So, the second week of Premier League fixtures has passed, and we’re one of just three teams to have taken maximum points. The others are Man City and free-scoring Brighton. We have lots of room to improve, obviously, but when it comes to points – so far, so good.
I have to say, I’m still a bit cheesed off with the Takehiro Tomiyasu red card. I think most fans would agree cutting down on time-wasting is a good thing, but I’m struggling to see how to square the circle of extra added time + bookings is the right way to go about it. If you’re adding the time anyway, the yellow cards don’t make perfect sense. Just tell them to hurry up. If they don’t, add the time. There is no advantage, and booking players over throw-ins, which are often difficult to execute in terms of finding a teammate, feels just a bit performative to me.
I also think the most egregious time-wasting tends to come from goalkeepers, not least when they have the ball in their hands. There is an actual rule about this:
An indirect free kick is awarded if a goalkeeper, inside their penalty area, commits any of the following offences:
- controls the ball with the hand/arm for more than six seconds before releasing it.
We routinely see goalkeepers holding onto the ball for far longer than that, yet it is almost never punished. I can’t remember the last time I saw it happen. Conversely, there’s no set time limit for taking a throw in. It appears to be at the discretion of the referee. Ben White was booked towards the end of the Nottingham Forest game for not taking one quickly enough – I went back to look and he had the ball in his hands for just 9 seconds before the referee decided that was too long and gave him a yellow card. I’m sure there were other throws in that game which took far longer.
On Monday night, Tomiyasu had the ball for 8 seconds when he was booked. Via @scottjwillis: Before the goal Crystal Palace had throw-ins that took 27, 25, 22, and 22 seconds, and Arsenal had a throw-in that took 44 seconds that went unpunished.
Mikel Arteta referenced it in his post-match interview where he basically said nobody has any idea what the rule is for a throw-in. ‘Is it 3 seconds?’, he asked. It’s not that low, but what is the bar, and has anything like that been communicated to the players/clubs? It seems not, because while they’ve been told there will be a crackdown, there don’t appear to have been any specifics – which probably would be quite useful. Not all footballers are smart, but I’m pretty sure they can all count to at least 10. If it’s 10.
The other thing that annoys me about Tomiyasu sending off is again tied to the new edicts which the PGMOL have put in place at the start of the season. One of which is this:
Leniency on “physical” challenges
On the pitch, as an attempt to allow the game to flow better and reduce stoppages, a higher threshold will be applied to “contact” between players – meaning there should be fewer free-kicks awarded for incidents which last season might well have been penalised for being overly physical.
How does that stack up then with regards Tomiyasu and the second yellow? Especially in light of the challenge on Saka that Ayew made when he was on a yellow from the first half. If that was a case of the referee applying leniency because of these new edicts, why didn’t the same apply to Tomiyasu? I think it should also spark a debate about the inability to appeal two yellows. When Alexis Mac Allister has had his red card overturned – and rightly so in my opinion – why is there no method for players who have been sent off for two yellows?
Officials get things wrong, even in this era of VAR, so if an Independent Regulatory Commission can review and rescind a red card like Mac Allister’s, why can’t they review the yellow cards of a weekend and make similar judgements? Even if it’s just to double check that two yellows, which result in a suspension of course, are 100% merited.
I don’t suppose it makes any difference now, the rules are what they are, but every season we get these ‘let if flow’ style amendments which make it look like officials are being proactive, but basic stuff like this remains unchanged. Not to mention that after a couple of months they tend to fall by the wayside anyway, and we go back to where we were – until the start of the next season and they introduce some new nonsense once more.
Anyway, it’s good to gripe after taking all three points at Selhurst Park despite the challenging end to the game because of the red card. No doubt it’s something the manager will be talking to his players about ahead of the game against Fulham at the weekend, but I’m curious to see how many other players fall victim to these new standards. My guess is not many, but let’s see where we are after the coming weekend.
Right, I’m going to leave it there for now. There’s a brand new Arsecast Extra out for you, and if you haven’t had a chance to listen, it’s below. Enjoy.