Rulers Show They Know FA About The Game & Wolves Preview
Football is in danger of imploding. The Football Association’s tenure as the organising body of the game in this country has never before been under such serious threat, a position of their own making. Arguably they are only in situ now because of the universal loathing for the Premier League amongst the corridors of power in the European and world governing bodies. Had David Richards not made such an arse of himself recently in the Middle East, he might have positioned the Premier League to take over the English game entirely. As it is, a blundering fool has let the blundering fools off the hook.
If it was not bad enough that QPR still suffer for Ashley Young’s outrageous theatrics, Mario Balotelli remains unchastened by the authorities for his disregard for the well-being of Alex Song. Were the Cameroonean so inclined, I have no doubt he could prove reckless intent behind the Italian’s challenge. Yet that is not sufficient for the FA to take retrospective action on the grounds that an official saw the incident and it was deemed not to contravene the Laws of the Game. Ivanovic’s half-hearted assault (by comparison) is to be punished.
<inhales sharply> It is of course, a joke. If an official saw it, demoting him to the lower leagues is insufficient; he has to be banned from all involvement with football. You might think this extreme but match officials have a duty of care to the players to ensure their safety. This was utterly disregarded as this picture shows.
Should the FA fail to act against the official, they are woefully derelict in the conduct of their duties. That will happen; this is after all a professional body who told the government so eloquently that they don’t have much say over running the game, it’s all down to the clubs (page 5 is staggering).
I understand that overruling officials creates a dangerous precedent but this was a woefully inept decision by those managing the match. If the FA look at this, their skewed logic goes, they will be pressured into others; for example, there would be pressure to overrule the referee at Old Trafford and add a caution to Ashley Young’s record. That would undermine the referee and a momentum then grows to retrospectively administer games, ordering replayed matches for justice to be seen to be done. That cannot happen and the FA should be prepared to stand up, be unpopular and put the media in their place.
But this was dangerous beyond words. Would they have taken the same flippant attitude if Song’s leg had been broken? There should be no difference in this but there would be; it is the same skewed logic that means a referee won’t give a penalty for shirt-pulling but anywhere else on the pitch, it’s a freekick. With this sort of direction from the top, there is no hope of getting a degree of consistency from referees.
Onto Arsenal. They arrive at Molineux in the midst of what the ever-faithful media are trying to build into a defensive crisis. Laurent Koscielny’s absence for this and next Monday’s clash with Wigan is due to suspension; his replacement will presumably be Johan Djourou although if Arsène is doubting the Swiss youngster’s mindset, Alex Song could drop back into the centre of defence. Kieran Gibbs‘ absence might yet rank in the bizarre injuries, fatigue of the groin. Apparently the rest of him is raring to go but his groin said, “No boss, can’t make it; too tired“. Richard E Grant is reportedly interested in making a follow up to the film How To Get A Head In Advertising although the working title of the film based on Gibbs needs some work.
Fear not, Andre Santos is back and it will be interesting to see how he and Yossi Benayoun combine on the left, presuming the Israeli retains his place. Aaron Ramsey seems likeliest to come in for Tomas Rosicky bearing in mind the Czech’s injury history and an understandable caution might well be the basis for rotation. I guess that Oxlade-Chamberlain might be preferred with Benayoun moving into Rosicky’s position but I think that unlikely.
The players are aware that this is a golden opportunity, a chance to put themselves firmly in control of their own destiny. Whilst the media focus on Spurs players and the mental impact of the departure of the Greatest English Manager Ever, they miss the real culprit and this Redknapp himself. If Arsenal are able to take themselves eight points clear of fourth, the psychological impact on the chasing pack would be huge which is before you consider the boost for the Arsenal squad ahead of the matches against Chelsea and Stoke.
Ever sensible, the manager put things into perspective,
Let’s not anticipate, that is something else that is important. When it gets to the last sprint, the focus on the next game becomes the most important part because you are always tempted to anticipate. We have the experience to know just to deal with the next one and that is the only important thing.
The players are capable of delivering and you sense that the win over City, not just in the three points but also the performance, has given them huge confidence. Wolves last beat Arsenal at Molineux in a league match in 1978. Since then six wins and a draw have been achieved. You can counter that with fact that Arsenal have only won twice in April on the same ground, achieving two draws and losing the remaining four encounters. Stats prove what you want them to prove.
I’ll settle tonight for a win. Wolves should they lose, will be seven points adrift of safety with fifteen left to play for. They are in woeful form but as Arsène noted, we have seen all manner of strange results this season so nothing can be taken for granted, a point I made in this morning’s Talking Heads.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it. Before then, be sure to look at a historic trip to the East Midlands for Arsenal On This Day.