Last night at the FSA Awards, Arseblog won Fan Media of the Year for the second year in succession – a title defence. For obvious reasons, I couldn’t go, but look at these two handsome gents there to represent and pick up the trophy:
— gunnerblog (@gunnerblog) November 29, 2021
First off, a big thanks to all of you who voted for us, it’s hugely appreciated. Secondly, a big shout to all the other nominees. To win is amazing, but when the competition is so good, it makes it something extra special. So congrats to Along Come Norwich, Fulhamish, The Anfield Wrap, True Faith, and TWTD (Ipswich), and keep up the incredible work you do.
Independent fan media is so important. We saw this year when the Super League was foisted upon us how the collective voice of football fans can make a real difference. There won’t always be things of that magnitude, but vital coverage of teams and clubs goes beyond entertainment or information for fans. Everything revolves around football, of course, but not everything that happens at clubs or in the game in general is directly related to what happens on the pitch.
While there are dedicated groups which represent fans at Arsenal and other clubs, the blogs/websites/podcasts can play a role too. And here’s the thing: there’s so much choice. If you don’t like one thing, there’s another thing, or another thing, until you find something you do. Thankfully, many of you seem to like what we do here, and we love you for it. Thanks again, and we’ll keep doing it. Things like this make us strive to do more and to do it better.
I also need to thank the entire crew who do such great work across all aspects of the coverage we provide. Andrew Allen put together this graphic at the start of the season, so you can see who’s who and who does what:
— arseblognews (@arseblognews) August 11, 2021
We’ve also added our good friend Poorly Drawn Arsenal to the team too, for a monthly Patreon round-up, as well as Jason Ilagan to help produce the video content for Arsenal Women. I’m sure over time the team will expand even further. It’s a shame that the world is the way it is right now, because it would be great to get everyone together and have a celebration, but for now virtual champagne and party poppers to everyone 🎉🥂.
Moving on, I just wanted to pick up on something from the weekend and the win over Newcastle. There were a couple of potential penalty incidents mentioned in the post-game coverage. There was the one where Callum Wilson fell over too easily under a challenge from Nuno Tavares (never a penalty for me), and another when Martin Odegaard was grappling with some bloke (quite possibly a penalty, but given the amount of pulling etc that goes on at set-pieces, you open the door to multiple penalties per game if you start giving them).
I was a little surprised that there wasn’t more focus on Jamaal Lascelles challenge on Gabriel Martinelli though. James and I disagreed about this on the Arsecast Extra yesterday, but I think this certainly a penalty and it ought to be a red card too. Just to be clear, I love the physical aspect of the game, and in those circumstances if a strapping centre-half uses his upper body to go shoulder to shoulder with a more lean, wiry attacker and prevents a chance, it’s great defending in my opinion.
In this incident though, Lascelles attempt to go shoulder to shoulder on Martinelli was just a touch off. He was slightly ahead of him, so instead of shoulder to shoulder, he went shoulder to side of head/jaw. I just don’t see how this is any different from a mistimed tackle. The intent is to get the ball, but if you’re a fraction late, you can miss it, go studs up into a player and nobody argues about the merits of a foul or a penalty being awarded, or the fact that a red card can often be the outcome.
When a 15 stone central defender, moving at top speed, mistimes a shoulder and ends up slamming it into the side of an opponent’s head, that’s dangerous play. Whether he means it or not is irrelevant, it ends up being reckless. As others have pointed out, in much more physical sports like rugby and ice-hockey, those kind of challenges are punished immediately.
Via The FA site, the definition of ‘serious foul play’ (which requires a red card), is as follows:
A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.
Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.
That the first line includes the word ‘challenge’ makes it fit the Lascelles/Martinelli incident for me. As we learn more about the impact of head injuries, it’s surely more important than ever that when something like this happens, it’s punished. It shouldn’t deter players from making shoulder to shoulder challenges, but focus on the timing and make sure they get them right. Thankfully, Martinelli was ok, although I suspect he’d have woken up sore on Sunday morning. It could have been a lot worse though, and I’m just not sure why there wasn’t more said about it. Perhaps the fact it came at the end of a comfortable win played a part. It might well have been seen as more comment worthy if it were 0-0 and we’d needed that penalty.
Once again, thank you all for your continued support. It means the world to us all.