Match of the Day goes highly misleading over Arsenal penalty

By Tony Attwood

Having been at the Arsenal v Villa game I didn’t get around to watching the reporting of it on Match of the Day until a bit of spare time later during the week.  But when I did I came across something that was very curious involving Danny Murphy and Alan Sheerer as the pundits, and the presenter (and theoretical chairman) Mark Chapman, a Manchester United fan (what with him being born in Rochdale).

The matter concerned the possibility that Sokratis handballed during a Villa attack.   The studio panel set the situation up with the statement, apropos nothing in terms of the previous discussion, from Chapman that, “The decision to substitute Xhaka was applauded.”

“Absolutely was, you could hear the roar going around the stadium,” Murphy rejoindered.

It was a totally gratuitous comment, obviously only included as a way of putting Arsenal down and highlighting the disunity within the club.   Certainly from my position in the front row upstairs I could not hear any such roar, but maybe it was that gang in the north bank who have started demanding that Emery should be sacked.

So that was how they set the scene, and from here on matters took on an even stranger turn in the Match of the Day studio.   The chair continued immediately following this comment…

“To the penalty that wasn’t.. not given by John Moss, not overruled by VAR, take your pick who wants to go first.”

Now that is an interesting intro – it suggests that the situation is so outrageous that anyone in their right mind will know this is a ludicrous decision.  The two “analysts” are invited to dive in, knowing they are both going down the same route.

What we then saw in normal time was a ball coming in and hitting Sokratis who was facing the camera.   Which is to say as when anyone is facing you, that person’s left arm appears in front of you on the right, and vice versa.

Murphy: “Well, we… we agree anyway but this is as blatant as I have seen a handball that’s not been overturned.   I mean it… There’s an obvious movement it’s eight yards away which isn’t close, an obvious movement away from his body, it’s absolutely ridiculous how anybody can not see that is a penalty.”

Sheerer: “I agree he actually moves his arm out towards the ball.  It’s not behind him he’s not trying to get it out of the out of the way.  You can see it clearly again from the defender look he’s leaning out there…

There is then what we might call “banter” in which Chapman says that, “The Premier League told us a whole variety of things” and then recites at fast speed a note from the League concerning when they won’t give a penalty.   Sheerer removes all pretence of serious discussion by starting to giggle half way through, as if to say, “these academics with their rules, they don’t know anything, us men who’ve been on a pitch know what it is all about.”

From this they conclude that the authorities were saying it was no penalty because it was a shot from close range – which they then say it wasn’t.  8 yards is not close range.

And that was it.  A clear penalty, the ref’s decision is incomprehensible, lucky Arsenal.

But there is something missing here.   Because when the ball is kicked Sokratis is indeed moving towards his left and his left arm is clearly sticking out in a position that one would normally say – if the ball strikes that it is a penalty because the arm is not in its natural position.

Yet what in fact happens is that the ball strikes very close to the joint between the shoulder and his RIGHT arm – not the arm that was sticking out.   Now obviously I am only watching this on TV and I can’t get an absolute freeze-frame, but slowing it down step by step as best I can it looks totally to me not only that the ball did not strike the arm that was sticking out (that is completely clear) but also as if the ball did not strike his other arm at all, but the joint at the top of the arm, known in the trade as the glenohumeral joint.

What is so strange is that the discussion on Match of the Day went on and on and on and on about the arm being raised, but the right arm was not.  And what they absolutely did not show was a freeze-frame of the ball striking the arm – because of course there is no such event.

They focussed totally on the other arm – which was out, but which made no contact with the ball.

What is more, Sokratis was moving towards his left and the ball strikes him on his right arm, so rather than putting his arm in the way of the ball, he was moving out of the way – another reason for not to give a penalty.

Now I am not saying that Match of the Day set this up deliberately – I suspect the two “experts” in the studio are of limited intellect and thus were genuinely confused over the issue of right and left, but surely someone on the production team could have stopped the recording and helped them sort this out rather than let them blunder their way through this.

So why was the matter not resolved?  Why was there no slow-mo showing the incident?

The answer could of course be because anything which raises controversy helps the programme’s ratings – even if it is at the expense of allowing the viewers to be utterly misled.

But it is also interesting that it was Arsenal that was used to generate this false controversy – and that it occurred straight after the gratuitous “roar went up around the ground” comment about Xhaka.

Of course, this is just one incident.  But multiply it week by week, and you can see how the anti-Arsenal feel is generated.    It gives the BBC ratings, but it is a thoroughly misleading way of doing it.

All it needed was someone to say, “Hang on, which arm are we talking about?”   Funny that no one did.  But at least it reminds us; when there is a “talking point” as these strange entities doing their football natter call it, and they don’t show a slow-mo, watch out.

28 Replies to “Match of the Day goes highly misleading over Arsenal penalty”

  1. I’m not surprised at anything the BBC do, whether sport, news and current affairs, or whatever they turn their hand to nowadays had bias built in. Unfortunately, they love any club from the north, because in their view, that’s where ‘real’ men come from, just as their news and current affairs is totally centred on a liberal – left approach; and I can vouch for that bias through personal experience. Consequently, I now never watch MOTD, nor listen to BBC news and current affairs, especially Today on radio 4, a programme that had descended down the toilet, just like MOTD had been killed by the bias of Lineker, Chapman, etc.

  2. Perhaps a little high for an assumed speed, but the upper limit of penalty kicks is around 80 mph, which is 39.1111 yards per second. For the ball to travel 8 yards, is about 0.2 seconds. Which is faster than a player’s reaction time.

    So, is the ball close, or not?

    Let’s slow the ball down so that it takes 0.75 seconds to travel the 8 yards. The ball is traveling at about 21.8 mph. Which is about as fast as the fastest men can sprint.

  3. Yep, as I said on the other thread, the whole reason behind this is to create the idea that the ref well and truly f***ed up and ‘Arsenal got away with one there’, so are now ‘of course due some payback’.

    And where better for pigmob to dish out a bit of payback than Old Toilet!

  4. When we lose, these “experts” pick any part of the game or any Arsenal player or group of players at random for evisceration in order to demonstrate our “spinelessness” or “lack of leaders” or “general ineptitude”.

    When we win, they painstakingly search for any justification to frame the win as anything but a good win for Arsenal. e.g. “Xhaka gets subbed/booed off” or “Ozil does not play” or “Arsenal get a soft penalty” or “Auba’s goal should not have stood” ….. etc.

    Annoyingly on another Sports Channel an ex-Spurs coach supported by fellow ex-players flayed Auba (the designated penalty-taker) for allowing Pepe to take the penalty, they tried to justify it in the light of “hungry strikers should get their own goals….blah blah….” and how their darling H***y K**e would never do such a thing. They forgot that Auba handed Lacazette a penalty last season and that did not stop Auba from carting away the golden boot ahead of you-know-who.

    Sorry “experts” but there are other forces at work besides “strikers being hungry” otherwise how else would you explain Aguero scoring the lone penalty goal in a game where Man City Scores 8 and Bernardo gets the match ball?

  5. Auba handed Lacazette a penalty last season?

    My bad. It was the season before that, 2017-18.

    It was against Stoke City and he was on a hat-trick but he did the classy thing and gave Laca the spot kick…. remember Laca was already an Arsenal regular goal scorer before Auba joined but he felt Laca coming back from an injury lay off needed his mojo back as quickly as possible.

  6. I can offer hot drinks and paracetamol to anyone who had to watch Match of the day. My sympathy for the distress it has caused you. I always find the Canadian highlights a treat mainly due to their comments involving what happened in the game being supported by factual analysis. They have no agenda so you get a balanced presentation of the football. I would recommend it as a cure to any of this Mumbo jumbo of the day nonsense on the tiny totts football show.

  7. I can’t understand the upset over Auba giving Pepe the penalty. If he had missed then they could have had something to say…but Pepe stuck it, so what’s the deal.

  8. Manchester United scrape through against Minnows.

    Now let’s see how the Sun reports Pogba playing for the ‘Stiffs’ in Uniteds much less impressive win.

    And let’s not forget Arsenal’s ‘stiffs’ at least looked half decent where as Uniteds looked anything but.

  9. Does anyone ever wondered why these pu dits were either failures as managers , or why they were not given chances to manage top teams in the EPL ?
    Well , you know , seeing that they have ALL the answers to what alis the teams , and the right tatics to win games.
    Am sure some club owner will take advantage of their vast knowledge .Their gain will be the media’s loss .

  10. Auba showed that he is a team player, unlike Kane, who is selfish and has claimed goals scored by others. Sherwood talking rubbish.

  11. I actually watched the game on Italian TV and they made nothing of the “handball” but did spend a lot of time analysing the second Maitland-Niles yellow and concluded that the free kick should have gone the other way. MotD didn’t even look at it afterwards………….perhaps because it wouldn’t prove what they wanted it to prove.

  12. Mikey

    I think the mere fact MOTD didn’t even look at it says all you need to know.

    It is beyond doubt that had scrutinising it proved Moss right in issuing a second yellow they would of been all over it.

    There anti Arsenal bias is indisputable.

  13. I guess the next step up from this, is for MOTD to present a situation such as, Xhaka having his arm in an un-natural position when a shot is taken, and then the ball hits Holding in the chest. The ball never comes near Xhaka. But because his arm is in an un-natural position, it must be a penalty. And some new replay angle comes to light, which then goes to show that Holding is not within the area.

  14. Tony and UA faithful……… a retired national referee, I can assure you that retired and active players have almost no idea or inkling about the Laws of the Game and even less about how to interpret them. Pundits are even less qualified that regular Football supporters as they are the ones who have and will harass the officials to obtain a call they believe is in their favour, on and off the field. Why do you think so many officials are abused,assaulted and driven out of the game by such idioits?

  15. I think the issue is clearly the notion that 8 yards is not close, without taking into account the speed of the ball, and a person’s ability to move within that time. Maybe we should line up the journalists and let’s try it out.

  16. Whenever we get away with one you must put a spin on it with lots of embellishments. I think a simple acknowlegement of the truth would really help with the way the blog is seen. In my circle, when someone says something outrageously complimentary of arsenal for example, that arsenal should have won the champions league every season for the last 10years if not for negative conspirators; everyone else just laughs and says something like “yeah right, I’m sure you got that from untold”

  17. Ella

    You may be right and Tony wrong, after all it is just a matter of opinion, but I think you are missing the wider issue here, and that is the massively disproportionate way in which the media will dissect a decision in order to show how we ‘got away with one’ as you agree we did, compared to how when we are wronged it is almost always completely ignored.

    Take for example the AMN sending off. 2 extremely soft yellows. As Mikey said, Italian TV concluded the 2nd was actually a foul on AMN

    We had far more yellows for less fouls.

    Neither of those points even addressed on MOTD.

    John Moss is the ref I pointed out on here early in the season that following a blatant off the ball shirt pull just had a quiet word.

    At the time I said I have no problem with that as long as he does it to everyone.

    Fat chance.

  18. Of course that is how it goes, and that’s because we do all the work on the statistics to prove our points. Most (not all but most) other publications don’t give any decent statistics and so to cover up the gap they sneer or laugh. Everyone who gives evidence suffers this kind of rebuttal – I take it as a compliemnt that we are continuing our mission to put in evidence.

  19. @Ella – You can go on believing all is fair with the PIGMOB but looking at it from a purely neutral perspective I will say that there are real problems with the level of officiating in the premier league. I am a non Arsenal supporting football fan. This site has far more informed comment about the poor state of refereeing than any other site I know.

    @omgarsenal I cannot believe the “experts” actually get paid for their mindless drivel. Saw one on BT sprout last week where a goal wasn’t given in a Bundesliga game. I noticed in real time the ball had gone out before the cross – it took the “expert” about 20 seconds to realise that had happened. Then he complained about where the assistant was and how he “shouldn’t” have been allowed to make the call. Are they really that bad or do they train for it?

  20. OT: News Release

    Here are my corrections to a current news release:

    Sky Media and Budweiser have announced a brand-new Premier League review show called Kings of the Premier League.

    The show fronted by Soccer AM presenter, Adam Smith, will air on the last Friday of every month at 8pm on Sky Sports Premier League, YouTube and video on-demand.

    With a guest appearance from Sol Campbell in the first episode that airs today (Friday 27 September), the 30-minute show will delve into all things football with ex-pros, social influencers and celebrity football fans giving their expert player analysis, and bashing Arsenal whenever they can.

  21. @Nitram, the disparity in reporting I’m afraid has to be a discussion for another day. But even if we were to discuss that now, I insist that owning up to the truth in the “few” times when the wrong decision favors you can only help your argument.. Currently because of ramblings like that of untold nobody listens when arsenal fans claim unfavorable refereeing. Its like the story of the boy who cried wolf wolf when there was none, and when he cried wolf when the wolf actually came, nobody cared to listen

  22. @Nitram, I didn’t see the AMN foul for the first yellow, but frankly I’m surprised anyone can debate that the second wasn’t yellow worthy or worse. I highly doubt an Italian commentator(or one from Antarctica or westeros or even of dothraki extraction) claimed it was a foul against AMN. Just my personal opinion though

  23. Of course that is your opinion, but to ignore totally the fact that Untold has done more research on refereeing decisions, and other matters that we have raised, than any other UK commentator, and has published the research, is for many people who read this blog, a key point. You may dismiss our work such as the 160 Games file with all its video evidence, but there are many who see it as a serious contribution.
    It is nothing to do with crying wolf, it is everything to do with evidence, and the fact that some people value evidence and some choose to ignore it.

  24. Well @Tony, what you call evidence is relative. But still that isn’t the point. The point is even if your “evidence” is valid, there is no way denying when it favors you helps your argument. It only casts doubt over the integrity of the research you claim as evidence.

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