Same Old Arsenal, Always Cheating

After a fine win and an excellent performance on Saturday you would have to be of a churlish disposition to find any negatives.

So here I am, Churl-in-chief, primed and ready for a bit of top churling.

It amounts to this: I have one complaint about our lads.

It’s not the wayward finishing (although if some of our forwards were tasked with clubbing baby seals, my money would be on the cuddly little blubber-buckets to emerge injury-free).

Nor is it the tendency to always look like we might give the opposition a chance to get back in the game no matter how much we’re battering them.

No, my beef is with our players’ behaviour when they foul and are fouled.

We’re all familiar with the moronic baying of ‘same old Arsenal, always cheating’ whenever one of our team goes down under an attempted leg-breaker or, conversely, whenever an opponent is left on the floor after an Arsenal tackle.

Make no mistake, the label has stuck.

From the Mensa-dodging nouveaux-riches of West London to the barcoded disappointment-junkies of the far North East; from the Unconvincibles of Old Toilet to the Inconsequentials of N17 there is a veritable chavscape of received opinion that Arsenal players really do cheat.

But it’s clear from recent games that the problem with our team is that THEY DO NOT CHEAT ENOUGH.

That is the great irony: the team reviled the length and breadth of the land as cheats is actually more honest than just about any of its opponents,

There was a classic example in the Wolves game. The Mighty Zubar (I’m sure he used to be a character in Dan Dare when I was a kid) executed a studs-up challenge into Robin van Persie’s knee. I happen to think it wasn’t particularly malicious but was, rather, a cack-handed attempt to get the ball. However, it was rash and dangerous and certainly deserving of a yellow.

On impact, Robin was spun in the air and crumpled to the ground. And here’s where Zubar was clever. Knowing that he had just made a cert yellow card tackle (and possibly even a red card one) he crumpled to the ground too, mysteriously clutching his shoulder. It was enough to confuse the referee, Chris Foy, who did not penalise Zubar.

We saw the same thing the week before at Newcastle. Joey Barton, one of the modern game’s most noted thugs, turned out to have a brilliant line in rolling around on the floor whenever he went in for tackle with one of our players. From macho man to milkshake man in a heartbeat.

In that game the truly awful Phil Dowd bought it every time. Probably the worst example was the free kick given against Rosicky that led (indirectly) to Newcastle’s fourth goal. He and Barton jumped together half-heartedly, neither really touching the other. Rosicky stayed on his feet but Barton went to ground. Cue the man from Dowd Cuckoo Land: free kick, goal, two points lost.

Similar examples were littered throughout that entire game, particularly in the second half.

And during Saturday’s Wolves game there were several occasions where we were penalised for fairly winning tackles, just because the opponent went to ground and feigned injury.

Foy’s criterion for giving a free kick seemed to be no more sophisticated than “he fell over, must have been a foul.”

At the same time there were other moments where our players took whacks to the head or boots to the calf but did not collapse in agony. Our lot seldom do that – if anything they simply tend to stay on their feet and look a bit affronted.

Many people observed that against Newcastle, if Diaby had rolled around in agony after the Barton challenge he would probably have got the little toe-rag a yellow. But Abou didn’t do that because, although he knew the tackle had been a potential leg breaker, he wasn’t actually that badly hurt. He was too honest to pretend he was in severe pain. Instead he got up, tickled Barton’s neck and the rest is history.

Earlier in the same game, Arshavin also hopped straight up after another appalling Barton challenge from behind. (Mind you, Arshavin never shows he’s hurt: that tiny frame carries all the suffering of Mother Russia in its soul, so the odd smack in the mouth or boot up the arse is neither here nor there).

On one level I applaud our players for their honesty. One demented Ivorian aside, I can’t think of any Arsenal player who regularly feigns injury, whereas our opponents are doing it in every game and are winning free kicks for it, as well as getting our players carded.

Maybe it’s time we dished out a bit of their own medicine to them. I don’t mean we should pretend to be fouled when there’s been no contact, but when there is a bad challenge we should stay down and make it clear to the ref that it was dangerous. It won’t always work (Robin was clearly hurt by Zubar but Foy missed it) but if it works half the time that’s more free kicks for us and fewer for whomever we’re playing.

And when our players mistime their challenges and catch the opponent instead, let’s take a leaf out of Zubar’s book and go down as well.

The sad truth is that, with the standard of officiating in the EPL today, playing fair just gets you shafted.

That’s it. Churling over.

Now let’s go and win the League (and if, to do so, we have to sometimes be less than angels, that’s OK with me).


Be a Gooner, Be a Giver

One of our young gooners has signed up to do the Fun Run for Arsenal’s chosen charity Centrepoint and it would be fantastic if any of you felt you wanted to support her and the charity by donating on her giving page.

The Fun Run will take place at the Emirates stadium on the 19th March 2011. Centrepoint do such good work for homeless young people in London and Arsenal are hoping to raise £500,000 this season to help fund the refurbishment of a facility in Soho.

100 Responses to Same Old Arsenal, Always Cheating

  1. Rasp says:

    Nice one Rocky,

    Some classic lines “From the Mensa-dodging nouveaux-riches of West London to the barcoded disappointment-junkies of the far North East; from the Unconvincibles of Old Toilet to the Inconsequentials of N17” … brilliant.

    I couldn’t agree more about Diaby. I draw the line at some of EE’s excesses because every ref in the country knows he does it and therefore it probably counts against him now. I also think we (the club) have to stop complaining about refs as that may also be working against us. We just have to be a bit more cute – again, follow the Barca example.

  2. Big Raddy says:

    RL. As ever a superb read – you should do this professionally.

    I loved the” Unconvincibles to the Inconsequentials” and the baby seal analogy had me laughing.

    My father worked on the Eagle, so a lovely childhood memory raised. The anticipation of what trouble Dan Dare would get Digby into …..

  3. Me says:

    I was at the game on Saturday and it almost seemed like the ref was trying to even the game up at times, in order to prevent the game from becoming too one-sided, every single coming-together in a 50:50 went their way, it was ridiculous.

  4. Big Raddy says:

    It hasn’t hurt MU Rasp. They have been castigated over and over again about their treatment of Refs and yet continue to harry and exaggerate. Works for them – just look at the number of pens for and against..

  5. TopGun says:

    Couldnt agree more….. with this and another article I have read this morning

    roll on Wednesday!!

  6. Rasp says:

    Morning Raddy,

    I think the press view mnanu and pool completely differently to Arsenal. The witch hunt against Dudu would never have been perpetrated against one of their ‘stars’. We are under the microsocope if there is a suspicion that we are cheating as they dislike us because we portray ourselves as the bastions of beautiful football.

  7. Jimi says:

    If only the Arsenal players were all that savvy, I think Cesc and Samir have an element of it (in that they have a mean streak that shows the desire to win). In Arsenals hope to shrug off the cheating tag they have certainly missed out on the ruthless opportunities that immoral players benefit from. One true example would be Mark Van Bommel, I honestly think he takes it too far. Ho took the piss at the world cup with dangerous tackles …..but as you mention “he got away with it”. So cheaters do win! Its a fact.

  8. 10God says:

    What you’re asking for is to lower ourselves to their level. I only caught the wonderfully unbiased Match of the Day highlights for the Newcastle game, so I cannot comment on that. I did see the Wolves game though and was shocked that Foy gave a free-kick to Doyle everytime he hit the deck under a challenge from Djourou, and I mean EVERYTIME!!

    You can tell how often things happen by how you eventually feel about it, initially things are irritating, then annoying, now it’s become so commonplace against us that it has just become funny. I still say that lowering ourselves isn’t the answer. Eboue makes me laugh enough as it is with his antics, we don’t need more like him.

  9. Big Raddy says:

    Jimi. Good call on Van Bommel. Couldn’t believe him when he came to Highbury and kicked two colours out of anyone near him yet escaped without a yellow.

    Another was Alan Shearer. One of the dirtiest players I have ever seen ,yet smart with it.

  10. Big Raddy says:

    RAsp. It is strange because without exception journalists praise Arsenal’s openness to the media, and Wenger in particular. Then come matchday they become rabidly anti-Arsenal! The Cesc-hunt is a case in point. Can you imagine the kind of fuss made about a player from any other team?

  11. Dave says:

    so you moan at eboue for his play acting but ask others to follow suite. It is a tough call you make but I do think sometimes we do go down too easily, especially in the area, Cesc is very quick to go down

  12. Red Arse says:

    Excellento, Rocky, 🙂

    I agree with you and would add that where we are also lacking in this respect, is where the other uninvolved Arsenal players usually remain where they are, without too much protest, after there has been a bad tackle on a team mate.

    As an example, Nolan rushed to get into the Diaby/Barton fiasco and his actions got Diaby sent off. Every other team also seems to get in the refs face every time there is an Arsenal foul, which may or may not then result in a booking, but usually leads to a booking at the next foul and resulting protest.

    It’s not nice to see, it’s not nice to condone, but we seem to have one hand tied behind our backs when our players get tackled with little retribution because we are too “nice”, and the opposition get away with things.

    These are generalisations, of course, but they could cost us over the season.

  13. GunnerPete says:

    You are right…Zubar is ‘The Mekon’ from Dan Dare.

    As for the dives..well come on, you are talking of officials paid by an Association run by the North for the North. Always has been! Check the penalties given at ‘Old Toilet’ and Scouseland, and the ammount of verbal abuse allowed by MU players? You will see it is sickening, but par for the course.

  14. 26may1989 says:

    Completely agree Rocky, we are much more sinned against than sinning when it comes to cheating. Pundits and journos just see what they want, and having created their view of a particular story, pass that on to the public who too often, and without enough time to sift through the details, accept it uncritically.

    It was interesting to see for example how Robert Huth got treated on MOTD this weekend. Huth clearly covered up the fact that he had handled the ball in the penalty area by going down and pretending the ball smacked him in the face. A pathetic act that I would have chastised by five-year old son for doing. Had that been done by someone from one of the less neanderthal clubs (us for example), my guess is it would have been highlighted as it would have been a chance to plug the line about skilful players really only being cheats. But because it was done by one the PL’s WWF teams, that blatant and embarrassing bit of cheating was glossed over.

  15. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    Beck’s trophy cabinet? What ever is in it can be put down to who was around him @ the time. The fella was just in the right place & the right time.

    But ofcourse there was a point in his career where he could have been some one, but that moment was lost when he put in a bigger dummy spit than Diaby the other day.

    And so David Beckham will always be seen everywhere, other than England & your place in Denmark, as a great marketing tool and attractive to women. Oh and he could bend a ball at a set play.

  16. AnonymousGun says:

    LOL .. demented Ivorian.


  17. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Good one Rocky.

  18. Rasp says:

    Nolan ran in and pushed a player again yesterday and wasn’t punished. If the refs aren’t going to be even handed in the way they officiate our games, we may have little choice but to even the balance by making the odd tackle look worse than it really is – we would only be in line with what most other clubs do.

  19. Wavy says:

    Anyone notice Dowd did not have a premier game this weekend? Could it be that he was dropped as a result of his truly embarrassing decisions at Newcastle?

    No matter what happens to him in the future he’s done his damage, especially if Arsenal lose the premiership by one point!! Does he ‘sppurt the mancs? Mmmm, I wonder?

  20. dandan says:

    GG9 I am sure you are pretty well travelled and that being so, you will have noticed that no matter where you go, kids will be wearing football shirts and by far the most common name written on the back is Beckham.

    It is a shame that when we get so upset about our own players being mistreated both on and off the pitch. We still seem to lack the collective generosity of spirit to give credit where credit is due.
    Beckham is respected throughout football for his dedication, application and skill. Skills honed by being the last player off the pitch after training.
    Likewise it is no accident that Ryan Giggs is still playing, as for years he has trained in other disciplines such as ballet and yoga on his own in the afternoons.

    When you look how many of our so called young stars are decried for having “attitude” I bet Arsene would pay a kings ransom just to have some of the Beckham DNA transferred into each and every new recruit.

  21. Red Arse says:


    The Huth “faceball” farce was shown on Sky in their Sunday highlights programme and dismissed lightly on there too.

    Imagine if that had been an Arsenal player? It would have been on every backpage, labelled as outrageous and Arsene would have been pilloried for “not seeing it” too, just for good measure.

  22. Carlito11 says:

    What a great post- I was only 2 lines in thinking “another Rocky classic!” Too many quality lines to list here but “Dowd Cuckoo Land” made an involuntary gurgle of laughter rise from my throat! Apart from Eboue’s tumbling (which is actually a new tactic to rival the one-two involving taking two touches and then falling over) I have to say the boy wonder goes to ground very easily for a man of his stature from the wrong side of the tracks in Rotterdam.

  23. Red Arse says:


    Robin does look as if he falls over easily.

    I don’t think this is with the intention of cheating, it’s just that, if he has a failing, it is his total reliance on his left foot.

    He stands on it, dribbles with it, shoots with it and twitters with it, so if he is tapped on his left leg, over he goes. 🙂

    There have been some totally amazing, world class, left footed players, but nearly all of them, like Maradonna for example, just don’t need or want to use their right foot. The opposite is rarely the case, as right footers are usually ambidextrous.

  24. Gooner in Exile says:

    Great post Rocky, again I’ll put it down to perceived strength of the players.

    I’m sure the refs buy into Arsenal are whingeing and soft, therefore if they are on the floor they have been outmuscled, whereas when we win possession in a similar tackle we are judged to have fouled as we are perceived too weak to have fairly outmuscled someone.

    More often than not it takes the reducer tackle to stop our players because they are so strong, Arshavin is exemplary he just gets up but has patented the “are you sure that wasn’t a free kick ref” look that leads to our perception as divers, in order for it to be a free kick we must be hurt (and as we know even that doesn’t guarantee a foul).

    Go back to RvPs booking for picking up Arteta who was writhing in agony. Arteta was soon up and sprinting to the half way line but that didn’t get picked up it was RvPs “petulance” that was punished.

    Eboue’s play acting is an embarrassment to most Arsenal fans I’m sure but the others could take a small leaf from his book

  25. Gooner in Exile says:

    I take issue with your reasoning RA and I give you Lee Dixon. His right foot was so gifted it lobbed Seaman from 35 yards, yet his left foot was only for standing or the second contact in a robust tackle.

  26. king gooner says:

    if there’s one chant that bores the life out of me it’s “tsoaac”-load of old b***ks-it’s designed to put doubt into the refs mind & sway the decisions there way’after all what else can they do othet than kick us off the park!i know it may sound childish but why do the arsenal fans not respond with the same chant staight away in reply?& let the ref know the oppostion are cheating?are we like our board of directors?stiff upper lip old boy nonsense?let’s start giving it back-every single time it’s sung about us -start singing”same old soke city,bolton, name it always cheating!”maybe,they’ll soon get fed up of it,hey?

  27. London says:

    Top churling Rocky

  28. Red Arse says:


    I was referring to world class players. Lee Dixon? Are you sure? 🙂

  29. London says:

    Barton did not try and break Diaby’s leg.

    Joey is much more subtle than that and as nobody else has written this I can only assume that nobody else has noticed. Barton does not try and break peoples legs that would involve a leg up lunge and draw an almost certain red card, no Joey is even more nasty that than, he tries to tear the knee ligaments which he does by clattering into the side of the standing leg the force of which tears crutiate ligament and the like. The damage is just as bad if not worse and it is something Barton will only ever get a yellow at worst because he can end up in what appears to be a clumsy ball on the floor giving the impression that the tackle was just a clumsy error in exactly the same way he did when he tackled Daiby; but, make no mistake he knows exactly what he is doing. Why am I convinced of this, because I saw him do exactly the same thing at the Emirates on Nasri. Barton is the dirtiest piece of work in the EPL and the things I wish that would happen to him involve pliers and a blow torch so I should probably stop here.

  30. Big Raddy says:

    Odd that Cesc gets the headlines because he allegedly says something to the referee at half-time, yet the thugs of the PL, who are incidently almost all British are ignored.

    As London says, there is a viciousness to Barton – I find it embarassing that a man like him is being paid a fortune to play football whereas in a just world he would be in prison. Shame on Newcastle for employing him.

  31. Carlito11 says:

    RA- RVP scored with his right from a Cesc ledft-footed cross! Just saying!
    Wavy- Dowd was demoted following his performance for us last week. It should have happened to Lee Mason too but at least some action is being taken- not that the meeja even picked up on it- calling any 3/4 goal comeback from now on “doing a Newcastle” because it suits them.

  32. Carlito11 says:

    You know how I love the idea of new songs even if they don’t take off? Here’s one from Twitter today: “Arshavin’s a midget, he would fit in a pram, and Rosicky’s a lesbian who looks like KD Lang” To the tune of “my old man’s a dustman”! It’s daft but I like it 🙂

  33. RockyLives says:

    Good day all and thanks for the comments.
    To add to the Barton debate, he has developed a very clever way of committing really dangerous assaults on the opposition player’s standing leg (the sort ligament-tearers referred to by London) without being penalised by the officials. What he does NOT do is dive in with legs outstretched and studs up – he knows that even the really awful refs won’t ignore that sort of assault.
    So instead he dives in, off the ground, with his feet folded back (a sort of flying-kneeling position). It means his knees can impact the standing leg with his full body weight behind them.
    It’s a new and extremely dangerous type of challenge – but of course the refs haven’t wised up to it at all with the result that his assaults on Arshavin and Diaby didn’t even merit a foul in the eyes of the idiot Dowd.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if Barton breaks someone’s leg or rips their cruciate with one of these flying knee lunges before the season is over.

  34. valenciangooner says:

    Speaking of refs – did I read that Mike Dean has got the Carling Cup Final ? Wish I could remember where but I’m sure I saw it somewhere.

  35. Red Arse says:

    OK Carlito.

    I was trying to defend Robin from your comment that he goes down too easily, with the implication that he is cheating.

    But you are right, I did see his volleyed goal, scored with his right foot, on Saturday.

    On that evidence, you still seem convinced he goes down too easily with all that implies. Sorry you think that. I do not.

  36. Big Raddy says:

    It would be untrue to suggest that no player goes down easily. Arshavin, Cesc, and Nasri all fall over when there is an advantage to be gained.

    But what we need to learn is to be clever when under physical attack. If the ref will not help the skill sides then he has to be co-erced 😉

  37. Carlito11 says:

    Fairplay RA- I think we will have to disagree on this one. I can’t remember seeing him ride a challenge in the past 3 seasons and I wish he would at least some of the time because every time he goes down I’m thinking “oh no not another injury”. In the spirit of the post, I think Robin is probably doing the right thing by trying to turn poor challenges against him to the teams advantage but I’m down to the cuticles already and can’t be doing with the stress!

  38. goonermichael says:

    Barton dosn’t look so tough when Diaby has him by the neck though

  39. RockyLives says:

    that’s the whole point – Barton played the situation to attempt to get Diaby in trouble, and it worked.

  40. Red Arse says:


    I would never claim to be an Oracle, so I am happy to agree to disagree. It’s only a matter of opinion, after all. 🙂

    We certainly agree about RVP being injury prone, as that is indisputable. My earlier comment relates to this very matter. I have always had a slight gripe about Robin, in that classy as he is, I think he could be even better if he received dancing lessons! Seriously! 🙂

    It seems to me, that he is so one footed that he frequently overbalances putting his ligaments and muscles etc under unsustainable stresses.
    If he goes down on his backside all is well, from an injury point of view; but where he tries to arrest his fall by sticking out an arm or a leg, that is where damaged can be incurred.

    Dance lessons would help his posture, better his use of both legs and arms to retain his centre of balance and improve not just his injury record, but his ability to ride challenges and score more goals. As you say — just saying! 🙂

  41. goonermichael says:

    I think he was genuinely shitting himself Rocky. The man is a bully and a coward. Diuaby should have knocked his front teeth out and broken his nose.

  42. Carlito11 says:

    RA- I think you should send that in as an idea for Arsenal TV! I hate programmes like Strictly and X Factor but would tune in to see our players trying to dance!

  43. Red Arse says:

    Barton is everything you have all said about him.

    But what about the way Gary Neville is being deified and made ready for a starring role on Sky TV?

    Any number of players have said he was up to all the sly tricks going. He got away with fouling because they were subtle but damaging. Standing on Goal Keepers toes, for example. If they moved away they risked ankle or knee ligament damage, if they stayed still they had excruciating pain from his studs on their toes.
    Or another favourite, I understand, was treading on the opponents achilles causing pain or damage and making him unable to sprint/run so fast. All by “accident”, of course.

    Barton and Neville are not unique, of course, but we certainly do not have their likes in the Arsenal team, and I for one am glad for that!

  44. Red Arse says:

    Carlito, 🙂

    GM, I said much the same just after the Newcastle game.

    My major gripe was that if Diaby was going to get a red card for a measly, girlie push, it would have been more appropriate to get one for a forearm smash. It would have improved Barton’s appearance and given thousands of Gooners great joy! 🙂 (I have gone all blood thirsty this p.m.) 🙂

  45. Big Raddy says:

    Let us not overlook the work of his Captain, Nolan.

    Diaby got sent off for two pushes and had Nolan not got stuck in Diaby would have been given a yellow. Much as I dislike the man, we could occasionally use some of his power and ability to drive a team.

  46. goonermichael says:

    Hi Raddy

  47. Big Raddy says:

    Hi GM. Getting excited?

    I was in seclusion for the last Barca games and am really getting up for Weds. I have all the lucky stuff, cleared the wife out of the house and bought in some fine wine.

  48. Gooner in Exile says:

    Valenciagooner – you are right we have the idiot that is Mike Dean for CC final, he just loves to wave play on because he thinks retaining possession is called advantage.

    Then again do we think any of the current top flight refs are any good for us? It all started with Graham Poll “I was looking at the feet not the body” when not giving a penalty for us, I’m pretty sure that may have been the end of post match interviews for refs too.

  49. Big Raddy says:

    GIE. That is another discussion. Why do refs continue to get it wrong and why are they not accountable?

    However, under the current rules we have to accept they are but human and if they have to make 50 decisions in a game 5 of them will be mistakes. It is surprising given the physical nature of the job that it is not more.

    Let us imagine for one moment that you had no knowledge of your father and spent a lot of time on your own in your bedroom with a saucy magazine, thus making you eligible to become a ref. Imagine how hard it is to run at speed for 90 minutes and make a string of instant decisions with millions watching. Almost impossible to get everything right.

    IMO technology has to be brought to the refs aid.

  50. 26may1989 says:

    RA, I think you’re going a bit too far re Neville – yes, he was a bit dirty but I don’t think he was particularly dangerous. Sure, he put in the odd agricultural challenge, but no more so than, say, Wilshere vs Birmingham. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of Neville doing anything remotely like Tiny Taylor, Shawcross or Karl Henry.

    Raddy appears to be right re Diaby getting sent off for two pushes, since Dowd signalled “two” when he sent Diaby off. But then Diaby got a three-match ban for violent conduct, which means Dowd sent him off for one act of violence, which must be the push on Barton. Just underlines how confused Dowd was when he made his decision. Personally, I saw it as a yellow each for Diaby, Barton and Nolan, with warnings to all of them that they were then on a thin line. And before anyone says Barton got the ball, that does not excuse being careless, reckless or using excessive force. But no, the all-knowing Phil Dowd chose to ignore Barton’s reckless challenge and Nolan’s inflammatory push, and instead over-punished the victim of the reckless challenge.

  51. Red Arse says:

    I think there is a lot to be said for having a pool of Europe wide referees.

    It would knock the Ferguson acolytes out of the equation and cannot help but improve the overall standards of refereeing.

  52. Red Arse says:


    That has been my view all along regarding the way Dowd dealt with the incident.

    I saw Nolan going head to head with Dunn in the Toon v Blackbum match. There was much forehead to forehead butting and plenty of pushing and shoving.

    Referee’s action? Freekick, players admonished, no further action taken. Consistency? Eff all!

  53. Red Arse says:

    Errm, I meant to say a Europe wide pool of refs, not a pool of Europe wide refs. That would be too big!! 🙂

  54. Red Arse says:


    My comment was in response to another (London’s?) which said that Barton was developing a sly method of tackling by sliding in with his knees that did damage but did not appear a red card Challenge.

    I gave an example of someone (Neville) who was sly in his behaviour. Treading on toes, stepping on achilles is not overtly dangerous but is very effective and reprehensible cheating.

    So you are arguing about something I did not say.

  55. 26may1989 says:

    Exile, I would say Mark Clattenburg is the only current EPL referee that seems to meet the required standard. Yes, I know he’s got plenty of controversial incidents against his name but to me he seems much better than the rest, and is often brave in his decision making.

    I also don’t mind Andre Marriner and Mark Halsey, though Marriner is pretty card-happy and Halsey can be a bit of a flake. At least Halsey used to play non-league football, so he there’s a chance he actually understands what’s goin gon in the game.

    Referees can’t be perfect of course, but the standard in this country is so poor, in terms of consistently applying the Laws of the Game and in understanding the game itself sufficiently to manage a game. It’s a fundamental problem that needs to be dealt with, and not just with technology. It’s noticeable that the standards of refereeing we see usually increase when we play CL football, even when the officials are from small countries.

  56. 26may1989 says:

    RA @4.50, you know lawyers, can find an argument in an empty room etc.

    Completely agree re Europe-wide pool of refs, we get access to better officials and the Spaniards, Germans, Italians etc have to put up with our useless lot.

    Continent-sized refs would be an interesting innovation.

  57. RockyLives says:

    Hello Redders 🙂
    How about a pond of Europe wide refs?

  58. Red Arse says:

    Hi Rocky, 🙂

  59. Red Arse says:


    You may remember we have discussed the Offside Law on a couple of occasions.

    Without wishing to put words in your mouth, I think your position was that the Law, as written, was pretty straightforward, whereas I, while not disagreeing with that, felt it was open to too many variable, subjective interpretations.

    On Sunday, there was a discussion regarding RVP’s breakaway goal. Tony Gale, in commentary, said he thought he was offside.

    The official view, apparently, was that, as he was facing his own goal and therefore away from the Wolves goal, even though he was in the centre of the field in an apparent offside position, he was not active, even after he turned around and received the ball from Walcott and proceeded to score.

    The Law was couched in such a way as to prohibit a player from gaining an advantage from being in an offside position by becoming active. (My own view was that if he was offside, the asst ref was too slow to be able to see that in any case).

    Leaving the details aside for the mo’, have you (wearing your ref’s hat) ever heard of this “facing away from the opponent’s goal” malarkey?

  60. Hi guys, sorry I’ve been away from my post, the flowers just kept on coming all day 🙄

    We need a post for tomorrow – we have nothing unless someone has slipped one in while I wasn’t watching.

    Happy Valentines day to some of my favourite Gooners 😀

  61. 26may1989 says:


    Mon plaisir!

    There’s no question of van Persie being offside for the second goal under the modern Laws. Being in an offside position isn’t the same as being offside, even Tony Gale should know that. A player has to be also involved in active play, which means being one of the following:

    1. Interfering with play (which is defined to mean playing or touching the ball having been in an offside position when the ball was passed); or

    2. Interfering with an opponent (basically getting in the way of someone’s sight-line, as Fabianski was prevented from seeing the ball vs Villa, hence that goal should have been disallowed); or

    3. Gaining an advantage by being in the offside position (which is narrowly defined as meaning being in an offside position when the ball was passed and then receiving the ball when it rebounds off woodwork or a defender – see debates about Saha goal).

    If a player is in an offside position AND one of these scenarios applies (bearing in mind the narrow definitions set out in the Laws), then he is offside. If none of the scenarios applies, he can’t be offside, regardless of where he was standing when the pass was made (or which way he was facing).

    Van Persie was in an offside position when the ball was played to Walcott, and under the old offside laws would have been offside, BUT none of the three scenarios applied to him, so under the Offside Law as it exists now, he was not offside.

    The way the offside law works was always complicated, since it required officials to look at two things at the same time, but I accept that the changes make it more complicated and based on interpretation. That’s not ideal, but I like the changes because they favour attacking football. However, the price is no longer having a simple yes/no type of rule, it is by its nature based on interpretation of play which makes it less straighforward. The fact that there are weaknesses in the drafting of the Law as it stands is not helpful and those problems ought to be fixed, e.g. we saw in the Saha debate that the word “rebound” is not explained, except that a couple of diagrams in the FIFA Handbook suggest a rebound off a defender can be from either a deliberate or an accidental movement. But for me, even with the complications, the overall objective of rewarding attacking play as against defensive play is more important than the certainty that comes from simplicity.

    I think it’s a real problem that many (most?) pundits, journalists, commentators, players and coaches appear not to have grapsed the changed rule and the way in which it now operates. Alan Shearer, amazingly, is an exception. But the fact that Tony Gale, who is paid to know the game, including its rules, clearly hasn’t read the Laws of the Game shows how poorly served we are. It’d be better to hand over pundit duties to collectives of fans, they seem to know far more about the game than any of these fools.

  62. Red Arse says:

    Peaches, how could you? 🙂

    Darn it! Now I am going to be stressed out wondering if I am included in your list of favourite gooners.

    Worse, am I in your list of non-favourite gooners.

    I could curry favour by saying I sent you a large bouquet of flowers, but you would know I am telling porkies.

    Darn and double darn!!

  63. goonermichael says:

    Happy Valentines Peaches

  64. Red Arse says:

    Thanks 26,

    That nicely states the position and is as I understand it too. (I could not write it as clearly as that to be truthful).

    My objection is not against the benefit to attacking football, it is this interpretive aspect, and the lack of clarity/understanding to all the groups you mention.

    A confusing Law is a bad Law surely.

    While waiting for your response, I notice Batman’s friend has said as much. 🙂

    In a BBC interview Robin said;

    We had a good game, defended well and the two goals came at the right moment. I was a bit surprised [with the first goal] because it went in quite good with my chocolate leg, I was pleased and came at a good moment because we were not as lively as we wanted to be.

    [The second goal?] The way you explained [the goal to me], I wasn’t offside if you go by the book. But I think we should make [the offside rule] as easy as possible for everyone, for the referee, for the linesmen, for the fans and us because now it’s just too complicated. So that’s my advice, but I’m sure they won’t listen to me.

    You are right about the Law being straight forward, but it’s the application that is not clear to so many, leading to upsets, complaints and hard feelings. Bit like the VAT Act really! 🙂

  65. harry says:

    @LOndon: 1.38pm………Quality……Pliers and Blow torch….Can I have 2nd dibs?

    Barton is the worse player since Kevin muscat….both savvy but also both cowards…

    Your right in a way Rocky, it is a lack of savvy and experience probably compounded by the youth factor,ie something that Nolan has in abundance, although he isnt a coward like barton…….

    As for Tony Gale, as I said in another thread, he chats crap constantly and is a right mug on par with Tony Cascarino….

  66. Big Raddy says:

    Why do the TV companies accept such an appalling level of expert analysis? I guess it has to do with the saying “you pay peanuts , you get monkeys”

  67. Worry not Red Arse you are all included as my favourite Gooners it’s just that I also have other favourite Gooners that don’t blog – that’s complicated 😉

  68. harry says:

    peaches, meeting up for a pre=match beer on wed?

  69. That would be lovely Harry, shall we mix it with the Barca fans? Joking

    Haven’t you got a small son with you? I’ve given my ticket to a young gooner – I’m either a fool or a very lovely person – so at the moment I am without but I will be at the Emirates either with a ticket or to watch at a pub.

    I don’t think there’ll be alcohol on the perimeter for Champions League though do you?

  70. chas says:

    Cracking post, Rocky.

    I never actually know if it’s just because I’m so utterly biased that I always see things as anti-Arsenal, or whether we really are persecuted.

    Has it always been the same? Or is it a natural counter weight to Wengerball?

    It seems to me the last two refs have almost been doing it deliberately because of Cesc’s alleged comment at half-time against Everton.

  71. harry says:

    You are a very lovely person, giving a barca ticket away!! sold out within an hour!!

    Yep I’ll have my little one with me, so I hope they do sell on perimeter again….Will give you a call when in around the ground……..

  72. RockyLives says:

    I agree it’s a real conundrum. I think someone said earlier that it’s almost as if some refs give fouls against us because they feel sorry for the opposition when we’re running rings round them. I certainly think Dowd got all excited by the Newcastle comeback and couldn’t help himself from taking sides (which is pretty unforgivable for a ref).

  73. London says:

    Hi BR

    If you are around. I read somewhere that Eriksen said he didn’t think that the EPL would suit him. This, of course, could be a comment twisted by a journalist or there could be a modicum of truth in it. I was curious as to your thoughts? Do you think he said that and if he did which league do you think he have eyes for?

  74. Anyone fancy writing anything for tomorrow?

  75. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    What you say about Beckham is most likely correct, but as a footballer, compared to the greats of the game, he isn’t in the same league. Beckham the marketing tool does not make him beckham the great footballer.

    I don’t care how many shirts kids wear of his, the fact is David Beckham never made the giddy eight of superstardom as a footballer. Now if you can’t admit that I’m right then hence the reason England’s national team never delivers.
    You pin your hopes on above average players all the time.

    There have been a lot of actors in Hollywood that have churned out the bucks at the turnstiles for the film studios over the years, but a fair few of them never won an Oscar. If Beckham was an actor, he would have only won a BAFTA 😆

  76. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    eight = heights

  77. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    I see the chavs are struggling.

  78. SharkeySure says:

    Top top quality Rocky

  79. 26may1989 says:

    Gnarley, likewise, I couldn’t give a toss about Beckham the marketing tool, it’s just the very talented, utterly professional, committed, competitive pro that I admire. Look at the way he dealt with Capello at Real Madrid: FC arrived, dismissing Beckham for being all hype, and tried to freeze him out how did Beckham react? Carried on training hard, waited till he was called on and then delivered for the team, helping drive them to the title. And Capello had to back track.

    Shame Fulham missed that last minute penalty vs Chelsea. Still, more dropped points.

  80. RockyLives says:

    Chavs drop more points.
    I had thought that it would be the Spuds who would make way for Citeh in the Champs League places, but maybe it will be Chelsea after all…

  81. Carlito11 says:

    Rocky- I may be a heretic for saying this but at least Spuds are a club with history. Would love to see Chelsea play in the Europa Cup with all their expensive signings!

  82. Carlito11 says:

    Gnarley, I don’t care much about Beckham but I do admire the man and not for his marketablity. He is a true team player who never stopped running and inspired his team mates to great things. He was undeniably a master of the dead ball situation but for me it was always his attitude and his lack of ego on the pitch that made him the player he is today. A true professional and almost an old school ‘gent’. If it was only about skill, you might be right he’s not a great of the game, although he’s every bit as good as Roberto Carlos for example. But I don’t really care- not one of ours is he 😉

  83. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Fellas all the things you say about Beckham are contrary to my point. My point is as a footballer, he gave good face for magazine covere; good copy for womens magazines & was an excellent fashion accessory for Posh Spice.

    He may have tried hard, & harder than most, but in retrospect he was an above average player & no more.

    If David Beckham had not surrounded himself with great players from the likes of Man utd & Real Madrid, he would have been not much better than a David Bentley IMHO.

  84. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Anyway I won’t go on anymore about this subject.

    Arsenal still ant the chavs to be there abouts & still with a great chance for top 4, so a point is good tonight. We need the chavs to be up & about for the 2 man utd fixtures, coz if they are done & dusted before thses games come about, they may not have the absolute hunger to beat utd. its going to be a balancing act for us with the chavs till the end of the season.

  85. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Anyway I won’t go on anymore about this subject.

    Arsenal still want the chavs to be there abouts & still with a great chance for top 4, so a point is good tonight. We need the chavs to be up & about for the 2 man utd fixtures, coz if they are done & dusted before thses games come about, they may not have the absolute hunger to beat utd. its going to be a balancing act for us with the chavs till the end of the season.

  86. Gooner in Exile says:

    On Beckham I think his is a role model that a lot of young footballers should aspire to, Gnarley is probably right in saying Bentley has a lot of the same basic skill, but Bentley wanted everyones respect before he proved anything on the pitch.

    You don’t get the advertising extras that Beckham got by being just a pretty face (it helps) but there are plenty of pretty boys who don’t get then, it’s his work on and off the pitch.

    In a former life I was quite friendly one of Chris Hughtons children and I questioned Beckhams ability in front of Chris at the time he was Spurs assistant manager. He spent about 10 minutes telling me why I was wrong, and by the end I valued his opinion higher than mine, and changed my mind.

    On Chavs I have to agree they need to be in with a shout of CL spot when they play Utd for us to stand a chance of winning PL, so as much as I’d love them to be in Europa League I’d like to see it happen after they have taken points off Utd.

    I’m worried Abramovich has told Ancelotti CL is most important.

    Anyone see the story that they are trying to line up our Chief Scout for when Arnesen leaves at end of this season.

  87. RockyLives says:

    Sorry folks, old enmities rule the roost as far as I’m concerned, so I would much rather see the (already rich) Chavs get the 4th spot rather than seeing the Spuds enrich themselves with ECL money.

  88. Rohan says:

    Don’t think the Spuds need CL money as such. They’re already minted with Joe Lewis. It’s more the prestige that comes with it imo.

  89. London says:

    I would prefer Bolton to get the forth spot rather than spuds or chavs, there you go…question answered.

  90. Lee says:

    La Liga 12 Feb 2010

    As David Villa put it: “Sporting managed to do to us what no one else has done to us and stop us playing.” “It can be hard,” Pep Guardiola said, “when a team puts nine or ten men behind the ball and denies us space.” Manolo Preciado built two solid lines, close together, ceded territory and possession and funnelled Barcelona into traffic. They had not so much parked the bus, one newspaper noted, as parked the airbus. Sporting got the opener on a swift break from the edge of their area but were pinned back in the second half. Barcelona were also stymied by the absence of Sergio Busquets and, in the first half, Pedro


    Sporting Gijón 1 Barcelona 1

    Can you believe that comment from Guardiola? The way they talk you would think that Sporting were the first team to work out that parking the bus might reap rewards. Pep my dear boy if you played in the EPL you would face a parked bus two games out of three and if that wasn’t frustration enough you would then meet the likes of Barton and Shawcross.

  91. London says:

    I did that accidently….but I quite like it.

  92. 26may1989 says:

    Would love to see Spurs edge one of the moneybags clubs out of the CL spots, but don’t see it happening. I predict it’ll finish:

    1. The Mighty Arse
    2. United
    3. Chelsea
    4. City
    5. Spurs

    We’re depending on Chelsea taking the fight to United in their two games but I think Chelsea will take at least four points from those games – they’ll be pissed off at how much they’ve screwed up their season and want to show they can still do it, they’ll want to secure CL football (I can’t see an English side winning the CL this year or even being in the final) and Torres will get into some sort of form.

    Aside from our games against Liverpool and Spurs, our big obstacle is Fergie’s favourite musclemen, Stoke. Pulis wiould love to do a favour for Fergie and he hates us anyway (feeling shared). The two games against Stoke will be very important milestones for us.

  93. I quite like it too Lee/London 😉

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