By Tony Attwood
As I tried to show in the last article, the media is being incredibly selective in its reporting of what seem to me to be the key footballing issues of the day. My article on this issue (When it comes to Arsenal we are being totally misled) is of course still on line, but in case you missed it and want a quick summary here are what seem to me to be the relevant stories they are regularly missing:
1: The three clubs who have achieved or are currently achieving the best ever points totals in the Premier League are the three sides that have been found guilty of major misdeeds in recent years and so fined and/or banned from competitions.
2: The PL’s system of refereeing in the Premier League being quite different from that in other Leagues with far fewer referees.
3: In the midst of the outcry about historic slavery, no one is mentioning that the stadia for the next world cup have been built by slave labour.
4: Infantino and the most senior man in Swiss justice are being investigated in Switzerland for corruption.
5: Leicester City’s tackle to yellow card radio is so far out of line with the rest of the league it is at least worthy of investigation and comment.
6: Refereeing is run in a very different way, highly secretive way, in the Premier League from other leagues – but there is no explanation why.
7: Liverpool get the same referee to control their matches far more often that other clubs do.
8: The organisation that runs refereeing in the PL has claimed 98% accuracy, while re-runs of games on TV screens with and without crowd noise shows that their decision making is seriously affected by crowd noise, so they cannot be that accurate.
9: When Arsenal gained more injuries than other clubs it was claimed that it was due to Mr Wenger’s training methods. But now under new management the problem continues. Might this always have been because referees allow Arsenal players to be fouled more violently?
Now I know that the common approach is to have a list that runs up to ten, but I am sure we’ll find a tenth point quite soon. Let’s leave it at nine now and move on to ask what can Arsenal do?
Well, we are currently working on a new website that will, I feel, make referee decision making much more apparent. I am not sure the media will report this any more than they have reported our previous efforts such as the 160 Game analysis, where all the major decisions of the first 160 games of a season were analysed with video evidence, to show the bias that there was. But we can make a noise about it.
Otherwise, Arsenal could of course follow the example of Chelsea in bringing in youth players from across Europe, without taking any notice of Uefa rules. Or Arsenal could follow the example of Manchester City by spending far more than is allowable on transfers. Arsenal could also use the youth market as Liverpool did – bringing in children as they wished, without following the domestic rules.
Clearly it has worked for Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, and clearly they have not been hindered by the subsequent Uefa and Premier League injunctions.
But here’s another idea. We could accept not being in Europe next season, and use that as a way to build up our squad and league position.
Not playing in the Europa would have saved us 11 and 12 games in the last two seasons. Many of the games had poor attendances and the away games had long flights.
So here’s a thought. Given that crowds are not going to be an issue for the rest of the season, why not stop trying to get up the table and instead use the rest of the season to give different players more of a chance to shine? That is going to happen anyway because of the huge level of injuries we are now suffering, so let’s rotate as much as possible.
Yes it might look bad on Arteta’s record, but does that really matter in the long run if it helps gives younger players experience this season and be ready for next season without the distraction of the Europa?
We’re not going to be able to affect the way the media ignore key issues, and I can’t see how Arsenal are going to persuade PGMO to give us the same Arsenal-friendly ref (if there is such a thing) over and over again. Likewise I can’t see Kroenke dishing out vast amounts of money for Arsenal to break the FFP regulations, even if he wanted to.
So let’s consider this model. In 2015/16 Liverpool were runners’ up in the Europa, but because of their poor league position didn’t qualify for Europe in 2016/17. That season they moved up to fourth in the Premier League, unhindered by long trips abroad and 12 extra games. In 2016/17 they came fourth. qualified for the Champions League, and came runners up in that in 2017/18 as well as fourth again to qualify for the next season.
That is a route back in, without following the element of getting banned from Europe for a while and without breaking all the rules on youth transfers. It might just work. Besides which, if referees continue to allow opposition teams to kick Arsenal players to bits, we will have more time to help them recover given there will be fewer games.
- When it comes to Arsenal we are being totally misled
- Money doesn’t talk, it swears
- Arsenal back at the top of the injury list. But why?
- The home and away scandal: ignorance, or cover up?
- The reason why Liverpool and Man C are ahead of Arsenal.
- How which referee a club gets has a major impact on the result of each game
- The statistical evidence that shows PGMO are biased against Arsenal
- How European football has taken up the fight against clubs breaking FFP