By Tony Attwood
Looking at the way Arsenal are playing at the moment I am starting to get the view that no one within the club has properly briefed the manager and his team on the unique approach to refereeing in the Premier League.
I wonder if this is because Mr Wenger and Mr Gazidis who were, I think, both fully aware of the difficulties of the current situation in the Premier League, left around the same time. You may recall Mr Wenger taking on the Disciplinary Committee and winning in his fight with referees and their outrageous statements and allegations (one thinks particularly of the October 2000 incident where Mr Wenger was banned for 12 matches – but then successfully took on the PGMO and their acolytes in the press, but I fear the memory and indeed awareness of such battles has gone. I don’t think Mr Emery and his current management team really know what they are dealing with.
Although I suspect that as a result Mr Emery may have started to wonder why, if our refs are the best in the world, none were at the world cup. Now he knows. The PL approach to refereeing is unique within Europe. Personally I think he probably realised there was something odd going on quite earl8y on, and Mr Gazidis may well have warned him, but I doubt that he really knew exactly how odd and how widespread it all is.
Anyway, let’s see how well Mr Emery is doing compared with the most recent Wenger teams after 22 games.
What we can see is that we are at the top number of defeats (equal with 2018 and 2015), scording the second highest number of goals and with the worst defence. The number of points is the fourth worst.
What is particularly interesting however is the comparison with this season against 2016 when at this stage we were top of the league.
This snapshot comparison shows that the difference between the two sides is marginal – one gamethat in 2016 was a win but in 2019 was a defeat. The difference in goal difference is just two goals.
And yet in 2016 we were top while in 2019 we are fifth.
What this suggests is that it is not so much that Arsenal have gone backwards but rather that other clubs have moved forwards while Arsenal has stood still – and certainly this is the period when other clubs have been escalating their spending in a way that was difficult to see in advance, given the way football had been running previously.
This again suggests that Arsenal are now at a disadvantage under the current owner who is not at the club in order to put money in, but rather to take money out.
Meanwhile in other news we have an extraordinary development at Cardiff where the manager, a Mr Warnock, is quoted by the Guardian as saying in relation to the EU, “I can’t wait to leave. To hell with the rest of the world.”
He is of course a British citizen living in the UK and thus fully entitled like other residents to express his views as he sees fit within the law. But I wonder what the likes of Sol Bamba, Victor Camarasa, Loic Damour, Bruno Ecuele Manga, Aron Gunnarsson, Callum Paterson and Kenneth Zohore all think of this.
They are all classified as “non-home-grown” players and their future within a UK which is not part of the European Union is still very much in doubt, with the FA pressing for much tighter regulation of foreign players in England, returning perhaps to the position that existed before the Bosman ruling.
Such players as these would be in a position that would come under close scrutiny, for there would be nothing to stop the authorities in England from restricting the use of non-UK nationals in the Premier League. Indeed the whole invention of “home grown” only came about as a way of avoiding classifying European players by their nationality – which cannot be done under EU law.
So certainly Mr Warnock’s desire of a Premier League for the English (and perhaps Welsh, given that Cardiff is not actually in England) might come to fruition.
Elsewhere in his statement about the EU Mr Warnock said, “I can’t wait to get out.” I wonder if some of his non-HG players are starting to think the same thing about Cardiff City FC.
We shall see.