Following our hard fought victory at Newcastle I felt pretty much the same as most of the Untold regulars, regarding both the match itself, and the referee.
Regarding the match: it was tough, as we expected. It was physical, as we expected. But we stood our ground against a very aggressive approach from Newcastle and refused to be intimidated. Ultimately I think we all agree it was one of our best all-round performances of the season against a very good, in-form team. Yes, we rode our luck a little, especially very early on, but overall we had the better chances and deserved our victory. Just.
Regarding the referee, personally, I thought, again like many others on Untold, that he was unduly lenient with Newcastle’s aggressive approach. Okay, I thought he was trying to keep the game flowing, and if I’m honest that did contribute to a great end-to-end game, but nevertheless he should have been stricter with Newcastle players because we were lucky not to pick up any serious injuries on the back of some rather poor challenges.
But how did Newcastle fans see it? Did they see it that way? To find out I thought I’d have a look at a popular Newcastle blog that ran a ‘Real Time’ match day thread to find out. And the answer was: “Not a bit of it.”
Although there are some pretty balanced opinions, their overriding view is that we were a disgrace. Our players were ‘a bunch of fairies’ ‘Rolling around at the merest touch’ in order to waste time. And as for Ramsdale, he should be ashamed of himself as he was by all accounts time-wasting from the first second. And every time we had a freekick we used that as yet another opportunity to waste time.
The conclusion they drew from all this, given the way we moaned about their antics at the Emirates, is that we are a cheating bunch of hypocrites.
So who’s right? Should Ramsdale be ashamed? Did we dawdle on every free kick to waste time? Did we roll about like fairies wasting time?
Being the pedantic nerd I am I thought I’d check. Now once I started this I soon realised how time-consuming (and boring) it was, so I only did the first half, but as that seemed to be their biggest bugbear anyway, I think that’s enough to draw some conclusions.
I looked at Ramsdale’s time on the ball. Goal Kicks and ball in hand. I compared time taken with ‘dead ball’ situations. Free kicks and corners. I also compared injured players’ time down.
- 2 Goal kicks = 54 seconds or 27 seconds for each
- 4 Ball in Hand = 51 seconds or 13 seconds each
Ramsdale’s total time in possession of the ball was 105 seconds in the entire first half. He had the ball in his possession just six times at an average of 17 seconds per event.
How under any measurement is that timewasting? It is hard to see quite how so many Newcastle fans got themselves so worked over Ramsdales supposed ‘antics’?
DEAD BALLS (Freekicks and corners basically)
- 8 free kicks and 2 corners for 314 seconds or 31.4 seconds per event
NB: And lest we forget two of those events involved treatment for Jorginho and Saka respectively following two poor Newcastle challenges.
- 7 free kicks and 4 corners for 363 seconds or 33 seconds per event
So in actual fact, Newcastle took fractionally longer over their dead-ball situations than we did.
- Schar was down for treatment for 2 minutes 10 seconds
- Xhaka was down for treatment for 3minutes 10 seconds
Not a great deal of difference, and if Schars was genuine why not Xhaka?
So, the question is, where exactly did these Newcastle fans get the idea we were ‘shamefully’ wasting time ‘from the first minute’?
Where did they get the idea that Ramsdale was hanging on to the ball for inordinate amounts of time when clearly he was not?
It’s a difficult one to answer, but I think it’s a combination of tribalism and frustration. Essentially they work each other up into a frenzy and start getting overly frustrated when things aren’t going their way and as a result start see everything as as a conspiracy against them. It’s not our fault we aren’t winning so it has to be that we are being cheated, by the Arsenal players, the referee, VAR etc. etc.
When I watched back I noticed that they started booing and whistling Ramsdale the second he had the ball. In effect, they were suggesting he was time-wasting after 5 or so seconds, when in actual fact he was taking no longer than is normal to take a goal kick or throw the ball out, but their agitation made it ‘FEEL’ longer.
The same with free kicks and corners. Newcastle actually took a little longer over theirs than we did, but they only notice the time when it’s us.
Now please forgive me my figures may not be perfect but they are pretty close, and it was difficult and time-consuming, so please cut me some slack if you spot an error or want to question something.
Here’s the link to the blog in an earlier article if you want to have a peep at how a raging Geordie thinks, but here it is again anyway.
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- Arsenal v Lens: the team, the home/away form and the strange coincidences
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