The Untold ref review: Arsenal – Stoke

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By Walter Broeckx, the ref that jumps through hoops to find the truth

As a nice remembrance gesture PGMOL chief Mike Riley decided to give us the same ref that we had when we played Stoke last season and when that nice friendly boy decided to take a year away from Ramsey his career. Did ref Walton learn from last year?

Let us find out.

Nr. Min Type Text C/NC pts weight on
1 6 OTHER Foul on Pennant C 1 1 1
2 6 OFFSIDE Offside against Stoke C 1 1 1
3 8 GOAL Squilacci scores and I saw nothing wrong with that C 1 3 3
4 12 OTHER Foul from Bendtner – He gets a lecture C 1 1 1
5 18 OTHER Foul on Wilshere – advantage given C 1 1 1
6 20 OTHER Offside against Stoke C 1 1 1
7 26 OTHER Foul on Wilshere – advantage given C 1 1 1
8 29 OFFSIDE Offside against Stoke C 1 1 1
9 34 OTHER Foul on song not given NC 0 0 1
10 36 OTHER Foul on Arshavin not given NC 0 0 1
11 36 OTHER Foul on Djourou not given NC 0 0 1
12 37 OFFSIDE Offside against Arsenal C 1 1 1
13 39 OTHER Foul on Arshavin correct C 1 1 1
14 40 OTHER Foul from Squilacci C 1 1 1
15 40 CARD Squilacci gets a lecture. Never give 2 lectures in one game. After the first lecture you must take out a card NC 0 0 2
16 42 OTHER Foul on Walcott C 1 1 1
17 42 CARD Walter gets a yellow card for his cynical foul C 1 2 2
18 45 OTHER One minute extra time. Don’t know for what really NC 0 0 1
19 47 OTHER Foul on song not given NC 0 0 1
20 48 OTHER Foul on Djourou given by the assistant C 1 1 1
21 48 CARD That was a stupid and useless barge from Carew but the ref gives no card. A signal for Stoke? NC 0 0 2
22 49 OTHER Foul on Nasri when Arsenal is starting a counter – not given NC 0 0 1
23 49 CARD As this was the start of a counter a card can be given but as he gave no foul he gave no card NC 0 1 2
24 49 OTHER Foul on song not given NC 0 0 1
25 50 OTHER Foul on Sagna not given NC 0 0 1
26 50 CARD The tackle on Sagna was a frontal tackle studs showing and should have been a yellow card at least but the ref gives no foul and no card. A license to break? It looks as if the ref has lost it completly NC 0 0 2
27 52 OTHER Foul on Arshavin given. Well he can see it, can he C 1 1 1
28 53 OFFSIDE Offside against Stoke C 1 1 1
29 54 OTHER Foul from Clichy C 1 1 1
30 55 CARD Clichy gets the card and this is correct itself. But seen in the light of things in the second half this looks a bit silly C 1 2 2
31 59 OTHER Foul on song not given NC 0 0 1
32 60 OTHER Two footed tackle in Walcott nothing given NC 0 0 1
33 62 OTHER Foul on Song not given NC 0 0 1
34 62 OTHER Sagna then makes a foul and this is given. This is just a matter of giving the first foul ref. But the foul from Sagna was a foul so the decision on this is correct C 1 1 1
35 63 OTHER Arshavin escapes a Shawcross tackle advantage played C 1 1 1
36 67 OTHER Djourou playes the ball cleanly through the legs of Carew and the ref gives a foul? This is getting a bit ridiculous NC 0 0 1
37 68 OFFSIDE Offside against Stoke C 1 1 1
38 68 OTHER Walcott is fouled on the edge of the penalty area and again the ref who just penalised Djourou for playing the ball gives nothing? How can you explain this?  It was a clear push and then he clipped his foot. NC 0 0 1
39 68 CARD Walcott was running towards goal ball at his feet at a position where he could have tried a shot so it was a promising attack and should have been given a card also. But yes you guessed it already. Nothing was given at all. NC 0 0 2
40 73 OTHER Foul on Bendtner and oh my God it is given C 1 1 1
41 77 OFFSIDE Offisde against Arsenal C 1 1 1
42 79 OTHER Foul against Sagna given C 1 1 1
43 81 OFFSIDE Offside against Stoke C 1 1 1
44 82 OFFSIDE Offside against Stoke C 1 1 1
45 84 OTHER Foul on Denilson not given NC 0 0 1
46 84 OTHER Foul on Chamakh given C 1 1 1
47 84 CARD It was a late and needless challenge on Chamakh and a card was given. C 1 2 2
48 86 OFFSIDE Offside against Arsenal C 1 1 1
49 88 OTHER Foul from Denilson not given NC 0 0 1
50 89 OTHER Foul from Denilson given C 1 1 1
51 93 OTHER Foul on Arshavin not given NC 0 0 1
52 93 OTHER Foul on Song given C 1 1 1
53 95 OTHER Foul from Sagna given C 1 1 1
54 95 OTHER Extra extra extra time as the ref allows another long throw after the already big 5 minutes given NC 0 0 1
      TOTAL   32 38 64
      %   59,26% 59,38%  
    CARDS   3 8 37,50%  
    PENALTY   0 0 0,00%  
    GOAL   1 1 100,00%  
    OTHER   8 13 61,54%  
    TOTAL   11 20 54,55%  

 So yes we won the game but the way the ref let things get out of control in the second half was really poor. From the moment he didn’t take action against Carew when he barged needlessly in to Djourou the Stoke players knew they could do what they want.

The ref gave no protection to our players who could only jump out of the way when some poor challenges where made.

The Delap tackle was a low from the ref. When you come in like that you must give a foul and it doesn’t matter when you play the ball or not. The way he let play continue when the foul was made on Walcott is well…er… almost impossible to believe.

In fact this is all getting too stupid for words anymore. Instead of sitting here celebrating the fact that we won 3 points and we are one point behind the leader I sit here feeling very unhappy with the way the games are done by the refs. And it is going down the hill more and more and more.

Last year the kicking brigade was at us and we got no protection from the refs. I really really begin to feel scared once again. So just for the sake of humanity I ask the refs to please get their act together so we don’t have to witness another Arsenal player losing a year of his career and being brought to hospital with his foot or leg hanging off the rest of his body. I really don’t know if I can stand it once more.

It is the negligence of the refs that allows thugs to break peoples legs. It is the negligence of the PGMOL to not instruct their refs to be sharper and give protection to the players. In fact come to think of it, maybe Shawcross is that soft little boy who loves his mummy oh so much. The real responsible people are out of sight for most of us. Time to call on them and highlight their part in the crippling of Arsenal AND OTHER players!

The Great Ref Scandal – time for transparency

Football refs – are they biased or incompetent?

Making the Arsenal

Untold index

56 Replies to “The Untold ref review: Arsenal – Stoke”

  1. It made me quite angry watching the game yesterday. In the first half, the ref was fine. I seem to remember him not booking an arsenal player when he should have, possibly the bendtner one you point out, but apart from that I thought he was fine. The stoke players seemed extremely miffed that walters had been booked (entirely correctly) for grabbing walcott and stopping his attack, but not booking squillaci. I have no idea why they thought that was such a clear booking. It looked to me like the player kicked the ball, kicked squillaci and then somehow hurt himself. I dont think he dived or anything, but I didnt see any contact from squillaci to cause an injury. He just seemed to stop in front of him.
    Stoke were clearly putting pressure on the ref at half time, and in the second half, time after time, he failed to give clear and obvious fouls in our favour. Hasn’t this happened before, where the ref is fair in the 1st half, and then horribly biased in the 2nd?
    Once again we have been hacked and hacked at, with our opponents somehow ending up with just 2 bookings. I dont see how we can cope with this till the end of the season, particularly if theo and cesc are out for some time. It appears the poor refereeing is going to kill our season again.

  2. I was thinking it was ridiculous more cards weren’t given.

    IMO we deserved a few as did Stoke. Clichy deserved the card he got but it was almost identical to that of Delap beforehand.

    An odd performance, he seemed fine in the 1st half but fell apart in the 2nd.

  3. shameful refereeing. But he is so old, may be suffering from dementia, and EPL is so incompetent.

  4. One thing, ref was fine in 1st half or seemed to be because stoke were not being physical. He was not called into action in 1st half regarding dangerous tackles. When he was needed to control the game he couldn’t. So please don’t say that he was fine in 1st half. He is demented ref only fit enough to referee EPL.

  5. If you consider that in this review 9 points are won by the ref for offside calls (by his excellent linesman!) this means that in the overall score he in fact only got 23 decisions correct and this would make his total sink to 51% correct decisions in total.
    So his linesman saved him almost 10% of his score.

    By the way: I will try to include the offside decisions also from now on. And if I remember before putting the artcle online I will mark them in a separate way.

  6. Arsene Wenger pronounced himself satisfied with the way that Stoke played.

    I saw little that was dangerous, although Stoke were regularly cheating.

    The general concensus where I was sitting was that, yes, the ref was letting far too much go. But it wasn’t dangerous stuff.

    Fabregas’ injury wasn’t due to Stoke was it?

    Walcott’s I don’t know as we are down the other end, but it didn’t look bad from 80 yards away. Unlucky…..I’ll stand corrected if wrong.

    I don’t think people can say Stoke were dangerous yesterday, so a lot of this blogging is paranoia gone mad. Honestly.

    You can claim the ref’s biased, sure. But there is no evidence from last night that Stoke set out to hurt anyone, nor that the referee’s actions risked it.

    So really, I would limit complaints to that.

  7. You know what Walter? ME TOO! (@ your bottom line).

    I’m just not feeling happy about that match. Don’t know why – winning, 3 points, etc. But it just goes to show that someday, maybe next match, don’t know, maybe the one after, we’ll lose another player to some horrendous foul, because no one really cares about players’ careers. FFS it was Walcott, the English should be saying something at least …

  8. 22 bad decisions. 20 of those went in Stokes favour, 2 in Arsenal’s favour. Oh well. As they say it all evens out over the season (NOT).
    I look forward to your end of year summary of the total wrong decisions and who they favour.
    My own personal table reads like this:

    Points stolen by refs to date:
    Sunderland away Dowd allows a 95 min goal when 4 mins extra indicated (2 points)
    Wigan away Probert does not give the 86 min penalty to Arsenal for blatant hand ball in the area (2 points)
    Newcastle away Dowd (2 non-existent penalties given and much more) 2 points.

    I think the most important areas of bias (in addition to the above) can be seen in the number of fouls given or not. Arsenal in the EPL have given 329 fouls and been fouled 305 times (an absolute joke).

  9. I know this work is very time consuming, but if you can find the time if you could analyse the Man Utd EPL games from here to the end of the season on the same basis, that would give very strong evidence of bias and if it is as bad as it seems.

    thank you.

  10. Though Arsen is happy, with the result, he also want to avoid that we the gunners always cry.

    The truth is that some of the stock players need to play rugby. I am sure they will be okey. But for me they are not real footballers.

  11. @Rhys – You’re right, but the ref was playing with fire. The foul on sagna could have been worse, and if it *had* gotten out of hand again, he would only have had himself to blame.
    Letting things go just encourages the bad tackles to keep coming, and it can eventually go too far.
    Clichy’s was a definite booking and a bad challenge, but not dangerous as delap’s was.

  12. Hi Walter, I’m just wondering for reference purposes, could you also include the weight of the points not given. Maybe you could perhaps put 0/2 or 0/1 instead of just a 0. And for points given maybe a 2/2 or say when a card is needed in a foul but not given, and only a foul is given 1/2. Well something along that line. Anyways, besides that I think everything else seems good already for your review. Good review!

  13. individually the challenges werent bad but collectively they were bad IMO to my memory 5 arsenal players had to get treatment or were hurt by STOKEs challenges and I believe no smoke without fire, I dont think they want to break a leg but they certainly want to leave a mark to let there opponent know you will get clattered if we go in again.

    by the time the Birmingham game finishes how many players will be on the treatment table???

    That ref is too old to be at the highest level, when you have to cover 6 miles in 90 minutes fatigue can cause your judgment and concentration to drop especially when we can only concentrate for 20 mins at a time.

    I find myself asking why dont pro footballers really go into refereeing a game??? esp when you see how many footballers become managers.

    I also think as mentioned by walter the standards need to improve and this is far more important than goal line technology, may be if its a high profile player like ROONEY who had his leg broken or worse his career ended it might get the media attention it deserves, to my mind cant remember the last time anyone clattered ROONEY???????????????????

  14. Jerome I now see that the table you are asking has got lost somewhere. I will try to add it if I still can do it.

    Just changed it but now the text is somewhat longer. And the layout has gone a bit. Well cant have it all I guess

  15. Davi, I agree its about punishing the first few silly fouls so a game doesnt get out of control.
    Rhys in all fairness how many bad dangerous tackles do you see from Arsenal in a season ? Then look at how many stoke can produce in a game.

    Good stuff as usual Walter the end of season fan fare should be embarassing for some of these Refs particularly if the BBC pick up on it again.

  16. I agree with Rhys. With the exception of the Delap foul on Sagna (which should have been a definate yellow) I didnt see much wrong in the game last night. Stoke played hard, but generally fair. Walcott’s injury was NOT due to a bad challenge, but to the way he twisted his ankle and then had the man fall unintentionally on top of the joint. Yes, it should have been a foul but no more. I dont even think it was anywhere near a bookable offense. The referee did miss a few calls, which was frustrating, but again, with the exception of Delap, nothing that would be termed scandalous. I think some of the reactions are ridiculous. I thought AW summed it up well in his postgame comments.

  17. Excellent work Walter. Haven’t been contributing regularly but I’m loving the work done by Untold in analyzing the refs before and after the games.

    In this game I thought the extra time at the end of the first half was due to the substitution where Cesc walked off leisurely, and the booking. I could be wrong but it seems a bit harsh to penalize the ref for that one. Anyway, it’s not a big deal.

    I also had one suggestion. I have noticed you don’t always look at whether a free-kick or a throw was taken from the right spot. I realize that normally refs allow some leeway in this regard especially if it is a throw or a free-kick in the defensive area. But there are cases when they are finicky about the correct position.

    For instance, against Stoke I recall Walton telling Clichy to take a free-kick from further back. It was after an off-side deep inside the Arsenal half. I didn’t see how a few yards here or there would make a big difference, but the ref insisted. In contrast, Delap took his last throw (95+ min) 10 yards ahead of where the ball had gone out. The ref took no notice of this. For such an attacking weapon that amounts to an illegal advantage, don’t you think?

    I saw a similar incident when Van der Vaart stole 10 yards or so for the Tinies’ third goal at the Emirates.

    Am I right to say that this is a big mistake by the ref or do the rules allow for some flexibility? If it is a mistake perhaps you could cover this in the future reviews. Doing it for all might be a bit difficult but might make sense for the key attacking ones.

  18. Paul C,

    Sorry but I have to disagree.

    Carew on Djourou was unnecessary and dangerous. The foul on Nasri was the same. Delap on Sagna was very similar to Flamini on Corluka. I don’t see how it can be said that there wasn’t much wrong with the game.

    These fouls, committed in quick succession, did enough to put Arsenal off their rhythm, as the players realized the ref was against them, and that was what Stoke wanted. After that they stopped it but if the Gunners had not been rattled one can be fairly sure these kind of reckless fouls would have continued. If we see it as a tactic to achieve an end, this makes a lot of sense.

    As far as the Walcott incidence goes, if the ref had blown for a foul when there was a push or subsequently when there was a trip Walcott might never have fallen the way he did. Since the ref allowed Whitehead to nibble away at Walcott it created the ‘accident’. I don’t see how it can be simply labelled as unfortunate.

    Bad tackling and unjustified physical aggression is not limited to two footed lunges and scissor tackles. In the context of a game a lot of actions can be unfair and dangerous.

    Wenger didn’t talk about it because the game had been won and he didn’t want unnecessary controversy. He also realizes the battle with the refs cannot be won by constantly criticizing them. I wouldn’t take his statements to mean that the game was fair.

  19. Like Rhys Jaggar I’m beginning to wonder whether all these ref reviews are worth the effort. OK, they’re the result of painstaking analysis, they show the faults of refs, but at the end of the day, they can only spawn paranoia UNLESS the end result is CHANGE.Up to now the reviews merely show that Arsenal appear to be hard done by and to my mind this, per se, is not enough.

  20. All the on the pitch violence in EPL will drive many top stars away to other safer leagues.

    DesiGunner – I too was outraged by Delap’s 95th min throw in!

    Let’s focus on the positives, 3 points on Wed night, 1 point off the top, 4 trophies to still fight for, and out 1st final of the season on Sunday!

  21. I thought the added time in the 1st half might have been for the long throws. I really don’t care if they want to use it as a weapon to score. If it works, good for them, but does it have to take so long?! Surely there is a time limit on throw-ins?

  22. Desi – I admitted the Delap foul was bad. No disagreements there. The Carew-Djourou incident was the typical big dumb attacker tackling a defender scenario. We see it all the time. It was in the corner and Carew generally had a pretty fair game without much incident so to have given a card for that would have been harsh. I thought Carew and Djourou had a terrific, and largely good natured, battle for 90 minutes.

    The foul on Nasri was NOT dangerous. It was a shoulder block that stopped a counter-attack. I think it might have been worthy of a card, in fact I would have liked to have seen a card shown, but not because it was dangerous (it wasnt), rather because it was professional foul. But our own Alex Song is a master of such fouls and I am always happy when he isnt booked for such fouls so I wont complain when others arent booked either. The referee missed it no doubt, but it was NOT agreesive nor dangerous. It was just a professional foul.

    And then you say those tackles “put Arsenal off their rhythm” but then say “After that they stopped it but if the Gunners had not been rattled one can be fairly sure these kind of reckless fouls would have continued”. Huh????????????????????????? That makes no sense. The tactic is successful so you immediately stop it? What???????????? What school of coaching is that from? “Okay guys, whatever you try today, if it works, stop it immediately!!!!! Dont keep doing what was successful.” That comment makes no sense.

    And then say if the ref had blown when their was a trip Walcott would not have fallen as he did. Once again, huh??????? Once the trip occured (which should have been a foul) then Walcott was falling, he would not have stopped falling the moment the refs whistle blew by some miracle of physics. The initial “push” was six of one, half a dozen of another, a player trying to squeeze through a tight space. Again something you see all the time. Defenders always try to use their body in such cases. It was the trip that was the foul, not the push. And even with the trip, we see incidents like that all the time in games and 99.9% of the time there is ZERO danger. In that case Walcott got his studs caught and his ankle twisted, and the player came down on top accidently. Blame Stoke for whatever you want, but dont blame them for that injury. That is getting ridiculous.

    And yes, of course lots of actions in addition to “two footed lunges and scissor tackles” are dangerous. Walking down the street can be dangerous but it wont be outlawed. What we want to see is the end of “two footed lunges and scissor tackles” because those are the ones that have INTENT to cause physical harm. There will always be injuries in a game played at such a pace, but the majority of the time there is not INTENT to cause harm. Two footed lunges have only one intent. Scissor tackles have only one intent.

    Winning didnt stop AW from criticising Stoke last year. He is always honest. If he feels there was a bad incident he will say so. He didnt say anything because in general there wasnt much to talk about (the Delap tackle excepted). Stoke played physical as we knew they would and we got thrown off our rhythm. We battled and won. That was brilliant. The injuries were unlucky but were not down to any dangerous play.

  23. Really interesting analysis and comments. Have to say that some tackles were downright dangerous. But overall it was a committed game as Wenger said. The reason why it looks dangerous is simply because of the difference of Class and Style between both the teams. Its like opposites styles clashing and both Walcot and Cesc’s injuries were more unfortunate incidents than a eye brow raising incidents. But still for the ref, it was shocking to see how he just didn’t even give a foul for tackles which deserved yellow cards. Either he didn’t see them or he took a firm decision. If its the latter then it would be very sad and disappointing.

  24. I think we are a little harsh on Stoke because like all the “just need forty points” type teams their agenda is not to entertain it is survival. The premiership is for top teams to compete and is an impossible learning curve for these types of teams to contend with. One solution would be to do away with the play offs which would mean the top three to go up not a lucky sixth placed team. The three teams that are promoted should then be measured on their ability to be able to string four passes together without hoofing it, failure on this simple task would mean no premier football. Maybe it should be done like the champions league,with the only difference being depending on promoted teams staying up another place is given until three places are reached. The premier should be about quality not quantity, some would say thats not fair to smaller clubs I would say so what. Maybe it is time to pay for top european Referee’s to do the premiership and allowing english refs once they understand what consistancy means to be allowed to do a game here and there. The premiership is slowly moving to an attractive passing game, and hoofing it will be consigned to the championship. So for teams like Stoke taking away the pressure of promotion will leave them free to kick lumps out of like minded teams.

  25. Dark Prince – I agree with you. That was the point I was trying to make as well. I didnt think Stoke did anything too bad (Delap’s tackle apart). The referee missed stuff. He missed clear and easy fouls that should have been called (Nasri being blocked off, Walcott tripped) and a really, really bad tackle (Delap). If Clichy got a booking for his tackle, Delap certainly should as well.

    I could see what he was trying to do, which was let the game go and try to allow a certain degree of physicality in the game. But when you try and do that there is always the cahnce you will just miss clear fouls. I would rather see a ref go for the “no-nonsense” approach than the “well, a certain amount is going to be allowed” approach. Too many English referees try that latter way and just end up very quickly losing control of the match because players never, ever respect that crap. In my days as a Rugby referee I always found players respected a firm, “dont give me any crap”, “I wont stand for ANYTHING” approach much more than a “oh okay, you can get away with a little bit” approach. That is just an invitation to start pushing the envelope.

  26. @oldgunner
    one thing i noticed yesterday- stoke players use their hands a lot, they always seem to be grabbing , pushing etc,rather than regulation to the championship would not the rugby league be an ideal destination?

  27. i thought stoke behaved themselves in the first half and basically stayed behind the ball, i think what happened in the second half was always just part of their game plan i.e rough em up and hope to nick a result. steve bruce was mugged like this about a month ago and if anyone remembers his interview for motd they will remember it was a master class in restraint as he wisely didn’t bring the issue of dodgy refs.

  28. I don’t know if any one of you has noticed but the most incorrect decisions were given from the 47th minute to the 68th minute, which incidentally is the time we conceded the first goal against Newcastle. The correct decisions in this time are mostly those where we had done the fouls. Now, I believe had we conceded in this period yesterday, the ref would have continued with his biased refereeing and the result would have been altogether different and right now we all would have been talking about the cards and fouls not given. As we didn’t, the ref had to abandon his biased refereeing and he started making fair ones. As we have also won the game, most people won’t look much into the referee’s performance but it is quite visible that the refereeing was very poor for that 20 minutes time and it is now getting a norm in the games we play (Premier League). In the game against Newcastle there was similar change in the ref’s attitude after the break that allowed Newcastle to come back into the game and we were in the end all fuming at the ref’s decisions.

    @Paul C.
    Stoke were doing what they do best but it is the ref’s responsibility to control the game. If he was missing things, it should have been for both teams and not only the fouls done by Stoke, as he gave every foul we did.

    You say yourself, ‘I could see what he was trying to do, which was let the game go and try to allow a certain degree of physicality in the game.’ So why not give Arsenal the same leverage if he was allowing a certain degree of physicality?


    I know everyone’s saying Wenger didnt say nothing so he was generally happy, BUT for Wenger not to give a pre game interview speaks volumes, he also remained tight lipped after the performance of DOWD because he knows for one the final is coming up and refs tend to stick together so only his players will suffer if he criticizes, not to mention the trouble he will get from the FA.

    Im sorry the bigger issue is that our players need protecting from the primitive game they up against

  30. Thats great Walter, hahah, its alright, I reckon everyone could still understand it clearly though its elongated.

  31. When Jermaine Pennant lined up his last-minute free-kick last night I was extremely worried. The result seemed to hinge on the result of this moment, our good defending and another league sheet counting for nothing if the ex-Arsenal ex-con slipped his shot into the back of the net.

    At that moment our early domination seemed to have belonged to a different game. From minute eight to eight-eight we had scrapped in a very Stoke-like manner, even scoring a goal Tony Pulis would be proud of through Sebastien Squillaci, a player that has been unfairly-maligned in recent months.

    But no sooner had Pennant stepped forward, made contact with the ball and flashed his shot wide of the post did my worry take on a different form. I pondered the fates of Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott, the former gingerly removing himself from play on the quarter-hour mark with a supposed hamstring tweak, the latter stretched off in the second-half with after turning his ankle.

    In that I moment I realised that two of our most iconic players were likely not to feature in the Carling Cup final. In that moment winning did not feel like winning at all.

    For Walcott to miss the opportunity to contribute to our first silverware in five years is one thing — in truth this season has been his first significant contribution to the club and he will surely get other opportunities — but for Cesc to miss out is another thing entirely. Nobody has given more to Arsenal on the pitch over those trophy-free years than our captain and the thought of him missing the game is dreadful.

    It’s only the Carling Cup, yes, but it’s only the Carling Cup in the same way that we are only halfway to beating Barcelona in the Champions League. Sunday feels like a hugely symbolic moment for this group of players and the thought of the team being lead out by anyone other than Cesc is a strange one.

    There is still a chance that Cesc could be fit for our trip to Wembley but the reactions from the manager and the player suggest he won’t. As important as a trophy is we have bigger fish to fry and the little Spaniard may again be forced to show his class and say ‘no’ to his team when his heart cries ‘yes’.

    Get well soon, Cesc. You too, Theo.

  32. But Diaby, RvP and Kos are all fit for Sunday and both Cesc and Theo’s injuries seem short-term. That is the way it goes. It happens.

    Team for Sunday in my humble opinion:

    Sagna JD Kos Clichy
    Song Wilshire
    Diaby (or maybe Song and Diaby with Wilshire in Cesc’s role)
    Nasri RvP AA

    Come on, that team should do the job.

  33. A poor performance from a poor ref. But he thinks he is untouchable. Walton took the authorities to the cleaners a couple of years back on the grounds of age discrimination and won. Now he thinks he cannot be touched.

  34. @TC I feel pretty confident that Mike Dean will not be Birminghams twelth man this time around. Birmingham have inproved, but so have we, chesney has made all the difference and to go one nil up from an early goal against Stoke was promising, before I always felt we needed two or three goals to be safe. Chesney seems full of confidance and did pretty well against carew and Delaps throw(shouldn’t he be done for ball tampering). We don’t leak goals like we used to so if chesney is up for it the cup is ours.unless Mike Dean supports Manu.

  35. Delap should have gone because not only did he lunge in studs up, but he caught Sagna on the boot/ankle.

    And for those of you who think Stoke didn’t play dirty apart from Delap’s lunge, take a look at this .gif I made of Shawcross’s reckless lunge against Arshavin at 63m35s into the match:

    @Walter, don’t you think these players should be booked for these types of challenges? Look at what Shawcross did. Arshavin was very lucky not to have been crippled by him.

    By the way, Arshavin was also the target of another studs up lunge at 51 minutes into the match by Whitehead, the same player who would later injure Theo.

  36. Paul

    You’ve gone on a tangent here. The point of rough play is to rattle the opponents. No team would continue doing it for ninety minutes because it risks a number of cards even with the most supportive ref. But once the opposition is off their game the team have a better chance of winning the ball back and trying their own attacks. Once those tactics led to Arsenal hoofing the ball and generally losing rhythm they didn’t need to rough the Gunners up. The Stoke players could then push forward in an attempt to create chances. If they’d attempted this earlier Arsenal would have just played the ball around them.

    We see a lot of teams doing this but not to the extent of Stoke. Most teams just try to barge into the backs of our players to put them off. Obviously once Arsenal lose their rhythm there is no point continuing with this because the dynamic of the game has already shifted. It’s not easy for Arsenal to suddenly get the rhythm back.

    The foul on Walcott should have been called long before he was on his way down.

    Carew’s foul on Djourou was really late – the ball was five yards away – and clearly deliberate because Carew had the opportunity to stop his run or even to change direction. It wasn’t meant to break bones but it was meant to send a message and leave the player with a lingering pain for a while.

    That’s precisely what these teams try. At times it gets out of hand and ends up breaking a leg. Based on what I recall there were plenty of such tackles last season in the away game at Stoke. You’d have called most of them ‘not dangerous’ but I consider them dangerous because it takes the game to the borderline. Occasionally it does lead to a Ramsey like incident.

    I saw a lot of people arguing that even that tackle was not dangerous with just the kind of points you’re making.

  37. I think Carew’s foul on Djourou was more tactical. Carew wanted to shove Djourou aside so he could make a run on goal. However Clichy had tracked back and would have won the ball had the linesman not called the foul.

  38. It seems that in the 2nd half he put the whistle away with regards to fouls on Arsenal players until Walcott was hurt. I think he then felt bad for being a dick and allowing play to continue when Walcott was in obvious trouble and started giving the fouls again.

  39. We face a no win situation in the Carling Cup Final, as invariably the neutrals will support the underdogs. If we win, it’s a trophy in the cabinet, though if we lose I don’t agree that it will have a dramatic impact on the players (but maybe the fans) for the rest of the season. We beat Barcelona with all the euphoria that went with it, and then 4 days later only drew with Orient, even allowing for numerous changes. Consistency or lack of it is the key that will determine the PL winners, and no team has achieved this in the season where there have been so many unpredictable results. No doubt the loss of Fabregas is a big blow, but on paper we should win .

  40. @Johnny D
    Thanks for finding that link. To me it was the worst “tackle” of the lot. No 35 in Walter’s review. Fine playing advantage but retrospective red or at least yellow was called for. BUt then we all know that “Shawcross is not that sort of player.” Thankfully AA was sharp enough to see it coming.

  41. i say we all chip in and employ Walter as our official “unofficial EPL Ref Monitor”

    Walter, you would then be able to watch replays of all the EPL games and report on the refereeing, or lack thereof.

    It would be great to have a fully comparable list regarding the way the various refs treat each team, and for some reason i just dont see Mike Cun*-ley providing us with those figures. And prozone are just being paid by the old c*ntfact so that he can say that the refs are all being monitored, which they probably are by Prozone, but Mikey boy probably tosses the reports in the bin as soon as he gets them.

    Whats the bottom line Walter?? How much would it cost us to get you to stop doing everything you do and start monitoring the refs in each and evry EPL game? (PS. bear in mind you will have to analyze some of the most boring football matches evr imagined!)

  42. @ buxcey I see where you are coming from but I see it a little differently Barcelona was a high octane match from start to finish and we got the result we needed. This was on the back of a pressure game against wolves with all the talk about the 4-4 with Newcastle affecting our game, it didnt and we played well and picked up all three points. The Orient game was played with nine or so changes played on a bumpy pitch facing a team thats on a good run of form in front of their own crowd. The draw was not ideal but we are still in the cup and have just beaten Stoke, and now looking to sundays cup final not bad for a young team thats only going to get better

  43. I could try to do a ref review for Wigan v. Manchester United. I used to ref amateur matches.

  44. Desi – have you actually played sports? Of course you keep going if a tactic works. You keep going until the referee shows that he is going to stop such play. If the ref hasnt shown a card yet then you keep going with it. You never stop with something that works. That is poor tactics.

    We got out of our rhythm on Wednesday because we played poorly, not because of a couple of poor tackles. We have had plenty of games where tough tackles have gone in without losing our rhythm. Sometimes you just dont play well.

    The foul on Walcott should have been called long before he went down? What, is the ref psychic? Come on, man. That is a ridiculous thing to say. There is always physical contact and I dont think any of us, except you perhaps, want the referee to start whistling at the first sign of any contact between two bodies. Walcott and Whitehead were shoulder to shoulder until the trip. There was zero reason for the ref to blow his whistle.

    Like I said, EVERY tackle has the potential to break a leg, that is the nature of the sport. And of course are going to try and be physical against us, I have no problem with that. That is what they have to do.

    The only tackle I have a problem with from Wednesday is Delap’s. Just as I had a huge problem with Wilshire’s tackle on Zigic earlier this year, and Shawcross’s on Ramsey last year. They are dangerous, reckless tackles. Even you say that Carew’s tackle wasnt meant to harm, but to “send a message”. Hey, what the heck is wrong in sending a message?

  45. I had a problem with Delap’s lunge on Sagna, Whitehead’s lunge on Arshavin, Whelan’s two-footed seated tackle on Walcott, and Shawcross’s lunge on Arshavin. All of these were reckless attempts to win the ball by lunging studs up at the player’s feet.

  46. Johnny D- I could not agree more. Any one of those fouls could have resulted in a serious injury. Walton was doing his usual to uphold the right of Northern teams to kick us off the park-without having the inconvenience of a red card. Delap should have been sent off for a clear over the top tackle on Sagna. You cant really blame Stoke’s players- they were clearly playing to orders in the second half.
    Pulis- king of disinformation in football- claims we are a dirtier side than Stoke- what a joke that scumbag is.
    It remains to be seen whether a team can win the EPL playing pure football.
    Cretins in the media- mostly ex players constantly try to legitimise this thuggery.

  47. Paul

    You stop when the tactic has achieved it’s purpose. You’d get it if you understand that within any given game there are multiple tactics and there is a time to use them. How often do we see teams start at a high tempo score a goal and then sit back. By your logic they’d keep going and keep on trying to score goals at a high tempo. But it does not work that way.

    Once a tactic has achieved it’s purpose the dynamic of the game changes. If the purpose of a tactic is to knock a team of it’s game and it succeeds you shift to a different tactic to try and take advantage of it. There are subtleties and one might still continue to play aggressively but probably not at the same level as before, which is exactly what happened in this game. Stoke would not achieve anything if their sole tactic was to rough Arsenal up. It would eventually only lead to bookings and not goals. They also had to concentrate on creating chances of their own and they did it once Arsenal were knocked off their rhythm. You’ve trivialized this argument by assuming one just keeps on going with a single tactic if it works.

    If you watch carefully there is more than one foul on Walcott in that incident. If the first foul had been called he’d never have fallen. It has nothing to do with being psychic. The ref was lenient with the level of physical contact he was allowing even when the Stoke players were nowhere near the ball. Same happened with Walcott. The first time Whitehead bumped into him, Whitehead was a long way from the ball and had not chance of getting it. He was also using his arm and foot rather than just his shoulder which would have been fine by me. If the ref blew the foul then Theo would not have to get into the physical battle to shield the ball.

    What I saw in this game was that the Stoke players were more focussed on the opponents rather than the ball. If you watch the Carew incident, he could easily have won the ball if he had any intention. Djourou’s touch was weak and Clichy was a long way away. But Carew had no intention of that. Same goes for Whitehead’s challenge on Walcott. The focus was to make an impact on the player rather than genuinely contest for the ball.

    I agree with the need for allowing some degree of physical contact. I also don’t mind genuine accidents that might cause serious damage. But when we see the game in slow motion we can fairly understand the intention of a player by looking at certain details. To me there is no doubt the injury to Walcott could have been avoided and that Stoke deliberately went out to leave a mark on the opponents in the second half.

    There was a lot of pressing and physical contact in the Barcelona game as well. Did anyone come anywhere near injuring an opponent? It was because the players were completely focussed on the ball and the game. When that happens the chances of injuries are still there but are minimal. When a team plays like Stoke these chances of serious injury go up significantly. That is what’s wrong with sending a message.

    Don’t think I can simplify this anymore.

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