Beyond the shame; Calciopoli hits as Arsenal’s next home match is fixed.

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By Walter Broeckx

So the news is out.  Phil Dowd will be the ref for our next home game against Blackburn.

Other people on this site will bring you statistical evidence on how bad he is as a ref for Arsenal.  So I don’t want to take away anything from their articles. The statistics with Dowd are terrible. If we had him each week we would be fighting against relegation if not already be sure of going down by now.

And those statistics are very well known by the FA and the PGMOL and their boss Mike Riley. Maybe the deal with Ferguson was: okay you can ban me for 5 weeks but then you will send Dowd, Dean and Webb to Arsenal in their final run of games.  Those  refs are capable of handing defeat to us in each game. They have the knowledge and the experience to do it. And if needed they are even prepared to make a fool of themselves like Dowd did against Newcastle.  They will do anything to stop Arsenal on the field.

So the appointment of Dowd is a clear statement from the man in the know. This is “calciopolo” in England. They want us to lose this game. Think of that before you go to see the game. This is what happened in Italy for all those years. And that we have been feeling for a while.  But now the system can be more seen thanks to the great work of people like Dogface.

Dowd. This man will have a plan against Arsenal ready in his sleeve. Lots of free kicks will go to Blackburn and they will be thrown in the Arsenal penalty box. Blackburn players will be shoving and pushing, attacking the goalkeeper and Dowd will do nothing about it. There will be dangerous tackles flying in. Maybe the FA and the PGMOL said: hey there is not yet an Arsenal player with a broken leg this season, time we do something about it. Dowd the man who can’t recognise a dangerous tackle even when it would hit him on his face.

And if needed he will send an Arsenal player off the field to help the opponents.  Do we have a big coloured player in our team that doesn’t like hard and dangerous tackling? You can be sure that if Diaby plays and with the likes of Blackburn it could be possible because we need his height to deal with their aerial threat he will receive a rough treatment from the Blackburn players. They will be able to kick him till he loses it and then Dowd can send him off.

Or Song if he is back will have to be vary careful because Dowd doesn’t like Song at all. Maybe it is the colour of his hair? But Song will be booked early in the game and then he will send him off if he gets the chance.

The big question I ask myself is : how on earth can the FA and the PGMOL have the guts to send Dowd even near to an Arsenal game after his performance of utter bias against Newcastle? This is beyond words.  Even a horror script writer in Hollywood couldn’t come up with this. They would say to him: “come on this is impossible, the audience will not accept this.” But the FA and the PGMOL have no problems with Dowd. No, they like him and send him back because of his great job last time around I think.

Now all the people who do statistics on refs know Dowd is biased against Arsenal. I as a ref observer know that Dowd is biased against Arsenal. So is there anyone out there who thinks that the FA and the PGMOL don’t know this?

When a ref has made a total fool of himself and football by showing his bias against a team like Dowd did the FA in that country acts. In any other country in the world they usually have the decency to not send that ref again to the same team for the running season. But as the FA and the PGMOL think and know they are untouchable they just send him over again. To do another Italian job on could say.

And as you all know that I have been pointing at certain failures in the system in the EPL like…the lack of refs to do the games. So the FA and the PGMOL will hide behind their own failure. It is them who haven’t  taken care of the refs so there are simply too few refs available. So they can hide behind their failure and say: sorry but we had no other option to send him  because the other refs couldn’t do the games and more utter blah blah blah.

So what a perverted system we have in the EPL. They make sure that they have enough refs to do the Italian job in their ranks. Then they make sure they don’t have enough refs to cut the influence of those refs down. And then they send them over to do the job.

When the ban was given to Ferguson my first reaction was: “What is the real deal in this?”  Well I think I know what the deal is since I know they are willing to send Dowd to do another game with Arsenal. Any organisation that has left a bit of decency in it would keep Dowd far away from Arsenal.

And for your information our refs in our losing games so far:

Arsenal – WBA : Young Michael Oliver who had a great job in this game!

Chelsea – Arsenal: the one and only Mike Dean

Arsenal – Newcastle: again the one and only Mike Dean

Arsenal – Tottenham : the inevitable Phil Dowd

Manchester United – Arsenal: yes, you guessed it Mr. United himself Howard Webb

And add to this the games in which a certain ref  allowed our opponents back in the game with some er… suspicious decisions:

Sunderland – Arsenal : the inevitable Phil Dowd

Newcastle – Arsenal : the inevitable and openly biased Phil Dowd

So this is what we are looking at. The FA and the PGMOL sending out the most biased ref against Arsenal you can find. Dogface knows it, I know it, Mike Riley knows it, the FA knows it, the PGMOL knows it and you know it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Are the Premier League Matches Fixed?  A review of the evidence – part 1

Are Premier League Matches Fixed – part 2 of the article, concluding the review of the evidence

There’s a full index of the Match Fixing articles on the home page

Making the Arsenal

107 Replies to “Beyond the shame; Calciopoli hits as Arsenal’s next home match is fixed.”

  1. My data suggests that Blackburn do ok out of Dowd, with an average handicap swing of +0.403846 (Arsenal being +0.083333) over all seasons.

    However – this season Blackburn have done VERY well out of Dowd with an average handicap swing [over 3 games] of +1.083333 (+1.000000 Home and +1.125000 Away) – in contrast to Arsenal with [over 3 games] and average handicap swing of -0.833333 (-1.750000 Home and -0.375000 Away).

    With this in mind, the excellent analysis of ‘the_number_game’ blog on the statistically proven bias of Phil Dowd and the utter farce that was the Newcastle Vs Arsenal match (in which he was subsequently demoted), one wonders as to the motivation behind Mike Riley’s [at the PGMOL] descision to select Phil Dowd to officiate this match?

  2. Just in case you didn’t understand that (above) – then let me break it down:

    Blacburn Away AH Swing under Dowd = +1.125000 goals
    Arsenal Home AH Swing under Dowd = -1.750000 goals

    i.e. Arsenal, before a ball is even kicked, are effectively facing a -2.875 goal handicap against Blackburn under Dowd.

  3. I guess the quality of opposition, poor defensive and goalkeeping decisions had nothing to do with our poor results in these games. Some referees are biased, some are good and some are poor. Football is one of the only major sports to not embrace technology. The instances of poor decision making and cheating will continue to rise as the game gets faster and more competetive. Every major game is televised and recorded. Introduce appeal system along the ICC lines and allow each team three appeals for goalinee, penalty decisions, offsides, yellow and red cards through the captain. The review would take less than a minute. Good decisions would be rewarded, poor would be overturned, referee quality would rise and it would get rid of the blatant cheats that ruin the game. Apply the appeal system to Newcastle away and see what result you get. For my money Diaby was an idiot that day and fell for the thugs intimidation. Rosicky the same, why push an opponent when there was no danger. The first was not a penalty and would have been revealed in an appeal and so on.

  4. agree 100% and we should not forget that the refs took 8 points from Arsenal this season:
    1- 2 points against Sunderland ( Away game ) when ref gave 2 yellow cards for song for silly mistake and he gave only 4 minutes and guess what in the fifth minute they scored the draw.
    2-Newcastle game – everybody know this.
    3- Wigan game ( Away game) when the ref decided to give Wigan a penality which by the way it was a clear dive from N’Zogbia outside the Goalkeeper Area. “instead of FK, he gave them PK” alos on that gaem the last minute when Nasri shoot a Foul but Wigan player capture the ball with his hands and ref was blind i think and that Fabregas on twitter said what is the differences between this and his handball against spuds.
    4-Sunderland Home game when refs refused to onside goal for Arshavin and not decided to give a PK to Arsenal with sending off the Bramble cuz Arshavin was the last player.
    i hope some one will make a video about this showing how desarve 8 points the refs stole from us.
    with not forgetting the Everton offside goal from Saha, Aston Villa first goal when Carew stayed and close the way for Fabiansky in catching the ball and not sending off Ferdinand when he raised his legs and tackle Sagna with out giving him a card.

  5. Wrong Andy – they will continue to rise, the more MONEY is involved – we have enough apologists in the mainstream media pouring their narcotic in our ears – now is the time to get angry rather than spouting “what if’s” in regard to our players not being good enough to win and not ‘react’ when the rules do not apply to one team, and there player deliberately attempts to break one of our players legs.

  6. Andy Bishop,
    If Dowd would have done what each ref should do and stop the thugs from Newcastle in the final minutes of the first half in that game when they violently attacked Arshavin.
    Dowd bringing the whistle to his mouth when Barton came in with a flying tackle from behind but then to stop the movement as he saw that Barton could get to the ball again, then jumping on Diaby who was down on the floor and planting his studs on his chest.

    THAT was the moment a unbiased ref should have send Barton off. He even didn’t get a yellow card in the whole game as his godfather Dowd was protecting him.

    And his dangerous tackle early in the second half was again not given as a foul. And yes Diaby shouldn’t have lost it but when you have been kicked off the field this season alone for 2 times after a non punished dangerous tackle you can lose it you know…

    But it was down to Dowd not acting like a decent ref should do that Diaby lost it. If Dowd would have given the fouls and the cards then Diaby wouldn’t have reacted.

    Every man has his breaking point and when you have gone through the injuries Diaby has suffered all due to not enough protection from the refs, I can understand that he lost it.

    Blame Diaby if you want for losing it, but it would never has happened if Dowd would be a decent ref.

    Just look at the Liverpool-MU game… what a disgrace once again….

  7. From what you are saying, that will be the 4th time we will have to suffer Dowd this season!!
    If there are 16 refs and 38 games – well we seem to get him rather a lot – almost double what the law of averages would suggest.
    Can you imagine a ref who fcuked up agaist Utd getting them 4 times in a year…me neither.
    Some of those games you mention we shot ourselves in the foot defensively, Spurs springs to mind – but I also remember Van Der Vaart constantly breaking up our attacks with blatant fouls and nothing being done until very late in the game. Lets face it,Song NEVER gets away with that kind of thing.
    Many have posted this before but we need a big hitter in the corridrs of power to stop this sort of thing. Man Utd and Chelsea have some very powerful execs up there. I am sure Gazidis does a fine job but he lacks the clout of David Dein.
    Our board should be fighting this in public and behind the scenes.

  8. This is true Mandy… you would have thought that Stan Kroenke might have a few half decent lawyers kicking about to construct some sort of litigation with regards to this… even if it never became public – it’s all about the pressure in the back rooms of power.

    This, of course, is fundamentally wrong in terms of the purity of football being a competitive sport but these seem to be the way things work in a world ruled by fat greedy men.

  9. Exactly Mandy Dodd, if the rules of average would be followed we would have him 2 times and maybe 3 times. But now the 4th time. That is almost the double of what could be expected.

    That is why I am saying that there is somethig very suspicious about this.

  10. And as you say, if we remain in contention, Dean and,Webb await – not to mention Fergie gimps like Hughes and Pulis.Their obvious plan – cripple our team before the Spurs / Utd / Liverpool games, keep doing it year on year and who knows, eventually the media / authorities / the AAA may one day get their dearest wish and we may even finish out of the top 4!
    And some idiots who supposedly follow this club and see these matches in person or by other means can only blame Wenger / Denilson / Rice etc

  11. It is possible Walter that we will win this match 4-0…..courtesy of two blatant non penalties….

    (man, why am I writing this—ssssh, go with the plot)

    Then the Media can wave their magic wand and say ‘bias, WHAT BIAS!??’

    And everyone can get out their vuvuzelas and trumpet about delusional paranoid Arsenal fans, and the probity of the English game, and the English national character.

    Just a possibility 😉

  12. Marcus, I hope you are right.
    But with Dowd…. LOL… my scenario looks more on than yours. But still hope you are right…oh, how I hope you are rigth… oh, how I hope that I am wrong…

  13. @Walter and Mandy

    According to my calculations if there is 16 refs there is a 1/16th chance for each game and if arsenal play 38 games that means there is 3/38 chance using bayes rule unless I have made a mistake that gives

    0.7% chance of getting Dowd for 4 games less than 1% can someone check??

  14. sorry should have read 4/38 chance

    it still makes less than 1% and 99% chance we wouldnt have him for 4 games in a season

  15. And make no mistake even in the calciopolo scandal not all the final results came as they had liked them to come… so there is hope…

  16. @marcus – if that were to happen then it really WOULD be suspicious, all I want is a fair game!

    @Gooner80 – love it, I was just going to do the same thing mysef!

  17. Gooner80, in fact for the moment you should only calculate it on 30 games! So the chance is real that we get him for another game this season. Because we get him every 7,5 games so far so the odds we get hime again is high.

    It will be Dean or Webb for the United game. I think Webb. And then Dean when we go to Stoke. Or the final game from Dowd this season to give Stoke a helping hand in kicking us to pieces


  19. If so, that is quite incredible Gooner 80.
    Having said that, would be interesting to see gow often Utd get Webb, and whether they are key games. Only going on memory and someone will doubtless prove me wrong but he seems to ref Utd rather a lot.
    We may hopefully win this game anyway but even if we do, it will be telling who refs our key games coming up if we are still in with a shout.
    On the subjest of refs – does anyone know if they have to declare any support for teams? I seem to think they used to but I guess the PGMOL will say something to the effect that they are refs of the highest integrity and it does not matter who they support. The reason I ask is that most of them are from the north, and many from the north west. I find it inconceivable that say Utd, City or Liverpool games are not being reffed by supporters of those teams at times. Can you really get a pool of 16 , many from the NW, involved in football and not have a Utd or Liverpool supporter in with that lot?

  20. I knew I had forgotten one Mandy…
    So I think
    Dean for spurs
    Webb for United
    Dowd for Stoke

    So that will be atleast 3 times playing against more than 11

  21. Webb and United from my head so far:
    At home against

    and Chelsea still to come I think… but as the Chelsea and Arsenal games against United follow each other the Fa has to make a choice.. But I bet it will not be Atkinson for the MU-chelsea game. I guess they pick clattenburg who has a good record for United this season

  22. @gooner80

    Using the binomial distribution

    P(x equals r) equals (15/16)’34 * (1/16)’4

    (Using my phone so dont have equals or power of symbols!)

    Multiply by 100 to give a percentage chance of getting a ref 4 times of 0.00017% (1.7 * 10’4) so basically no chance at all, unless your arsenal and hes Phil dowd!

    I believe what you calculated was the possibility of 4 times or less

  23. @Walter

    True we should do it on less games (32 I believe) however this actually increases the chance due to the crazyness of stats!

  24. How do they select Refs? because the selection of refs is def bias, if you profiled the character of a person and the decisions they make even if the ref wasnt biased to a particular team you could just select the right character for each game, like a ref who will allow bad tackles which would cause a team to get more injuries resulting in dropping points.

    what would be interesting to know is which linesmen were used,because sometimes it is not even the ref

  25. You make some very good points here- and so does Mandy and Q8gunner.
    This is a softening up for the United game- the Blackburn thugs will be out in force- protected by this captive Northern ref.
    Arsenal will never win a tight campaign- the Ferguson controlled refs wont allow it. When they (refs) decide we deserve it we will win the EPL.

  26. Here we go again…
    I expect an interesting game (Blackburn is a good team) and three points for us. Dowd or Dowd-less. At least, let us speak about the game and referee AFTER the game. I am not sure that it is Dowd who is being biased right now. And Dowd is NOT the main reason why we lost a FOUR goal lead against Newcastle…

  27. There you go again those Man useless refrees are at it again, i quess that moron Alex ferguson must be paying them a lot of money.Remember Mark Clattenberg against wigan he should have send wayne rooney off but he didn’t and again he allowed nani to score after handling the ball.

  28. Here we go again… another mindless troll.

    @Mike_greece.. and AFTER the game, idiots like you will moan about ‘whinging about the referee’ no doubt – BTW Dowd is the ONLY reason we lost a 4 goal lead against Newcastle – you understand nothing about football and even less than that about match fixing.

  29. if you think dowd is not bad enough guess what? anthony taylor(remember him?) will be the 4th official for the game..i see a screw job written all over this

  30. There’s only one way to stop this…

    …Everyone put as much money as you can afford on Blackburn to win or draw (lay Arsenal) – that way Mr. Ladbrokes might talk to Mr. Hill and the pair of them might have a quiet chat with young Master Scudamore who would then, in turn, pass on a few wishes to his spunky sock-puppet Riley – etc.

  31. @DogFace

    I understand a lot about football, but I’m really glad that I understand nothing about match fixing… and of course after the game I’ll be moaning about our team in case our team puts up a pathetic display…

  32. And Man Utd have Lee Mason in their potential banana skin against West Ham.
    From previous posts, seems some teams get their alleged favoured refs quite regulatly eg Chelsea / Atkinson – 4 times this season, same with and Spurs/ Dean.
    We just have to make do with the refs that seem biased against us – guess that is a fair percentage of refs out there.
    There is an certainly agenda out there, but is it 1/for Utd, 2/against Arsenal or 3/ against our manager? Or all three?

  33. @Mike_greece – Will you also sit in your arm-chair, ramming a compass into your arm repeating the mantra “I am bad” ad-infinitum?

  34. i think,after all that has happened to everyone,clubs should decide to petition for a panel to which every club can demand for a ref review after the match(just like the referee reporting for improper conduct etc) and bring the ref to that panel of judges and giving them proper punishments(like fines,ban or whatever) accordingly(both in PL and UEFA) that way we can know who is actually to be blamed….the dumb ref or the moaning club

  35. @Gooner Lad

    under 1% chance of Dowd refereeing 4 games against arsenal was statistically significant enough for me but if you say it is lower I wont disagree I just know it is low, just took a quick look on football data and it clearly shows certain teams get certain refs and as walter has said familiarity breeds contempt/prejudice and bias which is impossible to negate like for e.g if I believe a player is a diver he is less likely going to get a penalty

    I looked at dowds games he has done 23 so far and his 24th is hes 4th with us that means nearly 17% of all the games he refs in the prem are against us, I dont believe in coincidences that is approaching 1 in 5 games, they need more refs, I would prefer them to have 30 average refs then have 16 supposed exceptional refs that do too many games for one opponent and someone commented on the champions league semi final inter vs Barca and the ref co owned and restaurant with mourinho, you have all these panorama type programmes and journalist desperate for a story it is certainly worth an investigation, the officials dont even allow you to question these things

  36. Astonishing. After the Newcastle shambles, any decent organisation wouldn’t allow Dowd to referee an Arsenal game ever again.

    And just FOUR league games later, they send Dowd in to ref Arsenal again. I’ll say that again, FOUR games between Newcastle and this weekend’s Blackburn game.

    And what price on getting Dowd once more before the season is out?

  37. in the end, people say that we lost because bad management, this is not right, Wenger bought a good player like Kocielny & chmackh, but in the end this is not the first season that all the refs against Arsenal, i don’t know why, once a Liverpool fan told me that FA always but young ref who fears from Rooney on the match or put a ref that has a good score with Man u such as Clattenburg.
    Arsenal can beat Man u but 2 things against us Refs and their luck, we waste an easy chance around the goal & they score with opposition bloopers.
    why in the last 6 games at Old Trafford when we play them, the refs decided 5 Penalty for them & most of them are given.

  38. This Blackburn game with this ref poses an interesting selection dilemma. Almunias nerves are shot to pieces – can you imagine how he will cope with Blackburns usual antics to stop the keeper doing his job? Then all the long balls and set pieces this ref will undoubtably allow then.
    There again, there is Jens – who will certainly stand up to that lot but against a ref who may well be itching to send off one of our players?
    Which leads me to another point. For years, many have been pleading with Wenger to sign physically imposing…. or some would say dirty players to stand up to the Stokes of this world. Melo, De Rossi, even Gattuso have been mentioned in despatches by some.
    Can you even begin to imagine the fun our refs would have with players like that in an Arsenal shirt? It would be bent ref heaven.

  39. If you become a member and log into ref world, you get to ask Phil Dowd a question!

    Not sure I would go to the effort though – doubt if he will releasing questions asked of him by Arsenal fans, especially some of us on this site

  40. Thinking about it, I reckon Marcus might be on to something.

    Sending Phil Dowd back into an Arsenal game this soon after Newcastle could be a clever move. He gives us a couple of questionable decisions in a game where we don’t need referee influence to win (Blackburn have lost 4 and drawn 2 of their last 6 league games) and the majority are satisfied that Dowdy’s alright after all.

  41. Brilliant but terrifying article, Walter. Our worst fears are happening. Bloody roaring Stokie Dowd! Kean’s Blackburn will be choosing the Fat Allardyce gameplan. The MU & Spuds games have already been allocated, as you say. Yes, Mandy, I don’t trust Frigginson not to be involved in all of this. How much proof does anyone need?

  42. Just heard Wilshere will be pretty much the only England player who played last Sat who will start against Ghana.
    As we know, key players from Utd, Chelsea and Spurs were all sent home to rest.
    More help for teams around us

  43. Wrenny I didn’t higlight it in my article but you are so right. Bacause of the cup games it seems a bit longer but it is only 4 league games in the past that he took our points away. This is so ridiculous.

    I can give an example of a well established first division ref in Belgium,a Fifa ref, who messed up in one game with one of the big teams. The Belgium FA chose to not send him to this club for the rest of the season and ALSO IN THE FOLOWWING SEASON they didn’t give him a game of that team.

    And believe me the Belgium FA is or organisation run like a amateur pub football organisation in some ways but they had the decency to avoid any controversy possible with the ref and a period to let things cool down.

    But the FA and the PGMOL just send the same ref back after 4 games. Meaning : or they are utterly stupid or….

  44. @goonerlad

    You need to time your number with the amount of different combinations Dowd can be picked in 30 games. This number is: 30! / [4! * (30! – 4!)] = 27405

    And if you take into consideration that this is our 30th game the calculation will be:
    27407 * (1/16)^4 * (15/16)^26 * 100 = 7.8 procent

    So it is unlikely but not completely implausible.

  45. and oh bugger I just heard a gooner saying Van Persie has been taken off the field for HOlland and looked injured. don’t know what just happened as the game is not on TV over here. Oh sh*t 🙁

  46. I’ve just been watching a bit of England, and all I can say is that there is no way on God’s green turf that Cahill is worth 20 million.

    He is a 5 mill player and that is why Wenger won’t pay over 10 Mill.

    Sorry, I have just seen one of the AHLI’s, (Arsene has lost it), strongholds blown to billyo.

    Sorry , but I’ll take Johann and Kozzer any day over Cahill.

  47. @mandy dodd

    Wasn’t Capello saying he’ll make 11 changes to the starting line up? I guess the FA ordains that Wilshere must be screwed with as much as possible. Play him at every opportunity, and then blame Arsenal when they don’t pick Arsenal players in the England squad.. Seriously. SCREW INTERNATIONAL FOOTBALL..

  48. As I can gather from the Dutch press after a strong tackle from an Hungarian defender. Oh why o why…

  49. @walter

    How many times have we asked that question with regard to Robin.. I think it’s about time we told Robin to retire from international football, if he is to play for us. Since 2006/07, apparently he has played 97 times for Arsenal, and 47 for holland!!

    (I modified or rather updated the stats for the WBA match and the 2 Dutch games, but the original data is from 7amkickoff)

  50. @gooner80

    Neither do I. It’s just so frustrating. Andrey Arshavin apparently is getting some stick in Russia too for his laziness. Hopefully he’s saving himself for our matches now. We need him to be at the top of his game.

  51. @Shard
    Is that just league games? Looking on Wikipedia (not the most dependable source, I know) RVP has played 111 games for Arsenal in all competitions over the last 4 seasons, including the current one.

    I fully agree with the sentiment, I would love to see Van Persie retire from international duty.

    What amazes me is how he hits top form so quickly after injury every time. Most players just deteriorate as the injuries build up, if anything Van Persie is getting better every year!

    In those 111 appearances Van Persie has 54 goals and 31 assists.

  52. @wrenny

    I think you’re right. It is league. Actually it’s league starts i think. But I think the original article I took those stats from did mention that fact. My bad..
    The point still is though that the ratio of the number of games he plays for us, and the number of games he plays for holland is seriously skewed. I’ll try and find figures for all competitions though.

  53. Think Capello did say something along those lines Shard.
    Not sure how serious the RVP thing is – was he just bought off as a precaution from a knock? Hang on , no this is Van Persie we are talking about.
    If he is out for a while, goes without saying this will seriously dent title hopes. Bendtner and Chamakh do not seem up to much at the moment. We know some of these players are injury prone but this team just seems beset by bad luck with injuries – 3 keepers out FFS! It seems to get worse, year on year. Gallas is doing well with Spurs – when did we ever have him this late into the season?
    On Van Persie, the man is fantastic but if he continues playing for Holland, that may well seriously shorten his career and lessen his chances of trophies, with us anyway. It is his choice, he knows what happens when he plays for Holland but chooses to continue to do so. Maybe bringing in a top top striker in the summer may make him think about things?
    Why wasnt Gyan on Wengers radar?
    The RVP thing may yet come to nothing……right….

  54. According to Van Marwijck he got a knee against his thigh and if all goes well he maybe could play this weekend.

    Now this all would be very well and nice but this is the same Van Marwijck who last season said that when RVP did his ankle in Italy it would be just a few weeks… So don’t know what to make of it yet.

    Let us hope van Marwijck is right this time…

  55. @wrenny

    118 starts, 24 subs, 67 goals..

    2008/09 was the season with most appearances for us with 44 (6 as sub) and he scored 20 goals (also highest)..

    And the 97 is total league appearances since 2006/07, not starts as i had thought. (blame the official premier league website for that. It’s confusing)

  56. @Mandy
    I believe the injury situation has been a lot better this season than it was last. Song, Cesc, Diaby and Walcott are all back training now, so as it stands we have no injuries in midfield or attack.

    The problem with Arsenal and injuries is they always seem to be concentrated to certain positions rather than spread around the pitch. It wouldn’t be so bad having five players out if those players weren’t 3 goalkeepers and 2 centre-backs…

  57. we already have fat dowd to worry about and now you are telling me rvp might not be fit? oh dear 🙁

  58. In that time frame, that Robin has made 142 appearances, Arsenal have played 282 games, of which 23 have been Carling cup matches. So if we consider that he wouldn’t have played them even if he were fit, that still means he’s missed 117 games for us in the past 5 seasons.

    If we see his goal ratio of 67 in 142 appearances, then in 117 games, he would have scored 55 goals. (66 if we take the ratio of goals/starts).

    He’s some player is RVP. But he’s also missing for nearly half the time. I agree with Mandy Dodd. I think we need to bring in another top striker. There is no way we should count on Robin to be fit throughout the season.

  59. on henry’s special report with sky he said he could count on one hand the amount of time he was 100% fit, he said he played all the time with injuries and knocks

    on the subject of RVP without him we have two strikers that are very similar and Im sure our goal average goes down when they are leading the line, I would like to see different attacking options, I dont know how sunderland managed to get Gyan but Im sure Arsenal knew about him, I just feel we havent had a proper striker since Henry

  60. @walter

    I actually went back to have a look at articles from last year. Van marwijk then had initially said that it looks a bad injury.. It was only after a scan that the Dutch FA said 4-6 weeks out (It was 5 months).. But I’m hoping Van Marwijk’s initial statement is correct again. We need RVP.

  61. Walter,what I would like to know is if Dowd influences the game again like he did against Newcastle gives away 2 dubious penalties sends of an Arsenal player who is hacked down or any combination of insane decisions ….. Where do we go from there ? I cant see Arsenal FC ever taking any action or asking lawyers a PI or anyone else to investigate.
    So what next if the inevitable happens the weekend ?

  62. @RedGooner

    I’m telling you, at the first sign of any nonsense from Dowd, our players should kick the football right into Dowd’s unmentionables.. Knock his stones about, till he decides it’s not worth the pain 🙂

  63. I think Chamakh can be a big player for us, it feels like a long time ago now that he was leading the line so well that it can be easy to forget how good he was. He’s limited but a very hard working team player who brings others into play, much like Adebayor was until he got his big contract and turned into a lazy primmadonna.

    And there’s Walcott, who I consider as much of a striker in our set-up as RVP. Theo is always looking to get behind defences, and when Van Persie drops deep Theo comes inside to take up that space. I think Walcott can be a prolific goalscorer from that inside-forward position.

    I have a feeling Bendtner will want to move on in the summer to find regular football.

  64. @Shard Yeah I forgot about him, I have my fingers crossed with Theo if he can get that mean streak in him and stay fit.

    I have a feeling dowd is going to make it up to us. so some stupid pundit can say see these things even themselves out, but the only way they will even out is if man U concede 4 dubious penalties over 2-3 games.

    I keep thinking is it better to be in the dark and not see what the bias is doing and being like the typical fan blaming Denilson or being informed seeing the bias and getting stressed, upset, annoyed, angry and something that leaves me feeling disgusted, is ignorance Bliss???

  65. @Gooner80

    Yeah, you can almost understand why all the D&Gs are around..It’s just so much easier to listen to the all knowing football media and pundits and all their literally mind numbing ‘opinions’, and to look for the quick fix that they propagate.. But there’s no going back. Innocence once lost, cannot be regained..I cannot help but see all the crap that referees, and Sky pull.

  66. @Gooner80

    If Dowd wants to make it up to us, then I’ll take that. The punditry and the doubters won’t care to see the evidence staring them in the face anyway. I mean, how could Lee Mason award that Everton goal, and the commentators not say that was simply wrong. They sat there trying to find a way to justify it. Just say the referee’s made a mistake, and if they really were neutral, they would. But they have an agenda too. And that agenda does not include conceding the fact that refereeing needs to improve, let alone that there’s something fishy.

    So we won’t change their opinion anyway.. Meanwhile, we could do with 3 points.

  67. I first learned games were fixed in summer 2006. It is absurdly obvious once you know what to look for – but it is great to see people actually creating the stats.

    The thing to realise about all of this is that there is no ‘single conspiracy’.

    Instead there is simply a corrupt industry.

    Something that is worth considering is that if everything we learned about Serie A were true, then what other things about Serie A are also likely to be true?

    And what would that mean in terms of the EPL?

    The continued elephant in the room is the market value of this information.

  68. @Walter et al,

    I wouldn’t count on the Netherlands’ assessment of Van Persie being accurate. I wish I could say otherwise, but look at the history. Seriously, what exactly is up with the Netherlands and getting players injured on international duty? I don’t think I’ve seen anyone this season with a track record that compares to theirs.

    Think about it. In addition to the previous case w/ Van Persie that’s been mentioned here, there was also Dirk Kuyt, who was out for a long time after international duty. And then there was Arjen Robben. The Dutch FA (or whatever their equivalent) recently had to settle w/ Bayern Munich over an injury sustained by Robben. I think the settlement was that the Netherlands had to play a friendly against Bayern, or something like that.

    So, what’s going on with the Dutch? Is it me or do they have a worse track record than most when it comes to getting their players injured on international duty? Am I wrong?

  69. @Shard,

    I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for widespread media acknowledgement of corruption in the EPL. The sports media make their living from the status quo, and they’re not going to be looking to change it. But on the other hand, don’t take what you see in the mainstream media (or even the most popular blogs) as necessarily representative of public opinion. Just because no one is reporting on it doesn’t mean that no one is seeing it.

    Personally, I think that a lot of people are seeing it. More people than the “powers that be” would want. And that means something to them, because in the entertainment industry (and football is part of the “entertainment industry”), the revenues are ultimately generated by the public. So long as we’re they’re income source, they have to keep us happy to some extent. If they don’t keep a lid on corruption, people will start to lose faith, and they’ll lose money.

    After what happened at the Newcastle game, I would personally expect Phil Dowd to be on his best behavior during this coming match. I would expect him to avoid controversial decisions against Arsenal, and maybe throw out some controversial decisions against Blackburn, just to allay suspicion. But that’s just speculation. We’ll see. I guess the next match is an acid test of EPL corruption in a lot of ways…

  70. @Jitty,

    Interesting comments on the nature of EPL corruption. You’ve said that “The continued elephant in the room is the market value of this information.” I think I know what you’re talking about, and I think I agree with you, but could you elucidate on what you mean by that? It’s not exactly clear from your earlier posts.

  71. In general referees and linesman are not up to the standard required by the modern game. This is being exposed by technology. Players chasing after officials,shouting and in their faces is not acceptable even if they make poor or biased decisions. Dowd was poor and should have blown for fouls on Arshavin and Diaby. The tackle on Arshavin was worse but he got up and shrugged his shoulders and as a consequence some gooners say he lacks passion. Diaby should be a giant for us with his talent but he let us down that day with his over reaction. All I am saying is technology is being used by fans to judge officials and players why not use it in a positive way to support good football, fairer decisions and minimise the effectiveness of the cheats in the game.

  72. Andy-no- Diaby may hang on to the ball too long- but he is being kicked out of the English game by thugs licensed by referees. When you receive 2 or 3 serious injuries from over-the top tackles and referees simply turn a blind eye- then you have no choice but to protect yourself.
    May be there is not a great deal we can do about the l xenophobia at the centre of English football, or the lack of intelligence and conservatism of the Football establishment- but can make it harder for refs to bottle out at least at home.
    The Emirates is too quiet- lets kick up a storm- intimidate the refs – as they are at United -i.e make far more difficult for referees to favour the opposition. We are far too decent at times-far too concerned with criticising our own team-during a game. When we played Stoke recently- it was an ideal time for pay back-and we owe them plenty-but it just didnt happen.

  73. Once again I have to comment on my admiration for the statisticians and others, who are in the progress of building up a folder of evidence that no one who cares for the game can ignore. 2008 was hugely suspicious the way we were reffed out of contention, the pattern is repeating, but this time to a knowing public. When the time comes, you guys will have laid the foundations that expose the scam for what it is.


  74. I’m really sorry Walter, I watched the WBA, Spurs, Newcastle hoome games at the ground and there were just three pathetic Arsenal performances. Stop blaming the ref for Arsenal’s pathetic displays.

    Almunia went walkabout against WBA and gave away a soft goal. Arsenal conceded 3 in the second half against Spurs. You can complain about the penalty if you want but the other two were just a result of poor play. Against Newcastle they were outplayed. Simple as.

    Utd away: they didn’t get a shot in in anger. Rooney deliberately missed the penalty to correct a ref’s decision. Utd deserved to win.

    Arsenal traditionally beat Blackburn at the Emirates, although they struggle in the North West. 6-2 they won once I remember. If they can’t beat Blackburn at home, they don’t deserve to win the league.

    I think they can beat them. Quite easily. If they are professional.

    And if you don’t, it says a lot about what you think of this season’s squad.

    Man up for God’s sake!

  75. Walter

    Can you provide the list of ref when Arsenal won. Which macthes has Arsenal won when the refs listed in Arsenal losses were in charge. It would be nice to get the whole picture. The point is it is very unpleasant to watch a game when you believe the ref is biased against you. What advice cn you offer the team to negate the impact of the biased Ref.

  76. Please, enough with the conspiracy theories.
    Our team is not good enough. With or without RVP.
    End of.

  77. Rhys,

    It would be nice if on occasion you could read my articles like most of them can understand them.

    I never have blamed the ref for the loss against WBA.

    I was critical for Dean for his handling of our home game against Newcastle. But I said he didn’t cost us the game. He just had his normal game when doing us of missing many obvious things.

    In the Spurs game Dowd did some strange things in the second half which I mentioned in my report. He practiced the same tactic like against Newcastle by giving many free kicks in favourable positions for Newcastle neglecting fouls against Arsenal players. The way a ref can frustrate a team as most refs with some experience will know.

    Utd away : Fletcher should have been send of for attacking and touching the ref at 0-0. Ferdinand should have been sent off for his assault against Sagna when we was 1-0 down.

    Those are things that happened and influenced the games.

  78. You got it spot on jitty,all matches that appear on the pools coupon are fixed. I leave in Africa and I can predict with 99.9% certainty the outcome of two matches of teams I’ve never seen play. Put me to test if you wish.

  79. Walter, you are spot ON! Have the same feeling. Since David Dein’s departure, ARSENAL FC has no real influence, no clout at FA, Premiership, with referees, compared to MU and Chelsea.
    Yes, we should run a real war (authorities, media, YouTube, social networks, etc.) against the treatment we are receiving and against the favors MU, Chelsea, and in a near future M.City, are receiving.
    More competent people than me calculated that during a season in EPL, the referees can bring you 12-13 plus points, taking 8-9 minus points from the closest contender. “Dogface” and Walter, you are THE essential reading with super system of evaluation.
    Your data should be used to feed the well thought PR war as previously mentioned. Enough is enough. The EPL is sometime won on the goal difference, so just imagine 20 points difference brought in by referees decisions. Get organized ARSENAL FC !!

  80. @Jitty, Little:

    I’m glad that someone is bringing the “business” end of match fixing into this discussion, because I think that that’s where the real answers lie in terms of what we’re seeing happening with Arsenal. I don’t know much about football betting, so my opinions here are based on just common sense and general knowledge about betting. But I do have a theory about what’s going on, and I’d really like to run it by some people who have more knowledge about this stuff.

    Basically, I’ve previously argued that there is one basic check on corruption in something like football. The game will always be corrupt to some extent because there’s too much money at stake for it to be otherwise. But the check on that is that the game can’t become SO corrupt that everyone knows that the fix is in. There are two reasons for this:

    1) A large portion of the revenue base for an entertainment industry is the fans. The marketing aspect of it requires that you have a fan base to market to, and there’s also ticket sales, merchandising, etc. To ensure that the revenue stream continues, you have to have a product that is marketable to the public, and a blatantly fixed league is not marketable.

    2) As far as betting revenues are concerned, the market value of the knowledge that a match is fixed depends on limiting the number of people who have access to that knowledge. If it’s common knowledge that a match is fixed, the market value of that knowledge would become negligible. Wouldn’t it? As I understand it, the way you profit off of knowledge that a match is fixed is by betting against someone else who doesn’t know that it’s fixed. If everyone knows that it’s fixed, wouldn’t that be a little bit problematic for you?

    Let me know if I’m wrong about the betting stuff. But whether I am or not, it’s clear to me that the corrupt interests in football do have a vested interest, whatever it might be, in maintaining an illusion of fairplay. Otherwise, why would they try so hard to do it?

    And that brings me to Arsenal…What is Arsenal’s role in all this? In my opinion, the fact that Arsenal games in particular are arousing so much public suspicion of match fixing suggests that, where Arsenal is concerned, something is going seriously wrong with whatever match fixing scheme is in place. But what, exactly?

    At this point, my best guess at an explanation is that Arsenal isn’t willing to throw matches, whereas other EPL clubs are. Because if you want to effectively fix matches, you really need the players, or at least some of them, to be on board. If they’re not, you have to rely exclusively on the ref. But doing so, especially against a team that’s as good as Arsenal, requires the ref to take such an active role in determining the outcomes of matches that it arouses suspicion. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing here.

    If Arsenal WAS throwing matches, the refs wouldn’t have to work so hard to determine the outcomes, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. We probably wouldn’t have noticed that anything was wrong. If other clubs and/or players are colluding to throw matches, it would explain why we’re only seeing these ref issues in Arsenal matches.

    If Arsenal doesn’t want to fix their own matches, trying to do it w/ just the ref is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, there’s the risk of exposure, especially if you’re doing it repeatedly. Second, having the referee in your pocket isn’t enough to guarantee the outcome that you want. If Arsenal is supposed to lose, they could still manage to win. There’s no way to guarantee a specific number of goals scored. At least, not in a way that would be safe to place a lot of money on. And so on and so forth.

    So, the question becomes, why bother to do it at all? The only explanation I can think of is that the whole system is rigged, and Arsenal refusing to play along would somehow ruin the party for everybody. In other words, somewhere out there, Arsenal would be causing someone to lose A LOT of money.

    I’m just speculating here, but to me, this theory would explain both the conduct of referees in Arsenal games, and why the rest of the establishment, including the media, constantly seems “out to get” them. Any thoughts?

  81. @Anne – there is a lot in what you say… but it’s not just Arsenal who suffer.

    Arsenal fans have a big internet presence where as, say Blackburn fans do not… hence when Blackburn get mugged nobody really hears about it except for the grumbling among the hard core fan base.

    It is also the case that Arsenal are a highly technical team with an increasing global presence and this makes it difficult to tilt the pitch against us without it getting blatant – this is not always the case with the more traditional ‘English’ game that we are all told [by the bookmaker sponsored media] that we should love and cherish.

    I also firmly believe that Wenger does not tolerate the ‘creative underachieving’ that we see sometimes in the ‘world class’ names in the ‘big’ teams… and this is also, no doubt, a fly in the ointment of someone’s profit & loss book…

    If you think about it, if you have the ref onside, the goalie and the striker you can pretty much dictate the result of the match real-time.

  82. @Anne. I can’t help but think that many refs now go into a game with a built in bias against Arsenal. Not because we have too many foreigners. Not even because we have a foreign manager. Not even because he (AW) says some uncomplimentary things about decisions…generally, not just Arsenal specific.

    But take all of those in combination, plus add a tabloid spin and “there’s this bunch of Southern fairies telling me, a solid upstanding Northerner that I’m incompetent.”

    @Rhys. Echo Walter’s comment. Oliver who reffed our WBA 2-3 got one of the best marks this season.

  83. @ Anne – I think Lord Ferg basically let the cat out of the bag in terms of how teams have influence with key refs. The key point is – as with Serie A – more than one team has influence.

    On top of the I believe you have institutional influence.

    Then you get to the issue of fixing. In my view the damage is already being done, and football is in fact becoming more and more a gambling/media/corporate driven sport. This is the first year I have seen fixing repeatedly discussed in fan forums. And then there was Scotland.

    The point about it is that you can know games are bent (e.g. Italy) but unless you are an insider, you do not know how.

    For instance Chelsea’s run towards the end of last season seemed to involve ref influence and teams throwing games at the same time.

    I have increasingly wondered if any players at Arsenal would be involved.

    I always look at GKs with mysterious errors

  84. @anne

    I did mean that I don’t think the media or anyone in authority is going to accept that anything is wrong anyway. Regardless of what happens on the field. I agree with you on that completely. I actually meant that it won’t happen, and if just to give the illusion that everything is alright, Dowd gives us a fair and square (or even a favourable) game on saturday, then I’d take it. As I said, we could do with the 3 points.

  85. @Casual Observer,

    I was actually expecting someone to respond to me and say that it’s not just Arsenal who suffers these problems. I’d really like to know more about other teams, and the complaints that they have on similar issues, because it would give us a more well-rounded perspective on what’s actually going on.
    I’d like to get to the bottom of it because, well…part of it is just that I have an investigative mind. But I’d also like to have an idea of what to expect so I don’t end up bitterly disappointed, and also to know who I should avoid giving my money to. I’ll keep looking into it, and get back to you next week after I’ve unravelled the entire conspiracy 🙂 Thanks for responding.

  86. @Jitty,

    You might not be able to tell exactly how matches are being fixed if you’re not an insider, but it’s possible to make some solid educated guesses. For example, there’s the fact that ManU’s points total this season is completely inconsistent with the level of footballing ability that they’ve demonstrated on the pitch. Also, you mentioned Chelsea last year, but what about Chelsea this year? Their mysterious “sudden downturn” that came out of nowhere, and was immediately preceded by the unexplained departure of someone who had been with their club for a long time.
    If I had time to watch all the EPL fixtures every week I’m sure I could give you some other examples, but you get the idea. I also think you’re right to wonder if any Arsenal players could be involved. It would be naive not to, and I’m sure it’s happened at some point in the club’s history. But based strictly on the evidence I’ve seen this season, I’m inclined to think that Arsenal players are generally NOT involved in that kind of thing.
    As I explained in my previous post, in a fixed match, if the players are in on the fix, you won’t be noticing a pattern of suspicious refereeing decisions. That’s kind of the whole point. The referee won’t have to resort to making phantom calls because the players on the inside will actually commit the offenses to justify the calls. And that’s if the ref even needs to intervene at all. If you have the key players, you only need the ref to intervene as a failsafe measure.
    So, if you see the outcome of the match determined by suspicious refereeing decisions, that’s actually an indicator that the players WEREN’T in on the fix. Does that make sense? And the fact that this blog has been able to document a pattern of suspicious refereeing decisions affecting the outcomes of Arsenal matches would seem to indicate that Arsenal players aren’t in on the fix. For a quintessential example of what I’m talking about here, just watch the Arsenal Newcastle match. There’s absolutely no way that any Arsenal players were in on that fix. If they were, Phil Dowd wouldn’t have had to resort to such ridiculous measures to ensure the Newcastle comeback.
    There’s also the question of the reasons behind the media bias against Arsenal. I know that some view that as nothing more than a conspiracy theory, but to me, it’s pretty obvious that the sports media, and whatever “establishment” they represent, are trying to undermine Arsene Wenger’s regime at Arsenal. That means that, whatever it might be, Arsenal is definitely doing something that’s ruffling the feathers of the establishment, and is posing a threat to someone. Could it be related to this match fixing issue? I don’t know, but it’s certainly possible.

  87. @Jitty:

    You said “I always look at GKs with mysterious errors.”

    What do you think of Rob Green’s World Cup performance against Team USA? 🙂

  88. Anne, et al

    In your investigations I’d focus on the following:
    1. Media bias – Murdoch – who once tried to buy MU.
    2. Institutional – appointment of Mike Riley as head of refs, and responsible for ref appointments (season ticket holder at Old Trafford)
    3. Institutional – UEFA – Platini hatred of Wenger (see the history), and ref appts in the Champions League – most notably the Braga away match and the Barca away match. The refs in these games were working to instruction.
    4. Institutional – FA in the UK persistently giving Arsenal short recovery times and away matches after European games. Arsenal have had 3 weeks with 3 games in 6 days. MU have had this only once this season.
    5. Refs in general – Northern bias of appointments and indeed very few Southern refs anywhere near the “elite” list. It is not difficult for Riley to focus his bias this way.
    6. Xenophobic – anti Wenger and concern that he will dominate the League utterly. Also too many foreign players (AW is adjusting for this with more UK players coming through).
    7. Printed Media – dominated by a traditional Liverpool and MU bias in the North, supplemented by most London outlets being Tott and Chels dominated.

    Betting fixes are possible but as you highlight this is difficult to orchestrate with certainty for any one game. This seems to lead to a conclusion of more general bias per the above points. The strongest evidence of all this is in the numbers. Walter’s analysis is showing virtually all Arsenal matches with a 90% rate of “ref errors” going against Arsenal. 50/50 is what one would expect if they were errors, and one could even accept 60/40 but 90/10 is clearly unacceptable. The continued allowing of “roughing up” of Arsenal players is also very blatant and obvious.
    The anti Arsenal fixture setting (short recovery and away games post Europe) is a matter of fact and not supposition.

    So in summary I think many have agendas against Arsenal gaining success.

  89. @jbh

    The Murdoch and Sky bit is something I am totally sure about. There are a lot more contentious decisions at least in ManU matches, but even in others, that we do not remember because they do not show the replays.. I have noticed this only in the past 3 seasons, but I don’t know if anyone else has. Anytime it seems like a ManU player may have commited a serious offense like say handball in the penalty area, or a dive, or they score a goal which is offside, and the referees don’t punish the offense, the replay isn’t shown, or is shown from an angle that doesn’t show anything at all. If a replay is shown, I could predict even before looking at it, that the ManU player hasn’t actually committed a foul.

    They pick and choose the images to show, working towards an agenda. This is essentially censorship to try and manipulate the thinking of the paying public. I am quite disgusted by it, and all I can do is say what I see, and hope that others can see it too.

  90. @Shard,

    It’s funny that you mention that right now, because I was just watching a replay of the December match between Arsenal and ManU, and I was noticing that there were a lot of calls that looked questionable to me in real time, but that they weren’t replaying so that I could get a better look at them.

    I remembered noticing the same thing when I was trying to take a look at some of the calls in the Newcastle match (which is the match I’ve analyzed more closely than any other), so it caught my attention. I logged onto Arsenal TV, selected a few random matches, and saw that, sure enough, the broadcast coverage was consistently not showing replays of calls that I really wanted to have a closer look at. I had just come to the conclusion that this was more than likely deliberate when I came on here and read your post. Good timing 🙂

  91. @Anne

    I’ve actually been saying that for some time, but I guess never solely as one post.. It is something that as I said, I’ve noticed for the past 3 seasons.

    Regarding the ManU match, there was one tackle which a ManU player made in their defensive area, and then they broke on a counter and Denilson made a clean sliding tackle at the halfway line. I remember that instead of showing the likely foul that wasn’t given, they showed a slow motion replay of Denilson’s challenge. I’m certain there were other incidents as well, but i can’t remember what they were.

    I just hope more people notice stuff like this though, because essentially, even our chances of debate are being cut down because most people simply won’t remember these incidents, and those that do won’t have any confirmation, just suspicions.

    This is also one reason I’m sceptical about video technology being used as well. They could just as simply manipulate camera angles there. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in favour of it. I’m just not sure that justice will be done even then.

  92. @ Jbh

    I agree with the majority of your comment but would add

    1. The majority of media, including Southern, is biased for Man Utd, Liverpool and lately Chelsea not against. This is based on standard PR analysis, and reflects the fact the fact that the readership/viewership is also skewed in favour of those clubs.

    2. Fixing is about gambling, not about helping Utd (or any other team) win. So a classic example of a fix would be Portsmouth v Utd in the FA Cup.

    3. There is no reason why various corruptions cannot be in play at once.

  93. @ Anne

    I am not sure I agree with your general premise.

    For instance I doubt players at Man Utd are fixing matches.

    But that does not mean players at Wigan or Portsmouth are not.

    So both things can be in play at once. For example when Chelsea crush Wigan.

  94. Everyone here, myself included, think we know what to do to ‘ímprove’the team, win trophies etc. But in all honesty, do any of us really think we could do Wengers job? Personally, I would love to see Benzama and RVP up front, Cahill and Verm as our CB’s, Nasri and Jack in the centre, but will it happen? Can it happen? the point I’m trying to make, is that it isn’t make believe, we can’t just go and buy a player. There are too many variables regarding a new player. Is he for sale? Will he upset the status Quo of the club? Would he want to come to AFC? Do the players like/dislike him? It’s good to discuss, and hope/pray/dream, but why not let the manager do his job? if you feel like taking your anger out on someone, why not aim it at the players? Our captain doesn’t show passion!! that should upset you all.

  95. This season hurt so much because, when it is all said and done, we have no real excuses for not winning the league. The team was packed with quality, neither Manchester United nor Chelsea were as strong as in previous seasons and at a time when we should have made our final charge towards the title, our squad was in excellent physical shape. Leave aside all the talk about playing the right way, about balancing the books, about what improvements we could make to the squad and you have a team that is, on paper, a match for any in the league.

    As a fan I feel immense sympathy for Arsene Wenger. In reality, we should not be in a position to be as frustrated as we are. We should not be in a place where we are spending so little and challenging so frequently at the top. But unfortunately for Wenger, because he is getting so close it is reasonable to expect him to go one step further.

    Wenger is overachieving whilst underachieving and that is a deeply difficult position to be in. He has so much faith in his methods and his players because they have got him so far. But the risk in his strategy is that by shunning established stars and experienced players in favour of rather more youthful prospects, a strategy backed by the Arsenal board, he is relying on the hope that his team will learn to win.

    Therein lies the ultimate question: will they learn to win, or learn to fail? Will his squad develop into a group of winners or forever be destined to wait for their first win because they simply don’t know how to get the job done?

    Read any Premier League news blogs or websites and you will see that supporters of every club will always believe they should have a better squad. We complain about our Eboués, Squillacis and Denílsons in the same way that United fans complain about their Carricks, Evans’ and Gibsons and Chelsea fans complain about their Ferreiras, Ramires’ and Kalous. No squad is perfect and under the circumstances, I believe ours is very good.

    The goalkeeper problem has been solved by the emergence of Wojciech Szczesny, Johan Djourou has developed into the big central defender people have been craving for a few years and Thomas Vermaelen’s return will provide much-needed leadership in that area of the pitch. His return also gives us another option at left-back and facilitating the possibility for Koscielny to use his superb interception and distribution skills as a defensive midfielder if required.

    I realise that this a rather scattershot piece of writing but that happens time to time when (1) you’re writing a blog and not writing for The Guardian and (2) you’re observing and asking more questions than providing answers. So perhaps it is best for me to end with some conclusions to round things off:

    I think with the squad we had, with the experience under the belt and the level of competition provided from United and Chelsea, that we should have won the league this season. I am extremely frustrated that we were not able to do this.
    I believe that we are incredibly fortunate to have a team that are even capable to win the league given the principles that the manager and the club have stuck to and should be more appreciative of this.
    The Carling Cup failure proved to be the moment that derailed our season. It was a failure that appeared to suck the life out of our squad at the worst time possible and we never recovered.
    I firmly believe that Arsene Wenger is the right manager to lead this club forward and that he was right to believe that his players, after going so far, could make the final step.
    Given their failure though, he has a tough decision to make regarding bringing in one or two more experienced players and hoping to make the difference, or relying on his players to learn from the failure to push on and win.
    The squad does not need anything close to an overhaul despite all the transfer rumours. Several players made immense improvements this season and we are as full of natural leaders (people like Szczesny, Nasri, van Persie and Fabregas) as we have been in some time.
    I still love supporting Arsenal. So, so much.

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