“Arsenal don’t like it up em.” But are you sure we are bottom of the fair play league?

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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   That table is out of date I will admit, but it is interesting that the Mirror (just about the only paper to run the story) didn’t print any sort of Fair Play League table.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…..

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46 Replies to ““Arsenal don’t like it up em.” But are you sure we are bottom of the fair play league?”

  1. They’re just petty little men with cobwebs for brains. They’ll allow nothing to get in the way of their “Arsenal can mix it up too, Wenger is a hypocrite narrative”. But I just want them to make up their minds.

    Are we too soft? Or are we too hard.

    Choose one pundit morons

  2. Watch the game then turn over or off or fast forward or go home. Make up your own mind about incidents – dont’t watch pundits, don’t read newspapers – paper or their websites. Mine are all switched off with Newsnow (left click on the article source then hide)

    Typically I watch the game with music rather than with the commentators. Its amazing how I feel at the end of the game or half time compared with people who ring me going beserk about who said this and that etc.

    Take these precautions and then you never get upset or swayed by people who are incompetent, biased or have an agenda.

    Have a nice day and don’t get stressed.

  3. Im quite happy that the press are starting to see us as having a “rough side”. People start to believe whats written in the papers if it is said enough and players are people believe it or not!

    So carry on tabloids, you will only make us stronger!!

  4. The blog is really hotting up – I’m absolutely loving it at the moment! I think we are really setting a battle line against the media disinformation here – fans are not afraid anymore to disagree with the ‘experts’ because the fans are the experts and Arsenal fans have had quite an education over the last few years… they made us what we are by selling us their lies and tipping their narcotic in our ears – but we are awake now and we are strong, determined and educated.

    As one famous gooner once said:


    And that it is… that it is.

  5. Great advert in the The Sun today.
    Manchester United are advertising Tickets Available for the next 3 home games – including the game this Saturday!
    Regular readers of Untold will recall that at the start of the season some of the anti brigade were spreading stories that we can’t sell our tickets.
    It looks like likely that we will have the full 60,000 for the Wigan league cup game, which, of course, does not include season tickets – ie everyone has to actively purchase their ticket. We tried to buy four together on Sunday but couldn’t get them in the lower tier, and it was selling out in the Upper.
    By the way, congratulations to everyone on the site who kept positive after the Newcastle defeat. You may recall it was only a week ago when our league season was officially over!
    It is always difficult to keep positive when you feel disappointed and frustrated. It is called being a supporter of the club.

  6. i am really atrting to get the feeling that we’re going to start winning things again, our invicibles were hated by everyone, they said that Viera and co were too dirty, but we won everything (well nearly) and now it’s aalm starting again, the media are starting to really hate us and try to undermine our new tougher character. brilliant, bring it on.

  7. there has been quite a lot of critisism about the atmosphere at the Emirates recentley, and quite rightly too. too many tourists who own season tickets. the Carling cup game will be very different, sold out to genuine arsenal fans. happy days.

  8. Lovely article and also good news to me. Very soon several of our boys will enjoy the kind of “reverence” PV4 had within the EPL.

  9. I are forced to watch the ever present dark arts of kicking mostly in european football. They all like to and got to kick the skillful players out of the game. It is here in England.
    The refs, Barclay lge so called bosses and thier lack to improve our football will result in England national team, never to win the World cup carrying on in thsi approach. Simply, you have to have skilful players in a team to win the world Cup and we not producing quality players.
    In Arsene wenger we trust to produce quality players but sadly most of the other clubs are producing rugby players, Premier league kickers and karate hit men.

  10. great article, Tony & Walter.

    The media and the plundits are worried about us.. That is why the sudden u-turn from everyone..

    The way our players have matured over the last year or so has been amazing. They now can match the physical nature of the game with the technical one like no other team(not even the loan club somewhere in Spain). They have also taken the level of understanding on how to compliment each other on the pitch to a all new level. Song dropping into the defensive line while defending and others helping each other out on Sunday brought an old phrase into my mind: “Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno”(One for all, all for one).

  11. I like this and totally agree with Walters view of the Cesc tackle. The media in Britain has been inured to the point of corruption by Manchester United football club. This is a team whose players NEVER pay the price for misdemeanours like mistimed tackles, handball, over the top tackles, pushing opponents -and Arsenal’s players, like others, pay the full price game after game.
    How long is this injustice to continue? Pretty much every decision goes in favour of United against any team they play.
    Personally I am sick of the Northern bias in the interpretation of the laws of football which is at the core of the failures of English football over the past 30 years..
    If we want a proper competition- as a starting point we have to have it properly administered by a neutral body who are not dependant on media revenue and are not pissing in the pockets of a few clubs.

  12. Of course we must understand that we may be paranoid about the way the media treats our club – but it doesn’t stop it being true!
    The question is why?
    It may be because we are rarely, if ever, regarded as the underdog. Even when we’re losing there is always a feeling that it’s our fault because we didn’t spend the money (of which we have more than most) to put it right.
    It may be because Arsenal are seen to be a highly influencial club behind the scenes (perhaps based on long term history) and that they are too ‘establishment’ to have sympathy for.
    Having a foreign manager and being seen (wrongly) to have been in the forefront of importing foreign mercenaries might not sit well with the fundamentally zenophobic British press.
    But it’s also true that our manager has no favourites within the press corps. Most, if not all, other managers have reporters who they will go out with and use to put out whatever stories they want to have told. The chosen reporters lap up those ‘exclusives’ and show requisite loyalty to their man. Wenger has no specific henchmen in the press, relying instead on the fact that he is known to give the most open and honest press briefings of any manager, play the football that most of the press enjoy watching (even though it’s described as not ‘gritty’ enough) and that Arsenal continue to treat the press at games better than any other club (in terms of facilities and catering) – and always have done.
    Arsenal generally and, specifically, Wenger are just too ‘different’ for the press to be able to deal with. They Club may have skeletons in the cupboard that the press could use against them but, by and large, they deal with such problems firmly and in their own way. The sackings of Graham and Dein for doing things that might have earned praise at most other clubs are just two cases in point.
    Arsenal are just from a different mould on many things that most football journalists and pundits think they understand. Hence they can’t deal with it and react accordingly.
    It’s taking the new breed of football administator/club owner to recognise that the Arsenal way of doing things on and off the pitch is the right way – but the bitterness that comes of backing the wrong horses in the past lingers on and we’ve all got to deal with it and respond accordingly. Think how bad we would feel if blogs like this didn’t exist!

  13. Oh, Thank you! Thank you, Walter and Tony! I was beginning to believe that we are really the worst in disciplinary record. Well, a reminder to me that not all that is there in news is gold!

  14. Yes we are toughening up, and about time too! Whilst I have reservations about his leadership skills, Cesc the player is untouchable. Adding a bit of steel to his game is another enhancement.

    I still think Cesc was extremely fortunate not to get a red at Wolves, and many of my Arsenal supporting fans agree.

    With regards to the media, I think we have created the problem with rather embarrassing OTT comments about tackling. Yes there were a handful of servere incidents, but we lost face by not accepting the fair robust challenges. Anyway, whatever your views, please don’t get bogged down with the media as they are really not worth it. Have your own opinions and don’t worry about others

  15. I luv it ! Simply luv it .From the traditional” Southen softies”
    to maniacs and wildmen.I can live with that .
    I like @ TC ‘s style -no fuss ,no stress .I don’t waste time listening to others prattling on when the game is not on.No need for me the pundits opinions -they know where they can shove ’em.
    If I hunger for another view or opinion ,I check out this site and always am satiated .Burp !

  16. The feeling I’m having right now I had it many years ago… The emotion, the sense of glory as a loyal enthusiast is draining me slowly… Holding your heart and soul mutually standing with the young guns all the way through heaven and hell devoid of the slightest doubt they are bound for endless prominence… The seeds of Wenger has finally grew and start the repel its adversaries one by one… The MERA(Media, EPL, Referees & AAA) kingdom had started to abuse their positions and influence desperately trying to sling out the inevitable… The one that will dominate the world effortlessly… The rise of Invincibles II…

  17. I very much doubt Wenger approves of the new Cesc. I will be very surprised if he dares take any credit (in the future) for the renewed determination. Can’t help the the Wenger Boys heaping the praise though. Hail The New Invincibles but this is rather despite Wenger. In Arsene We Rust

  18. To be honest, its good that we have become physical in our game. Phil Neville was right when he said that Arsenal used to suffer against physical teams like Bolton, Blackburn, Stoke. And we have already won 2 out of those 3 games. Its showing that technicality is not the only dimension of football. We have to be physical and force a goal when we need to. Hopefully we can continue this momentum rather than become complacent.

    I think our real test is still against the likes of Chelsea and United who i think are the most physical teams.

  19. Tony and Walter,

    my sentiments exactly, gentlemen. I noticed that many blogs have taken on the issue of referees favouring ManU and the billionairs clubs. On forums of clubs such as Aston Villa fans are furious at the double standard of both the referees and the sport news coverage. Dean, Webb are not only hated by Arsenal supporters. But the incompetent FA and the media are so off on what is really bothering supporters these days one could come to the conlusion they are complices of a big cover up.


    didn’t take long to show your true colour, more lilly white than red I’m afraid. Now off you go troll.

  20. Isn’t Song just the cat’s whiskers when it comes to sticking in the boot on behalf of his mates? Whatta guy. Go Arsenal! Let’s get some trophies by fair means or foul.

  21. I’ve long thought that Arsenal need to protect themselves since the refs have abdicated their role as fair interpreters of the laws of the game. My only reservation is that Arsenal players will get more fouls and more cards for the same conduct. Yet another reason to have a large squad.

  22. Loved the article. I hope that when our reputation of kicking back is really here other teams are forced to rethink their tactics on how to beat us, before they bullied us but soon thay know it won’t happen (wonder what Stoke, Bolton and Co. will do then?).
    I listen mostly my match commentating from ATVO so if it is bias at leat it is PRO-Arsenal rather than Anti-Arsenal. Also living in Finland I don’t see MOtD so I don’t care. also I do skip football shows because they either ignore Arsenal or are slightly negative. I prefer reading blogs (my favorite and daily readings are this and Arseblog)

  23. Right, all get behind the new spirit and forget about the complaining of robust challenges. We’ll win some and lose some. There will be casualties both for and against. Deep down, you all know the challenges that are unacceptable. I’m sure that you always knew, but a few got carried away – LOL

  24. We are certainly bottom of the disciplinary table, which can be found here


    But I don’t think that’s such a bad thing – it is still a contact sport after all, and people on both sides get hurt. Better to be dishing it out than whining about it, as we have been far too prone to do over the last couple of years.

  25. Hi Gents great work on this article, seeing as am not English, but a die hard arsenal fan it pains me to say there’s a real sense of xenophobia to all things Arsenal in your country. To the point that I have adopted the following strategy on match days: Tune in to Arsenal.com to hear the live commentary while watchin the match (volume off) on tv or online.

    It is disappointing that neutral commentary either during games of after them (MOTD) can’t be found anywhere on british tv. even ESPN are anti Arsenal.

    But watchin Cesc throw tackles in and galvanizing his team at the end of the second half made me proud and filled me with a sense that the players are ready for die for a throphy.

    In the words of the NBA….” I love this blog”

  26. I think we Arsenal supporters must take real care not to become paranoid about the way of the media, insofar as it concerns our team and the way it plays and behaves. From time immemorial, Arsenal ARE NEWS…..good or bad. Whether it be due to fouls, lucky wins or losses,transfers or boardroom battles. In the entertainment world,no news is worse than bad news and whatever we do on or off the field, it will never please everybody. It will, however, sell newspapers and enhance (for a while) those who like to pontificate about our team and its doings. We must rise above it all and quietly continue our support.

  27. @Big Joe – The table mentioned in the article is the ‘fair play’ table. The table you linked is the disiplinary table – which only shows that we get booked more than any other team.

    I wonder why they base points on bookings rather than actual fouls?

  28. Casual Observer I think you have hit nail on head as it were. The Mirror ran the story without any reference to the actual official figures, which I seem to remember are more complex than their simplistic analysis.

    It was a typical attempt by the Mirror to blacken Arsenal’s name. They do it all the time – and it is just a re-run of the story of 10 years ago about how many red cards Arsenal had under Wenger (and at that time even their maths was wrong).

    They have done this because of Wenger’s handling of the original invented scandal when he was appointed Arsenal manager. He saw off the media in that famous confrontation on the steps of Highbury where he invited the gents of the press to tell him what rumours they were talking about. They would not (for fear of a libel case from Wenger) and so were unable to run the story in the press.

    They have been after him ever since, and in each story they show their true colours and spirit.

  29. Not sure if this has already been mentioned but I think that it is an important point to consider nonetheless.

    Red cards are awarded for a number of reasons (two bookable offenses, violent conduct, denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity)but as far as I can remember only one of our reds this season has been for violent conduct (Wilshire on Zigic).

    Arsenal being at the bottom of the fair play league is just an example of statistics not telling the whole truth. The team does not, on the whole, make the type of dangerous/reckless tackles that Mr Wenger so often criticizes in his interviews.

    So yes, Arsenal have picked up a fair number of red cards this season but not for making dangerous tackles. This is where the “Wenger is a hypocrite” argument falls down as he has repeatedly stated that he is in favour of physicality in football, it’s just the dangerous tackles which he disapproves of.

  30. the nature of abitration against arsenal have indeed made us to consider every game a do or die affairs.my biggest worry is how every one talk about us being rough forgetting that we have before now been the most targeted team by the F A and its refrees

  31. I think cesc’s tackle had the exact same intention as joe cole’s challenge on koscielny. Cole’s was much more wrecklesr and deserved a red card yet i remember people saying it shouldn’t have been. It does seem to be one rule for arsenal, and a different rule for the rest

  32. top top piece… and i think the Detail should have a “s” because they manipulate more than one details especially when it’s about Arsenal!

  33. A Casual Observer

    This gives the stats you may be looking for:


    From my rough calculations (based on reds being 2 cards) we are 2nd most booked per foul on 5.80 fpb. Stoke are on 5.62 and Everton the least on 10.

    It is surprising that we have been penalised 174 times against 145 gained. Penalised is the operative word here because there is a whole catalogue of unpunished (no free kick) serious foul against us, eg Henry or Brum CB, let alone some of the more innocuous stuff.

    Of course, we are totally biased on this but it does show that the whole thing is totally meaningless. I think you know what you see & this Arsenal team, unlike some of its predecessors, is in no way a dirty side.

    If giving a bit more back gets us more points then so be it.

  34. That should be Everton on 11.66 fouls per booking, which is about half the rate of our bookings.

  35. Esteemed Gooners beg your pardon but why do we even care about what the petty media, pundit circus thinks? After all we have seen all this before haven’t we? You swill recall (as Tony & Walter alluded to) that at one time we were vilified for being the dirtiest team etc…but try to remember the circumstances surrounded those accusations: remember it was on the eve of our last great team’s maturation. Like that great team, our current team is at the stage where they are “earning the right to play” – this is a natural process and a must for all teams that aspire to be great. Look at how the narrative is suddenly changing: from the sorry victims at the start of the season to now the perpetrators of heinous crimes against humanity! Now we have seasoned Pros coming out to champion our cause. Phil Neville is being honest (although he is confusing Everton with Man U when he said rough tactics used to be successful against us – in his time at Everton we have always beaten them easily)…but I digress – Phil Neville is recognizing what quite a few non-Arsenal folks are now seeing: that this team is ready to sweep all before them! In a few weeks teams will no longer try to intimidate us as their first tactic – they will be more worried about us roughing them up! When we get to that point then our superior skills will really count…watch and see…

  36. I think you have to have a ruff side in the prem and what was lacking for so many years with the kids, the prem is a ruff league and you need to save the pretty stuff for Europe or when youre 3-0 up. once all the sides realise this approach wont work anymore, they will have to come up with something different

    Arsenal look so much more mature defensively and I think the chelsea game came a lil too soon but for the first time in a long time I didnt have my heart in my mouth when everton attacked the goal, I really didnt think we was going to concede and I think we can take this kind of form into the big games, if we dont concede we always stand a chance of scoring our team is too talented

  37. Funny thing is, Man U’s Chicharito (spelling?) made the exact same kind of tackle in the Man U /Villa game, the week after Cesc’s “horror” tackle. Not a word. Anywhere. Amazing.

  38. @Flint McCullough – good find!

    Yes, as I suspected… and you are right – a lot of the time we don’t get fouls even called against us – which would skew the table even more.

    All the disciplinary league proves is that the league is bent and referees are inconsistant and/or biased.

  39. @GoonerTerry – remember when the invincibles used to wait in the tunnel to come out and you could see the fear in the other teams eyes as the camera panned over them?

    We’ll see those days again – but more than that, we’ll have a stream of talent coming through our ranks to step up, learn and rebuild as we go.

    Domination is on its way!

  40. @ Casual Observer: No joke! The depth of talent throughout the entire club is truly astounding..the key though is the first trophy. Once we win one then the knowledge & confidence will lead to many, many more…I think that we Gooners are starting to feel and see the possibilities that are opening up for this team….Wenger has staked his entire life’s work and reputation on this group of players and soon the world will see why..

  41. I say screw the media monkeys and anyone brainless enough to go along with them. I still can’t believe the fuss made over the Cesc tackle, vs the silence over the Henry tackle. That really gave me a good idea just how much the rest of the league and the media in general hate, and FEAR our team, and what we’re turning into. I stress the fear factor, because they can see the invincibility building, the juggernaut gaining momentum while their favourites start to fizzle and die out. These are the last desperate acts from people staring the inevitable in the face. Because they know that that French guy is about to do it to them again. And it’s really hard to accept. But I say screw them. They can make all the noise they want. As long we know the truth, I’m OK with it. And I’m very reassured by the number of fellow truth seekers on this blog. I exclude jokers like Bexxy, who probably supports another team. But the presence of such spies and not-so-secret agents just reaffirms the fear I mentioned a few sentences ago, and I guess says a lot about the quality of this site and blog.

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