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Help help, the flagship goes down! SOS – part 2

By Walter Broeckx

In my first article about the words spoken by the head of the PL I pointed how all was in place to set up some kind of calciopoli in the PL.

A head of the most powerful and important club in the PL defending his own legacy and interests, a head of the PL wanting the flag ship to win as that would bring in more money to the PL and the head of the referees who has shown in his career that he has always wanted to help Manchester United in some way.  A nice combination to set up things.

I shortly mentioned the media in Italy and how they helped covering things up. And you only need to look at Match of the Day to see how they cover up things and change position depending on which team gained or lost from a referee’s decision.

And I have shown how the referee reviews confirmed the pro United bias in the PL in the years we reviewed.

But now the question is: why does Arsenal have had to endure such a negative bias from the referees? And again I must say I have no smoking gun to show with finger prints on. But from the words spoken by Scudamore we can tell it is most of all about one thing: MONEY!

And a few personal reasons for some people involved.

What is it that set Arsenal apart from the other clubs? Money. And not so much the fact that we got a bit of it. In fact we have plenty of it. But it is the fact that we have that money and it is our own money. Forgive me for writing ‘our own’ as I contributed a bit to it and I hope you understand that I talk about Arsenal as my club even though I don’t owe even the slightest part of it.  [Untold does, however, own a tiny bit of Arsenal through the Fanshare scheme.]

You have a few models of running football clubs in the PL. We have the oil money model: the Chelsea and Manchester City model. Why is this model such an interesting one for the PL?  And why is it much more interesting than the dull Arsenal way? Because with that money Chelsea and Manchester City spend billions on players and on big names. And big names attract big audiences and brings in more money.

Manchester United is the flagship club brand. So them doing well brings obviously more money to the brand PL.

And then you have a number of clubs who spend, spend, spend even without having the money at all.  Liverpool springs to mind when we talk of such clubs. But there are lots of others doing this. And by them spending lots of money they keep the PL dream alive.

And then you have clubs that try to live within their budget. Clubs that want not only balance the books if possible but also want to bring up their own players.  Of course Arsenal is such a club. But I could also add a club like Southampton to this. Not that I know the complete picture of that club but they seem to be trying to do it the right way. Well the way I like clubs to behave.

So why do the referees then pick on Arsenal, you will ask.

Well because of Arsenal refusing to step into the lunatic spend mill that is so loved by the PL. The brand PL wants to sell itself to the world and to do this they need headlines. Headlines about superstars, big money, big players. And Arsenal refused to step in to that model. Buying Koscielny? Koswho? That is not the way you will attract millions from the outside world in to the PL. NO, you need to buy Aguero. Or Mata. That brings the audience. Not that money pinching approach from Arsenal.

So Arsenal winning the PL must have been the nightmare of the people who run the PL. Imagine that a team that has spend peanuts would win the PL. Imagine that other teams might think: hey that approach might work. So instead of spending millions on big superstars why don’t we try to build our own team with players from the youth system. Much cheaper for the clubs of course. But that would bring the whole PL hype down.

And as Mr. Scudamore seems to be very worried about the impact on the viewers world wide that not spending may have (by reducing the money rolling in),  it is obvious that they wouldn’t like such a team winning the PL.  Whereas teams with superstars and super spending money on transfers will keep the interest up.

So Arsenal wasn’t allowed to win the PL for many years. And when they threatened to win it in 2007/2008 the refs made sure we would lose it. Strange decisions suddenly came upon us in quick succession.  When in 2010/2011 we again were showing promise they again made sure that our run would be stopped. The Dowd at Newcastle season remember.

But to be honest apart from the fact that the refs have let Manchester United go a bit (leaving of Ferguson influence – no more fear) you also notice a little improvement for Arsenal. Of course we have lost points because of the refs refusing us to give blatant penalties. Like at WBA, against Chelsea and Manchester United. Of course we had the referee travesty from Taylor against Aston Villa.

But to be honest I have seen many worse seasons than this one. And why has things improved? Yep, again follow the money.  The Taylor travesty was before we bought a certain player. As if the PL, the PGMOL and the media were all saying : last chance saloon. We will break you if you don’t spend the money.

And Arsenal did spend the money. Lots of money. And lo and behold…for the first time apart from a few examples given I feel that in most matches the referees are rather fair to Arsenal. Not completely, as old habits are difficult to get rid off.  But in general we are getting some decent refereeing performances at last. Or even performances that are not too obvious anti-Arsenal as in the past.

So based on studying the calciopoli case in Italy and the similarities that can be found in the PL, based on the words of Scudamore who has too much time worrying for the downfall of Manchester United and thereby gives away what the PL is about, based on the referee reviews of all those years, based on what I have seen changing since we bought Özil the answer is simple : the money.

—-

Editorial note: Untold has been involved, with Referee Decisions, in a huge amount of research in relation to the actions of referees over the last few years – research undertaken by referees who have no affiliation to Arsenal.  If you have not seen this it is probably worthwhile having a look through some of the articles below, before commenting.

Overall reviews within this series of articles

The earlier series of reviews:

 

 

 

36 comments to Help help, the flagship goes down! SOS – part 2

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Superb article, Walter.
    Money buys you a lot of referees.

  • Rupert Cook

    What players have we developed from our youth system? I read somewhere that Cole has been the only successful product of our youth system in years.

    We weren’t allowed to win the league. What rubbish. The reason we didn’t win it was because our squad couldn’t cope with injuries just like now, plus ca change. We couldn’t buy the best because Manu and Chelsea and latterly City bought them because believe it or not the best players cost money.

    If we had won the league it wouldn’t stop Chelsea, City and Manu buying expensive players, all it would do is convince us that our way works and it might for the odd season or two but not consistently. If rich clubs have money they won’t sit on it as we appear to do, they’ll spend it because players are an investment and you make more money by spending 30 million on quality and then selling that player on two years later for 50 million than you do on interest rates on your money in the bank. And of course you get the services of that player on the field which is where your money starts really working for you, not stuck in a bank.

    Didn’t Montpelier win the French league with minimal investment? And what happened? Their best players got plundered by richer clubs and PSG didn’t stop spending. Sound familiar?

  • goonermichael

    Rupert. You should read some of the reviews from the 2008 season. Last match Wigan V Mancs. Scholes 100% sending off first half. Rio 100% penalty for hand ball. Neither given. They won the match and the league that day.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Amazing. Did I really write an article about the youth system?
    What have they been smoking at Rupert’s home?

  • elkieno

    You know this thought entered my mind many times over the years and it is not far fetched at all.
    Look at Chelsea feeder club in holland the support financially, I haven’t read it entirely (new born!) but something about Chelsea not wanting that feeder club to win their league as it would cause trouble with Uefa rules about not being allowed to own 2 clubs in same comp. smoke fire, etc…
    @Rupert if you want to follow and tow the line then many blogs out there are great for that, just football talk. But untold is different as you know, they see different angles, remember Stalins ‘useful idiots’ comments?
    COYG…

  • AL

    Interesting, Walter. Money certainly looks to be at the root of it all. If not to keep the PL brand flying high, then grease the dirty hands of those involved with football one way or another;

    1. the greedy agents will not get a big cut if players are sold on the cheap,

    2. The players themselves don’t get that much on signing on fees or huge wages,

    3. Certain managers with offshore bank accounts named after their dogs wouldn’t be getting any big cuts,

    4. The media houses lose revenue with loss of interest all round

    5. The refs themselves would not be getting huge salaries/benefits with little money flowing in.

    Too many reasons to think why many would want the Arsenal model to fail. I read with interest Tony’s earlier article on Barcelona being fined and banned for signing players at a very young age and developing them. While they’re moral reasons why that could be wrong, he touched on that it could be Madrid (another club that seems to think spending ridiculous amounts on signing players will keep everyone spellbound) who instigated this, and I thought yes, very likely. Barcelona has made one or two superstar signings,maybe one every five years, but that’s it. They’re more a team that believes in homegrown talent than going around the world buying established players. So in a way I could think that ban is somewhat related to this, spend money.

    The Italian league, which used to draw all the big names a decade or two ago, seems to have suffered since no oil money has found its way into their league. On the other hand the French league seems to be attracting more top talent, and thereby interest, due to having oil clubs in their league. The bundesliga is only relevant because their teams have remained successful, otherwise they’d be suffering like the Dutch league. And Bayern has enough money to attract one or two superstars but that’s about it.

    It’s certainly down to money. Of course that Arsenal were finding success with a french manager played a part in making it easy for them to be hated even by the ordinary man on the street.

  • Quincy

    Part of it must be because of Wenger. He was a relatively unknown Frenchman (of all the nations!) when he arrived. He upset the apple cart, criticising the diet, training regime, in Britain, he brought in his scouting network, and with it foreign players (blasted forreners!), etc.

    He was a damn Frenchy who revolutionised British football, and brought it up to the standards on the Continent (maybe higher, even). He was like some polar opposite to Sir Alex. Add to that his insistence on doing things the right way (again, compare to SAF).

    All these things made people hate Wenger and Arsenal, especially when the trophies started coming in. I think a lot of that hatred lingers on. I’m not so sure it’s because we don’t ‘splash the cash’, although this is tied to ‘doing things the right way’.

    By the way, I’d like to know more about how Liverpool is run financially, if you don’t mind. And Everton seem to be another team that tries to do things the right way, can you say more about them?

  • Quincy

    Oh and the spuds are planning their big move to a new stadium:
    http://www.transfermarkt.co.uk/en/spurs-hope-for-2017-stadium-switch/news/anzeigen_154693.html

    Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said: “We have the smallest capacity stadium of any club in the top 20 clubs in Europe, let alone the current top four Premier League clubs, and given we now operate within UEFA Financial Fair Play rules, an increased capacity stadium and associated revenues is fundamental to supporting the future ambitions and consistent achievement at the top of the game.”

    Poor spuds! How deluded can you get? They are nowhere near top 20 in Europe, or top 4 in the Premier League.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Quincy,
    but he is right about the fact that the building a bigger stadium is the long time solution to build a club.
    Exactly what Arsenal has done and what also held us back for a long while. But what is brushed aside as irrelevant by the trophy hunters….

  • AL

    Quincy 3:38pm
    That too has long been my view of why Arsenal are hated in england; who the hell does this frenchman think he is, coming from nowhere to challenge the establishment. While this is very true to a certain extent, when you look at how Arsenal are also treated beyond these shores then I guess that’s when the money factor comes into it. It’s a cocktail of issues which results in Arsenal getting a raw deal imo; the locals disliked a frenchman showing them how to do things, the guardians of football in england hated the idea of a penny pinching club winning and hurting their brand, while those abroad hate the idea a team would want to become successful without spending a penny. It all adds up imo.

  • El Tel

    I think it is more to do with politics and the North-South divide.

    After all football started decades before the PL and if you look at the trophy count you will find it heavily weighted to the North.

    The FA is run mainly by Northerners and it is funny how little Clubs like Bolton and Wigan become cannon fodder for the Mancs but fight like crazy when they play us.

    We are hated because we are the biggest threat to their dominance this side of Birmingham.

    Lets be honest, Chelsea should have more titles than they have had in the past 15 years but they seem to come up short too.

    They pronably have had the best players in the last 10 years yet still get beat to the title by the Mancs. A Manc side who are really average and still using 35 year+ players to keep them afloat.

    When Arsenal play a derby game to which there are many we get tough matches. When the Mancs play their local friends they seem to up their goal difference.

    The Referees are all from North of England bar a couple as you have also pointed out in the past. How is this fair?

    The reason I used politics is because football is all most of the North have due to lack of jobs and other opportunities, therefore it is vital to control those people by giving the success in the number one sport in Britian.

    Remember a few years back when we won the trophies. David Dean was head honcho of the FA. Arsenal were becoming more and more powerful.

    What happened, the FA appointed the Man Utd chairman as head Honcho. We got the rotten treatment by the Referees and an average Man Utd started winning things again even though Chelsea were dominant too.

    To not be given a penalty at Old Toilet in 10 years is a disgrace. They in my opinion only won titles because Ferguson had his Director sorting out the important issues for them and making his life easier.

    The worst thing I see in Arsenal matches recently is how the Refs give plenty of free kicks to us in the middle of the pitch. They do not book the opposing offender and it is a tactic used to break the flow of play. Our striker goes for an aerial challenge and gives away a free kick. The opposition striker batters our CB’s with nothing given. Total bias game after game.

    We rarely get given free kicks on the edge of the opponents box but concede many in these danger zones, this with us having one of thebest defences in the PL.

    I believe this is the answer to the issues with Arsenal and the FA and do not see an end to the cheating that is going on as the media are also part of the plan.

  • El Tel

    Arsenal have always been a big money Club even though they are tight with tne money.

    I don’t see this as the reason for us being hated.

    As for European football, Eufa really do only want the Spanish big guns or the Latest flavour the Germans winning that trophy.

    The Mancs get properly Refereed in European games and that is why they have only won 2 CL in the Fergie years despite supposedly being the biggest Club in world football.

    Another reason for believing the Refs are with them in England.

    I also believe EUFA assist the Mancs by giving them easier draws which allows them to get to the later stages more often.

    We always seemed to get either Barcelona or Bayern in the past 5 years, and they say the draw is not bent.

  • Rupert Cook

    If anyone is hated in England it’s Manu, closely followed by Chelsea I’d say. I’ve never met any fan of another team that has hated Arsene Wenger because he’s French.

    I’ve heard some bizarre conspiracy theories in my time but I think this one cooked up by Walter is the maddest.

    As for Arsenal not spending a penny, again that’s a falsehood. We have had a huge wage bill for years with a lot of rather ordinary players benefiting. Luckily many of them have now been sold off.

    We may have bought some cheap players in recent years but how many of them have actually been successful? I think it’s great finding wonderful players for next to nothing but on the whole we haven’t done this. Very few of our players have come from our youth set up so again that’s hardly proof of us nurturing homegrown talent.

    The notion that some dozen or so refs are colluding against Arsenal because we might win the league without stars is beyond madness, it’s somewhere out there in the twilight zone.

    Even if we did win the league with so called cheap players, and how many of our good players were that cheap anyway, will that suddenly change City or Chelsea’s approach to buying players? Those teams want to win the CL and every trophy up for grabs and they want success now, not ten years down the line, so they won’t stop buying the best because the best players win tournaments and they cost big bucks.

    And I’m not denying Manu have had lots of favourable decisions over the years but that’s been to the detriment of many teams not just Arsenal.

  • Jax

    Reports from Russia, saying that a Zenit player has admitted that he and team mates have bribed a referee.

  • Jax

    Should have said bribed referees (plural)

  • Mandy Dodd

    Money is probably a big part of, the second reason may be Wenger himself. He was trying to change too much , too quickly for some, and had to be stopped. The one good reason I can see for losing wenger…..the next manager would be unlikely to get the grief wenger gets. Wenger seems to have upset a lot of people

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Confucius say:

    The wise speak when they have something to say, 

    the fools speak when they have to say something.

    It is better to lose a lover
    than love a loser.

    It is much better to want the mate you do not have
    to have the mate you do not want.

  • Rupert Cook

    Zenit have some despicable fans. They actually insist that the club should not sign any black or homosexual players.

  • Quincy

    True, Walter, I just though it was a bit rich of them to compare themselves to a top 4 Premier League team.

    And Rupert, I’m not saying we’re disliked now because Wenger is French, but that was at least partly why we were disliked in Wenger’s early days, and I think a lot of that hatred still lingers, even if the reasons are forgotten.

    I’m on the fence about AL and Walter’s argument about not spending money, although who knows, money makes the world go round, as the expression goes.

    Rupert Cook, it depends who you consider our best players. According to transfermarkt:
    Szczesny cost us £44k.
    Mertesacker and Koscielny, considered one of the best CB pairings in the league, cost around £21m altogether
    Sagna £8m (how much would a RB as good as Sagna cost now? £20m?).
    Wilshere came out of our youth development.
    Ramsey £5.6m, and is one of the best midfielders in the league now.
    Cazorla £16.7m (to get a similar quality player today would cost about £25m in my opinion)
    Walcott £9.2m, and how much have we missed him now that he’s injured?

    And in the recent past we bought Nasri for £14m and sold him for £24m. Fabregas bought for £2.8m, sold for £29.9m. Clichy bought for £330k, sold for £6.8m. Song bought for £3.5m, sold for £16.7m. Van Persie (*spits on ground*) bought for £4m, sold for £27m.

    Maybe it’s true, not many top players have come through the youth system, but we still buy players cheap and turn them into stars, you can’t deny that, Ramsey is the best example in the current squad.

  • bjtgooner

    @Brickfields

    Very apt. Sometimes when one fool is quiet another is compelled to speak?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    An AAAA gets smarter ?

    After all the e-mails and penis lengthening exercises, I think the wife is finally beginning to notice, because I overheard her telling our next door neighbor that I had became an even bigger dick than I ever was. I even recorded it to show guys at the Pub.

  • For your premise to hold up you are offering a massive conspiracy theory. You are suggesting that referees cheat based on a hidden agenda. This is rubbish. Referees make mistakes and may have individual filters that cause them to make decisions in a certain way that, when analysed over time, indicate consistent bias. The truth is refs are human beings with filters they may not be aware of. They make mistakes and their decisions are influenced by their filters. But within the constraints of their abilities and the influence of their filters, every ref steps onto the field every time to do his best. It’s self evident. Every refereeing decision is picked over from every angle by pundits and fans. They want to get decisions right, not cheat.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Him be smart , or….?

    This teacher wanted to try something different in the classroom. So she thought she would ask a question to start with that everyone would answer in the same way.
    ‘Who in this class’ she asked ‘thinks they are stupid?’
    One boy at the back of the class stood up.
    The surprised teacher asked the boy why he felt he needed to stand up.
    ‘I didn’t want to leave you standing up all by yourself’ he replied.

  • bjtgooner

    OT

    Seven footballers in NW England arrested in connection with allegations of bribery and money laundering – headline on Sky Sports.

  • Shard

    I agree with the theory Walter. In fact have opined much the same as a possible explanation for the decisions we saw. Nothing much to add I guess..

    So Rupert. Now we come to you. Let’s say you are correct about arsenal not being cheap, having bought ‘rather ordinary’ players, having no youth products etc.. But the perception is that Arsenal were cheap. That perception is reinforced by the fact that the way Chelsea and City have spent money (and ManU and Liverpool and virtually everyone else to try to keep up, to some extent even Arsenal) was highlighted as the correct way to do things. So if Arsenal did end up winning the league doing things their way, City and Chelsea would not change their ways, but the perception of them being ‘right’ would have faced a major challenge. Larger public opinion would see the model with its dangers exposed once you removed the perception of failure of the alternate self-financing model.

    As for your contentions of Arsenal having rewarded ordinary players, that is a side issue, but tell me, if those players were so ordinary, how did they get into the top 4? And if you insist that they were overpaid as a general rule, don’t you think a) that had something to do with the oiler-led inflation, and b) how much you think players at a CL club who were only squad players should have earned? I have explained this to you before. If we didn’t pay our squad players, those that did well would leave. Those that didn’t would be with us at lower salaries but what good would that be?

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Bad Golfer: “Today’s the day, George. I can feel it in my bones. In fact I dreamed about it last night!”

    Caddy: “You always say that when you’re out here.”

    Bad Golfer: “I know. I’d move heaven and earth to break 100 on this course.”

    Caddy: “Try heaven, you’ve already moved most of the earth.”

  • Rupert Cook

    @Quincy, some of those players aren’t that cheap but I agree that most of those would now cost a lot more but that’s inflation and the football market seems to have the craziest inflation rates.

    And there are a fair few we bought that never became stars. I think you know who they are.

    With the money we now have Wenger said he’ll make a commitment to buying super quality. I guess we’ll be busy this summer, just hope we can hold on to fourth because otherwise our plans maybe scuppered.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Shard, and who would buy these squad players? We couldn’t shift a few of them because of their high wages and if they were so good why weren’t they in demand? Many didn’t do that well.

    I’ve said this before, that Wenger managed a lot of very ordinary players very well. And the team was boosted by having a few great seasons from Fabs and one great season from RVP. I’m not sure any manager but Wenger could get such good results from such an array of rather average players, average by the standards of the 05 team say.

    Yes that perception that Arsenal is cheap is a misconception.

    Public opinion may well have changed regarding how to build a successful club but that wouldn’t alter the fact that rich clubs will buy expensive players because that’s what gets you the most trophies. I can’t imagine any team winning the CL without spending a lot more than we have. There’s nothing wrong with trying a self-financing model as long as you don’t expect to win things too often.

  • AL

    “some of those players aren’t that cheap but I agree that most of those would now cost a lot more but that’s inflation and the football market seems to have the craziest inflation rates.”

    Inflation? It appears then that inflation favours us only. Because when I look around I only see our rivals buying players and selling them on for much less than they would’ve paid for initially;
    Liverpool(Carroll, Adam, Downing, Aquilani,Babel,Keane, etc) Chelsea(I won’t even mention), City(same as Chelsea), Utd(slightly better than Chelsea and city).

  • Shard

    Rupert

    Arsenal paid players on potential. Some of them fulfilled their potential. Other didn’t. Some of those that didn’t fulfil their potential are those who were, in hindsight, overpaid. Some of those that fulfilled their potential stayed long enough for it to be an good investment. Some of those that left for more money, like Nasri for instance, would have left regardless of our wage structure because at no point could we have matched salaries for the very best players at other richer clubs. And clubs who due to no stadium costs and no locked long term deals, could afford to push the boat out more. These clubs would buy players who got us top 4. We could have been in a situation where not just our stars were cherry picked by the clubs ahead of us, but also had our better squad players taken away by those behind us, if we weren’t paying the squad players at a level comparable to squad players at other CL clubs.

    ANyway. I’m not going to argue the point further. It’s essentially a moot point now that we have more resources and aren’t bound to pay on potential since we can use the transfer market more.

    The image of Arsenal being cheap comes from the fact that we had a negative net spend on transfers.

    Public perception is key to a product like the PL. If it catches on, as it did for the past 2 years, that the money is killing competition, then people switch to other leagues. Like the way Bundesliga gained popularity when Dortmund could compete with Bayern and other clubs seemed to have a chance too. All of a sudden, with Bayern’s dominance and the title race open in England, that threat seems to have disappeared.

    The fact is that way back in 96, ManU were marketed as THE face of the EPL product, despite Liverpool being the historical winners and Blackburn being the Chelsea of that era. ManU’s success has tied in neatly with the league’s success. Scudamore admitted as much. Now you can believe that nothing was done to protect these business interests and call it a twilight zone script the thought that there might have been. Whatever works for you.

  • Florian

    Quincy @3:38pm:

    Swiss Ramble has a series of articles that cover the PL clubs. If you go to his blog I’m sure you will find more than a few bits. I don;t really remember having seen an article dedicated entirely to Liverpool (yes, Arsenal has quite a few there 😉 but from the general PL ones you can get a reasonably good picture of where they are and what are their perspectives. Far behind us, btw, and with a less than slim prospect of sustainability.

  • omgarsenal

    Luscious Lisa….have you ever officiated, or actually participated in officiating activities? It is certainly true that most honest officials want to do their best when they enter the field BUT those that have been corrupted enter the field with only one thing in mind, doing the bidding of someone else.
    Let me assure you,from painful experience, that ANY official can throw a match without ANYONE being the wiser. You say referees are human, but if that implies that all they ever do is make a few honest mistakes, then you are absurdly naive and I have a bridge in London I want to sell you.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I agree with the words of OMGArsenal towards Luscious Lisa.

    I know many if not most refs are trying to be fair. BUT being a ref I know the side of refereeing that the public in general doesn’t see. The back room refereeing one could say.
    The one were referees brag about how they will have a go at player X, team Z, manager Y.

    The one were referees want to get things of their chest. Like when they took a brown envelop from a certain team to bring them promotion. And when they gave them an imaginary penalty in the last minute to make sure of that promotion.

    The one were referees lick unnameable body parts in order to lick their way to the top of the pyramid. And the higher you want to get, the smaller the pyramid is becoming and the more licking is required.

    I know that I am (just as OMGArsenal) an example that one can get to a certain level without that and based on what you show on the pitch. But you see it all around you when you open your eyes.

    I sometimes really wonder why do I still do it? Because it is something you love doing. Strange in a way because you will receive and meet abuse on your refereeing ways but it is just something you love doing.

  • Ray from Norfolk, Virginia

    Walter,
    If I were to be a referee, I would be a champion cheater to avoid licking any part of Mike Riley.

  • Mark

    The biggest factor in the refs creating “tilt” against Arsenal is injuries. I think more than any other factor injuries have kept Arsenal from winning the league over the past years. By letting clubs free to kick Arsenal they can be sure that injuries will come and will accumulate through a season. The years that we have been closest have all been years where injuries to players have been a factor. But this is a factor that is very easy for those manipulating and creating the tilt to hide behind. Because football has a “luck” factor a team with a lot of injuries could win and maybe do win sometimes despite the odds. Just as occasionally a team like Wigan will beat Man City against the odds.

    This style of play against Arsenal is also the story line that low class industrial NW England likes. Arsenal players are wimps that can’t take the physical side of the game. Which is just complete nonsense! But it is a story line that the media in the UK like and many in England like as it compensates for an inferior status in the world.

  • Rupert Cook

    @Shard, I think money is killing competition but there always seem to be supporters that will pay to go and watch their team in the EPL. I’ve read of many Arsenal supporters that have given up going to games because they can’t afford it, but there’s always another raft of supporters to take their place. If a vast number of supporters stopped going to EPL games things might change but that’s unlikely to happen.

    Sadly it seems that our league will always have the likes of City and Chelsea contending for everything especially as Manu may not be serious rivals for a while. At least Liverpool are making a fight of it without unlimited finance and we might even win the league in the next five years.

    A few people I know now go to lower league games, including myself, because it is more fun in a way. You get a lot closer to the pitch and there’s a real community feel too. Of course the standard of football is low but it’s still as entertaining. Seeing Oxford win at Wembley gave me as much a thrill as any Arsenal game I’d been to, the caveat being that I’d never been to see Arsenal in a final at Wembley.