By Tony Attwood
I don’t do many match reports these days; I’m at the games to watch and support my team, be with my mates and hopefully have a jolly time, and I’m certainly not making notes on how it goes. Indeed I often don’t remember the match accurately, as for me the emotion gets in the way of factual reporting. But then emotion is what football is about for supporters, which is one reason why I think most journalistic reporting of games misses the point. For the people who were there it is the emotion. Mind you there is often not much factual reporting either.
But I’m back home in the Midlands in time enough to jot down a few thoughts and its a Sunday and there is no social event to go to, so I thought I would change my normal habit and make an immediate comment.
For the first 20 or 25 minutes (as I say, I’m watching the game not making notes) it looked to me like this was the NEW Arsenal, the Super Arteta Model Mark I, Arsenal reborn. The goal was great and it was the New Model Arsenal all the way
But then Jorginho should, in my very Arsenal eyes, have been sent off. He’d got a yellow already and his pull back on Guendouzi was so obvious, so outrageous, and had such a clear implication on the move that was going on, that it was an utterly obvious yellow card – and hence a sending off for two yellow. And yet nothing happened. No card.
This wasn’t the only weird change in the referee’s performance – suddenly it looked as if Chelsea could do anything, pull any shirt, barge, kick, nudge… all with utter impunity.
Of course that doesn’t excuse Leno’s cock up over the goal, but it does raise an issue. I have no idea if live TV mentioned this, but it wasn’t just me in the ground that thought that suddenly a very even handed referee was going totally berserk in an attempt to even things up.
Taking a quick look at the Guardian’s online report on the game I note that they say that “Perhaps the biggest challenge Arteta faces is the rebooting of the collective mentality. Once again, the flaws were laid bare.” But no, I didn’t see it at all. My comment would have been “Perhaps the biggest challenge Arteta faces is in getting his team to battle on in the face of some really weird and disturbing decisions by the referee.” The players looked bemused – the youngsters particularly not being able to believe what was happening.
I think I’d also want to dwell more on the injuries which looked from my Arsenal tinted eyes to be very much due to a Chelsea realisation that they could get away with almost anything after the Arsenal goal went in.
The Arsenal 4-3-2-1 system really looked like it worked and Lacazette looked like a new player – a player reborn in fact – while Aubameyang was in his prime and pomp. The Chelsea response was sheer violence, and the three cards against them in under five minutes was encouraging. Maybe we were going to get a balance playing field at last.
Of course you may disagree about the refereeing decisions, seeing everything as being well-organised, balance and fair. But it is I think it is hard to argue with the fact that the “let’s get rid of the manager” approach which has seen the two managers with the highest win ratio at Arsenal among all those who have lasted more than one season, both be eased out, in the last couple of years as bearing fruit.
Although much of the crowd – certainly most of the vocal crowd at the match – expressed the view that the referee was not totally competent and balanced, the fact is that Arsenal continues to tumble down the League. The club is, as we noted recently, now doing worse than in Billy Wright’s last season at the club.
So something has to change. It’s clearly not going to be the referee, nor the negativity from the media and their camp followers on the blogs and on AFTV. Maybe Arteta can change things around, but he’s only got half a season to do it in.
I recall that when, after we came 4th in 2014, I was writing about this being a good result for the club, given that we’d just won the Cup and were in the Champions League for something like the 17th time. In reply there was a concerted stream of “4th is not a trophy” comments noting that I was celebrating mediocrity.
Yes, coming 4th was not a trophy. But it took a huge amount of nous by the management to get us there. But now we are just two wins above the relegation spot. And we’ve got there by encouraging one manager to leave and sacking another. If those fourth placed finishes with occasional cup triumphs was mediocrity, what on earth is this?
|14||Brighton and Hove Albion||20||6||5||9||24||28||-4||23|
|17||West Ham United||19||5||4||10||21||32||-11||19|
We’ll probably stay up, but that could well be just because of the ineptitude of those below us – which is not a particularly encouraging thought for next season.
At the end of the game it was announced the South Bridge was shut because of structural faults being found in it. Somehow that seemed completely appropriate.
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