Untold preview: Arsenal host Wigan

By Phil Gregory

Another weekend, another refereeing calamity to marvel at prior to our very own match. Recently, the refereeing has been so bad that it almost seems like the officials have banded together and said “right lads, drop a clanger every game until they give us video tech”. Now, as Walter et al have consistently said, refereeing is pretty poor in the Premier League and the problem is exacerbated because football is such a low-scoring game: often one goal decides a match come fulltime, and taking a dodgy lead can alter the tactical balance of the match too.

Take United’s recent defeat to Wigan. Watching only the Match of the Day highlights I noted that: Wigan scored from a corner that clearly was a goal kick, though the Latics also had a goal ruled out wrongly – if anything the foul was against Wigan, so the referee could have given a penalty had Wigan not scored. Looking at United, Figueroa clearly handballed in the box and the officials missed it, while Welbeck was also fouled for a penalty not given. I mean, that’s a lot of BIG mistakes. Giving any  one of those United penalties could give United a point that wins them the league or sends Wigan down, while there were more than enough decisions that went for United that a City fan may look on them unfavourably.

Then the weekend’s FA Cup action was an absolute shambles and Ashley Young took another dive, but I’ll leave refereeing for now or I’ll never stop. Suffice to say I’m delighted it won’t be a Liverpool vs. Spurs final… the option of either Dalglish or ‘Arry winning the cup holds little appeal. Dalglish as, quite simply, he is a vile man and two cups would convince some Liverpool fans he actually has a clue what he is doing, while clearly we don’t want Spurs getting their hands on the Cup either. Now a Chelsea win wouldn’t be something to cheer for either, but I’d much rather them than Spurs or Liverpool, if I’m being honest.

Onto our game however. No doubt Dogface will be fearful with the exposure a Monday night kick off brings and I hope we don’t have any form of stumble – referee induced or not – as I’ll be watching it with my Sunday football team. We’ve got a playoff semi final game on Wednesday versus our rivals so a quick training session on Monday was well in order, with a customary “team bonding” three pints afterwards too.

Wigan’s recent revival is certainly impressive, with the seeming certainties for the drop putting together three wins and three draws in their last eight games, while away from home they’ve grabbed two wins and draw from five, which is impressive for a relegation-battling side. Caution and respect is due then, quite clearly.

On the injury front the news is looking positive for both Gervinho and Gibbs, with the former a near certainty to be fit for the match. Gibbs’ possible absence – he is rated 50/50 – is of course no good thing, but Brazilian international Santos is more than capable of coming in and performing. Diaby isn’t available, but will soon return to full training along with Coquelin. Laurent Koscielny is suspended.


Sagna Vermaelen Djourou Santos

Song Arteta


Walcott Van Persie Chamberlain

With no new injuries or suspensions from the Wolves game, any changes will be purely tactical. In that game, Rosicky had a bit of a breather and Benayoun started wide left, likely to offer us a little more in support of our possession than the likes of Chamberlain. For a home game, I expect we’ll look to be fairly aggressive in the team selection, with the choice between Gervinho and Chamberlain for the left hand berth. I went for the youngster as Gervinho is just coming back from injury, so it makes sense to use the fresher of the two. The Ivorian is certainly a livewire option to come off the bench.

In theory, this game should be a relatively easy one but Wigan’s recent results should dissuade such thoughts. As good as Wigan were in beating United, the league leaders were also very poor so I have no doubt we should Wigan to the sword at the Emirates. Three points would move us ever closer to clinching third place, with the chasing pack of Spurs Newcastle and Chelsea only really hoping to clinch fourth place now, realistically.

2-0 to the Arsenal for me.

42 Replies to “Untold preview: Arsenal host Wigan”

  1. I think Benayoun should come in first then Chamberlain joins in the early second half with his attacking power to keep our defence at bay as we constantly seek for goals because Beneyoun is experienced in handling the tension-like first half requiring his skill to gain a dynamic start and the needed opening goal.

  2. Well said. It should be an easy game for Arsenal to win but remember the final team selection rests with the Boss. Don’t be surprised seeing Ramsey starting and Arsenal struggling to beat Wigan. That had been the attitude of the team at crucial matches like this I wish they could emulate Man U and do a perfect job to secure the third position which is replacing our trophy this season.

  3. to redgooner
    because he´s here on loan from chelsea
    and the ref is andre marriner

  4. Good thinking Adam. I also expect Yossi to play in this match, starting or not. And I hope for a higher score, maybe 3-0 for us, if we can score early. But one thing I really, really expect is a clean sheet, not for Scz’s benefits only 😉

  5. Please how many cleansheets have Arsenal kept in the league this season. And which team has the highest number?

  6. I too would like to see Benayoun start ,pummel them ,score a goal or too and make way for AOC or Gervinho to heap misery on them ! It won’t be easy but we can do it .And a clean sheet would be an added bonus !

  7. Chuckx a few stats

    Fewest Goals Scored 31 Wigan Athletic
    Lowest Goals Scored Average 0.94 Wigan Athletic
    Most Clean Sheets 18 Manchester United
    Arsenal clean sheets 12 (counting league only)

  8. Geezer,
    I know in Holland the refs have been asking for it on occasions when they were confronted with errors

  9. wow talking about taking quotes out of context and look who it is..Anthony Kastriankis

  10. UA, All,
    Sorry for the off topic, but it’s in and of the moment:

    Here’s a thought experiment:
    Was the “ghost goal” really missed, or not?
    It’s the reason to “accelerate” the “testing” of goal-line technology
    — which has NOT been the problem.
    It is “the cure” to what is NOT the disease that has caused the crisis in refereeing.
    Goal line technology is NOT full video replay.
    AW is against diving. Agreed. And stopping diving requires full video replay – NOT goal line technology.
    Please note and think through the difference and its beneficiaries on each side.

  11. Mahdain, All,
    Kudos for pointing out the author who allows/works under that terrible headline!

    Readers should note that the “works” of the hitman-journalist Anthony Kastrinakis were THE prime topic of the MAJOR brilliant expose by Anne in the all-out, media-wide “Arsene Out Campaign” (the bad AOC) of the start of the season.

    For any who have not read it and wish to see the type of “work” that this writer is capable of, start with Anne’s essential work on Untold Media right here: http://blog.emiratesstadium.info/archives/13362

  12. Here’s the Manchester Guardian’s football department way of weighing in on behalf of goal line technology – “the saviour”
    of football as we know it: http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2012/apr/16/goal-line-technology-final-phase
    The problem: it is not full video replay
    By slating DIVERS (like Young and Rooney), Arsene has to have
    full video replay in mind. And if he doesn’t, he knows the difference. So should we all and consider the difference.
    For all who haven’t wished to touch this issue, it’s now front and center in the football media, so it’s Ok to come out and opine. 🙂

  13. At least when the issue is “refs are getting it all wrong and spoiling our game and it doesn’t all even out in the end” everyone who believes in what Untold is about, and who keeps the site alive by reading what is written, can say

    “You read it here first”.

    Not a bad achievement to have highlighted all this and worked on it for so long.

    A vote of thanks to Walter and co.

  14. There are two separate matters that must be addressed in Football for the integrity of the game to move forward in the 21st century

    – goals scored or not scored must be more determined with more certainty than now – as far as crossing the line goes (not whether T. Henry handled against Ireland or Maradona did so – that is Referee judgement and we must live with the consequences of that in the game).

    – Players cheating; both simulation and other conduct “off the ball” (Ivanovic’s punch in last week’s game) must be identified and subject to post-match review for discipline for bringing the game into disrepute.

    The first is dealt with in Professional Hockey, by way of a working example, by a Goal Judge at each end who pushes a button when the puck enters the goal indicating a goal has been scored. Surely something like this – or technology in the goal mechanics itself – can be implemented in such a way that the game could be played without stopping each time there is uncertainty over the matter of the ball crossing the goal line.

    – As for cheaters, I’m not sure if the opposing Manager should have X number of challenges per game at the end of each match to request a “review committee” look at the match after completion for the purpose of opining on the suspected cheating in question, but some type of system that is “detective” in nature – after the fact – would go a long way toward being, actually, preventive inasmuch as players would fear for the consequences of their actions (which they clearly do not fear for now).

  15. As for the things we cannot change.

    We cannot change “phantom” red card dismissals such as those perpetrated on any number of teams during the campaign this year – some of which were acknowledged as being wrong in the aftermath by not having any ban on the player and some of which are maintained in the fiction of “in the opinion of the referee” such as the red card and suspension on the QPR man last week.

    We cannot change offside goals – such as both goals scored by Chelsea against Wigan last week – just as we cannot change perfectly fine goals that are ruled out for a phantom offside.

    We can never change a referee’s impact at Stamford Bridge waving off multiple clear penalty claims against Barcelona in a deciding match in the UCL. What the referee chooses to see or chooses not to see can never be overcome with anything other than a fierce commitment by officials at all levels of football to the integrity of the game.

    And we will never be able to change a referee’s impact in Milan or Barcelona from either deciding that every touch on an opponent by an Arsenal player is a foul or that one of the best players on the planet should be dismissed from a UCL knockout match for kicking the ball after the whistle.

  16. @long island gooner we can and thats why it should not stop at goal line technology…video replays are needed so that we can put an end to all these dubious calls once and for all

  17. Long Island Gooner,
    The only thing you haven’t tried out in your litany of despair is dropping the 3 letters “not” from your mantra “cannot”

    Arsene Wenger offered FIFA the opportunity this very summer (August, right?) to install your favored “goal line technology” for the Emirates Cup. Today it is about to be installed, not because of some phantom calls, but because of the pressure all along to do something because enough voices were being raised against the “level” of refshite that was being dished out. Now that progress of this limited sort is about to be made as DAMAGE CONTROL by the powers that be, you rise to the occasion hereabouts and tell us that this and that will NEVER be possible. Perhaps you have some inside information to divulge that would set us all straight and apologize for our dreaming out loud like this.

  18. Mahdain,
    Do you know anything on the ruling by UEFA as to Barca’s official complaint about on the abysmal state of the CL pitch at Inter? It has bearing on Arsene’s earlier informal blast at the terrible conditions there.

  19. @Long Island Gunner, The laws of football are there to protect the people playing the game, When we have officials not applying these laws then their integrity is called into question and rightly so. We have the technology to overcome human error in many fields not just football. To except human error within the officiating of professional football when there are cameras at every single game is laughable and disrespectful to the paying customers and the players involved in the game. Why would you want to accept anything substandard is a mystery to me?

  20. Much needed victory and hopefully the refs aren’t trying to make up for all the poor decisions by making calls against us. Martinez has played it up very cleverly in advance of this match.

    On a different issue, those watching the match on tv might get to hear the unrelenting criticism of Robson. If you are annoyed by his hostile anti-Arsenal commentary and befuddled by the fact that he receives a wage to comment on games and tactics for Arsenal Player, you might be interested in this petition which we’ll be sending in to the club later this week.


  21. @Bob, I have no official word on it but I am willing to hazard a guess that Farca’s “official” complaint somehow got “officially lost” in light of Farca advancing. 😉

    I also fully agree with you Bob. This goal line tech bit is just a distraction to get the discussion away from video replay. The problem is video replay, especially for critical decisions like penalties, would cripple the PGMOL’s ability to serve SAF. 😀

    @Long Island Gooner, the hockey goal judge is mostly a ceremonial role these days. If there are questions about whether a goal has been scored or not, video replay is used. All games are viewed on TV screens by a group of off-ice officials in a room in Toronto (Canada) and if there is uncertainty as to whether a puck crossed the line, the off-ice officials view the replays and assist the on-ice officials to make the right call.

  22. Some game trivia from the BBC
    > Alex Song could make his 200th appearance for Arsenal, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could make his 50th league appearance.

  23. cant wait for the ref review, sitting on the sofa swearing at the stupid decisions made. but fair play to wigan, even though atleast 20 minutes of time wasting

  24. Adam, Wooby, Rantetta, Walter, Mahdain, All,
    It’s amazing that of all people, this less than beloved ex-Arsenalite says the following amazing incite-ful stuff about the ref that screwed the spuds at the FA Cup. Behold:

    Sunday’s defeat denied Adebayor his first appearance in an FA Cup final and he blames only one man. “To be honest, we have to blame the referee,” he said. “I think we have done well and he has made a lot of mistakes and made a lot of wrong decisions.
    “We are all disappointed. But what do you want me to tell you? How many goals scored this season were disallowed that were onside? To be honest, I’m just tired of it and everyone is talking about goalline technology. They have to make something happen because it’s killing the league, it’s killing the FA Cup, it’s killing the game, it’s killing everything.”

  25. Perhaps my screed about what cannot change has been misinterpreted as to my intent. The intent was to point out that the circumstances where the need for extended video review (and hence long delays in carrying on with the match) would be used to re-litigate a judgement call by the officials on the pitch is almost certainly a bridge too far for FIFA / UEFA. Many – myself included – might find the cure more debilitating to the attractiveness of the sport than the illness being treated.

    As for the NHL and goal judges Wooby, I was at a NY Rangers game just the other night where I found the rules of NHL hockey in my program, herewith re-printed.

    Rule 36 – Goal Judge
    36.1 General Duties – He shall signal, normally by means of red light, his decision as to whether the puck passed between the goal posts and entirely over the goal line. His only decision is whether the puck actually entered the net, not how or when it went in. The light must be illuminated each time the puck enters the net regardless of circumstances. It is up to the Referees and/or Video Goal Judge to decide if it is a goal.
    In concluding that the puck has indeed entered the net, the Goal Judge shall indicate so by illuminating the red light and holding it on to a count of five, allowing other off-ice and on-ice officials to see that the puck has entered the net.

    36.2 Communication – The Goal Judge must be connected to the penalty bench by a form of communication (usually phone) in the event that the Referees finds it necessary to consult with him.

    36.3 Location – There shall be one Goal Judge situated behind each goal. Goal Judges shall be stationed behind the goals during the progress of play, in properly protected areas, if possible, so that there can be no interference with their activities. They shall not change goals during the game.

  26. @Mahdain: “…maybe he can give lessons to Milan’s one?”
    The Milan guy will say he can’t understand English language, and even if our guy try to use Italian, he will say he still can’t understand the English accent 😉

  27. Long Island Gunner

    If in principle, you agree (as I think any reasonable person would) that video replay should be used in the game, that is the most important. See, I can think of no reason why video should not be used. If I can see within 5 seconds of a decision in super slow mo that it was definitely, completely wrong, then why shouldn’t the referee have the opportunity/duty to see it? How best to implement it, what scope it will have is another issue. I think that part can easily be tried out in friendly games. See if it actually slows the game down. See if it helps solve much of the debatable decisions. I think it can work. A challenge system is what I lean to at this moment in time. Try that in all international and pre season friendlies for a period of 2-3 years. I think a lot of this fear of the game slowing down is over-hyped and the real fear that FIFA and all their cronies have is that it actually will work just fine. That’s why they try and assuage us with TALK of goal line ‘technology’, and 100% accuracy. This chip in the ball nonsense. Just put a camera on the goal line and you’ve solved the problem. But that isn’t enough. 2-3 goal line decisions in a year do not justify them being prioritised over much bigger issues. Goal line is a must. But it is the barest minimum, and this fear of change will have to be overcome if football is to maintain some legitimacy.

  28. Long Island Gooner,
    “long delays in carrying on with the match”?
    Whatever your intent, you do load your argument with the worst case scenario. Any fan who watches their medicine on TV knows how FAST the multiple camera shots from multiple angles are there to show us what went on. How do you know that all/most/any will be “too long”? What’s a “long delay” by your definition? As long as a dive followed by a faked injury and the physio out to check and the stretchers and the boy is back on the pitch minutes later? Putting even just this practice on video will help eliminate diving and save your precious – and mythic – uninterrupted action from a common and the game from one of its most cynical sources of interruption.

    I agree with Shard that a trial period for full replay is a good idea. I don’t agree that it needs 2-3 years. If there were the WILL to try it from on high (which we know does not exist) video replay can be tried in lots of venues, at lots of levels, including friendlies, U-19s/21s, pre-season, trial matches, whatever combination and honestly studied. If it works, bring it in that January. Or whenever.

    Ad to purism, your idealized “perfect” interrupted match flow is the enemy of the good match and the honest outcome that is (in the words of Ade-he-who-is unliked, but spot on in this case) “killing the game.” That’s from a player, mate. So deal with it.

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