowledge that Wilshere may provide a mercurial moment that is the difference between third and fourth place.

Apparently, Oliver Giroud is a target for this summer. At which point I will stop there with this one since it might be true that Arsène has ordered him to be scouted (again) but what is the point in putting a price tag of £50m next to Giroud’s name? There is no question of Arsenal even looking seriously at the player with that kind of money placed on him, even if it is a finger-in-the-air guess based on the ramblings of a madman who happens to be chairman of Montpellier.

I’m off to enjoy the snow whilst it lasts. When I say enjoy, I mean endure. And when I say snow, I mean vile sleet that pretends to hark to sleighs and snowmen but is merely a curse on our times by the evil witch.

’til Tomorrow.

Posted on April 4, 2012, in Arsenal, Football, Premier League, Soccer, Transfer Gossip and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 173 Comments.

  1. first?

  2. YW,you are simply the el magnifico of the Arsenal blogosphere!

  3. YW – expecting Uefa is Fifa to come down hard on racism is a non starter. If clubs only get a token fine then they will put little effort into stopping their fans awful chanting.

    Good news about JW. I hope he is over his injury completely now.

  4. Having missed so much football at such a young age, I wouldn’t begrudge Jack going to the Euros.

    If he’s fit enough to start a couple of games for us, then there should be no reason for him not to go. Yes, he might get injured while on international duty, just as he might get injured reaching for a remote control or walking the dog while on his summer hols.

    Besides, it will probably be over after 3 games anyway.

  5. Ever wondered how an iconic Arsenal photo from the 1970s came about?

    http://afchistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/arsenal-on-this-day-4th-april-1979/ answers that question.

  6. We talked about Giroud recently. His contract is up in 2014, so I can’t see any fee being huge. The main problem is that he isn’t exactly versatile. He could really only play in the middle for us which would limit his chances, even if we do lose some strikers in the summer. I’m talking Chamakh and/or Park here, cos VP is going nowhere.

  7. So Barcelona go 2-up on a penalty call for shirt-holding in the box prior to a corner. How many hundreds of times in football across Europe where this happens seasonally is there even a foul called much less a penalty? Sometimes a ticking off by the ref and the offender stealthily repeats the shirt-pulling without a call. Where is the outrage?
    So even ACLF is innure to the corruption and subtle fixing of games to get the desired result?
    Don’t be surprised when not only do we have Barca and Madrid in the finals but to satisfy the lucrative English market, a subtle game fixer in the form of Howard Webb reffing the match.
    But it will all even out in the end….right?

  8. …and neither is Chamakh apparently, if these quotes attributed to him in that same article are true:

    “I have spoken to Wenger and I will stay at Arsenal. I think he trusts my work and I will have opportunities in the first team. I left Bordeaux to improve as a player and I think I can continue for this club. My agents have been ordered to reject bids that come from other clubs because I want to prove I can be useful for the Gunners.”

  9. I don’t really see the point in getting another striker who can only play through the middle. Not a top one in any case. Whoever comes in needs to be versatile or young and patient. That is why I think Podolski and Campbell returning from loan could fill up our striking rota nicely.

  10. Markus, i would be surprised if we got Giroud, looks like it is likely to be Podolski. But you know Arsenal, nothing is ever confirmed until you see it on the main site

  11. Shotta – I am glad he gave the pen. Hopefully more refs will follow suit. It is a blatent foul pure and simple and should be punished. Ref’s need to grow a pari when it comes to these types of calls, and if I am being hnoest I really don’t understand why they don’t give fouls more often for that type of thing.

    It would only take a spate of pens being given before managers started to get a grip of their defenders and tell them to cut it out.

  12. Anywhere else on the pitch the ref will normally give a yellow for a quick tug on somebodies shirt. Yet in the penalty area they allow people to be actually manhandled and on’t even give a foul. It is crazy.

  13. GA @ 10:48 am
    “Hopefully more refs will follow suit. It is a blatent foul pure and simple and should be punished.”
    You are a very optimistic man.

  14. it was a weak penalty, weak as any i have seen. But they are Barca, and it has become staple

  15. Shotta – You are right of course, I am not expecting any changes.

  16. AA – That is the point mate; it wasn’t a weak pen. It was a nailed on pen. The issue is that for some bizzare reason, refs normally ignore that type of foul at a set piece (at no other time in the game though). It is a strange aspect of modern football.

  17. Giroud has a €10M release clause I believe.

  18. shotta, I’m looking forward to seeing the performance of the ref if (when) Chelsea face Barca. Remember the last one? Drogba and Ballack chasing that wanker all over the pitch screaming at him for disallowing 3 penalties. Then Drogba’s expletive-heavy outburst to the camera. That was the same match right? Fun times, unless, you know, you aren’t a Barca fan.

  19. GA, i see shirt tugging on almost every corner out there, and Barca were also screening or call it blocking players trying to create space for runners when the cross came in, Puyol did it Pique did it. Point is that this stuff happens on every corner on almost every game i watch.

    More reasonable refs call the players aside and tell them to cut it out. thats just my 2 cents

  20. Jonny

    But that doesn’t make as good a story does it? Arsenal In French Striker On The Cheap Shocker isn’t really going to pull the punters in, is it?

  21. Yeah it was definitely reported as a 10m release clause in France, then a 50m one in the Mail. Surely we’d be buying two strikers in the Summer? Giroud and Podolski wouldn’t be totally implausible.

  22. pedantic george

    I am off to Barcelona tomorrow.Where I fully expect young Mr.Fabregas to seek me out and take myself and Mrs Me,out of a meal.I think he owes me that at very least

    It is not a penalty if the offence is before the ball is in play.It is a retake.
    No other team in the world would have been awarded that.(Bar United at OT of course)

    Wonderful post again YW

  23. Great post, YW.

    The response to holding/shirt-grabbing on set pieces definitely needs to be cleared up – the treatment is so inconsistent. Sometimes they have a word, sometimes they just ignore it and very occasionally they do give a penalty. Didn’t we see one given at the World Cup? I can’t remember. I suppose by the letter of the law last night’s should have been a penalty, but what’s annoying is that a referee has once again picked such a crucial juncture to punish something that is almost always ignored. I’d really like to think it’s just a coincidence that it benefits Barcelona once again.

    Anyway, at the risk of sounding like an apologist, Barcelona really haven’t been getting the decisions in the league this season.

  24. Thanks for d daily dose YW!
    On the Barca penalty issue which has led to so many conspiracy cry out, I personally feel it’s a nailed on penalty. If it’s a FK and a yellow card outside the box, then it’s a penalty inside it. I watched d same given as a penalty against Newcastle in d tyne-wear derby and there was no complain frm anybody. As much as I understand wat has happened wit Barcelona in the past, dt of yesterday was a very correct call. Milan didn’t even play like they wanted anythg out of the game. 3 shots all game summarised their performance.
    Talking abt conspiracy, if some of us thinks there is a favouritism going on for Barcelona, then it’s nt far frm being right that there is an hatred or dare I say conspiracy against Arsenal in the premier league and even in europe. Arsenal is d only team dt will have an appeal for a nailed on penalty turn down even on there home ground n have a non penalty awarded against them. We’ve not had a luxury of a penalty decision in our favour @ home all season despite all our appeals for very obvious ones. Does anybody spread conspiracy or hatred as I did?

  25. Lankylorde – I am with you in your first paragraph, but not your second.

  26. Do post a pic of your snowman YW and bon appetite PG.

    Did I mention I’m pretty happy with Chamakh’s statement, and I think he’s probably right?

  27. As far as I recall Pearce did leave Jack out of his Squad for the U21s to rest him after Arsene raised a kefuffle

    Then some idiot insisted he play in Malaysia

  28. Who referees the referees? I’m actually asking. In EPL, is there some form of review panel and punitive action, like demotion, for decisions that cross some sort of boundary? Is it internal (ref’s association) or external? Is it public or secret? Where do clubs go for the most outrageous instances?

  29. Zim – There is a referee assesor in the crowd at every match marking the official. It is obviously not effective though as this type of instance would have been picked up in the past (I am assuming it hasn’t).

  30. Sociedad want to keep Vela – negotiations to be held in the summer. Wonder how much we would get for him..?

    I have to say I really haven’t a clue of his value any more.

    Shame it didn’t work out – seemed such a nice lad.

    Meanwhile, the cricket is coming to end of an absorbing morning’s play.

    150-1 trailing by 125. Just need to hold out until stumps…

  31. I think refs ahould be interviewed after the game. Managers have to be and so do players. Why not refs? I thnik they would get more respect if they explained their decisions and even admitted mistakes (if shown a replay for example).

  32. Tief from tief, god laugh (Jamaican proverb).
    The spectacle of Milan complaining of unfair refereeing is enough for an gooner to say pot vs kettle. But the number of rarely prosecuted fouls being called in Barca’s favour at critical moments drains one of any belief that this game is being officiated fair and square.
    Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, squawks like a dug….

  33. “Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, squawks like a dug….”

    Ian Dowie?

  34. I was ready to be incensed at the 2nd Barca penalty (still so bitter about RVP), but I wasn’t. There’s an art to shirt pulling and getting away with it. The most basic technique is NOT extending your arm. And if the guy is actually getting away from you (as Busquets was) then you must let go! Otherwise you’re just begging for the penalty.

    Seriously, someone needs to put together a compilation of Vidic’s greatest non-called shirt pulls. He’s a genius at that kind of cheating.

  35. Nola – Very true. There is a world of difference between being clever and blocking somebodies run, and doing what Nesta did with a handful of shirt and almost rugby tacking somebody.

  36. Interesting post. I guess Yogi means that England doesn’t have a chance in hell at the Euros?

  37. Meh, who cares. As long as no Arsenal players get broken I will be happy.

  38. arsenalandrew

    Good post.

    Barcelona, the Manure of Europe; darling of referees everywhere, poster boys for the media.

    Racism in Europe, not an issue for UEFA, apparently.

    Both stink.

  39. Nesta is a sensational footballer* but it’s too easy to say that he should’ve known better then to breathe near Sergio B, the Zero G footballer – whilst attempting to play in the Camp Gnu when his team was winning the tie.
    * There was a great foul by Nesta in the first leg on Sanchez. Sanchez was through and Nesta brought him down for a yellow before it the situation developed into a red. An agile, skillful and respectful foul as he put real effort into fouling his opponent safely.

    “Surely even England coaches realise that no matches in a season means a lack of fitness?”

    I’d like to think so but then I remember the charlatan Sven’s rehabilitation programme for Michael Owen after a cruciate injury – no games at all, simply thrown on into a WC game only to injure a cruciate again within minutes. Decades in the game and the manager makes a call like that?

  40. Yogi – quality post this morning.

    My stomach starts churning when the subject of discussion centers on FIFA, UEFA, officiating, FFP, media, etc.

    Those in control/power make their own rules and then interpret them to fit their agenda.
    ( I can’t say I was surprised by the ref giving Barca two pens.)

    Real and Barca in the finals, would be a marketing humdinger. Maybe Bayern and Chelsea/Benfica will fail to read the script.

  41. Interesting, and slightly sobering piece, on Joel Campbell [from a France Football Weekly article listing the best 50 players in France].

    The Costa Rican began his career in Deportivo Saprissa before drawing attention to him from many big clubs including Arsenal, Sevilla and Fiorentina. He opted to join the Gunners and signed a 5 year deal but, unable to obtain a work permit in England, he was sent on loan to FC Lorient, along with Arsenal teammate Gilles Sunu. The year before, he had already spent a week in Lorient, but he didn’t convince « les Merlus » who chose not to
    keep him.
    He made his first appearance in L1 against Sochaux, on 17 September 2011, coming in for
    Gregory Bourillon and delivering a beautiful assist to Innocent Emeghara. A couple of weeks later, he scored his first goal in Ligue 1 against Valenciennes.
    Yet, despite regular apparitions, Campbell has failed to become a full member of the team, Christian Gourcuff choosing Emeghara, Aliardière or Sunu over him. The left footed forward, who can also play as a winger, struggles to find a proper place in Gourcuff’s tactical system. His coach, who predicted him « a very big future » and described him as a « rigorous, well disciplined and generous » player now seems to be reluctant to give him more playing time,
    even as the impact substitute he had been since the beginning of the season.
    Instead, Gourcuff concentrates on giving their chance to Lorient’s players who are not on loan, like Sunu.
    Campbell’s balance appears to be rather disappointing after those first 6 months in France. With 3 goals in 16 games, he never really adapted himself.
    Whereas everyone admits he has a great potential, it seems he can’t express it properly in a championship like Ligue 1, where teams are pretty defensive and careful, leaving very little space for his creativity. But that situation could change when he’s back in England.
    Although Gourcuff said last October “it would be good to have him one more season”, it seems pretty obvious, at this stage, that his loan won’t be renewed by Lorient, even if Arsenal had permitted it.
    Campbell’s international career, however, has been brilliant. He has already played 4 different international tournaments. At only 19, he became last U20 World Cup’s top scorer and has already been called up 9 times to the Costa Rican national team, scoring 3 goals. He scored a beautiful goal against Spain and showed a large part of his talent in posing great difficulties to one of the best defenders in the world, Carles Puyol. He was nominated for the Golden Boy Award, the U21 Ballon d’Or among a shortlist of 40 young players
    considered to be the most exciting prospects in the world. That regularity with his national team should allow him to obtain his work permit in England next season, and we might see him quite soon with Arsenal.

  42. Hmmm, interesting. Having Aliadiere ahead of you can’t be a good thing. And interestingly Sunu is also playing ahead of him. Maybe Sunu is the better prospect?

  43. Great post yogi.

    I hope jack does not play in the euros. The only advantage would be for him to get his game sharpness back and fortunately he has all of preseason we have TR7 and jack does not need to be back to full speed right away. The danger is that the hectic training and game schedule at a major tournament is not the best thing for someone recovering from a stress injury. You can’t sit out a game if you are feeling pain when your team is out of the competition if you lose. I can’t see jack pacing himself.

    My initial reaction to the shirt pull was that is was a garbage penalty but after seeing it again it was one of the more blatant shirt pull tackles I can remember. Like Andy I wish they would call those a lot tighter but in the end I don’t care as much how tight they call them but I wish they could be consistent. Unfortunately consistency is probably way to much to as for.

    Quite a day here in Dallas fort worth. 12 tornados and tons of property damage but only a few minor injuries and no deaths. A miracle really.

  44. arsenalandrew

    You’ve got ‘proper’ weather Bill; over here we’ve had half an inch of snow and a bit of a breeze and most of the UK’s come to a standstill.

  45. Miami Arsenal

    Arsenal just received a little air time here on ESPN… they were talking about great undefeated seasons. They labelled Arsenal as Henry’s Arsenal 🙂

    We did indeed recently discuss Giroud, he has been on the rise for the last 2-3 seasons but this one has been the break out year. I agree with those that see him as an out and out front man and not someone whom can be readily placed out wide and for that reason he may not be an Arsenal candidate but on his skills alone he is. There are times this year where I have felt that Arsenal could benefit from adopting a 4-4-2 formation against some teams as opposed to the 4-3-3, in the former Giroud would be a great addition.

  46. Jonny

    Hopefully we will be getting another striker this summer even if it blocks his path. Counting on him to contribute is asking for a lot even if he was playing regularly in France.

  47. Miami Arsenal

    Jonny, the write up you posted in respect of Campbell is a fair enough statement of his year to date with Lorient. I have also followed his International career which has seen him score 4 goals against the likes of Cuba, Bolivia, Spain and Wales (The Gary Speed friendly). I believe that is 4 goals in 10 appearances to date.

  48. Miami Arsenal

    If indeed Campbell is brought in to the Arsenal side for next seaon along with Ryo we have a number of wide players completing for starting berths. I am a firm believer in competition, in fact Arsenal’s bench has seemed quite shallow this term what with the ever present injury crisis.

    Gervinho, Walcott, AOC, Ryo, Campbell and maybe Podolski (these latter 2 and obviously also play through the middle, in fact I’m sure Theo thinks the same of his abilities).

  49. There is always the possibilty of getting in a top striker and moving RvP back to the support striker role. In theory he could then be the back up to the main striker (position wise) and we would also have a number of players who could replace RvP should he be absent.

    It would seem strange though given RvP’s sucess in that position.

  50. “I have no doubt that the manager probably merits the punishment, his frustration at Arsenal’s inability to score a fourth in the second half-needing to find a target to vent at.”

    I disagree with this. The media have chosen to characterise it thus in order to dismiss any legitimacy. I’m disappointed that you would choose to perpetuate it. Arsene may have lost his rag, but that was hardly surprising given the response he received when he tried to simply talk to the referee. A 3 match ban and 40,000 euro fine is in no way proportional. I have no doubt whatsoever that UEFA is a corrupt organisation and they choose the right referee for the right occasion. I’m surprised that there was little or no comment about the referee’s statement that he was advised prior to the game about what decisions to make should certain scenarios arise during the match. WTF is that about?

    Birdkamp, the reason barca are not getting the calls in the 2 team league in Spain is because Sandro Rossell is no longer president and therefore unable to use his connections to help them out. One of his colleagues openly admitted this recently, but of course it’s swept under the carpet as usual. It’s hard to enjoy the spectacle when you can see the man behind the curtain operating the levers.

  51. Miami, I see a bit of versatility in all those you listed there. I’m sure someone more well versed with French football than I will correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t Gervinho played through the middle at his previous club? Chamberlain can play in the position that is currently occupied by Rosicky or on either flank. It appears that Ryo can play on either flank also from what I’ve seen of him at Bolton. It just gives us a bit of extra flexibility, especially on the bench, if a player can play in more than one position. Of course, van Persie has been known to play in a wide position for his country up until quite recently, maybe the master plan is to move him wide and play this Giroud character through the middle (I know nothing about the bloke), giving us even more firepower across the front three! 😉

  52. Miami Arsenal

    It is hard to argue against the 4-3-3 system given Arsenal have scored 62 in the EPL this term, the issue at times has been the team defending. I actually prefer a dual striker combo personally, but then I am not Le Boss. I think RvP would be great in the hole behind a box striker, it may mean less goals from him would that would be off set by the 15 plus assists a season 🙂

  53. Miami Arsenal

    Block4, you are of course right… all teams want and would benefit from more player versatility 🙂 I guess I look at the striking role in a different light, it maybe great to have a versatile striker but the most important thing for me is his ability to score those all important goals. I have watched Arsenal every opportunity I get this season and outside RvP, some of the finishing has been decidedly weak.

  54. Out of all of our players, RvP is the only player I actually expect to score when in a goalscoring position. It would be nice to have a few more like that. Podolski fits into that category too.

  55. Miami Arsenal

    Agreed Goonerandy, sometimes I think Theo can and then I’ll watch him fail to put the ball on target… then in the next breath he’ll score with a sublime finish 🙂 I want someone like RvP where I can feel more secure in their ability to finish or work the keeper.

  56. Yes Miami, the output has been not as good as would be expected from the wide forwards and midfield although Walcott has picked up of late. A forward line of van Persie and Podolski wide with a real goalscorer in the middle might rectify that though! It might mean a few more 4-3s than we would like, but it would be great to watch. 🙂

  57. Theo is pure Jekyll and hyde with his finishing. Sometimes it is clinical and confident and sometimes he looks like a 9 year boy on a sunday morning scuffing the ball.

  58. For me, a forward three of Podolski/RvP/AOC (or Theo) has plenty of goals in it.

  59. arsenalandrew

    Well said Passenal (2.29 pm).

    On the same theme, It’s also a big reason why I can’t join the near-universal love-in with Messi.

    Undoubtedly a very major talent but hardly a genuinely tested one; until he joins a league with more than two teams in it, we’ll probably never know how great a talent he is. Even the World Cup is only a handful of games; tough to win, for sure, but hardly a rigorous season-long test.

  60. What I think would be ideal is for Arsenal to be effective in different formations depending on the situation. We are seemingly locked into the the 433. I understand the idea of having every level from the academy all the way to first team play the same way but it really limits flexibility if we can’t change shape or change our tactics.

  61. Miami Arsenal

    I agree Bill, flexibility needs to be an Arsenal thing from staff to players. Le Boss is a class act but sometimes he strikes me as frustratingly stubborn as well. It is easy to say it after the fact but I think Arsenal would have been better served playing a 4-4-2 against both Liverpool and QPR recently.

  62. Miami Arsenal

    Ya, I know we beat Liverpool but on the day I cannot say we were the better team for 90 minutes.

  63. Miami Arsenal

    I think this weekend will be an interesting match up, Arsenal get a Man City that absolutely needs points which means they should be much more open to counter attacking by Arsenal on the break. In this match I think the 4-3-3 system is a must have.

  64. Indeed GA, if we do complete the purchase of Podolski it should up our goal output some. And a bit of consistency in Theo’s finishing (the good part!) would be great.

    I think you’re being a bit harsh on Messi there arsenalandrew, he does the business regularly in the Champions League (widely touted as the ultimate test). Just looked up the all-time CL goalscorers and he’s fourth with the three above him at the end of their careers, while he’s got about 10 years in front of him. I think any decent coach could make Argentina a major force with the players thay have at their disposal. Picking a muppet like El Diego to coach the team is where they fall down.

  65. arsenalandrew

    Yes, probably a bit harsh Block4 but (and this is a genuine question) is the Champs League really the ULTIMATE test? How many games do you need to win it? Not that many albeit in theory you are playing what are notionally the best sides from each participating nation. But I’m sorry, I’m not certain that’s the same as saying the ‘best teams in Europe’ so it’s a flawed contest in my view. But it’s a financially valuable contest and that’s where it’s kudos lies.

    And for me, I find much of it virtually unwatchable (unless Arsenal are playing) and that’s not the case with the EPL.

    Agree with you also re: El Diego. It’s almost as though they don’t want to win it …

  66. pedantic george

    4 4 2 is no longer an option.
    It gets you overrun in midfield.

  67. Andrew are you really suggesting Messi couldn’t cut it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke? 😉

  68. arsenalandrew, I suppose you are playing in a tournament where a lot of the best teams are playing, especially since many countries have more than one partciipant, even though that is anathema to the traditionalists. I don’t think watchability comes into it so much when talking about quality, is the Premier League more watchable because the standard of defending is worse than in the Champions League? Many would say so. I don’t doubt that Messi would score a shedload of goals if he were put into the Arsenal team for instance, do you?

  69. Miami Arsenal

    Messi is a wonderful talent, worlds best… that said, in England he would not be as good no question. In England players do not receive the same level of protection that players in Europe receive week in and week out.

  70. Jonny.

    I fear for Messi on a cold winter Tuesday night in Stoke. Not only might he get the Shawcross redemption, the poor child will be traumatized…hehehe

  71. arsenalandrew

    I almost feel sorry for the undoubtedly talented Mr Messi; his genius, all his records and medals are devalued by his chosen league – as MiamiA implies, a cotton-wool league at best.

    Yes, I’m sure he’d score one or two goals for Arsenal but I’ve no doubt he’d find it much harder than when playing for Barca; whether he’d be able to keep it up for a whole season is the moot point.

    Now that Robin van Persie on the other hand …

  72. I think Messi would have no issues in our lge. Simply because he is an excellent player. things are certainly made easier for him due to the talent he plays with each week. I think poo pooing the Spanish lge as not a test is a bit of a mistake. Madrid and barcalona are much better than the rest without doubt; but that does not make the rest crap. Manure (the best team in our lge for quite a few seasons) will testify to that.

    Shame he plays for Barcelona as they are a club that I really hate. But you can’t deny the bloke’s genius. Also, he gets lumps kicked out of him in Spain as well. And that does not seem to work. The likes of Shawcross and his ilk would fare no better than the many international class defenders in the Spanish lge.

    Also seems a bit trite to say Spain are a two team lge when only two teams have won the lge in this country for getting close to a decade.

    Anyway, off home.

    Laters 🙂

  73. pedantic george

    The lesser Ronaldo scored plenty in England.But not as many as he does in Spain.
    I expect Messi would be the same.

  74. Messi has been incredibly lucky to not have suffered a proper injury yet. I do wonder what will happen to him if he has to watch from the stands for 3 or 6 months.

  75. I’m not great fan but Ronaldo scored 42 goals from midfield here in a season. He became the first Premier League player ever to be named the FIFA World Player of the Year.

    He tore this league to pieces week in and week out for 2.5 seasons and in the lesser league we are classing La Liga he is STILL second best to Messi, even if only by fractions.

    Messi is a properly phenomenal player – there is too much hoo-ha about who is best but if you really can’t see how good he is you needs to adjust your football goggles.

    He’d have a field day here.

  76. @Jonny
    Second best based on what? Not when it comes to goals scored.

    You seem to be remebering the lesser Ronaldo a bit too fondly. He had one season where he scored over 30 goals, he was hardly “tearing the league to pieces week in, week out”.

    I don’t doubt that Messi would do well here (and with a player like him too much depends on the team he would be deployed at, as evident with the way he is performing for his national team) but I have genuine doubts he would be able to keep his scoring rate up.

  77. pedantic george

    There is Zero chance of him scoring that number of goals with him being kicked from pillar to post.

  78. I agree with George. The probability of Messi surviving a season in the EPL without being kicked into an emergency room lies somewhere between slim and none. Since they can’t play him, they’ll kick the fuck out of him.

    The same thing happened to Pele before they brought in red and yellow cards. He used to get the shit kicked out of him.

  79. arsenalandrew

    I agree – Messi is self-evidently a terrific player who would find a place in any team at any time.

    I’m not anti-Messi, per se although I loath Barcelona on many levels.

    My simple point is that the nature of the Spanish league, cossetted as it is by a ‘relative’ lack of competition (compared with, say, the EPL) combined with the feathering supplied by sympathetic refereeing, is ‘enhancing’ Messi’s reputation above and beyond what is probably merited. Until he reproduces that form elsewhere (say again, the EPL), much as we might admire him, we will never be certain of the true nature of his ‘greatness’.

    I agree with others (PG et al) that he would be unlikely to score as freely over here.

    Furthermore, as the Spanish league provides less in the way of testing, their teams in Europe benefit from fewer injuries and less all round fatigue. Someone correct me if I’m wrong but are they also not benefiting from the willingness of their own league to rearrange matches if they are too close to their dates in Europe?

    These are three very tangible ways in which Messi and Spanish football is elevated to something beyond what we would ordinarily describe as a level playing field …

    And yes, Passenal at 2.29 pm, it IS a spectacle that is hard to enjoy.

  80. I doubt messi would score as many goals if he played in England but I suspect he would do well enough to win the golden boot most years and there would probably not be much debate who was the leagues best player.

  81. arsenalandrew


    Robin van Persie!

  82. pedantic george

    Bill.For what it is worth ,I agree.

  83. Messi? Small-framed forwards don’t tend to do well in the PL. Aguero is pretty small but he has legs like tree-trunks and is built like a brick shit-house.

    I’d say Messi would play on the flank if he played in our league. But then he’d be expected to defend.

    So, I guess what I’m saying is that Theo is better than Messi 🙂

  84. Markus @ 6:01

    :). You forgot to mention Ryo.

  85. good post..

    i didnt see the barca penalty, but my guess is that it was a penalty..
    if nesta is tugging away at whoevers shirt when that ball comes flying in then its a pen…

    what usually happens is the becuase the ball is classed as ‘dead’ its basically street football until it becomes ‘live’ again..its part of the dark arts of the game…off the ball stuff… you can make fouls like blocking people, or wrestle people to the ground and pull their shirts, but as soon as the ref blows his whistle and that ball is whipped in, you have to stop fucking about becuase its then classed as a freekick…or a pen..

    the refs usually see the crap a mile off and what happens is they’ll stop the game and have a word and tell them to knock it off..
    or they’ll be a massive brawl for about 5 seconds before the ball is whipped in and then they will all act as good as gold as everyone trys to win the ball fairly

    we see stuff like this all the time where theres a load of illegalities and the refs having words but theres never a foul.. the balls dead, so it cant be a foul..it just holds up the original dead ball…or classed as a retake..

    i think there was abit of the darkside of the game involved between players last night and the ref hasnt seen it, and when the balls come live again nesta is still fucking about trying to take peoples clothes off..

    and the refs copped him at it..

    there could be an arguement for referee bias if he copped nesta trying to swap shirts before the ball became live again..
    then you could say he kept an eye on nesta with every intention of giving barca a pen as soon as he was allowed to call it..then hes conspired to give barca an advantage when really most refs would stop the game and give them the usual ref shite about how they are in charge and everyone has come to watch him referee so pack it in and have a clean game..

    or he could have been a total prick and gave the pen before he allowed the corner..then thats just giving it to barca…

  86. it will be good to have jack back..

    i do prefer though if he and diaby just wrote this year off and chilled this summer and just work on their conditioning for next season…

    hopefully they’ll both be strong enough to start preseason after a year out and be fully firing for the start of next season..

    but i fear we will need them before then and so will their countries…
    i fear they will also want to play this summer..

    so we might as well use them before they go..

  87. Miami Arsenal

    There’ll be no chilling for Jack, England will select him whether he has played or not

  88. spot on about pearce yogi he’s only ever cared about making himself look good not about players our clubs

  89. so they should miami
    hes one of their best players…if hes fit then why not..its a big tournament..
    and to be honest i think if and when england do select him he’ll be over the moon to be going..

  90. Limestonegunner

    Back home with a pile of work to catch up on but thankful for a great game v. Villa. Hopefully we bounce back v. ManCity as the QPR loss still rankles. It is probably a good thing that it is against a top team since concentration and motivation will be high. Hopefully confidence will be as well.

    You Londoners have it good! I don’t think, Istanbul apart, there is a city I’d rather live in (again) than it, and I’ve lived in San Francisco, Chicago, Toronto, New York, and Paris as well as London.

    The best part of it is Arsenal, of course. RvP will score v. Man City I believe. We lost 1-0 away; surely at least a draw is likely and we might even be favoured to win. It would be brilliant if we did.

    Like others, the ban on AW from Uefa leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions and far from any conviction that he “deserved” the sanction.

  91. Miami Arsenal

    JonJon, I agree if he is match fit… not just gym fit

  92. i still think racism is more an issue
    a friend of mine coaches a U13 team and before xmas they beat a group of players who decided it would be nice to call my friends team a N***** team who only won cos they were a team of N******s…

    this was said openly and stunned parents and the young players..

    my friend wrote a letter and sent it, along side a list of signatures of witnesses, to the local FA about the matter, demanding instant action..
    last weekend my friends team had to play this fucking poor excuse for a pigshit football team on their patch or face a 3 point deduction..

    the reason my friends team faced a deduction is becuase they wanted to boycott the game..
    the reason they wanted to boycott the game is becuase they didnt want to play the pigshist team on their own turf..
    they didnt want to play them becuase its been 4 months and the FA have done fuck all..not even a letter..

    my friends team won 5-0..

    and my friend is deciding what his next step is……

  93. A sobering report on J.Campbell’s progress maybe, but I found the gaffers very recent comments much more entertaining:
    I paraphrase,
    “the boy needs to show some gr*t, he needs to grow up”
    So, a warning for the cheeky chappie, keep ‘im on his toes.
    My speculative guess is that he’ll have a pre-season and train with The Arsenal for the autumn at least, a cc game here, a cc game there. Work permit permitting. You all know the drill, why worry? As for he rest, that’ll be up to young master Campbell.

  94. < As for the rest.

  95. Someone fetch my Excalibur so I can cut UEFA down to size. Twats all of them!

  96. Come on Benfica, show this overrated bunch of immoral pensioners.

  97. I could not force myself to watch the chelsea game. So little interest in it.

  98. How a ref can decide the outcome of a game of football. Pen anfd a red card. Game over.

  99. Ha just came home regarding Messi – I didn’t actually disagree when people said he would not score less over here.
    @Evil – not sure why you are so keen to belittle Ronaldo’s achievements, is it just because you dislike him? He’s a total cunt but he wasn’t sold for the price he was entirely without reason.
    In the one season you describe, where he scored “over 30 goals”, he actually scored 42 goals in all competition.
    The season before and after that he scored 23 and 26. He did all of that without playing as the target man and a lot of it playing from midfield and not in the centre.
    I agree Messi would suffer more from getting kicked about over here, but it really isn’t as though lots of teams have tried that and failed. In fact one thing one notices about Messi is how remarkable he is at riding tackles.
    Plus Ronaldo seemed to survive okay – or are we just deeming that Messi is more brittle than Ronaldo?
    When teams have tried to kick him to fuck in the past they have just ended up with too many yellow cards and I haven’t once seen it work.

  100. arsenalandrew | April 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    My thoughts exactly – he is not half as effective with Argentina. If the opposition were actually allowed to tackle him and he could still score all those goals, I might join the chorus.

  101. When Ronaldo scored 40 odd goals in 2007-08, he was under “special protection” from the refs requested for him by the Red Nose. No non-ManU player could ever enjoy it

  102. I think people over play this whole leg breaking propensity of the PL. Can’t think of any player in Messi’s class who played in the PL and had their legs broken or their careers cut short. Henry played for years, so did C.Ronaldo. Of the players who’ve gotten their legs smashed, the most skillful I can think of is Diaby.
    Ramsey, Valencia, Eduardo, Ben Arfa etc are all good players but cannot be considered one of the world’s best by any stretch. So I don’t see this correlation with been skillful and being shawcrossed.
    Doesn’t mean they won’t get kicked, but leg breaks really are a rare event, and almost never happen to the very best.

  103. @Henristic
    Valencia was not tackled in any way, he just landed inconveniently.

    I do not know a single ManU player being injured by an aggressive opponent. On the other hand, I think if it were necessary to injure a world class player to stop Arsenal “they” would do it.

  104. @Jonny
    I am not belittling him, not at all. But you said he kicked ass in the league for two and a half years and that is just not true. It is rare for a winger in the Prem to get into double figures (even Theo or Bale have struggled to do that), and that CR7 did it season in, season out certainly shows his ability. But he had an exceptional season and two very good seasons before and after, while you are making it out that he single-handedly dominated the league. But he has been shown to be replaceable.

    As for Messi getting kicked: I don’t think he would suffer from a leg break, but at the same time I do wonder how he would cope with getting muscled off the ball regularly. In La Liga if a defender tries it, it’s usually a foul, but I don’t think it would be one in the Prem. That would certainly limit him somewhat.

  105. And if leg breaking isn’t the problem, then there really is no reason why Messi won’t be every bit as successful in the PL. He gets kicked everywhere he plays, as do all the good attacking players. I’ve seen some really nasty fouls committed on him.
    No one can predict if he’ll score more or less, of course (too many other variables), but I really don’t think PL defences are any better than those in La Liga, except maybe against the long-ball-into-the-box tactic. I shouldn’t need to point out that the ability to defend high balls won’t help anyone against the likes of Messi.

  106. pedantic george

    Oh well.Henristic has given a ruling on the matter .So that is that then.
    Messi would score 50 PL goals per season.No problem .

  107. If Chelsea make it through to the semi-finals, our fixture against them scheduled for 21st April is tucked right between the 1st and 2nd legs of their fixture with Barcelona.

  108. If Messi played for ManU, he would score 50 no problem. If he played for Arsenal, he would get his leg broken in February.

    Call me a conspiracy theorist.

  109. SV,
    Re Valencia: makes no difference to my point, but thanks for the correction (assuming you really do know what you’re talking about 🙂 )

    Ok, why didn’t they ‘injure’ Henry? Or even Fabregas? Why pick on Eduardo or Ramsey, both of whom were fringe players at best? Not even Diaby could have been considered dangerous enough to put a premeditated hit on, especially when you have Fab in the same team.

  110. George,

    Tell that to SV! 😉

  111. SV

    Some amazing paranoia there. Cleverly was injured and missed much of this season after a tackle by Kevin davies I think. Nani missed multiple games after playing us in jan. I think he was tacked by kos. Vidic is out for the season after getting tackled i don’t follow manU closely but I am sure I could find dozens of other examples just like with any pl team.

  112. @Bill
    There is a difference between being tackled and injured on the one hand and between being done on the other. Diaby, Eduardo and Ramsey were done (hurt on purpose to achieve psychological demoralisation of the team). When Adebayor was tackled outside the pitch by Showcross, he also was being done.

    Interestingly, many of those cases are directly related to the Red Nose either through his former players (Showcross) or his friends (McLeish). I remember the Red Nose calling and comorting Showcross personally in the aftermath of the Ramsey injury.

  113. pedantic george

    SV | April 4, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Dont always agree with you .But I do here.

  114. Of course you do George. Have you ever met a conspiracy theorist you didn’t like?

  115. JonJon | April 4, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Sad to hear such things still happen in the UK, JJ.

  116. if there is a conspiracy in the pl then weve been in on it…

  117. Was the pen and red card against Benfica actually warranted or was it soft? I didn’t get to see it.

  118. SV:

    I hope you have good health insurance. The meds you need can be really expensive.

  119. JJ:

    I second what Henristic said at 7:05. I always thought you Brits were a bit more civilized then we are over here. I guess pigshit smells the same on both sides of the pond.

  120. henristic..
    it happened twice this year in PL alone…

  121. bill
    im not a brit..
    theres no part of me thats british..

    im english.. 🙂

    just to clear that up… 🙂

  122. @Bill
    As an Arsenal fan, and I assume you are an Arsenal fan, you must remember February 2008 and all the emotions from this time. It’s a hurting collective wound of deepest psycological importance. This wound will only heal when we pay back and win the league fair and square against ManU, without hurting their players, without dodgy mind games and without using the juornos. We’ll show them that we are a better and classier football club, and they are just establishment mappets enjoying a short moment of questionable glory.

  123. SV

    passenal made a point earlier about barca not getting the calls anymore in the league becuase rossel isnt there..

    some people used to say the same about us when David dein was on the board of directors of the Fa as well as arsenal and we were going seasons unbeaten and getting no broken legs and pires was diving through thin air against teams like pompey to win penalties…

    weve also won the double..twice

    and came back from 12 points down when manu were rampant..

    AW is one of the most decorated managers in the PL..


    if theres a conspiracy against us i dont see it to be honest..

    all i see is that we sold off all our superstars, built a new stadium, kept selling the superstars and therefore never been quite good enough to get across the line..

    everything else..bad luck and ammunition for the excuse makers…

  124. Limestonegunner

    Anyone see the brilliant video of the NYC Arsenal Supporters celebrating Thierry Henry’s return to the MLS Red Bulls?


    Arsenal belongs in NY rather than, say, Colorado in terms of its relationship to the US–great supporters, wonderful pub to meet to watch games (Blind Pig, featured in the video), and a big stage for communicating Arsenal’s special place in football globally.

  125. @JonJon
    As a glass completely empty and pessimistic kind of fan, I’m always the first one to criticize the manager, the players and the board for their shortcomings.

    However, it does not mean we should assume there is no institutional bias in the EPL against our club, whatever the current reasons for this bias are. In order to win titles, we have to be two heads above ManU. And for ManU, winning is a default unless they screw up.

    I’ve read some stats on Untold Arsenal that we got no penalties at home this season whereas ManU and ManCity got 7. Altogether, with just 2 pens for us, we are at the lowest level in the league. Yeh, just bad luck I suppose.


  126. JJ @ 9:53:

    I honestly didn’t know there was a difference. 🙂 I thought you were Brits and we were Yanks.


    I agree that it would be great to beat ManU. I don’t share your theory that somehow they were responsible for Eduardo’s injury but I am not going to change your mind so I won’t even try.

  127. touche bill 🙂

    what if i told you that i have a stat that claims in the last decade arsenal and liverpool are the only two teams to have more pens than UTD and we have had more pens awarded at home than anyone…??

  128. Jon Jon, it wasn’t me that said that about Rossell, it was a barca big wig who said it, on TV without any hint of shame. Believe what you want to believe, but don’t label others who believe something different as ‘excuse makers’. People who are fortunate enough not to have been on the receiving end of injustice always have a hard time believing that it can happen to others.

  129. @JonJon
    Your stats may be right, but it’s meaningless because the time frame 2002-2010 is artificial.

  130. hows it artifical??

    becuase it blows the bullshit arguement about penalties out of the water becuase we actually benefit the most??

    i could argue that the sample size for this season is artificial due to the fact we didnt have a squad to start the season with and thats where we went wrong..

    laying in 17th in october has more to do with the fact weve been nowhere near UTD this year..

    nothing to do with the penalties..

  131. passenal
    are you implying you think ive never suffered injustice??

    you’d be suprised..

    my injustice has been alot worse than watching my team not be as successful as previous years..

    i dont make excuses for sport…

    your either good enough or your not….

  132. Just to offer food for thought on the Messi “debate”.
    Jonny pointed out Ronaldo’s record and one to look at is Aguero who is three shy of his 20 which would match his total for Atletico last season. The point is that if you put a good player in a good team, he will more than likely carry on scoring for fun.

    As for how he would fare on a wet Wednesday at Stoke or when being kicked left right and centre, those both presume he would not receive the same level of protection over here. In the case of that high profile a player, the media clamour for his protection would be unbearable for referees. That is before managerial, club and other pressures begin to tell.

  133. JJ @7.05pm

    I’d say your friend’s team gave the appropriate answer by winning. As for his next step, a formal complaint to FA HQ denoting lack of local action with a copy going to Kick It Out. In fact, you could probably contact KIO first as I am sure they could offer advice on the matter.

  134. Passenal @2.29

    C’mon, lets be honest, AW was fuming when he left the pitchside, you can see in his face that he is frustrated so to believe he chose to talk to the referee is being generous. He is a passionate man when it comes to Arsenal and would have no doubt made his point(s) forcibly. In the same way that you note the media try to dismiss his grounds for appeal, it is equally dismissive not to accept he would have been in the wrong as far as the rules are concerned.

    The question that nags at me throughout this – and it did last season as well – why does he bother with the referees in CL matches beyond the final whistle? He is an intelligent man and he knows that he will end up with a fine and ban as a result of talking to them. Do lessons of previous years not register? And what if Arsenal exit the CL in a match where he is suspended – he is opening himself up for a lot of flack in the process and a fair number of people need little or no excuse to berate him.

    The fine is not proportionate in light of other events. In fact it is proportionate – so is the ban – if you take into account his recent “convictions”, as well as the punishments meted out by the FA in similar circumstances.

    It is the pathetic penalty imposed on Porto and other national associations which are not proportionate.

  135. YW
    very proud of them for winning the way they did..
    and il pass on the heads up about KIO…cheers

  136. pedantic george

    I have no fact based evidence ,But I would be very surprised if we are not the team to take most touches in the oppositions penalty box.So I should expect us to be fouled more often.And so we should be awarded the most penalties.
    We have been awarded precisely “NONE” in the league.City and United 7 each,at home.
    Still I am sure it will even itself out and we will get 2 per game between now and the end of the season.

  137. SV

    It is quite hard to accept that we have so few penalties at home this season. Yet what of the seasons from your own link where we had more than United?

    There are several factors that need exploring more deeply than a bland set of penalty stats. For example, penalties are awarded for all manner of indiscretions including handball – how many penalties for that are included in the totals. Where the conspiracy theory in this instance falls down is that “smaller teams” have high totals for being awarded spot kicks, Blackpool last season for instance.

    The big question is, what is the conspiracy? Is it against Arsenal per se or Arsene? Who is at it. So far we have had a touch of a scattergun approach, refs and opposition players. One thing I have never been quite sure of is what anyone gains out of the conspiracy against Arsenal? For example, we have not needed officials to determine against Arsenal since the 2004 title winning season, we imploded ourselves in the two seasons since then when we have mounted a title challenge.

    Opposition players tackling hard against Arsenal is not a conspiracy, that is part of football’s psyche no matter the country. Hit an opponent hard and send a message to all of their players; quieten them down. Is it right? No but it isn’t just part of English football. Diego Maradona only played 30-odd games for Barcelona when he was there, kicked from pillar to post and suspended for the rest.

    Back to penalties. One thing I believe to be the case is that Arsenal do not protest as much as other teams either via the players or the crowd. A referee at OT has the crowd on his back the minute any decision needs to be made; The Emirates is sedate by comparison on the whole. At Eastlands and Stamford Bridge, he has the players in his face all of the time; Arsenal had that ‘quality’ years ago but not so much now.

    And one thing: conspiracy and corruption are not the same thing. The former cannot successfully exist without the latter but the reverse is not true.

  138. @JonJon
    It’s artificial because you excluded the data for the two recent seasons to prove that there is no bias.

    We have two logical statements.

    1. We are not good enough.
    2. There is a bias against us.

    Statements 1 and 2 are not mutually exclusive, so both 1 and 2 can be correct.

    I do not understand how an acknowledgement of a bias is an excuse.

  139. as far as teams kicking us goes i think over the years weve been one of those teams who have 60-70% possession every game
    so its natural to assume that we get kicked quite alot seeing as though we have the ball alot longer than the oppo..they are attempting more tackles to start with so its not shocking to think we get kicked more..

    theres also a stat that says weve got more players sent off from the other team than any other team since the introduction of the PL..so yeah we get kicked but we have more of the ball and the refs do get their cards out..

    whats happened here is that everyone saw reyes get beat up at OT and then we had a few broken legs to fringe players as well as not been good enough to win anything becuase we sell our best players over the passed 5 years and people put 2+2 together and get 5…

    the only stats we need to see why arsenal havent been as successful over the years aint no penalty stats or anything like that..

    look no further than the tables for pl spending in the last decade..
    we are down at the bottom..

    theres your conspiracy explained, right there…
    we like to make profits..
    we like to make profits on players
    keep selling you best players and you hinder yourself more than what a penalty kick stat does..

  140. Great input in all of you comments above YW – on the same page as you for all of that.

    The comment about the lack of protestation from players and club is definitely worthy of mention. We have lost that culture – for example it can be worth protesting a decision volubly even if you don’t get it – sometimes the ref then feels pressured into evening a decision up later etc etc.

  141. @JonJon
    You are making good points.
    I disagree that February 2008 was a fringe event. That season, we were good enough to win the league. We were let down by brutality, media bias and the refs.
    I accept that you may see those events differently.

  142. pedantic george

    So we should behave like a shower of Chav cunts?

  143. SV

    >We were let down by brutality, media bias and the refs.

    No, we were turned off the title track by a brutal tackle and last minute penalty in the same game. We were let down by ourselves; lack of leadership not just from the captain, a lack of well, just about everything when it mattered. Four draws, one win and one defeat in the lead up to defeat at Old Trafford was not good enough; the mental impact of Eduardo’s injury should not have been allowed to get that deep. Three of those draws turned into wins and the title would have been Arsenal’s.

  144. Everyone has different opinions on this..
    Always will have..
    i can count on two hands over the years when i can actually remember us being conned and thats going all the way back to GG era..

    barca was a bad game last year..

    i admit we do get fucked but i just disagree with the opinion its quite a regular thing and everyones got it in for us..
    i dont think it is and i dont think they do..

    look at it this way..

    we are going to beat city at the weekend..
    i just think we will outplay them and they’ll be ripe after being mindfucked by fergie..
    but if the worst come to the worst the conspiracy would see UTD win the league this year and us see us get a few decsions against city just to make sure..

  145. @Yogi’s Warrior
    When I’ll see a challenging team recovering well and fast after seeing their team mate’s leg snapped into two, I’ll give you right. Before that, I just assume that the events were unprecedented and unrecoverable and I will not blame anybody, not even Gallas.

    I do not think ManU face anything remotely comparable to that when challenging for titles. For me, their famous character and leadership are more product of media imagination than reality.

  146. that birmingham game needed a tony adams or a paddy v..
    gallas fell apart in that game..
    on this point i rate robin as a captain..TV is a good sidekick..

    this is a good test and we’ll find out in 7 games..

  147. http://www.goal.com/en-gb/news/2873/polls/2012/04/04/3012870/poll-of-the-day-should-yann-mvila-be-arsenals-top-summer

    Who needs M’VIlla? The last thing we need is another central midfielder. Especially someone who can’t provide half the creativity that Song can for that position. With Wilshere coming back, as well as the tussle between Rosicky, Arteta and Ramsey for those positions in the centre, it’s very doubtful we will sign him. The media hype as well as the fan enthusiasm will end in shattered dreams leading to the same old ‘Wenger’ buys cheap players or not enough players. The only likely signing seems to be Podolski. It would be interesting watching him play with RVP, with the latter likely to drop back in order to fill the creative role. The defence too for once looks quite strong. All fullbacks falling to injury was quite unexpected.

    Also people seem to forget that the more interesting player we might buy this summer would be another young player. The recent buys have been excellent, especially the OX and Ryo. Will they turn out to be similar to Vela and Bendtner? It seems highly unlikely given the talent both possess. In the case of Chamberlain he will make a big impact for Arsenal. Ryo seems like a good buy, but given the abundance of talent on the wings, he would have to raise his game to get a shot at first team football.

  148. Hleb is my country man and I have some friends who spoke to him about February 2008. His Arsenal career was finished on this day. He was completely demoralised by the lack of protection. He also said that the whole team felt that way.

    It does not excuse his exit though after this season. He just behaved like a merchant and he deeply regrets it now.

  149. i can see AW being in for m’vila..
    but the price has to be right..if others want him it wont be..

  150. That’s a very disturbing thought, SV..


    YW, you forgot the events at OT during the very same season. A penalty given for a ‘handball’ against Gallas & a ‘freekick’ against Giberlto just outside the box. Both were converted.
    Plus, the same Birmingham game where Clichy won the ball in the box but penalty was given in the last minute. Very easy to forget such events & say we bottled it whereas manure just cross the line season after season with the help of such decision in their favour.

  151. Oh my life, more conspiracy debates! Do people really think that some dark brooding figure, dressed head to toe in black lingers outsides the refs room before the game? Gives the ref a quiet word in his ear just before they leave the dressing room? You can see in the ref’s eyes he is shocked….but hey, he is only human. Man in black slinks back into the crowd, and low and behold the ref makes some strange decisions against us.

    Or maybe all the refs just meet up before the season and over a beer decide they don’t like Arsenal and screw us over all season?

    Maybe. But personally I like to go with more rational thoughts and agree with the likes of YW/Jonny/Jon Jon from post earlier.

    And those that seem to think the lge in Spain is some cuddly little affair with no bad tackles really need to watch more games. That lge can be brutal.

  152. MJ

    >he same Birmingham game where Clichy won the ball in the box but penalty was given in the last minute

    I didn’t forget, I specifically mentioned it. Of the ensuing four drawn matches, three wins instead would have seen Arsenal crowned champions. They were more costly than the refereeing at OT.


    I don’t doubt he said that. I doubt his interpretation of the team being finished and as for his career ending that day, no, it might have been the straw which broke the camels back but he’d already decided that leaving was a very real option.

    Anyway, off to write today’s post.

  153. Spanish football generally favours the weavers and passers like Messi, and it’s not just Barca. Spanish players are smaller. Many, perhaps most Spanish top division teams play a good to excellent passing and twisting (tactical) game. English football is the leveller of that, and tweaks a little towards bigger, stronger, faster and far more robust. It’s not rocket science. Players like Hleb, Cesc and Modric (not comparing them, but that type of more technical ball keeper) are so obviously relatively less effective than players like Essien, Lampard and big Toure. The desired Arsenal player combines both qualities however: Wilshere, Diaby, Song, Arteta and strong under the tackle.

    M’Vila would be such a great purchase for Arsenal. Song is 20% over-used and that’s a risk. Song is exceptionally adpatable and could play further up-field and still play the same game. M’Vila combines effectively with Diaby for France and Le Boss knows this. I think he’s coming our way, along with Podolski.

  154. It’s a boring recurring theme Andy.

    Listening to people citing individual events reminds me of listening to people defend homoeopathy. Rational calls to look at the big picture are lost against cries of

    “But my sister had xxx and nothing worked and then she tried homoeopathy and it worked for her” As though that settles the argument.

    I saw Webb turn down a decent handball appeal against Blackburn which would have awarded MU a crucial (at the time) goal on Monday. The scores were 0-0 and had he given it there would have been some moaning, but it did strike the player’s arm and, were he a Man Utd puppet, it would have been an easy one to give.

    Some other people must just mentally discount incidences which don’t fit their agenda but then this has been shown to be the case when these stats are looked at in sport.

  155. There is obviously no conspiracy against Arsenal. There is some anti-Arsene prejudice however, and accompanied by jingoist fantasies of a certain section of english football fans and establishment, it sometimes “looks like” conspiracy. It’s very simple. The general bias is towards those teams that maintain some semblance of British sentimenalism. In most cases, this is easier for foreigners to spot than it is for the English. Few European countries are much different, most are worse, and it would be surprising if they were different.

  156. I agree with YW, andy and JJ.

  157. “Do people really think that some dark brooding figure, dressed head to toe in black lingers outsides the refs room before the game? Gives the ref a quiet word in his ear just before they leave the dressing room? You can see in the ref’s eyes he is shocked….but hey, he is only human. Man in black slinks back into the crowd, and low and behold the ref makes some strange decisions against us.”

    Andy – I thought it was pretty obvious that the dark brooding figure dressed head to toe in black was Mike Riley? I’m told he is never seen without a hangman’s noose as he spreads his Robbie Rotten-esque evil around…

  158. Fabregas well protected? I seem to remember a certain bruised bone / fracture.
    Fabregas as captain never ‘got in the face’ of the officials? really?
    Eduardo a fringe player?

    Wow. There are some incredible claims above.
    When players like Hleb, the lesser Ronaldo or even cesc f word believe their legs are less bruised after games in la liga I believe them. They said these statements before during and after their moves.
    P.s Latin football is not a gentle affair- Biesla’s Chile were a brilliant team. But please, Howard Webbs performance in that world cup spoke for itself. And that’s trying to be fair to the idiot.

  159. The conspiracy “theories” effectively began on the day Arsene made history by fielding 11 non-British players, and defended his decision by saying “it’s about football”. That profoundly touched a raw nerve for a lot of people who believed “it’s about English football”.

  160. I agree with ZimPaul at 8:53 am and earlier on.

  161. There is no doubt that over the years we have been on the wrong end of some horrendous refereeing calls. But I would wager that so have most teams.

    Added to this it is human nature to focus on what goes against you and give scant attention to things that do go in your direction. Common sense says that all teams can’t get exactly the same amount of good calls/bad calls so it is pointless saying Team XXX get more than us; ergo they are favoured over us. It is simply not that black and white.

    One that sticks in my mind was the FA Cup final against Liverpool. Most of us in the ground had not realised that their defender had cleared a Henry shot of the ine with his arm. The first time I saw that was in the pub afterwards; most of the fans in their went mental and was spitting blood after that.

  162. Daruis – Heh, very true. If he wore a shroud he would look like some sort of Shrew.

  163. LOL Andy – and just before kick-off, he’d swoop his cape around to cover himself and as the whistle blows for the match to start, he would disappear in a powder puff leaving his black regalia for stewards to nonchalantly collect as if it was dropped mistakenly by some dizzy fan.

  164. Perhaps he would turn into some sort of dust powder which the assigned ref for the day would snort, giving them super refereeing powers. This I believe, is the likely explanation for some of the curious call’s which go against us.

  165. bilal_whereru@hotmail.com

    Yes but what about Webb?
    Is he snorting stuff all the time? His poor sinuses. They must bleed.

    Someone needs to help the poor blighter find his way to rehab. You can imagine the scene.
    “Come on Howard, don’t be coward, one more step and we’ll have made it into rehab.”
    Master Webb: “No. No. No.”

  166. bilal_whereru@hotmail.com

    Yes but what about Webb?
    Is he snorting stuff all the time? His poor sinuses. They must bleed.

    Someone needs to help the poor blighter find his way to rehab. You can imagine the scene.
    “Come on Howard, don’t be coward, one more step and we’ll have made it into rehab.”
    Master Webb: “No. No. No.”

  167. But what about Webb?
    Is he snorting stuff all the time? His poor sinuses. They must bleed.

    Someone needs to help the poor blighter find his way to rehab. You can imagine the scene.
    “Come on Howard, don’t be coward, one more step and we’ll have made it into rehab.”
    Master Webb: “No. No. No.”

    Blogmaster, you can happily bin the other comment that rests in moderation : )

  168. ZimPaul | April 5, 2012 at 8:47 am

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, which is why it does not surprise me who lines up behind the myth of ‘fair play’ and those who can see the bias, which skews things towards ‘establishment’ favourites who maintain the illusion of the status quo. Those who’ve never been on the receiving end will never see it and will defend to the end their belief that the advantages they have are because of what they do and who they are has nothing to do with it.

  169. Meanwhile KP has been busy scoring one of the best centuries you could imagine. Remarkable innings.

  170. Yogi,

    Apologies for this late response but I was tied up all yesterday and didn’t have a chance to see your blog.

    It was (is) truly great and ‘when you hit you hit’. Just a great and considered piece of writing.


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