Arsenal and fouls. What comes after the “doubling down on a position?”



By Tony Attwood

That question in our headline is at the head of an article in the Guardian: “Mikel Arteta goes all in as rage over VAR overshadows Sevilla clash”

So indeed what does come next?  And not just what comes next in terms of Arsenal and Arteta, but in terms of the media at large.    They have hammered the notion of the “rant” to death. 

In fact they have hammered “rant” so much I wonder if they have any idea what “rant” really means any more.  According to a rant is an argument that is fueled by passion, not shaped by facts. When the shouting starts on talk radio, or when a blog commenter resorts to ALL CAPS, you’re almost certainly encountering a rant.”

I also learned that “Rant comes from the Dutch ranten, ‘to talk nonsense’.”   I have heard that its first use in published English came in in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, but I am blowed if I can find that, and I have my suspicions because the statement I found on line to that effect had grammatical errors in it.

But it is true that in the 17th century Ranters was a pejorative name for some Christian groups who tended to talk in a “noisy, excited, or declamatory manner” and there is no doubt that Arteta was not doing any of those things.  Which heightens my view that the media has, en masse, lept on the use of this word “rant” not to describe Arteta’s speech (which it clearly doesn’t) but simply to put him down.

Synonyms for “rant” are quoted as to “mouth off” and to “rave” – which is certainly what the popular press has been doing.  But that was not what Arteta was doing.  Nor was it an “incandescent reaction” which is how the Guardian put it.

But most importantly, we do have progress, for after years and years of campaigning by Untold Arsenal, Arsenal FC called on PGMO “urgently [to] address the standard of officiating and focus on action which moves us all on from retrospective analysis, attempted explanations and apologies”.

Of course, an “Us against the World” mentality can help boost morale in any group of people, and Arteta has undoubtedly achieved that, and so in that regard we should be grateful to the media who (in their simplistic way) have further heighted the unity with the club.

Indeed last time we looked at the injuries Arsenal were very much near the foot of the injury table.  Now we have five players out: Partey (“out for weeks”), Gabriel Jesus (“we need to be cautious”), Emile Smith Rowe (“out for weeks”), Martin Odegaard (“still uncertain”), Jurrien Timber (out all season).

So where does that leave Arsenal in the injury league?  Arsenal are in positions 10 to 15 (the six clubs each with five injuries).    And just to see what it looks like I’ve created a table of clubs with the most injuries, which also shows how many times the club has been fouled (according to PGMO) in Premier League matches..

  • Newcastle United: 11 injuries.  (Times fouled: 136)
  • Sheffield United: 10 injuries.  (Times fouled: 90)
  • Brentford: 9 injuries.  (Times fouled: 125)
  • Tottenham Hotspur: 8 injuries.  (Times fouled: 158)
  • AFC Bournemouth: 7 injuries. (Times fouled): 120
  • Chelsea: 7 injuries. (Times fouled: 126)
  • Burnley: 6 injuries. (Times fouled: 116)
  • Luton Town: 6 injuries. (Time sfouled: 112)
  • Manchester United: 6 (Times fouled: 103)
  • Arsenal: 5 injuries.  (Times fouled: 119)
  • Aston Villa: 5 injuries. (Times fouled: 133)
  • Brighton and Hove Albion: 5  injuries. (Times fouled: 148)
  • Fulham: 5 injuries.  (Times fouled: 120)
  • Liverpool: 5 injuries. (Times fouled: 111)
  • Nottingham Forest: 5 injuries. (Times fouled: 105)

If you look at these numbers or the whole league table of the number of times each team has been fouled in the Premier League this season you will see that Tottenham Hotspur players have been fouled 76% more times than Sheffield United players.  Which is extraordinary.

Arsenal however are very much mid-table in terms of the number of fouls given against teams playing Arsenal, but even so Tottenham Hotspur has had 33% more free kicks awarded in their favour for fouls against the team, than Arsenal has.

So what’s going on?  Are Tottenham actually being fouled more than any other Premier League club because their players are so nifty, or is it just that referees like to help Tottenham along a bit?

Newcastle are the third most fouled team, and they commit the third most number of goals.  Only Manchester City commit a smaller number of fouls than Arsenal, and both Manchester City and Arsenal are mid-table when it comes to the number of fouls against them.

It seems complex, but something is happening that makes referees give more free kicks for fouls against them to Tottenham, than any other club,  I just need to find out what it is!


8 Replies to “Arsenal and fouls. What comes after the “doubling down on a position?””

  1. The reason anything “overshadows the Sevilla clash” is nothing to do with Arteta or Arsenal. Similarly I have seen many “rants” (by definition) by fans of other clubs whining on about Arteta continuing to talk about it. It’s quite absurd, for it is the media that are repeatedly asking him questions about the incident so as they can keep it in the headlines. If he refuses to answer questions by the media, he would be seen as equally in the wrong. It’s an agenda pure and simple. They are trying to make him and the club appear to be in the wrong because it suits them to do so. It’s quite pathetic really. What’s even more pathetic is that the majority of people are too stupid to see what’s going on (or maybe choose not to see as in the case of other managers).

  2. Mikey

    Well over half the questions in the Sevilla press conference were about the ‘statement’, at least 10, and as we all know he is OBLIGED to answer them. At one point he said “That’s it, now we talk about the sevilla match” or something to that effect. Within two questions they returned to asking about the ‘statement’.

    As you say, are people really that thick they cannot see what is going on?

    Some I have no doubt, but mostly it’s what you suggest Mikey, they choose not to see it.

    It is beyond pathetic, but I think we should just keep banging the drum,

  3. I’ve struggled to understand what brings rival fans together on any matter concerning Arsenal. I’m at a point where I can only speculate. The one thing Arsenal is ‘guilty’ of, that no other team in the modern era has done, is going a whole season without losing. Fans and officials alike know how difficult the feat is, and can’t for the love of football understand how the team did it. In many people’s minds, it broke the cardinal rule that’s written nowhere. Had there been foresight that Arsenal were capable, or even contemplating going the season without a loss, everything possible would’ve been done to stop it.
    Right now, without a law, system or structure designed to stop this happening again, it makes non Arsenal fans (and it seems media and officials) pretty jittery seeing Arsenal go unbeaten for an extended period of time. Perhaps now that there’s a loss, we are going to see fair and proper application of the rules of football.

  4. Regarding MA’s statement after last Saturdays game , I’m pretty sure communications between Arsenal , PGMOL and the FA has taken place and kept under wraps , why ?
    Wolves had a last minute penalty given against them at the weekend and the Wolves manager has spoken to the press about his conversation with Howard Webb on Sunday , so some form of communication must have happened .

  5. Funny to hear the english commentators explaining the referee should show a yellow for all those fouls on Saka – and mention rotational fouling – because if they do not it will be a pithy of a game…

    Strange to hear that after the last few games….

  6. You’ve gotta love the BBC… “Trossard fronts up as Gunners end wobble”!

    WTF was the wobble? We played away at one of the richest clubs in the world and got screwed over by some of the poorest officiating in the world…where the hell does “the wobble” come into it?!!

  7. That was a rather impressive performance. Only conceding one shot on goal in the whole match and that shot came in the extra time of the extra time…. Referee was not bad overall but should have given a yellow card in the first 15 minutes to stop the constant hacking against Saka.

  8. So Arteta rants has a meltdown without raising his voice, but Ten Hag rails….

    If you want proof how the Guardian is biased, you need not look any further….

    And while talk is about refereeing, interesting to read that PGMOL now says it does not have enough referees to form 5 men team working as on-field/VAT units for the games rather then patching up the units for each game.

    Talk about showing your incompetene in planning, vision, strategic decision making… headless chickens (sorry Sp*rs) running around imbued in their perceived importance to the game while they are just showing he world how useless and toxic they are. And while this sorry show goes on, many young men and women stop contemplating the idea of refereeing with such sorry poster boys as only examples and spectators now get the impression any referee is incompetent.

    Who is bringing the game into disrespute…. ?

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