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James Lawton: Arsenal's foul table manners tarnish would-be legends' aura

26 October 2004

The time has come for the FA to finally do something about Arsenal and their less than savage behaviour every time they visit Old Trafford. You might put it down to the rancid Mancunian air, that damages brains cells enough so that some in the city support the team in blue, but I maintain there is a sickness, a malaise, about Arsenal Football Club that continues to heap shame up on the game we all love.

Forget for a moment that Ruud van Nistelrooy tried to break Ashley Cole's kneecap; if this were Argentina these are the sort of challenges supporters make on each other, let alone the players on the pitch.

Forget that Frederik Ljungberg was fouled by Rio Ferdinand, and the Spoopy Snoopy Dog Dog lookalike England defender should have had a red card; it's not important in the great scheme of things.

Forget that Wayne Rooney dived to win his penalty; it happens all the time in football and lest we forget last season Robert Pires did much the same as Rooney, only he left his foot out to make contact with a Portsmouth defender who was lucky his career was not ended by such a vile and vicious assault on his ankle.

Forget that Mike Riley, surely the most honest and sagacious of officials in the game, gave his eighth penalty in eight visits to Old Trafford; statistics can be manipulated to prove anything. It's the abhorrent and iniquitous behaviour of the Arsenal players and management that we should be focussing on. Yes, they went 49 games unbeaten, but should we applaud this statistic in a league that contains such lowlights as Crystal Palace, West Brom and Tottenham? No. Arsenal's record was a fluke and their actions after the game were no better than a spoiled child who has had his Playstation taken away leaving him only with his Xbox and broadband internet connection on his top of the line PC.

Arsenal need to learn that what happens at Old Trafford is, as Valmont so eloquently puts it in Dangerous Liaisons, 'beyond their control'. Then they need to do what every other team does when things don't go their way and that's to be quiet and accept the outrageous refereeing decisions.

Once again the police will investigate Arsenal after incidents in the tunnel area. Last year we saw the worst of them, snarling, lupine, primitive and aboriginal as they attempted to maim any United player that came near them. How it must have hurt them to see justice done when Ruud van Nistelrooy, so wronged, so wickedly mocked for missing his penalty, coolly slotted home the opening goal. His rapture, his joy, his almost orgasmic gratification at scoring was a moist wet vagina for United fans, beckoning them in with its pink and clean shaven lips.

Afterwards the Arsenal players couldn't take it. A sense of injustice can make men do many things, but Arsenal are not the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four - although you can't help but thinking 15 years in Wakefield Prison would teach them some manners. For them to wantonly waste food, food which could feed a small African village for weeks at a time, is the most despicable thing I have seen in all my years of watching football. Can you imagine poor little N'Dugu and the rest of his starving clan watching in remote Niger, in the one shack that has a satellite dish and a Sky subscription, as a veritable banquet is propelled through the air? It doesn't bear thinking about.

For a man with such grace and style as Sir Alex Ferguson, his fine features and manly jaw ameliorated by years of chewing gum, to be hit with soup and pizza and whatever else was to hand - we can thank the Lord himself that the days of leaving suckling pigs in the opposition dressing room are long gone - is the lowest of the low. Quite honestly Arsenal should be looking at a points deduction for this.

United can rest easy knowing that not only are the three points rightly theirs, but they can take the moral high ground too. The whole nation is appalled at Arsenal's cheating. How much more of it can we take?


26 October 2004 11:42

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