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Where did all the injuries go? Where did all the policemen go? Where did all the rules go?

By Tony Attwood

It is so annoying when things go missing.

There was a time when the dominant focus of this blog, before and after each Arsenal match, seemed to be injuries.   They just piled up week after week, month after month.   Often there were ten members of the first team squad out, and yet still we battled on.

So bizarre was the situation we even ran a comparison chart by Dale Higginbottom for a couple of seasons.  The articles are still in our archives.  What the comparisons showed was that we were in a long run of high levels of injuries, regularly having more players out that our rivals.

Now it seems that the world has changed and the numbers are right down.  So we have the reverse problem; players who are not getting regular starts getting a bit edgy about their future at the club.

The latest seems to be Podolski, who is unhappy about not being started ahead of Gervinho.  He’s 27 – supposedly the ideal age for a player, played over 100 games for Germany, scored 44 times for Germany and yet it not an automatic starter.

He wasn’t at the top of his game against Bayern in the first leg, but to be fair no one was really on song that night.  But seeing that Gervinho can’t constantly reproduce the form that he found in the African Cup, and the speed at which the AAA get on Gervinho’s back – one error and its groans and shouts of “get him off” – at least in the area of the ground where I sit.  It  makes it unlikely that we will see that level from him at the Ems.

But overall the fact is that we have choices: Giroud, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott, Podolski, Chamakh.   Even Cazorla has been a front man in some formations of late.  Six players for three spots – someone is going to be left out.

So who lines up against Everton tomorrow? One interesting point that came up in the press interviews was that in training games Podolski has been played as the central front man – yet another option – although that would be a radical change indeed if it happened on Tuesday.

Theo certainly seems ready to return to the wing – so maybe it will be Giroud and Podolski accompanying him, and the same midfield as Saturday.  I think that Ramsey has done superbly recently – and in the face of constant AAA criticism.  Arteta is a fixture, and clearly Mr Wenger wants Jack in there whenever he can – unless of course Jack had any sort of reaction to playing in the game on Saturday.

Meanwhile the arguments over weekend affairs continue.  Sky’s re-run of the match on Saturday evening involved a co-commentator complaining about the penalty, not because it was not a penalty (obviously there was pulling going on) but because

a) It was given by the linesman who was a distance away

b) Such offences are not normally given.

This seems crazy to me.  If it was a foul, which it was, then surely it is irrelevant that the linesman gave it.  It would only be relevant if the linesman saw it from some distance away and called it wrongly.

As for the fact that such offences are not normally given, that surely reflects on the refs in other matches, not this one.  The rules are there and refs should apply them all.   Yes, they do let some go – the number of foul throws around at the moment seems very high, and I have not seen a ref this season take any notice at all of the rule which says how long a keeper can hold a ball for.  Nor indeed do many taken any action concerning deliberate time wasting, and we certainly saw a lot of that on Saturday.

Indeed the Norwich complaints focussed on Theo being offside for the last goal – which he was – but ignored the constant law breaking by their own keeper.  I guess all of us as fans see what we want.

But just because refs don’t apply some rules does not mean that the situation should not be reformed.  If refs tightened up on these offences, then players would play by the rules.

Meanwhile most attention is still on the FA Cup, and I am pleased to say that by this morning’s papers one or two columnists are waking up to the notion that it is not good enough for the FA to blame everyone else.  I’m sure they didn’t read Untold, but at least we had the pleasure of getting to the story rather more quickly.

But it has been rather amusing to see the FA accept the good old argument that “some of the fans had been drinking alcohol” while conveniently forgetting that the FA Cup is sponsored by a lager company.

The other big point is that Millwall sold a fair number of its tickets on the open market.  There is an argument over whether this actually made any difference, and some argue that the unsold tickets were the more expensive ones upstairs where they say there was no fighting.   But I heard a guy on 606 suggest that problems began with people throwing stuff from the upper tier down on the lower tier.

Of course I wasn’t there so I can’t say, but holding a semi-final at Wembley instead of at a club ground as used to be the case, does mean that when a club with lesser support gets into the semi, there will be lots of tickets available.  I’ve mentioned before the Arsenal v Blackburn semi-final at the Millennium Stadium where vast swathes of the ground were empty as Blackburn supporters failed to buy into the game.  It happens, and has been happening for ages – only this time a lot of the tickets went to people who clearly were not regular Millwall fans.

But whoever is to blame, policing by CCTV, as it has now been called, does seem to be a poor way to handle matters, if, as has been reported, stewards are not permitted to deal with real problems.  Being reliant on lots of stewards who are effectively useless in a difficult situation, while having the police watching the situation on cameras means they are going to take a long time to get into the crowd.  When they do they are wielding truncheons – and if you have ever been caught in the middle of that type of situation you will know it is not at all where you want to be.

Anyway, here’s a footnote to take us all happily onwards with the gloriously organised game of football.

Mino Railoa, an agent, has been fined £3500 for calling Sepp Blatter a “demented dictator” and for calling Michel Platini a “mafia boss”, before drawing the conclusions that “Fifa and Uefa – it’s the exact same shit, just different letters.”

An interesting perspective.

Now, about Everton, tomorrow…

The books…

The sites from the same team…

 

25 comments to Where did all the injuries go? Where did all the policemen go? Where did all the rules go?

  • Shard

    The injuries have reduced because the club spent massively on upgrading their medical centre, and using the GPS tracking thing. This was done, perhaps 2 seasons or more ago, and is now showing some benefits. Although this money spent doesn’t get the happy headlines of money spent on transfers, it is arguably more important to have such infrastructure in place. So hopefully, we’ll have lesser injuries moving forward.

    As to Podolski playing Centre Forward. I think how he does (even if only in training) will determine our player purchase. Assuming we’re going to buy a big money/name player. Do we buy someone who’s an out and out goalscorer, maybe like Higuain (as the papers say he’s available), spend 30m on a player like Gotze who’s more of a creative force, or buy a hybrid of both those roles like Jovetic? Interesting times. But first, we have to beat Everton. Who’s the referee?

  • ozed

    I think a key change regarding our injury situation came when the team started using GPS units for training. These units tracked the distance each player has covered and uses changes in body shape (i think) to determine when fatigue is increasing over the course of the season 9making injuries more likely), thus allowing coached to determine who to rest etc.Like we were warned when the systems were implemented, it did take a while (like 2 seasons) for the effect to be seen. Thank God these effects are now apparent.

  • ARSENAL 13

    @Tony,

    Looks like our investment in ‘state-of-the-art’ medical center is paying off.

    A couple of years back (if I am correct), when ARSENAL opened this facility, (in other forums) fans/supporters were shouting over the roof. Waste of money and stuff. And I was in the receiving end for asking them whats wrong if ARSENAL wants to take better care, and ensure the best medical assistance for their players.

  • Aziz, KL-Malaysia

    That Poldi starts as central striker being the most clinical (by a distance) of all we have I have blogged about since start of the season.
    His 15 goals could have easily been double by now considering the 45 clearcut ones missed by Giroud and Gervinho would have been converted by a third in number only …
    That a striker being almost as clinical as Klinsmann decades ago is not paying where he should, sorry AW, I don’t get it.
    He would put RVP into his left pocket.

  • Matt

    When you have a lot of injury prone players in your squad you’re bound to suffer from injuries.

  • Gunz

    @ Matt
    When you play against teams that are allowed to kick you off the field, you’re bound to get a lot of injuries.

  • Stuart

    Tony,
    It really annoys me that these commentators are left to comment the way they do – does no-one manage the process? What does the producer do?. I think the commentator was Tony Gale (?) but whoever it was, their anti arsenal agenda was clear to see. Surely the question should have been aimed at the ref, why did the ref not see it from 8-10 yards away and yet the official some 40-50 yards away did see it?

  • Stuart

    Matt,
    Look what happens when we move on those injury prone players.

  • El Gringo

    Regarding the outrage against Arsenal being given a fair penalty…remember when Koscielny was sent off against Man C? The Untold conclusion was that it was an undeniable penalty, even though similar fouls are only rarely penalized. The media were pretty harsh on Kos then, but they’re ignoring Kamara’s stupidity now, as if a genuinely debatable corner allows defenders to do whatever the heck they like. Same story, different reactions.

  • Tasos

    @Shard

    The referee V Everton will be Neil Swarbrick.

  • Matt

    Stuart

    They move on and win the trophies there talent deserves in most cases.

  • Matt

    I dont think it was a pen TBH. Giroud had his hands allover the defender for the 2nd goal but nothing given, 3rd goal clearly offside.

    I think it’s pretty clear we had by far the better of the descisions in this game but everyone gets some luck and you have to make the most of it.

  • Shard

    Thanks Tasos

  • Adam

    Where did all the injuries go?

    Hopefully up north.

    Where did all the policemen go?

    Probably back up north.

    Where did all the rules go?

    Look to the EU.

  • Gf60

    The tracking system was a benefit when AW showed Jack W the he was performing nowhere near where he was at the beginning/middle of 2010/11. Of course he was then out for a season! But in principle it worked.

    A second thought, more for Walter I suppose (did he get back to Belgium safely?) is about the rules applying to direct free kicks…or rather being applied to them. A direct free kick in our area is often taken with the ref not even looking or whistling but haring up the pitch. Frequently the ball is still moving when the kick is taken.
    Just outside the opponents area though(shades of TH many moons back) the ref holds up play until the opponents are all ready, makes the attacking side wait for the whistle and generally takes away much/all of the advantage, especially as we don’t have a Ronaldo! Sick grin.

    Surely this is all arse about face?

  • Ong Bing

    Poldi can play on the central, Theo too. Gerv can play there too, but he is not clinical enough in that position, Poldi and Theo are better.

    Well, if you only need “wall” or someone that can head ball to the net from crossing, you can put Per in there, because we still have Kos and TV5 in CB.

    The problem when you put CB as central striker is, he instinctly hit the ball over the cross bar!

  • Stuart

    Matt
    They go injury free.

  • Mahdain

    The co commentator aka Tony Gale has a personal vendetta against us as he always is negative towards us.A grade A twat

  • Gonnerjoe

    Matt every thing your saying about our goals on Saturday might as well been copied and pasted from spurs sites.The fact is unless you have a total anti Arsenal bias like the some parts of media two of our goals where fine the 3rd was off side but how many goals have been given against us or good goals given offside.I also Noticed you never mentioned the dive for free kick from which Norwich scored from or the fore arm smash by Turner on Ramsey before he scored. Maybe these points do not suit your one-sided agenda

  • Mick

    @Gonnerjoe
    Spot on. Matt you have been sussed.

  • Asif

    While we are talking about the Poldi…this is what the boss has to say about him, “work a lot with him as a central striker at the moment. He is a quality player and when he comes on you can see that straight away. You don’t get 100 caps by luck.”

    So watchout guys…i am fairly confident that Wenger will use him as a central striker!

  • Domhuail

    I saw Podolski play for 2 seasons at Koln and he was always playing behind the striker but he is very direct and powerful, although a bit small for that role. He is however a talented finisher and has an exceptional left foot shot. He definitely prefers to play across the field and come in from the wings and from midfield to have a strike right on the goal area. This is most successful area and he can convert most chances, IF he gets the ball…..his turn and shoot goal against Norwich is a classic example of what he can do, given littel time and space.

  • americangooner

    there should be something hiding in podolski that prompts the manager to work on him to make him a striker. we should note the fact that henry wasn’t a striker when he came to arsenal but he was converted into one. i think AW sees the potential in podolski to become a potent forward as several have pointed out poldi is the most efficient striker and only cazorla performs better than poldi.

  • Mark

    I thing less injuries has a lot to do with changing patterns of the refs. I think the refs are doing a better job of protecting players by calling the worst offenses but they do not call the small offenses. Let the push on Walcott in the box. It was a foul as the defender was playing Walcott and not attempting to play the ball. But when players do make clearly dangerous tackles those seem to be called and thus discouraged. I think the players are doing more to protect themselves too. It seemed a few years ago the players did not pull out even when it was clear they were going to get clobbered. Clearly players like Carzola know when to avoid getting clobbered and pull up or out of the situation.

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