The Telegraph advised Tottenham to kick Arsenal, but an elbow was as effective

By Tony Attwood

It was quite a move by the Daily Telegraph to publish its “kick them” article when speaking of how Tottenham could try and beat Arsenal.   And there was some of that, but it was the elbow of Wanyama that really caused the concern.

We could see Theo holding the back of his head, and I guess it must really have hurt the second time, since Theo isn’t normally one of the guys who reacts.

Mr Wenger speaking of the offender said, “He was very lucky to stay on the pitch, of course.  There were a few fouls, the elbow on Walcott for example. But the referee makes the decisions and we have to cope with that. Nobody stopped us scoring a second goal.

“It is two points lost.  It was a game of high intensity and in the first half we’d always looked like we could score every time we crossed the halfway line. But in the second half we were a bit more flat, physically, and less sharp. Technically the level dropped in the second half.

“We couldn’t find creativity around the box and all the vision we are used to. Our level dropped. We were a bit too stretched as well and not compact enough and, when you are too stretched, you run more.

“Was there a mental blow when they equalised? I don’t know. I cannot question the spirit but we looked a bit flat. We gave absolutely everything but we lacked what we are strong at – the fluency of movement, vision around the box – and we usually play better from the back. There was a lot missing and plenty of aspects I did not like. The desire was there, but we were too nervous.”

“We cannot complain about that. There’s a little physical advantage for sure, especially after European weeks, but we have to deal with that. It’s not an excuse for today. And, even if Liverpool and Chelsea are in front, it’s a small difference after 11 games. Tottennham go home happy today and we are not happy because we wanted to win the game. But overall it is not mathematically a disaster….

“We couldn’t make enough of our corners and missed some opportunities. So, while the desire was there, maybe the result was fair.”

But those Tottenham supporters who wrote in seem happy enough to be fifth, and by and large from what I’ve observed its the Arsenal supporters who walked away a bit fed up.

I also noticed a little gaggle of empty seats in the corner of the West Stand and Clock End.  I am sure that eagle eyed Telegraph cameraman will have spotted them and be showing that we can’t even sell tickets for the local derby.   But really the atmosphere is so febrile, I too am beginning to wonder if it is all worth it.

Still, a 100 mile drive up the A1 can do wonders in terms of head clearing and the dance in Long Bennington was very good.   And that’s really my conclusion.  After a Tottenham game one needs something physical.  Just to calm down a bit.

Tales from Untold 

Wenger ponders whether Yaya Sanogo will ever really be good enough for Arsenal. 

The Telegraph advised Tottenham to kick Arsenal, but an elbow was as effective

Arsenal – Tottenham 1-1: If you can’t win it, make sure you don’t lose it

Arsenal v Tottenham: trying to find the team for today’s match

Arsenal v Tottenham: trying to find the future of the Tiny Totts.

Arsenal v Tottenham; trying to find a headline…

The danger of asking for simplistic change at the start of a season.

Arsenal v Spurs Sunday 6 November 2016 – The Match Officials


37 Replies to “The Telegraph advised Tottenham to kick Arsenal, but an elbow was as effective”

  1. Tottenham didn’t go home happy…could easily have won even without Alderweireld, Lamela, Ali and with a half fit Kane. Evidence? Im not happy with the result! and how pathetic to mention a match announcer just because he said..”Spurs” ! lol And I have heard Gunners on the tannoy at Tottenham plenty of times in my time.
    Incidentally ..clearly any elbow contact was accidental. Funny how the other side see things different but it seems you only want everybody to agree with your article.
    Evidence? watch a replay of the game.
    Febrile? a strange way to describe the what I’m told by Gooner friends is a dreadful lack of atmosphere at Arsenal home games!

  2. Jess, try this for an example of reasoning: when a player hits another player with the elbow and the player who uses his elbow is behind the player that is hit at the back of his head…. is this accidental? If he saw him in front of him, then why would he raise his elbow…unless he wants to hit him with the elbow. But then it isn’t accidental.
    Maybe you are of the opinion that the Sissoko elbow also was just a minor accidental incident…

  3. Jess
    As you rightly say ‘Funny how the other side see things different’.
    On that basis did you think the Arsenal goal should have been disallowed?

  4. Wanyama deserved to be booked.
    Spurs were lucky to get that penalty.

    The game was rather tight but I think Arsenal should have won it based on the better chances we created.

    I remember when we had clinical strikers like Thierry or Anelka who could turn half-chances into goals. Yesterday we were rather toothless in the striking department.

    Some people say we should have many goalscorers in the team. Yes, we all agree. Even the Invincibles did have several goalscorers in the line-up but we all know that Thierry Henry was the clinical striker in that team.

    I think tight games such as the one against Spurs yesterday require having a clinical striker who can score half-chances or create goals out of nothing.

    So when we say Arsenal needs a great striker we don’t mean only the great striker will score the goals and all other players just have to pass the ball to him to score. No, the super-striker will score many goals BUT we expect the wingers and the midfielders (and even the defenders) to continue scoring.

    Barcelona have a clinical striker in Suarez. We all know that Messi and Neymar also score many, many goals.

    Whilst Sanchez is a brilliant footballer, he isn’t a world-class striker.
    Since Sanchez is such a brilliant footballer, if he was played in central midfield he would still have good games. So I am not surprised that he sometimes (often) has very good games as a striker. But to me, Sanchez is just a makeshift central striker. The really big games often need a clinical specialist centre forward to give us the victory.

  5. Totties could easily have won! ? . Tots score for us, get gifted a pen by uncle Clatterburg & then think we could have won!!!

    Just remember we have celebrated St Totteringhams Day for 20 years.

  6. Hmmn. If we had beaten the Spuds yesterday, the negative story being pedelled around against us would have been different as it would have been a positive story peddled around for us for the football world to buy it instead. We would have been basking in euphoria of ecstasy of success now. But alas, we didn’t win nor lose the match, hence our disappointments and lamentations.

    I think Le Prof should reflect soberly on what is or are the reasons we failed to collect maximum points in our home NL derby big game against the Spuds yesterday. And embarked on a holistic review of the erratic performance of the Gunners in the big games and proffer solution to it to stop the rot from continuing.

    Our performance record in the big games is more or less a mediocre performance record per say. We lost to Liverpool on the opening day of this season but beat Chelsea to raise our hopes of a revival in our big game fortunes. But only for us to return to the mediocrity ways again against Spuds. This our mediocre performance in the big games had to stop. Because winning these games can positively define our season titles challenge as we show our titles credentials to be of a very high standard which contains excellent grades.

    Walcott has alleged that the Spuds had taken the Gunners by surprise as they employed a 3-4-3 playing system formation against our 4-2-3-1 outdating playing system formation. But Le prof has refuted Walcott claims as false.

    However, we’ve seen Antonio Conte upgrading Chelsea’s former playing formation style of 4-2-3-1 to the 3-4-3 playing style formation successfully. A playing formation which LvG the erstwhile manager of Man United had introduced at Man U before he was relieved of his job.

    The 4-2-3-1 playing style formation is most popularly used among clubs all over the world. But when a club like ours hasn’t the actual materials in the rank and file of our squad to implement it to the letter, more especially the park the bus teams who adopted this 3-4-3 playing style against us like Boro’. Burnley & now Spuds have recently done. An anti-park the bus playing style to negate any 3-4-3 or 5-4-1 playing style employed against us in all our games has become imperative and needing urgent action be taking on it before our next big games at Man U & at the Ems against PSG take place.

    I therefore implore Le Prof to go back to the drawing board to review our current playing style of 4-2-3-1 upwards. So that whenever we happen to meet any park the bus team again in any competition this season, the Gunners would have been enabled to inter-switch play from one playing style to another conveniently during games to negate whatever the opposition has on offer against them.

    This vicious circle that has plagued our PL campaign for the past 12 consecutive seasons by which we’ve been dancing round it had to stop. We have to stop dancing round this vicious circle, turn it around to become virtuous circle for us and start dancing round it for a change.

  7. On anoda day iwobi wud hav scored dat was a bad day in d matter if dia were wrong calls it was jus a bad day in d office.but wens cazorla returnin.we need him

  8. Wanyama reminded me of Fellaini with his physical style and frequent use of the elbow. I have never seen Theo lose his cool like that before in all his years at Arsenal.
    What with Sissoko as well being on a ban for elbowing one wonders are the Spurs being encouraged by their manager to adopt an overly physical approach. Of course the elbow incidents were all accidental, just like Fellaini’s are!!!
    Accidental makes it all right and acceptable then does it.

  9. Wenger’s comment that contact is not a penalty but foul can be, sums up the level of BBC punditry. Those genius’ claim contact as everything. The FA must look at the elbowing and act retrospectively. Wanyama must be punished. Damn another flying pig!

  10. The pgmol clearly feel the need to help Tottenham out against us these days, but come the end of season, its only a matter of time when St Totts day arrives

  11. “Walter says, “they played five at the back” and a correspondent writes in, in what seems an annoyed way, and says, “it was three” without giving details of how he perceived the line up, and we are nowhere further forward.”

    They’re both correct. Spurs 3-4-3 rapidly becomes 5-4-1 when they are under attack.
    It certainly caused us problems and we should by now have a plan to deal with this.

  12. I have seen and heard nothing to speak of on the Wanyama elbows and absolutely nothing on the Vertonghen wrestling hold and shirt pulling on Kos (I think it was Kos). I thought the refs were being more vigilant on defenders committing shirt pulling in the box this season. Obviously not it seems.
    I suspect there would be a major media outcry going on if it had been one of our players manhandling Harry Kane.

  13. At the present time, the top of the league (5 teams?) are on course to finish at about 86 points. At just over 25% finished, lots can happen. The relegation line is around 40 points. The teams in danger of being relegated if they continue to play as they have been are: Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, State Aid, – Hull, Swansea and Sunderland. Burnley, Southampton, WBA, Stoke, Bournemouth and Leicester could all easily be drawn into relegation contention if they slip up a little. Just over 25% of the season finished, and we have 12 teams fighting to avoid relegation (out of 20). Which makes it highly unlikely that all the top teams are going to finish around 86 points.

  14. Walker and Rose are a right and a left back. And maybe I am getting out of touch but in my time those were defenders. So if you play with 3 central defenders and a right and a left back… I count 5 defenders. But maybe my maths are also out of touch. 🙂

  15. Hi Guys,
    Wow. Entertaining though of course biased comments.
    It was a clear penalty and of course if an elbow is accidental it doesn’t deserve a booking or sending off! Our refs are not perfect but they usually are correct in their decisions.
    Under the old rules the Arsenal goal would have been disallowed but under the stupid new “grey area” offside laws it was maybe a 50/50 decision so no complaints there.
    What is your point Walter? If a team play 10 outfield players who are all normally defenders by trade but two play as strikers , four play in midfield ..does that mean its a 10-0-0 formation?
    Sad when St Totts is more important than coming top..sort of a booby prize for Boobies. Tottenham will never have a squad as strong as Arsenals so id keep quiet about St Totts coz there isn’t much of a gap now…….

  16. Jess, you are welcome to comment here, but I think you might find helpful to read some of our analyses of refereeing week by week. is a place to start, or if you want to read refereeing reviews by people not associated with Arsenal try the Referee Decisions website.

    Such prelims are helpful before making such general comments as “Our refs are not perfect but they usually are correct in their decisions.”

  17. Walter
    Yes you are completely out of touch. You need to study what a 3-4-3 system is and how it operates. And you’ll find that the two backs are situated slightly ahead of the central three defenders which allows them to move up & down the field as necessary. It’s not as rigid as our 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3.

  18. Walter
    Arsenal employed a version of this system on May 5th 1989. For most of the match Liverpool pushed us back and we had all five defending furiously, but later in the second half Dixon & Winterburn started bombing forwards and the result is history.

  19. OT: Is November bad for Arsenal?

    More snippets (as I am still working through things).

    As mentioned earlier, our average points per game (over a 4 game span) over 20+ years is very, very close to 2. A common way to get an average of 2 points, is an equal mix of wins and draws.

    That is an average, a statistic. It turns out the average of the days into a season is New Years Eve.

    Wenger is a winning manager, regardless of what the aaa say. If we sort the points obtained in any specific game over the 20+ years, we find that the median number of points is 3 (the most possible). Which is obvious, as most of us have read that Wenger’s winning percentage is something like 58% (more than 50).

    The 25 percentile number is 1 point, and the 10 percentile is 0. The transition from loss (0 points) to 1 (draw) is between 17 and 18 percent. The transition from draw to win is between 42 and 43 percent. Which agrees with the about 58% number I have in my head for Wenger’s winning percentage. Or approximate summary: wins – 57.5%, draws – 25%, losses 17.5%.

    Fitting a straight line (unweighted) to all the data (day of year, points), we see a slope of 0.00042. The standard deviation of the slope estimate is 0.00047. Hence Wenger has about the same expectation of winning a game at the beginning of the season, the end or anywhere in between.

    The method I am using, also calculates a measure of correlation in the data (Durbin-Watson statistic). If there is no first order correlation in the data, we expect this number to be about 2 (the range is 0-4). The DW statistic for this gameDayNumber versus points data is 1.93. The first time I calculated it, I used the average points data over a 4 game span. And of course there is serial correlation in that data. The DW for that was about 0.5.

  20. Leon,

    The reason why 3-4-3 and 5-4-1 are mainly because of the types of players used as wingbacks. In chelsea’s case its 3-4-3 due to Moses and Alonso primarily being as attacking wingers in nature. As for the spuds yesterday in the first half they had more possession and had the shape of 3-5-2.

    But in the second half the 5-4-1 was very evident even to the simple viewer,

  21. Jess
    “of course if an elbow is accidental it doesn’t deserve a booking or sending off!”
    Walter (a qualified ref) will correct me if I am wrong but whether there was intent or not is irrelevant in deciding whether the act, in this case the throwing of an arm, is legal or not according to the laws of the game.
    We frequently see players booked and sent off for things that were clearly not deliberate.

  22. Intent is a funny thing Mick. If I run around with my elbows next to my lowest rib, people are not likely to get hurt by my elbow (accidentally or on purpose). But if I run around with my elbows extended out from my body (which is more difficult), the intention is to project myself further than I normally would. If an extended elbow contacts another player, the action is “with intent” because the act of running in that way is not natural.

    It is entirely possible the “intent” is not within the player being charged. It is possible the player has just been coached that way, and hence the “intent” is from the coach.

  23. MickHazel

    And not just elbows. Hand ball, trips, kicking the ball after the whistle (RvP) etc.
    While on the subject of cards issued or not. How come so many goalkeepers get away with handling the ball while out of their area? Many of them kick out while blatantly gaining a yard and still holding onto the ball. This is a red card offence and is always overlooked in the referee reviews section.

  24. Jess, just be thankful there’s a two-week break, otherwise Wanyama would probably be getting sent off next game. He saw red twice immediately after playing us last year, because he apparently failed to grasp there were special rules and so just carried on kicking into the next games.

  25. It needn’t even be personal. A manager looking at stats would see it’s almost unheard of to get two yellows against us until very late in a match and so would encourage his team to up the aggression and push their luck. Until a first yellow comes, you don’t even have to think about calming down.

    Aside from the Danny Simpson sending off last year, we have played against ten men for double yellows for a total of 10 minutes during five full years of premier league football. It’s the story of those years and it’s an invitation to keep kicking us.

    Arsenal double yellows Opposition double yellows

    (11-12) 70,77,78; [45] 90,87,90 [3]
    (12-13) 69,62; [49] -none-
    (13-14) 67; [23] -none-
    (14-15) 78; [12] 89,90,84 [7]
    (15-16) 55 [35] 54 [36]

    Total minutes with ten men (- injury time)


    45+49+23+12+35 = 164 mins (2hrs 44 mins of football)

    Opposition 3+7+ 36 =46 mins (0hrs 46 mins of football)

    You can still get a straight red against us if you break a leg, or if you’re a Hull or a Wolves, Blackburn, Fulham,etc, especially if it’s early in the season or we’re already ahead, but if you’re just a little bit clever you can get away with a hell of a lot of fouling, safe in the knowledge you won’t get sent off.

    Pochettino’s a smart operator, so he’ll have a word with Wanyama and tell him to cool it for the West Ham and Chelsea games.

  26. Rich
    Re the Danny Simpson red card, although thoroughly deserved what a fuss the pro Leicester media made of it.

  27. Tony
    There seems to be some confusion about the 3-4-3 formation these days. During the course of a football game any 3-4-3 formation can take on the appearance of any number of other formations.
    It all depends on how attack minded the opposing team wants to be at the particular moment.

    Where as both Chelsea and Tottenham started in a 3-4-3 formation over the weekend, only Arsenal were able to put enough players forward and apply enough pressure to Tottenham wing backs, Rose and Walker who started as outside midfielders, to make them drop back thus creating the visual of 5 defenders in their defensive line.

    Chelsea’s midfield aided by their wing backs dominated Everton in such a manner that Alonso and Azpilicueta – their two wing backs who lined up as outside midfielders, rarely had to fall all the way back to cover.

    When people talk about” total football”, they usually erroneously imply all players should be able to play every position on the pitch.
    In reality, it usually boils down to each player being able to play only two positions at best.

    A fullback to wing back to winger is the most often used progression.
    Bale started at fullback at Southampton.
    But sometimes this gets reversed, like with Gibbs who started his career as a winger.

    Coaches can switch from a 4-4-2 and any derivatives of such , to a 3-4-3 during a game , like Conte did against Arsenal at the Ems after going down early in the first half.

    It’s not a drastic departure if you have practiced this before and your fullbacks/ wing backs are athletic enough.

  28. If we break up the EPL season into 3 parts:
    _1. First 6 weeks
    _2. From end of mid season transfer window to the end
    _3. everything in between
    we see a little of interest.

    Point 1 was nominally chosen, because we tend to have players active in the summer break playing for national teams, and hence may not be rested at beginning of season. Incoming flux of new players also possible.

    In any event, there is no linear trend over the course of the season. The first 6 weeks does see an increasing (positive) slope in points per game, but it is not very strong. The end of the season and the middle part have slopes not significantly different from 0.

    This “middle part” includes all of November, and a bit of padding on either side of November. The entire season shows no change in points per game, and only the first few weeks shows any systematic tendency for the expected points per game to change.

  29. In Wenger’s time, our winning scores look typical in that a low score is more likely than a high score. The most common win is for Arsenal to score 1 and the oppoition 0 (84 times). 2-1 and 2-0 are about equally likely, and just a little down on 1-0. 4-1 is a bit more common than 4-0, and much more likely than 4-2 or 4-3. The most Arsenal have scored in winning, is 7. It appears the most we have given up in winning, is 4.

    Wenger wants his teams to score, to try to win. The most common losing score is 1-2. 0-1 is second most likely, 0-2 is third and 2-3 is fourth. Another measure is seen in draws, the most common draw is 1-1.

    I believe a 0-0 game is a failure, and really should be 0 points (same as a loss). In Wengers time, we have had 60 games that are 0-0 failures, 32 away and 28 at home. The difference between those two numbers is probably not statistically different from 0. Hence, we suffer the failed tie about as often at home, as at away. Parked bus syndrome (by opposition I presume) is a common cause of failed scorelines.

  30. Jess…noone can expect an unbiased opinion on UA, either from a Spud like you or Gooners like us…..and that’s fine. However Walter and Usama have done a fantastic job of analyzing officiating from the PIGMOB each week, and have come to the conclusion, supported by facts and video proof, that not just the Arsenal BUT the Spuds and other teams get screwed, week in and week out by poor officiating. Can you give us any proof that referees are , as you say; “Our refs are not perfect but they usually are correct in their decisions.”?

    When it comes to formations, Football is fluid and anyone can see different and mobile formations throughout a match. There is no question that Pochettino’s tactics were to defend in force and depth and seek to counter-attack through the middle. Both teams played with vigour and both teams earned a point. Great!

  31. Sorry, not related to data processing trivia.

    Let’s say FIFA actually starts to do what it should. And among the things are, to replace official teams for any game at any level with qualified officials. After all, the outcome of any game should not be subject to who is officiating.

    I’m Canadian and I don’t live in the lower mainland of BC. But, let’s say a top level amateur game in Burnaby, BC is scheduled. Larry, Moe and Curly are scheduled by the Greater Vancouver Board of Football. FIFA imposes its right, and flies in (at FIFA expense) Pierlugini Colina (sp?) and 2 top linespersons to do the game instead. The games result shouldn’t change, right?

    Can you imagine the players at the game? They show up for yet another game in their league, and expect yet another BS performance. And as a surprise to them, they have one of the world’s best referees, and linespersons he is used to working with. None of them have ANY affiliation to either team.

    Do you think this game will be played fairly?

    And you could use all kinds of retired referees in this. Heck, maybe even Graham Poll or Dermat Galhagher could find games.

  32. Mike Hazel
    ” I have never seen Theo lose his cool like that before in all his years at Arsenal.”

    I dont even think Theo lost his cool, look at him again, his face: he was not angry really, just a little bemused, almost smiling at his opponent!

    Everyone does see things differently, but those who want to get at the truth do try to understand the other’s perspective by actually putting themselves in that position, thereby losing the bias and coming up with (usually)the true picture.

  33. And some say we are living in a free world and we can’t even critisise a referee, even when it is clear to most that they need the critisism in order to improve.

  34. I initially thought the penalty given to Tottenham was a penalty but after watching the Breakdown on Arsenal Player, it showed on slow motion that Dembele intentionally fell onto Kos leg. Dirty Spurs, cheated to get a point. All those Arsenal fans who was outraged against the team for not winning should direct that anger at the referee.

  35. Accidental elbow!! Sums up selective biased vision. Elbows are by your side not in the back of an opponents head. Wanyama is an Arsenal fan turned bad.

  36. Seems Tottenham indulge rather a lot in “accidental elbows”….and they get rather a lot of dodgy penalties. Maybe the refs will cotton onto this eventually…or maybe they already have as it suits their agenda, safe in the knowledge of relative media silence.
    Absolutely appalling ref performances in our games against Sunderland, Tottenham and Swansea…normal service resumed, selective bias to help this seasons anointed, as in seasons past.

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