I’d like to begin this morning by wishing happy new year to everyone … except Mike Dean.
Well, except lots of people like murderers, ponces, nonces, most politicians, Phil Collins, robbers that prey on the elderly, and people who cough without covering their mouths, but especially except Mike Dean.
Last night, after the game, I was a bit more inclined to look at our overall performance and take as much umbrage with that as I did the baldy wankblaster’s outrageous late decision to award West Brom a penalty. Overnight, however, things have changed. The ire I feel towards the man who loves to make things about himself has festered and I would enjoy nothing more than spending years in a science lab trying to recreate the sabre-toothed tiger so I can let loose a pack of them on him and watch him, unsuccessfully, trying to run for his crappy life before they ate his head. And the rest of him.
Look, we were a bit rubbish, there’s no denying that. Without Mesut Ozil we lacked the creative spark, and nothing much clicked for us. There were a couple of chances that the keeper saved – the ones from Lacazette and Iwobi spring to mind – but we were far less dangerous than we were against Crystal Palace.
I think everyone can understand the manager’s frustration that West Brom had two days more rest than we did, but this is a man who regularly talks about having only good players in his squad. We knew the schedule was going to be tough, could we not have rotated a little more to offset that? I know we’re not replete with great options, but it’s difficult to complain about how fatigue affected us without really doing anything about it from our end.
I also think you could also ask why, when Laurent Koscielny went off, we didn’t just go to a back four and bring on an extra attacking option to try and win the game. Per Mertesacker did nothing wrong, but it felt a particularly cautious substitution in a game against the worst team in the league.
Our performance was generally turgid. You might be inclined to put it down to the fact it was our second game in three days if you hadn’t seen this kind of thing countless times already this season. There’s a reason West Brom are bottom of the table, and it’s been a feature of this team – especially away from home – to find ourselves dragged down to the level of the opposition we’re facing. In short, we weren’t very good and I don’t think we can assign all the blame for the fact we only took a point to Mike Dean being a useless flute.
See, I’m even confusing myself now. Just talking about the game has made me focus on how we poorly we played, but sometimes you have to grind a result out, and we had done just about enough to do that last night. Alexis Sanchez’s free kick deflected into the net off future prime minister of New Ireland, James McClean, and with just a few minutes to go I felt we’d hang on to that lead.
For some reason I didn’t factor in Mike Dean to my thinking. His priorities when it comes to a game of football are as follows:
1 – Mike Dean
2 – Mike Dean
3 – Mike Dean
4 – Mike Dean
5 – Mike Dean
6 – Mike Dean
7 – Mike Dean
8 – Mike Dean
9 – Doing a good job
10 – Mike Dean
If Mike Dean can Mike Dean the Mike Dean to be all about Mike Dean, then Mike Dean will Mike Dean the Mike Dean so all anyone is Mike Deaning about is Mike Dean.
Kieran Gibbs, once of this parish, chased a ball into our box, hooked it back into the arm of Calum Chambers – who was barely a couple of feet away – and as the ball went out for what should have been a corner, he did that thing that footballers do which is put his hand up to make sure the referee knows it’s a corner even though everyone knows it’s a corner.
Except in Mike Dean’s mind, it wasn’t a corner: it was an opportunity for 2017 to end with him being the centre of attention. Let’s be very clear about this, his decision to award West Brom a penalty was an egregious error. It wasn’t a 50/50. It wasn’t one where you can see why he gave it. It was simply wrong. A bread and butter decision that every top flight official should get right and he did not.
The only person in that ground who thought it was a penalty was Mike Dean. Kieran Gibbs didn’t even appeal. The co-commentators and pundits, including a former West Brom player, said it was not a penalty. Even Alan Pardew said it wasn’t a penalty, but Mike Dean decided it was.
While I wish Petr Cech would get around to saving a penalty, I can’t criticise him for not doing so. His fury in his TV interview afterwards was palpable, compounded by the fact that Dean issued him a yellow card for asking a question and then refused to speak to him despite the fact that the Arsenal keeper was polite and didn’t swear (until afterwards).
Wenger was furious about the quality of referees afterwards. Some might see it as a handy distraction, and I can understand why, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a point. The standard of officiating is getting worse, there can be no doubt about it, and it’s an issue across the Premier League, not just for Arsenal.
What will happen to Mike Dean now? Maybe he’ll find himself ‘demoted’, a couple of weeks where he’s inflicted on the Championship or restricted to fourth official duty, but as the PGMOL is seemingly answerable to nobody he’ll be back in the saddle soon enough, ready to make headlines and see himself splattered all over the back pages like a runny shite on a toilet bowl.
So, we weren’t very good, and we haven’t been very good far too often this season, but that doesn’t make the fact that we were robbed of two points by rubbish refereeing any easier to take. I suppose, if you were to look at the games against West Brom and Chelsea, you might think 4 points from 6 would have been a reasonable return, so there’s the chance to make things a little better on Wednesday against Chelsea.
That’s a difficult task though, made more difficult by accumulated fatigue, and injuries to Laurent Koscielny and Sead Kolasinac who must be serious doubts for that game after they came off at the Hawthorns. It’s another challenge for the manager and the team, but at least on Wednesday they won’t have Mike Dean to contend with.
As it’s Monday, we’ll have an Arsecast Extra for you a bit later on. James is away, so joining me to co-host today is Andrew Allen. If you have any questions or topics for discussion, send to @aallensport and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra and we’ll get to as many as we can.