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By Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood
Mr P Neville, a footballer, has been reported in the UK press as saying that Everton’s game plan was to get a trifle rough with Arsenal on Sunday. He also said the strategy had worked in the past but didn’t this time.
Speaking mostly in euphemisms such as “causing them problems” and using “energy” Mr N. did have the grace to admit that Arsenal, “seem a little more resilient now. They’re always going to play fantastic football, that’s never going to change, but at the end they were getting men behind the ball. There is maybe still a bit to go before they have a real title-winning team, because you always fancy yourself to rough them up. But we couldn’t do it and that is where they have improved….They have developed with each year. They’ve got more experience and now maybe they’re getting the things you need to win at places like Everton, Stoke and Bolton, where it’s not perfect conditions and they have been beaten up in the past. They have a great manager and you know in years to come that these youngsters will come to fruition. But they’re getting more experience each year, so you never know.
Now all that sounds rather pleasant, and something of a contrast to the screaming headlines on the internet that suggest Arsenal are bottom of the fair play league. As far as we know the Fair Play League is run by Barclays and a look on their web site this morning (16 Nov) shows us not bottom but 11th. That table is out of date I will admit, but it is interesting that the Mirror (just about the only paper to run the story) didn’t print any sort of Fair Play League table. All the other web sites we looked at seemed to copy the Mirror’s piece – many word for word with the same picture of Cesc in them.
The articles all seem to focus on the number of cards we’ve had this season – which of course is an indicator. But not the only indicator – if you study the fair play league table.
It is all starting to look rather reminiscent of that time in the early days of Wenger when every paper ran the story that Arsenal had had 50 red cards in a certain period of time. Shocking! Outrageous! (But everyone forgot that Arsenal were at the time fairly average, and a number of other sides had more cards than we did. Didn’t stop the story running for years however).
But back to Cesc and his tackle at Wolverhampton. I (Tony) will leave it to Walter to explain something about this type of tackle which we can see a lot on a football field. Over to the expert…
In fact in my opinion this is one of the tackles of the less dangerous type. It is when two players run next to each other and one player shoots the ball and the other tries to block the ball. If there is no contact, there is not a foul. But if there is contact there is a foul of course. You could compare it with two cars driving next to each other and one care suddenly changes his lane and makes contact with the other car. These are the less dangerous car crashes, unless the car that is hit loses complete control, but otherwise this is not the worse car crash you can get involved in. And I do think that the Cesc tackle was in this range.
Both players were holding their arms and then the Wolves player kicked the ball, Cesc tried to block the ball and was late. A definite foul and a yellow card.
Was I happy with this tackle? No not at all and I think he deserved his yellow card. But don’t let yourself getting fooled by the media hype they are trying to make of it.
For years we have been told we were too soft. For years we have been told we “don’t like it up em” (and yes, Dad’s Army is popular in Belgium too). For years we have been undergoing those kind of tackles without any punishment. We just were too soft. We had to become men.
And now our captain has turned the page and has become a man, the media want his skin. The media asks for red cards for fouls which have been done against Arsenal players for years without any of the media saying anything about it. No, au contraire, they were praising the other teams for their though tackling against Arsenal. They were jumping around in joy when Arsenal players got kicked all over the field and with tackles far, far worse than the Cesc tackle.
They wouldn’t even call it a foul if it would have been the other way round. Supporters from other teams would have been started singing about Arsenal and always cheating.
But now that the media start realising that the boys we were are acting like men so they change their tune. Because they start realising that in a few months time the kicking of an Arsenal player could be followed by an Arsenal player giving it back. And if you combine the high level of skill we have in our team with some tough tackling and battling they start to realise that this could be another invincible team in the making.
So they want to stop us from tackling. And this is the reason they don’t mention the Henry tackle on Arshavin which was much worse than the Cesc tackle. They still want to allow the other teams to tackle us, but we cannot reply with the same thing.
If the editors of MOTD ( also known as Manipulation of The Detail) had been smart they would have showed the Henry tackle and called for a red card they wouldn’t look so biased as they have exposed themselves now. The leg breaking tackle against Ben Arfa was judged not to be a foul according to the ref (who had it wrong). And the pundits in the Manipulation thought it to be an OK tackle(which was wrong again).
And now they want the blood of Cesc. Cesc who is just becoming the man they all told us we should become. Of course what they really want is to force him out of Arsenal. They fear that he might lead the way to the new Arsenal. The new Arsenal that will not be overturned by some though tackles but that will give them back at you. And this will make our team even more difficult to beat.
And yes I think that Cesc has made up his mind on this and has chosen to go the hard way. Not because it is his nature, but because of the fact that if he wants to win something he will have to do it like that. And I think he hates it even more than I do, but it is not Arsenal who has chosen this way, it is Arsenal being forced by the refs, the media and their pundits to take this road.
And now the media are realising we are changing our approach the start to panic. Best to keep those things in mind when you hear them asking red cards against Arsenal players for tackles that other teams can do without even getting a mention in Manipulation of the Day or other football shows.
And all this based on one late tackle late in the game…..
The greatest Xmas present anyone could ever have if they are, or might become, an Arsenal supporter