Super Sunday yesterday ended up not being quite so super in the end then. 4 premiership games, 3 derbies and United/Spurs, meant that the day was destined to hold some kind of excitement. Except it didn’t really. 4 draws, the so called ‘game of the day’ ending 0-0. I guess that’s football.
Rewind to Saturday, and we returned to winning ways – Arsenal scored three against an unconvincing West Ham. The fact that we retained 66% possession away from home underlines just how dominant Arsenal were. Make no mistake, West Ham are at the foot of the table for a reason, and further lacked Parker, Noble (after getting injured) and patchy striker Piquionne. The players left were simply not able to compete in the middle of the pitch and most damagingly for them, allowed us to play passes across the pitch without interruption. That’s not to say it was a foregone conclusion. Twice recently we have had the greater share of possession and drawn/lost games.
However, Arsenal were different on Saturday, showing balance and poise in attack – Robin Van Persie looking again like his old self pre injuries, a destroyer and tormentor of defences. RVP offers us not only his ability to link play and bring the players either side of him into the game with smart and concise passing, he also offers a fantastic finishing ability, as marked by his first goal. I do not believe Bendtner or Chamakh would have scored that goal. I don’t believe either striker would have had the presence of mind to shout to Nasri to leave it either. Zonal Marking have an excellent article detailing the attacking aspect of our game.
Walcott often frustrates me, disappearing as he does behind defenders whilst calling for the ball. It does not matter how talented his team mates are, they will never gain the ability to pass through players. The best they can do is kick it into space, past or over defenders for him, yet occasionally he seems to get himself it tight positions surrounded by players and yet he still calls for an impossible ball. It shows a lack of awareness, so hopefully that is something he will learn. I only mention it because against West Ham, Walcott took advantage of a terrible Wayne Bridge and mercilessly exploited the space he found. Walcott was exceptional against West Ham, hopefully he will learn from that and start to present himself for his team mates more often. Using him to draw defenders is a waste of his talents.
Wilshere was also fantastic. He is developing into a fine player, gifted on the ball, creative, but able to challenge and break up play, he is a natural complement to Song and Fabregas is what is surely our strongest midfield trio. His ability to turn into space is wonderful and vital to Arsenal’s quick attacking.
Other Arsenal news includes Sanchez Watt scoring a great opener for Leeds courtesy of 101 Great Goals and breaking news that Arsenal have agreed a partnership with Dutch side Feyonoord which will see us loan them plenty of players awaiting work permits. Something to do with Holland’s apparent lack of fear of immigration. As forward thinking as they are, they have absolutely no problem with well paid sportsmen coming to their country and earning money, whilst paying plenty of tax towards the country’s coffers. More at the always excellent Young Guns.
Fast forward to Sunday, and my main rant of the day – the quality of pundits and commentators on TV. United had Rafael sent off for two bookable offences yesterday, and the pundits were clamouring to call it harsh. First, the player went in studs up, missed the ball and took out the player. Yellow card. Secondly he deliberately went across the back of the Spurs player in a cynical attempt to stop him running through to the goal. That is a booking. A yellow card. Two yellows = a red. The thing that really irritates me is when these people on TV say “it was harsh for a second yellow” like a second yellow should be only issued for a more severe infringement. A yellow card is a yellow card, there isn’t a sliding scale, a yellow card isn’t an orange card, somewhere between a yellow and a straight red, it’s just a yellow card. If that means players get sent off for time wasting or verbally abusing a referee, that’s fine, minor infringements they may be, but they are still yellow card offences. A player on a yellow doesn’t automatically get immunity from some rules. If a player without a booking would get booked, then so should a player with a booking. It really is very simple. Andy Gray is a tosser, and the perception that he must know best (pedalled by himself no less) because he used to play the game, is bollocks. He’s out of touch and doesn’t know the rules.
Very rarely does a referee get praise for the correct decision, yet players, managers, pundits and commentators are the first to jump on the ref when he gets a decision wrong. It’s sad to see Andy Gray leading the charge against a ref who according to the rules of the game got the decision absolutely right. When a pundit says “common sense” ignore him. He’s talking about the referee not applying the rules because he thinks he knows better. That’s not how football works. Football has rules, the referee is there to apply them. Suggesting the referee should ignore the rules, whether you agree with them or not, is 100% whimsical bullshit. The next time Andy Gray suggests the referee “uses a bit of common sense” or “that’s a harsh second yellow” I will actually try and climb into the telly to punch his face off.