Arsenal v Chelsea: structural faults extend beyond the South Bridge

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?

Team P W D L F A GD Pts
12 Arsenal 20 5 9 6 26 30 -4 24
13 Burnley 20 7 3 10 23 32 -9 24
14 Brighton and Hove Albion 20 6 5 9 24 28 -4 23
15 Southampton 20 6 4 10 24 38 -14 22
16 AFC Bournemouth 20 5 5 10 20 28 -8 20
17 West Ham United 19 5 4 10 21 32 -11 19
18 Aston Villa 20 5 3 12 25 36 -11 18
19 Watford 20 3 7 10 15 33 -18 16
20 Norwich City 20 3 4 13 21 40 -19 13

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.

25 Replies to “Arsenal v Chelsea: structural faults extend beyond the South Bridge”

  1. Saw the game the same as you Tony, in the second half, the ref did everything he could to tilt things against us. You are right about the players being baffles, saw both Saka and Nelson charging down the wing, stopped illegally, only for the free kick to go against them.
    This type of refereeing has happened so many times this season.
    I dont know what more people have to see to come to the view we are not getting a level playing field.
    Seems to me that VAR, or perhaps changes at the top of the league structure have put Riley on speed, he seems untouchable, and if he can send us down and take away the Invincibles mantle, so much the better, and if anyone doubts the latter part of that, take a look at Liverpool’s officiating and tell me it’s even handed!
    But, as cautiously scathing as Arteta was about the refereeing, I maintain this will continue until Riley goes, or someone in the club has the bottle, nous, standing or football knowledge to take this on. Ivan did nothing, Edu, with his former profession should not have the option of doing nothing.
    Like you, I think we will stay up, but expect it to look a close run thing in the next month or so, but these points the PGMOL are depriving this team could yet come home to bite in the most serious of ways, i hope that possibility resonates with those owning and running the club.

  2. Tony

    You may or may not of seen but I’ve done a little update on our article on the 19th regarding Cards and fouls.

    Alas, our supposition that perhaps Arsenal were being clever by suggesting we should be more ‘cynical’ with our fouling in order to highlight just how cynically we are fouled doesn’t seem to of worked.

    Anyway here again is my little update and very depressing reading it makes:

    Following yet another disgraceful exhibition of biased refereeing I think these foul and card stats from a few days ago merit revisiting, and indeed up dating.

    This is what Tony and I put up on the 19th:

    These are the statistics from our last 3 home matches.


    Fouls = 32
    Yellows = 10

    That’s a card every 3.2 fouls.


    Fouls = 54
    Yellows = 7

    That’s a card every 7.7 fouls.

    The only possible explanation there could be for figures such as this would be that the intensity and seriousness of the Arsenal fouls was 2.5 times more serious than those of the opposition.

    Following todays match the stats for the last 4 home games read:


    Fouls = 45
    Yellows = 15

    That’s a card every 3 fouls


    Fouls = 73
    Yellows = 11

    That’s a card every 6.63 fouls

    So still it goes on.

    Those statistics are an absolute damning indictment of just how disgracefully different we are refereed compared to our opponents and yet people, supposed Arsenal fans, still come on here trying to tell us that it was in fact us, and not Chelsea that got the benefit of Mr Pawsons refereeing.

    I don’t know who sickens me more, the referees or their pathetic apologists.

  3. And just to make another point. Those stats would be bad enough if they were away from home but those stats are at home, a place where under normal circumstances, if there was any bias at all, it would be for the home team but no.

    I honestly believe that it has actually got worse, something I thought impossible.

  4. Appalling tilted refereeing, why aren t the loudmouths Arsenal supporters who are condemning the players, the coaches, with these outcomes, spilling the anger to the referees!!!
    Those morons dont understand that the more we criticize our side, the more freedom the referees will take in f$$king us over! the only good side is: the pigmob will not let us relegate, Arsenal is too big a club for that, so when spuds, Manure,chelski are safely out of our sights we will get some favours I reckon. bah FA refereeing, its a big joke and spoiling the game

  5. Tony,

    I concurr with your analysis of the first 20 minutes. I was wondering which team was playing there… Seing Ozil reborn was great.
    To me Arteta was using all the assets he had way better then Emery has done.

    There should have been a penalty called against Arsenal I think, and maybe that was what made the PIGMOB hit the remote and all changed. Maybe I am wrong, but that is my perception wthout having ‘reseen’ the game.

    And more worrying, we’ve got 3 important defensive players out now, am I right ?

  6. What is more surprising about the Jorginho incident was that he pulled our player right in front of the referee. He could not have failed to spot it. He then had the gall to book Lacazette for complaining about the shirt pull.

  7. Fascinating comment in a Guardian piece :

    “Arsenal fans were quick to point out that Jorginho, the scorer of Arsenal’s equaliser, should have been dismissed for a second yellow. And while undoubtedly true, it ignores the fact that Arsenal would probably have found some other way of screwing things up: a David Luiz brain-fade, a Lucas Torreira two-footer, Pépé dribbling the ball 60 yards into his own net.”

    So basically, the laws of the game need not apply, Arsenal are too dumb anyway.

    Not a single shadow of a negative comment towards PIGMOB…..

    Talk about bias….

  8. I think you’re correct about the refereeing after the break, the decisions seemed to very much be going in Chelsea’s favor. I’d imagine that by that point, the referee was aware he had missed a pretty obvious penalty and possible second yellow on Guendouzi in the first half.

    Not thrilled at all with the outcome, but you won’t catch me moaning about a missed second yellow costing us the match. We still shot ourselves in the foot with poor defending and goalkeeping, and frankly, we shouldn’t have been ahead at all when that foul happened (and it’s certainly reasonable to think the player that was ultimately fouled should have been off the pitch for 50 minutes as well).

    Caught a break early, they caught one late, and we made too many mistakes at the end. Much, much better early on, though.

  9. the corrupt pgmo, the nauseating guardian, the belligerent idiotic “pundits” (including henry – how i wish his statue were brought down) don’t deserve our anger. we have a remarkable, ambitious, hard-working, state-of-the-art new headcoach, a bunch of amazing (very) young players, very intellignet, experienced players who’ll be perfect role-models for the kids. let’s stick with mikel, stand by him; we will prevail.

  10. I haven’t seen the TV footage yet, but looked from my admittedly limited view like the Guen foul was outside the area?, but stand to be corrected.
    But still no justifiable reason for Pawson to spare Jorginho a clear red in an unrelated incident to anything Guen did, or did not do, not does it explain his complete bias in the second half.
    Pawson should be suspended on that performance , but not holding my breath, his boss will be delighted with that result, as well as helping powerful and influential teams via the medium of VAR, thus ensuring no challenge to Riley’s cushy and presumably well paid job, that would only happen if he pissed off the likes of Chelsea, Utd, Liverpool, Spurs….or to a lesser extent this season, city.
    There are rumours and anecdotes about refs trying to make up for mistakes they have made, not that I have seen many made up for mistakes against our boys!

  11. LE GALL and Chris

    I too see the positives but will it amount to much against this tide of cheating being thrown at us on a match by match basis.

    I see posters pointing out how we got away with this or that and that may or may not be the case but just look at those overall fouls/cards stats.

    This is more than about any particular incident this is about a concerted undeniable bias being imposed upon us over a sustained period of time.

    Those stats are damning.

    As somebody pointed out, you could see the utter bewilderment in the eyes of some of the players, especially the younger ones, at some of the decisions.

    It must be utterly soul destroying to face this kind of refereeing week in week out.

    Again at the risk of repeating myself, those statistics are a disgrace, and nothing other than cheating, plain and simple, can be behind them.

  12. It seems we will need to score a minimum of 3 goals a game to make 1 count . Forget about being awarded penalties or even free kicks.
    If PGMO could see to it that Arsenal could only use 1 legged amputees , they would. All very depressing I think we should go all out to break the officials legs “accidentally” from the first minute . Surely then a subtle but clear message would lodge in their tiny PGMO heads ” don’t mess with “The Arsenal”.
    It’s a plan …that just might work hmmm

  13. I think Pawson might have given a second yellow to Jorginho if at least two of our players (Lacazette & Toreirra) hadn’t waved imaginary yellows in his face, and of course even though it probably wasn’t a penalty Guendouzi should have seen a second yellow for his stupid foul.

  14. I am so positive about Arteta,s team, that even not winning lifts me up, of course winning would send me to the moon. Anyway, the collective energy, teamwork and spirit was for all to see. Referee aside and fumbles, our lads should be very proud of their performance and it serves as a great platform.
    On another note I hope we do not qualify for Europa next season that way the team will not be distracted and concentrate on top four then.

  15. I only started to watch the game around the 30th minute , when we were ahead , not knownig who had score or that Chambers was injured , or what had transpired earlier.

    Then saw 3 Chelsea players being booked in quick succession , and was thinking aloud to meself , ” ‘ere , wot’s goin on ?” . And , then knew almost immediately that we were just being prepared to be screwed over .

    That berk in the middle duly obliged by one of the worst refereeing ‘performances’ ever. Hope he gets due recognition for it. He blows for a regulation yellow card deserving foul , but then turns it into yellow card for Laca . What did he say to the ref , that deserved this treatment ?

    While we started the second half too defensively , and put ourselves in too much undue pressure , I am proud of our players . Each and everyone did try hard , and ran till they dropped .

    I do hope we play more positively and in more attacking fashion . The youngsters hopefully will learn to not only look after themselves , but how not to get into situations that may be injurious to themselves.

    Up the Gunners !

  16. Masterstroke if it were true that Pawson was influenced in his treatment of a Chelsea player by the subsequent behaviour of Arsenal players, that is a major failing on his part, and he really should be withdrawn from the PGMO list for a programme of serious re-eduction.

  17. I agree with Nitram that the refereeing in Arsenal matches are not about particular incidents but the overall trend that is condemning the Club to a relegation fight towards the end of the season. The stats he related, if accurate, only confirm my conclusion that the PigMob is really and truly biased against AFC and will do any and everything possible to keep us out of a 4th place finishing.

    The EPL, in my own estimation is being rigged, massively, to favour some teams while putting Arsenal on reverse on the tables. My choice now is to completely boycott all EPL games until the current PigMob club is replaced or cleaned up. No, none of them, PigMob, FA or the organizers of EPL will have the satisfaction of pocketing my two pence again, going forward.

  18. We have talked about refs and nothing Is changing and nothing will change. Only Arsene will help us out,he knows what goes on let him give details to FIFA and after a due deligence the FBI can come in and do the necessary.

  19. was not maitland niles sent off in similar circs. sometimes refs are reluctant to send players off in these situations. it is just the old inconsistency thing. garth crooks named jorginho in his team of the week which says something about the media

  20. The medja is unhappy with VAR, but they have no interest in using Arsenal as a mechanism to display problems. Nominally, it is pretty much anybody but Arsenal.

    A picture in the medja, is the “inconclusive” handball.

    A problem is the handball law is clumsy. Make it non clumsy. People without arms can run, but it is not easy. If the arm that might be contacting the ball is within a (spread) hands width of the neutral position (nominally parallel to the backbone and its extension towards the feet), it is deemed to be in a natural position. To rule on handball when the arm is in a natural position requires some consideration of “intent”. If the arm is not in a natural position, contact with the arm is de facto “handball”. If the ball contacts the “arm” when it is in a “natural position”, the intent is “measured” by whether the shoulder joint is in a neutral position. If the arm is rotated forward (flexion) or backward (extension), the purpose of the rotation is to change the direction the ball would leave the body at from how it would move if the shoulder was in a neutral position. An “intent” to handle the ball was made.

  21. What in North America is called 20/20 vision, is in other places called 6/6 vision. Scaled to a distance of 100 feet, you could see something 8.75mm wide with this vision.

    This 8.75mm represents an angle of about 0.00165 degrees (about 1 minute of arc). If we had one person standing 100 feet away that was 8.75mm behind a perpendicular line, and another person who is only 90 feet away who offset on the same angle from perpendicular, their difference from the perpendicular line is about 0.9mm.

    That is a handwaving description of what kind of problem we are trying to work with on offside.

    A common presentation of offside has the defender with his/her back to the goal line, and the attacker facing the goal line. Humans are best adapted to accelerating.

    One argument is to only consider the position of the feet (actually, they mean shoes). But there are circumstances where the ball is played into a player at some height above the ground, and it might be that the ball can be played directly by a potentially offside body part (chest or head).

    Saying that offside is only in consideration for the feet (shoes) is probably reasonable. Consider an attacking and a defending player, both facing the goal line, with feet on the same perpendicular line, leaning by the same amount (degrees). If the defender is taller, the attacker is onside. If the attacking player is taller, he/she is offside.

  22. @Masterstroke @Tony Pawson didn’t bottle anything. He deliberately ignored the fact that a second yellow was due and just continued like nothing happened. The corrupt do that because there is no one to answer to.

    Arsenal have to respond to this with an open letter to Riley & the EPL stating that the organisation PGMOL are not fit for purpose due to clearly visible bias.

  23. @Menace,

    I fully agree with you. AFC’s silence is something I do not understand. Is the PL some sort of mafia style organisation the has rules only known to a select few ?!?!

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