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October 2016
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Death by ankle tap: A most curious moment in the history of Arsenal

By Tony Attwood

I recall during my student days when I was an active member of the students’ union, taking part in one of our regular political debates when one fellow student rose up and commented that what I had just said was in contradiction to something I had said at another meeting a couple of weeks before.

Speaking without engaging my brain I replied, “But I’ve never claimed to be consistent,” which was perhaps my first indication that I might stand a better chance of making money as a satirist rather than as a politician.

Of course in the end I did neither, and both politics and satire in the UK remained safe from my interference.  But I was reminded of that moment so many years ago, when the game fell apart yesterday.

On my drive back to the Midlands from Blacksheep’s fine new home near Arnos Grove I contemplated what, if anything, I might write this morning, and the best I came up with was a rather poor version of what the Guardian’s Barney Ronay turned out to have written before I got to the keyboard…

Replays suggested minimal contact with Costa, who was nonetheless unable to hide his agony from public view, face contorted as he completed a harrowing triple roll that suggested at the very least a pair of broken limbs, possibly even that rare thing, death by ankle tap.

But I was also taken, as was the Guardian columnist, by Giroud’s reaction and the crowd’s reaction to the Giroudian reaction to the substitution.   Giroud, you may recall, walked off very, very, very slowly, head bowed, like an expert actor in a melodrama, milking the scene for all it was worth, not wishing to forgo his moment of fame.   Flamini then went over to him and said, “If you don’t move at full speed I am going to kick you up the arse so hard you won’t shit for a month,” or something along those lines.   Giroud broke into a trot.  (As it were).

And yet I was left pondering the crowd, and the widespread booing of the fact that it was Giroud who would go off.   Not that I don’t like Giroud; I’ve been singing his praises and comparing his numbers with Henry’s for two years now.   But I also recognise where his strengths lie, and I don’t think those strengths include moving at speed and covering a wing and centre forward position – something that would have been necessary if either Theo or Campbell had gone off.

However that was only the start of my musing as I played my usual game of trying to get the miles per gallon counter up to over 50 while zipping along the M1.

For surely, this couldn’t be the same Giroud, whose substitution was so roundly booed, as the Giroud who was the subject of headlines such as

5 reasons why Olivier Giroud is simply not good enough for Arsenal

footballtransfertavern   17 September 2015

Olivier Giroud is a flat-track bully

“Giroud was desperately poor..,”   Daily Telegraph

5 Truths: Olivier Giroud is still not good enough to be Arsenal’s leading man

UK Sports, Feb 2015

A lot of these articles told us about “things we learned” as if somehow we all think with the same mind which some fruitcase scribbler can actually look inside and then discuss.  (Don’t try doing it inside my mind matey, it is not always a pleasant place and you can pick up some thoughts in there you might wish you had avoided and which can seriously damage your dreams).

Most of these “articles” are in fact rants without any real analysis, despite the recourse to the old-time “three” or “five things” that apparently we learned (but apparently didn’t learn well enough that we don’t need to be told them again.  And again.  And…).

And now, we find, the manager can be booed for taking off the player who is not good enough to be Arsenal’s centre forward even when we have 11 men on the pitch.

Incidentally, many of these ranters are the same people who regularly write to Untold and tell us that “you can prove anything with statistics” or that “there are lies, damn lies, and statistics,” thinking perhaps that although we have published almost 200,000 comments from readers (and refused to publish about 150,000 more) that no one had ever previously thought of writing in with those two unproven statements – statements that go along with “it is what it is”, “at the end of the day”, “with all due respect”, “at this moment in time”, “I’m just saying…” etc etc etc.

To divert for a moment, from this diversion, if we can prove anything with statistics, what would you like to prove with this set of statistics?

1 Leicester City 23 13 8 2 42 26 16 47
2 Manchester City 23 13 5 5 45 23 22 44
3 Arsenal 23 13 5 5 37 22 15 44

Arsenal are third, and…

Come on, I’m told one can prove anything with statistics.  Surely we can prove Arsenal are doomed and that Giroud is good / useless / ok / irreplaceable…

But to return to the game.   The taking off of Giroud, who we all clearly knew just a while back, was a useless load of old rubbish and not fit to be on the pitch even with 10 stellar players by his side, shows how quickly it all changes.  Or perhaps just how quickly we all forget.

Just as the statistics above can be used to suggest (not prove mark you, just suggest) that a slip by Leicester and Man City and a win by us could change things dramatically once again.  (And that’s not statistics, that is pure speculation).

Maybe football has always been about the last game only, and has just recently become about the last 20 seconds only.

But then if that is the case, take this final sentence from Barney’s Guardian review: “The spirit shown by 10 men in defeat might just offer a hint of cheer through the weekend’s gloom,” might give us some room for hope.

Ah but you can prove anything with opinion.

And I’ll still be there next week.

Two anniversaries

  • 25 January 2011: Arsenal beat Ipswich in League cup semi final to make it to the the final.  See also here    Arsenal went through 3-1 on aggregate with goals by Koscielny, Bendtner and Fabregas.
  • 25 January 2015: Brighton 2 Arsenal 3.  In the 4th round of the FA Cup. With the media anticipating an upset, goals from Ozil and Walcott in the first 25 minutes and a third from Rosicky meant the victory was never in doubt.

Insult of the day:

I think he bought his doublet in Italy; his round hose in France, his bonnet in Germany and his behaviour everywhere.  (The Merchant of Venice)



43 comments to Death by ankle tap: A most curious moment in the history of Arsenal

  • Vinnie Losada

    Nice article, I agree with Souness (sorry, that’s such a rarity I had to say it) that Wenger made the correct decision. That we still had the chances to win the game I think vindicates his call. I’ve never seen so many scuffed shots or near misses of the ball in one game, and added to the couple of goalmouth scrambles, on a different the result could’ve been different.
    This is quite a funny take on the Mertesacker/Costa challenge, and as well as making for a nice supplement to your article also helped me rationalise and move on from the defeat:

  • colario

    I am wondering what the late betting was on a 1-0 win for Chelski. Is there any way of finding out?

    As you rightly point out we are lumbered by those whose brain lives at the tip of their tongue. Their reporting and commenting is proof of this.

    Unless of course this type shallow thinking is as a result of an agenda we don’t know about and can only speculate on.

  • colario

    @ Vinnie.
    Good link. Thanks.

  • Tai

    Great piece Tony…

    To me, Wenger was spot on. I was afraid he would have sacrificed Campbell…he didn’t. I expected Walcott. If I was in charge, I would have removed Walcott. Why? Because he is the least in-form of the three attackers.

    But when Wenger removed Giroud, I was momentarily jolted like the striker himself. But unlike the fans in the stadium, I quickly concurred with Wenger’s astuteness. With a man advantage, Chelsea would come out to score. Our only hope of scoring was via counters…Giroud is everything but pace. At that time, Chelsea were not going to sit back to attract Giroud’s effectiveness. Permitted that we would look helpless on corners from both ends without Per and Giroud but those were risks we had to take.

    Unfortunately for us, Chelsea scored almost immediately…then sat deep to nullify any counter…effectively played to their one-man advantage and should really have increased the tally if it was past few seasons’ Arsenal.

    For the efforts in the second half, we could have drawn level but for some factors. For reasons beyond me, Ozil failed the team yesterday. It was difficult playing 10 men but his passes yesterday were woeful. Many times he placed passes behind players in motion or misplaced them completely. Sanchez gave glimpses of what we’ve been missing and I hope he raises the team as he always does and stays fit till mid May.

    We’ll lose sometime. Every team will lose or drop points. Better we lost to Chelsea than Leicester or Man City. Win our next three games and we could be back on top.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Also given that Giroud had faced a late fitness test I can understand the decision from Wenger. When you are down to 10 players all have to run and work twice as hard. So then putting extra strain on a player who is not 100% can lead to an aggravation of the minor injury.

  • Mick

    Great link Vinnie.
    I can accept Mert being shown red, once Clattenberg gave the foul the card was inevitable. From Clattenbergs viewpoint the foul probably looked a dead cert.
    What I cannot accept is the inconsistency of the refs. Man City’s Demichelis got away with a yellow against West Ham the previous day for a far more nailed on and cynical foul right on the edge of the penalty area which denied a goal scoring opportunity.

  • Fishpie

    Very good link Vinnie. It’s helping me cope too.Thank you. But I just hate hate hate hate playing Chelsea.

    They always find a way of “doing” us. And in the bargain make us look impudent. Their defence just batters us away like some annoying fly. In this case “doing” us involved getting Per sent off , yes, but also it involved Costa playing on his shoulder and exploiting the lack of full back cover.. it was clever and predictable (the last few Chelsea games against us saw exactly the same tactic) but we ignored it as a threat and played “our game” regardless. The team played with a lot of passion and determination and deserved to get something from that game but Costa was not marshalled and, for me, that was a “must do” focus for our defence .

    Still in the race though and I feel with Alexis back, Le Coq apparently close and Elneny (who looks to me to have more pace and a better technical level than Ramsey ) as a alternative mid, I hope we can find more momentum once again.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I must say that if I would have been the ref on the field I would have give a red card also. Now we can look at dozens of clips but at the moment the ref has to make a decision on one point of view. In the ref review we can look at other angles but the only angle the ref has is from where he was. And if I would have been in that position I would have done the same thing.
    So I will not throw any stones towards the ref in this case.
    In fact Mertesacker gave Costa the chance to go down by throwing himself in the tackle like he did. Yes Costa could have stayed on his feet if he had wished to do so. But once Per dived it was only a matter of making contact with the ball or not. He didn’t make contact with the ball and he landed in the path of Costa who gladly accepted the invitation to get an opponent send off. We must also remember that there is nothing in the laws saying that a player has to jump over an opponent flying in.

    In my own match this weekend we had a similar situation. But in my match the attacker jumped over the in flying defender, slightly lost his footing, continued and went to the keeper on his own and then missed. That was just before half time and we said to ourselves that if he had gone down it would have been a red card but as he stayed on his feet he still had the open scoring chance so no red card could be given.

    I think for once Per lost his head in that second. I think he saw back the moment when Tottenham scored and wanted to prevent that goal. I think he should have let Costa run along he still had Cech to beat. You can better be a goal down with 11 man than being with 10 man on the pitch. Against Tottenham we came back to have a draw. I think we would have been able to do the same against Chelsea if we would have 11 man including Giroud on the pitch.

  • Rich

    I’m very confident if we brought Walcott off instead ,and lost, there’d be complaints (from the same people who insist, now, that’s what should have happened) it was the wrong call.

    It was a close call, I think, thanks to the form of the players, as well as their respective abilities, but it was surely the right call. We needed as much pace as possible to cover ground, and I recall at least four times when with a slightly better run or pass Theo would have been in.

    We even have a bloody game to look back on when we went down to ten early against Chelsea and had Giroud up front. It was by no means the only reason that game went a lot worse, afterwards, than yesterday, but the dark memories are almost in reach of how hopeless it was that day to have huge gaps between the rest of the team and Giroud, and how comfortable Chelsea’s defence were in that situation.

  • Rathod

    Some very valid points here but I have not seen one mention of how well Costa did to take the ball ⚽ away from Per with that first touch. Yes, we can argue that he could have stayed on his feet and had the one v one against the keeper but this is Costa.

    while the table will tell you we’re still in the title race, we’re not playing like a team that’s going to win it. 2 points from the last 9 is a worry, and the fact that we’re struggling to play in any cohesive way only adds to that. I think we’ve done well to get away without a functioning midfield for so long, but it feels like it’s really catching up with us now, and the manager has got some serious thinking to do about that before our next game.

    All in all a bad day. The wound inflicted is not fatal, but unless we can find something to spark this team back into life, a season that promised much in terms of the Premier League may end up feeling all too familiar.

  • Tasos

    I have no complaints about the red card. I have no complaints about Clattenburg’s performance, in fact Chelsea should’ve had a penalty plus Courtois was fouled late on, after catching a cross and dropping the ball from which Arsenal may have scored.

    Chelsea have set up the same way for many years now against Arsenal, just waiting for our mistake. And we rarely disappoint them.

    Damn that was so disappointing from Arsenal.

    I was wondering……if Aston Villa turned up wearing a Chelsea kit would they beat Arsenal? seriously.

  • Rich

    Slightly off topic rant here.

    Lost among the action yesterday was a good moment to reflect/lament on the modern phenomenon of the ITK fan and football fandom in the social media age.

    These ITK’S, real or in most cases imaginary, always present themselves as people who care very very passionately about the club, and who want and demand the best for it, yet they are typically quiet about what their supposed motivation is for sharing their privileged information, and near silent about whether or not it helps the club.

    For me, it has always been blatantly obvious that leaking privileged information can never benefit the club, and can only be harmful to some degree. It’s one of the reasons you have to conclude that if these people aren’t liars they have to be a bit thick, at least when it comes to the club they supposedly love.

    Normally, though, I only think about it in terms of transfer information and the like. Not yesterday.

    It was true Giroud had a knock, and he ended up starting the game. So who benefited from the leaked information? It definitely wasn’t us and, given the opposition, it raised the risk of Giroud sustaining damage to the ankle quite a lot. if it had happened against Pulis, Allardyce, Mourinho or someone of that ilk it’s almost certain the defenders would have been told to smash him at the first opportunity.

    I think it’s worth commenting on because that attitude doesn’t apply only to the few who genuinely have privileged information or the small band of weirdo’s who pretend they do; with the aid of social media it is becoming more and more commonplace.

    ‘I boo or slam players/ manager/club, because I love the club so much and demand the highest standards’, etc, should at least always come with the admission that ‘yeah, I know it doesn’t help, and might harm, in the short term’. It rarely does, though, and seems to be inexorably on the rise.

    The leaking of that Giroud info, meanwhile, shows that the best you can say of those who do it is that they are misguided.

  • Pat

    Your points about the red card are helpful, Walter, coming from the point of view of another referee. As to the whole match, I will be interested to see the match review, to see how Clattenburg performed over all.

    It still seems unfair, though. As many have said, Costa made the most of it, and we have been denied so many penalties in similar situations. Anyway, we’re still only three points from the top, and our battling second half performance stands us in good stead.

  • Pete

    Not sure about the doom and gloom. We were nervous for the first half hour but, once we conceded, we proceeded to step it up and, while not dominant, certainly put Chelsea under pressure and, on another day, might have scored.

    In fact, we got better and better the longer the game went – which is startling given how long we had to play with 10 men.

    So a VERY encouraging performance – better than against Liverpool and Stoke certainly – and I think should stand us in good stead in the future.

    As ever, the pundit view/received wisdom is ALWAYS coloured by the result, not the performance.

  • Moses S.

    There is a saying that you set a thief to catch a thief. In this case, to beat Chelsea, we have to become Chelsea; cynical, diving, sorrounding the ref, all the dark arts as practised by Chelsea. Basically we have to stoop down to their level and try to cheat our way to a win. Now, I don’t know about the rest but I would rather lose playing football than win while cheating.
    I still think we should be okay with all the players returning.

  • Rich


    The major unfairness for me isn’t with the decision in isolation, it’s when you add it to events of the past.

    Cahill’s ridiculous foul on Alexis, Costa getting away with murder. The bigger picture is of us never being spared when there is a reasonable or, in this case, strong case for a red, and also getting some which are unbelievably harsh or plain ridiculous; set against opponents who are almost always spared (in big games at least) clear and obvious reds while never being hit with harsh or ludicrous ones against us. It’s only in that sense that I feel aggrieved about yesterday’s red.

    I had a little stats binge yesterday and, as well as the curiosities of the penalty figures which I went over yesterday, had a look at the figures for yellow and red cards. These are them for us, Utd and Liverpool

    All time premier league (909 games apiece)

    Yellows ; double yellows ;Straight reds

    Arsenal 1364 ; 41 ; 39

    Utd 1257 ; 26 ; 31

    Liverpool 1178 ; 26 ;26

    In there, i’ve no doubt there reside a few harsh sendings off for us, but more so i believe it is the story of them taking nearly every chance to punish us that comes along, and quite or very often letting it go for those other big teams.

    There is simply no way those two teams have played cleaner football than us in the history of the premier league. With Utd it is particularly stupid to suggest that is the case. It also suggests that if the common consensus we are a soft team is true, and have been for about half our premier league existence, we are somehow managing to combine that with being dirtier, in terms of cards and especially red ones, than other teams who, in contrast, play aggressive England-approved football. A curious feat.

    I suspect the stats on how often top opponents have had first half sendings off against us in the last ten years are even more curious, and completely defy the laws of averages which dictate it should happen at least a few times over dozens and dozens of games. I’m drawing a blank on that one. Anyone got anything?

    In those big games for us, Pens, double yellows and sendings off at any times will, I’d guess, all show these curious law-of-averages-defying tendencies in the long term.

  • Zedsaunt

    In the second half especially you wouldn’t have gussed Arsenal were down to 10. They fought tooth and nail for an equaliser, a winner. Does that spirit evaporate fifteen games from the finishing line?

    What perhaps should be factored into their game expectation – any tackle in a red card position will get a red card. Therefore, perhaps, let it go. Making a goal up can be easier than playing with a man down.

    I just want more of Sanchez and Bellerin. There were a couple of instances where their anticipation of each other’s position, the space available, mouthwatering to see and contemplate what could be achieved game by game, ninety minutes at a time.

  • Mickess

    I left the match yesterday angry. Not with the referee but with our inept performance whether with 10 men or 11. We have been sliding down the slippery slope again and making the same old mistakes all over again. Chelsea showed us how to play yesterday and deserved their win. We are not showing the effort needed to maintain our position let alone to win the league. I could single many players out for some kind of witch hunt but I won’t.
    Costa ‘won’ the penalty and sending off fairly. Arsene says he got the BFG sent off and to a certain extent he is right. How can it be that one of the slowest players on the pitch can catch one of the fastest when he is already 10 yards down? When I saw it at the ground at match speed I thought that Costa looked like he slowed a little to allow the BFG to catch him and at the last moment turned across him drawing the foul. Very clever, and I hate him for it, but within the rules and I accept that and the sending off. The BFG has the experience to know that he shouldn’t have dived in. How I wish we had someone like Costa playing for us

  • Josif

    Chelsea-Arsenal 2:1 (Mata’s opener came after Ramires’ foul on Coquelin that wasn’t given)

    Arsenal-Chelsea 0:0 (no red card for Mikel’s assault on Arteta, no penalty on Walcott for Willian’s foul)

    Chelsea-Arsenal 2:0 (just a yellow card for Cahill’s assault on Alexis, no penalty for Fabregas’ handball)

    Chelsea-Arsenal 2:0 (no red card for Costa, a wrong red card for Gabriel)

    Note to our referee reviewers who have been doing a tremendous job: I must say I disagree with a concept of hypotethical second yellow cards (e.g. Cahill doesn’t get a yellow card for his first bookable offence but gets booked for his second; I wouldn’t count it as a wrong red card decision because it doesn’t take into account Cahill would have behaved differently if the referee had booked him at the first place).

  • Josif

    Oh, and Giroud decision was the right one.

    Can’t wait for Le Coq’s return though. Our away form has deteriorated extremely since his injury (W1D3L2 after W5L1).

  • Pete

    Mickess – Are you sure? I thought the 10 played really well, with the possible exception of Walcott. It is incredibly hard to play for 75 minutes a man short against a good time, particularly if you are chasing the game.

  • proudkev


    I would much rather be where we are in the league than Chelsea.

    I am also pleased a loathesome cheat like Diego Costa does not wear our shirt. If ever a player summed up Chelsea since the Russian bought the club, it is him.

    He DIVED………!!
    How many replays do you have to see before you can find the contact? That says it all. We live in a world now where pundits, ex players, managers, fans and journalists all buy into the ‘if you feel a touch you go down’ bollocks. It is a contact sport for heavens sake, not a competition to see who goes into next years oscars. I remember George Best scoring a goal where the defender has literally cut him in half. He rode the tackle, he didnt scream, make both legs go stiff, throw a leg into the defender and then roll over 4 or 5 times – as Costa did. Spare me the excuses, that is a dive plain and simple. If you dont think so, you’ve been corrupted by the ‘modern game’. Contact, jeez this is getting ridiculous where will it all end.

  • Stevo

    Regarding the claims that Clattenberg refused Chelsea a penalty, was Koscielny guilty of moving into the path of Fabregas or did he decide that no footballer has to move out of the way when an opponent is coming his way?

  • If you rewatch the merte incident, a split second before he slid he looks over at Koz as if to see if he is the last man, but what happens is he makes the slide whilst looking at koz, so he is defo caught in two minds.

    Merte knew it was a red, you can see it in his face directly after.

    Costa made the most of it but it was a certain red..

    Merte perhaps should have just let costa through knowing how early it was in the game, but it was a split second thing.. it happens

  • Proud kev

    The crowd are constantly trying to trick the ref, why shouldn’t the players?

  • Goonermikey

    I’m with Josif. It just seems that when we’re on the receiving end of much worse we get nothing but whenever their is some doubt about whether we have even committed an offence the ref’s are in no doubt whatsoever.

    Similarly the comment about Demichelis on the Saturday. More obvious, less punishment.

    Also endorse Rich’s point about how we consistently suffer greater punishment than the teams from the NW when their behaviour is regularly Neanderthal.

  • Goonermikey

    Also, lest we forget, imho Costa went on to commit three or four yellow card offences in the came and escaped without punishment on each occasion. One, completely indisputable decision was when Clattenburg gave a deliberate handball when he raised his arm to control the ball. When exactly did referees get a new directive NOT to give a yellow card fro deliberate handball.

  • Al

    As has been pointed out already, Pet was given maximum punishment for something less than what a city player got away on Saturday. We could try and argue different ref so different perspective but the ref wasn’t even clear about it in this case.

    Thanks for pointing out that Per was looking to see where Kos was when he made the tackle. Someone, who shall remain nameless, together with that plundit called Jamie Caragher are adamant he was looking to the linesman. Really weird that view; why would Per, slow as he is, break into the fastest sprint he could muster, chase the quicker Costa down for about 10 or 15 yards, then look up to see if the flag was up as he makes a last ditch attempt to stop Costa. I think in this case I’ll go with your reasoning, than Caragher’s, and his ‘wingman’s’ 🙂

  • Quickerthanper

    This is mostly fine and well with me (as usually on Untold Arsenal) but of course does not change the outcome of the game 🙁
    I am gutted we lost once more against them (I was confident we wouldn’t)but I have to concede that already up to the point of the red card incident mediocre Chelsea sadly looked the better team. The midfield made the difference once again.
    Most of the time in possession there was not enough movement upfront and they smothered our rhythm by usually doubling up on our player on the ball – I have to admit that their work ethic was pretty good. One of the reasaons why Özil who had a poor game by his standards could not look better.
    In sharp contrast their passing game looked pretty fluid, they were left with time, space and options, often choosing to run at our defence with not that much coming in their way. I have seen enough games to know that this sooner or later means trouble.
    The main reasaon was that on this level the positioning, discipline and energy level (on the later Flamini only) of Ramsey and Flamini are not good enough. Forget the sky half time blurb but look at the clip of Flamini’s erratic positioning when they scored.
    I had a look at the debate whether or not to take off Giroud and I do not have a big opinion here but I struggle to understand why we did not try to make changes to be better able to boss the midfield, unfortunately helping our friend from earlier times Cesc F. to look better than he was all season 🙁
    Only wins from now on please !!!

  • WalterBroeckx

    Apart from the unbeaten season no Arsenal title has been won without upsets and bad results. The league is getting closer and closer so one defeat in itself is not fatal. We are level with City and 3 points away from the top. Nothing is lost

  • Mandy Dodd

    so true Walter.
    The Daily Cannon has an article suggesting Coq may be ready for Burnley (though expect to see Elneny for some of this game)….with Jack, Rosicky and Danny not far behind.
    Will believe when I see, but hopefully, some very very important players coming back to freshen up the team and help out those who have stood in and kept the team so near the top.

  • Menace

    Once again I see smart arse northern football supporting decision making. Mert did not foul Costa. Costa fouled Mert before running on to the pass & then dived over Merts legs while memorising the last time Jose stuck a poker up his behind. Clattenburg was surrounded by Chelsea players & had his mind made up without being certain. Clattenburg ignored several fouls by Costa (probably remembering Rileys instructions). Fouls that some commenters who were at the game didn’t see but more surprising commenters that watched the TV.

    The red card should have been shown to Costa for simulation. There is the heat of the moment that judders the mind, but a good official should know that two spins are acting.

    The whole damned incident was a PGMO shambles prepared for TV.

    As for Wengers decision to take of Giroud, I can only think he had an objective view & made his mind up. It is a lonely world being in charge of one of the most beautiful football playing teams.

  • al

    I fully agree with the decision to sub Giroud as the assumption was Chelsea would be pouring forward trying to make the most of their one man advantage, leaving us acres of space for our speed merchants to exploit. Had Chelsea not scored immediately after the substitutions we would have seen the benefit of this.

    We have a bunch of fans who just criticise players by the game. Last time it was Kos for giving Villa the ball. The other week it was The Ox. This week it’s Meet….every player will make a mistake, and we should not crucify them for that. Having said that I’m still refusing to believe Per made a mistake, the ref was conned by a serial cheat. I can’t see how we can agree that Costa dived or made the most of the supposed foul then condemn Per in the same sentence. These players have a split second to react and I believe Per did what he believed to be the best action at the time. Had the cheat not conned a very willing ref I doubt we would be dwelling on this now.

  • Josif

    @proud kev

    “It is a contact sport for heavens sake, not a competition to see who goes into next years oscars.”

    Whilst I see where were you aiming with this, I think it is a shot in the wrong direction. A lot of anti-Arsenal pundits, media etc have used a similar line to justify a physical approach used on our players over the years. “It’s not ballet, they should men up!” It’s true that football is, to the certain, very limited extent a contact sport. In most cases, a contact in football is a breach of the rules aka foul. That’s why this lovely game is called “football”, not “studshin”, “elbowhead”, “footankle”…or whatever a committee of Tony Pulis, Marouane Fellaini and Lee Cattermole would have renamed it. 🙂

    If Mertesacker really made the slightest contact with Diego Costa’s leg, we have to agree with Clattenburg’s decision. We all know that Per is a good lad, that Diego Costa is a hyena’s relative that they don’t want to hear about because he gives them a bad name but that’s what rules of the game say.

    That being said, there was a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that players who make an act out of being fouled should be booked for diving as well as a player who committed a foul in order to prevent players like Ashley Young, Diego Costa, Gareth Bale etc of leaving Leonardo Di Caprio Oscar-less for another year. That is not a bad idea.

  • proudkev

    Made to Love Magic

    “The crowd are constantly trying to trick the ref, why shouldn’t the players?”

    What? That is a daft comparison………….!!

    It is called CHEATING. Plain and simple. CHEATING. DIVING. SIMULATION. I used to manage a team at a decent level and I never stood for it because it isnt necessary. Players were fined for cheating.

    I hate it, I want to see teams winning games on merit not because of teh tricks they play. Look at Costa at Stamford Bridge. Do you want to see that?

    For years I have been saying this about todays players and the way we have all accepted blatant cheating. Sorry but contact does not mean you have the right to fall over – that is something the players and ex players say to excuse cheating. Stupid fans who follow what they hear and read start mimicking this crap.

    Its a contact sport, well always was but now its decending into a bloody farce. Just surprised we have fans who think what Costa did is all fine and dandy. It’s not and I don’t want to see it! And I dont want to hear fans saying it is fine. Mert will get the same ban Shawcross got for breaking Ramseys leg, Taylor received for smashing Eduardo. Meanwhile, blatant fouls like the one that ruined Diabys career shattering his ankle and McNairs that broke Jacks ankle dont even get a yellow!!

    It is becoming a joke.

  • Tai

    I’m not a referee but if I was the one in charge yesterday, I wouldn’t have given Per a red card. And I won’t blame the German for the tackle. He always got his tackles right. Costa conned everyone – Per by shifting the ball that split second from Per’s reach, then the ref by shouting and rolling about. There was very minimal contact. In such dire situations like penalty and red card, any ref must be absolutely certain. Clattenburg was too quick and obviously very willing and happy to issue a red.

    If John Terry had caught Giroud like that I’m sure the worst card we’d have seen would be yellow, if at all. And wait for it…to Giroud of course!

  • proudkev

    Afternoon Josif.

    Take your point. I am of the opinion that there is a difference between a bad tackle and something like we witnessed yesterday. I have watched plenty of re-runs and if there was any contact it wouldn’t have moved his boot lace! I just have an issue with the ‘He felt contact so he has the right to go down’ crowd. I don’t buy that, I’ve played myself at a reasonable level and managed too, it’s all rubbish. We all pay a fortune to travel/watch the game and yet it can be ruined within 18 minutes for a ‘nothing’ or a player simulating to get another sent off. You could see that Costa wanted the sending off more than a goal because it effectively hands them the game. That.s plain wrong.

    Like I said, compare that abysmal dive, scream and 4 stiff leg rolls yesterday to the violence some of our players have received; like Aaron, Diaby, Eduardo and Jack. Joke.

  • Tai


    I feel almost same way you do. Cheats in any endeavour revolt me to the seams.

    In fact, the way Chelsea go about their business of winning says much about their owner. How did he amass those billions? By cheating perhaps!

  • Rich


    Got to defend Flamini here. Look at the stills below. To some they no doubt show he committed the outrageous offence of letting Willian travel all that way unchallenged.

    To me it shows, yikes, there is a structural problem with Ramsey and Flamini; one that Flamini on this occasion had positioned himself sensibly to try deal with; and that once the move broke down he was in a horrible bind : his best chance might have been charging in initially to try make a challenge, but it’s debatable.

    There’s a great chance Willian would have used his pace and skill to evade the challenge, and then they’d have been breaking on three quarters of the pitch with only our 3 players in it. Once Flamini decided not to make that challenge initially, it would then have been very difficult to switch from reverse to pushing forward to challenge.

    The choice was basically all or nothing right away (win the tackle or leave Willian with three quarters of a pitch to play with) or position himself in front of the player and hope he has a moment of indecision or strays close enough to be tackled, while simultaneously hoping if he does play a through ball it isn’t a perfect one and the defenders have had a bit of time to try deal with whatever he might produce. Players have to instantaneously weigh up probabilities which are just out of reach of fully existing. I lean towards thinking Flamini’s calculations were correct in this case. Obviously. once you know it didn’t work it’s tempting to say the other choice-charging in- can only have been the better one (some chance (?%) of success vs the knowledge it didn’t succeed (0%. But it doesn’t work like that.

    It’s painful for me to look at those stills, because they illustrate so well that our approach at times goes past bold or high risk into something I struggle to name and dislike acknowledging. (mechanically unsound? probabilistically flawed?)

    If full backs, wide men, centre forward and attacking midfield are going to be high up the field looking to play intricate difficult passes, it means that any time one of the two central midfielders also wants to get involved high up in that action, the risks are obvious and large. Those risks are reduced by having incredible physical- mainly in terms of speed but I suppose strength is an extra bonus- specimens in central midfield and centre back respectively.

    If, unfortunately, your defensive midfielder isn’t incredibly quick, then the need for fast centre backs is even greater; ditto if one of your centre backs struggles for pace.

    My take is that we are in the last stage of transitioning from a team who had these structural flaws ( caused predominantly by finances) into a different beast. The Coquelin Cazorla partnership represented a good improvement for us in central midfield balance; Ramsey and Flamini held the fort reasonably well in their absence; and there’s good reason to believe it will become rarer and rarer for us to be exposed as badly as that in the future.

    We’ll still be bold, still take risks, but we won’t be engaging in moves which have quite a high chance of breaking down while having only one fast centre back, one slow one, and one averagely fast midfielder covering three quarters of the pitch. That’s my hope.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Make you right Rich, not sure Ramsey and Flam, as much as I rate both, are natural central MF bedfellows.
    We are missing Coq, or a player like him badly, the stats Josif produced yesterday highlights this.
    With Coq, we had just about the meanest defence in this league at the time…..without him….erm…we don’t.
    Only conjecture, and I know there were some ref issues, but I doubt we would have been so exposed to the goals at Liverpool and more crucially, Southampton with Coq in place
    But I think you are right, we will move to a more solid formation, still attacking of course.
    I am not trying to lay blame, just really explaining how much I rate Coquelin. Losing him and Caz in succession is a hard task to overcome, those who stepped in have stuck manfully to the task, with some success, especially early on, but some teams seem to be now exploiting vulnerability in this area.

  • Rich

    Mandy Dodd

    I’m a bit extra gutted because we were bitten by it right when Coq is on the verge of his return.

    Maybe that’s an illusion on my part but it feels like yesterday’s result transformed the period of Flam/ Ramsey together from a satisfactory one to an ok one. A draw or win yesterday and holding on for the win at Liverpool would have left me delighted with how we had managed in that period. My respect for Flamini has increased in this period, my question marks of how best to use Ramsey have intensified.

    Still think we’ve a bit of a conundrum once Coquelin returns, mind. I think he’s brilliant but if paired with Ramsey we’ll still have the issue of him being periodically as exposed as Flam was for the goal. Which then brings it to the centre backs and the fact if you are that exposed sometimes the troubles are considerably worse if one cb is slow.

    I figure it should be very close this season and we can definitely do it, but there’ll be some more of these hairy moments whatever happens.

    I think it’s next year that the issues of Ramsey’s best position, whether or not the Per/ Kos partnership is supplanted as 1st choice, as well as Wenger’s ideal for how our midfield should function, will be settled.

    This year it’s fingers crossed, hope above all else for no key injuries, and lets’s see if we can do it. We’ve a decent chance (I have us fractionally behind City with a fit Aguero and their title-winning experience, with Spurs and Leicester not that far behind and needing only to maintain their form for the next five or so to remain very dangerous to the end.

  • Mandy Dodd

    I also have City as favourites for a few reasons.
    Perhaps best to remember Flam and Ramsey for performances like most of the city game rather than yesterday!
    As for slow centre backs, we have two very quick ones, maybe we should use more of Gabriel against accomplished and pacy strikers, though he can still be error prone, and get the feeling that , like Chambers, he is undergoing some sort of Arsenal education at the moment.
    Per is an excellent defender, but needs more protection than he has had in a few games since the injuries struck

  • para

    Moses S.
    I would prefer Arsenal learn to understand how the “thief” thinks, then it is easy to devise counter measures against them. Still, this is not AW’s (A or number one)game he prefers to let our team be free to express themselves.
    One thing still puzzles me, how does one know if something is “deliberate”? Truth is, no one can know for sure, this is why a handball for what ever reason should be flagged and penalised. Only decision the ref then has to make is, free kick and if in the box, penalty. Red cards should not be given for handball in the box neither a sending off.
    Ah well i can dream of the day when football rules are near damm perfect, but alas i am not holding my breath.