Friday, May 24, 2024

Refs, the FA and FIFA are pathetic – early Barça news

Hello and happy Monday to you all.

Amazingly the Mugsmashers did us a big favour yesterday by beating United, meaning the disappointment of not beating Sunderland is offset a bit by the fact we’ve made a net gain in terms of points. Of course you can choose to be even more disappointed that by not beating them we’re not even closer to United but there you go.

And after the officiating controversy in our game it was interesting to see yesterday’s games provide more of the same. Mark Halsey in the Wolves v Sp*rs game was a disgrace, and how Carragher and Rafael didn’t get red cards is beyond me. Both of those challenges were reckless, dangerous and might have caused serious, serious injury. I know Nani ended up with a cut leg but it could easily have been a lot worse. Given the fact Phil Dowd let Carragher off with a yellow he could hardly send Rafael off.

The vagaries of the system say that because the referee saw and dealt with both these incidents at the time no further action can be taken. All that does is prove, once again, that the system is deeply flawed. How often do we hear ‘Referees are human, they will make mistakes’? So why do we treat their decisions as if they were infallible? Why can we not look at incidents after a game and say that the referee got it wrong? Does it undermine the ref? No, it simply says that with the benefit of hindsight and replays, we have a better view of what went on. That we can make a more informed decision than the man on the pitch can as he’s operating under constraint.

He has to make his mind up in seconds, he’s got one view, one angle. We have dozens. Afterwards we have time to look at what happened more closely and, if necessary, dish out a more appropriate punishment. Jamie Carragher should miss at least 3 games. That was a red card offence all day long and here we are in a situation where everybody accepts that, including Liverpool fans, yet because the ref made a bad decision, a very bad decision, he gets away with it.

How are we supposed to cut out the dangerous tackling if something as stupid as this is allowed to happen? And don’t buy the FA talking about FIFA rules preventing them from punishing players further. In France*, for example, a post-game panel can hand out punishment to a player even if a referee has seen something during a game, so why can’t it be done in England? It’s because the FA are too spineless to implement any changes which might take away from the perceived authority of the referee. The schoolmaster edict runs strong.

Maybe referees aren’t any worse than they were before – although it seems standards this season have dropped considerably – but what’s clear is that video technology is making them look worse. We can see in seconds if somebody is offside, if a ball has crossed the line, if a tackle is over the top, if a player has elbowed another in the head as he goes by, if anything off the ball has happened, who got the last touch for a disputed corner etc.

The blanket refusal to use this technology properly is making football look stupid. Especially when FIFA convene meetings to ban the rise of the snood, the greatest threat to the sport for years and years. And as long as they do goals will be wrongly disallowed, points lost, and horrendous challenges like Carragher’s, like Rafael’s, like Shawcross’s, will be unpunished and because of that they’ll put players in danger. At least nobody’s neck will be excessively warm though, that’s the main thing.

Moving on to Arsenal there’s a final training session which will tell us whether or not certain players are fit for tomorrow night’s game against Barcelona. It’s looking good for Cesc, by all accounts, but not so promising for Alex Song who could well miss out. Obviously that leaves the manager with a big decision to make regarding the midfield. Neither Diaby nor Denilson exactly laid claim to the position during the Sunderland game and given the way Barcelona play it’s an important role in the team. We can speculate more on what he might do in tomorrow’s blog.

Despite some worries regarding Jack Wilshere he let it be known that he’d be fit and ready to play – if he was selected. ‘If’, heh. And Jack set out Arsenal’s stall for tomorrow night:

If we get a goal, they will have to come at us. We can win there. We do not want to go to Barcelona looking for a draw. It will be an open game and we will create chances. We are looking to score and then see what happens.

We have a lead but a most precarious one, and it’s just not in our nature to sit back and defend. There was a time when you could see an Arsenal team go there and nullify the opposition, grinding out the result, but that’s not the way this Arsenal team plays. We’re going to have to defend well but our natural game is to attack and that’s really where our strengths are. We might not have as many chances as we normally do in a game but what’s crucial tomorrow is that when they come along we take them.

As Arsene says:

We have not enough security to sit back and defend. You can’t go to Barcelona, play for a 0-0 and not try to score. It’s also not the personality of this team. We will try to score when we get the ball back.

It feels a bit calm before the storm at the moment but by tomorrow I’m sure the nerves will be jangling and the excitement building. I am somewhat gutted not to be going, despite having flights and everything else, life has conspired against me returning to my old home town to watch the famous Arsenal victory and enjoy the many splendours Barcelona brings (someone bring me back a Pepito from Viena!).

Still, that’s the way it goes. Fingers crossed that the medical tests this morning are good and that we can go there with as strong a squad as possible. They have some injury issues themselves and we can look at the permutations and what it might mean in tomorrows blog when the game is previewed in full.

In the meantime, have a good day, and watch out for Mugsmashers coming in at knee height.

* cheers, Ollie

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