By Tony Attwood
In our pre-game article we used the home/away analysis that is regularly included before a match, this time to suggest that the result might be closer than was generally considered by the pro-Mancunian punidts…
|1||Manchester City away||10||8||1||1||20||6||14||25|
That table showing Arsenal at home, against Manchester City away, suggested we might get a draw from the match, and indeed we would have done if the referee had not acted in a way that is becoming rather familiar when we watch Manchester City.
Now however with Rodri breaking the rules by taking his shirt off, and the resultant collection of plastic bottles being thrown, we could see any punishment handed Arsenal’s way. A points deduction (as when the players once indulged in what used to be called argybargy against Manchester United) is possible. As is a ground closure or reduction in crowd size. In fact anything is possible, with the FA desperate to distract from their own utter and total incompetence in handling the Euro finals at Wembley.
The positive from the match was that when the PGMO man didn’t get involved we were a solid match for Sheikh Mansour’s personal team and Saka was stunning as we really took the game to the sheikh’s representatives.
Whether Xhaka grabbed a shirt to hinder him or as a reaction as he attempted to avoid going to ground is a moot point. The ref had to decide, and he decided in favour of the Sheikh’s team, which really wasn’t a surprise.
Cue media commentary about Xhaka, but no media commentary about the referee – which when one takes a step back, is a bit strange. Surely both the history of the player AND the history of the ref are of equal merit in such a situation.
If Arsenal have a fault in this, it must be by not training their non-English players strongly enough in the understanding of the level of variation within refereeing. What goes for one team does not go for the other, and I suspect that tales of the Englishman’s alleged belief in fair play is what they recall, rather than warnings that English refereeing is different from refereeing anywhere else in the world.
But Gabriel could be booked for dissent which gave the referee his opportunity, and he took it.
The point is that the use of VAR was palpably unbalanced. It wasn’t used after 10 minutes when Martin Ødegaard was tackled. No requirement to even look at it; of course not, it was an Arsenal man who was down.
What we can say is that this is a very good Arsenal team, and it is getting better. But thus far it is only good enough to beat the opposition when there is no referee intervention. Now they have to go the extra 10 miles and be good enough to take on the referee as well.
The fact is that over recent years, research and data has shown that some very, very weird decisions are given against Arsenal, and that referees who are known to give decisions against Arsenal get to referee more Arsenal games than those who are even handed. (If you’ve been with Untold for a while you’ll know about this, but if not you could start with last year’s data tables.)
In an unbiased refereeing situation each ref would only oversee games involving a team a maximum of twice a season – as happens in most countries. Not here. Likewise there should be no link between the number of cards a referee hands out to a team per game and the number of times the referee oversees that team. Not here. They would also do TV interviews after a match. Not here. And so it goes.
But there were positives. Other than the referee the key noteworthy points were Martinelli and Saka who were both stunning. Long may they stay fit.
Arsenal are not likely to win the league for a long time to come, the referees will see to that, but we might still make the Champions League, and the odd cup is possible too.
So why is the PGMO against Arsenal? I can’t say for sure, but the most likely reason is that Mr Wenger took them on, and made them look like the idiots they are. If you want to know more, the story is here.
I still think he was right to do that, but it seems we are still paying the price.
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