Faced with the chance to climb into the upper echelons of the (misleading) Premier League table and capitalise on the recent shabby performances of our Super League colleagues, Arsenal did what Arsenal does: they took all the recent momentum, the promising performances, a solid defensive partnership, a goalkeeper in fine form, a coach’s hard-earned respect, favourable results elsewhere – and they loaded it into a cartoon cannon and shot themselves squarely in the foot.
To be fair, they couldn’t miss, since the foot filled a large and flappy clown shoe – a shoe that Gooners thought had departed in a clown car bound for Schalke. Alas, ye Gooners, with your goldfishesque memories… How could you forget:
Arsenal never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.®
It’s our credo. It defines the ArsenalDNA. It governs our hopes and fears. The Arsenal Way is a circus ride – one you forgot that you’d paid for, until some slit-eyed little brunofernandez ratperson comes up and hands you a dirty, crumpled ticket and says “You dropped this.”
Despite your every protestation, it does look familiar, and when you smoothe it out and examine it under the cold, hard, dreadful light – sure enough: there is your name on it, above the words “LIFETIME MEMBER”. And for some reason the relentlessly catchy Hotel California burrows its way into your inner ear:
You can check out any time you want – but you can never leave…
You can blame the result on awful refereeing, and you should. The Premier League match officials are as incompetent as they come, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering their logo:
You could choose from any one of the horrendous decisions from last night’s game – but ultimately there is only one decision that ruined the game: and that was the Luiz red card + penalty decision during the half time break. At least – it should have been during the half time break, since it came in a period of extra added time that had little justification and no historic precedence.
There is no good reason to offer a detailed post-mortem of an incident that should be consigned to the Dustbin of Avoidable Travesties – but I’m going to offer it anyway – because that’s what aggrieved football fans do.
When Leno cleared the ball 1 minute and 55 seconds into the two minutes of added time – any other referee would have blown the whistle for oranges and backrubs. Not this one… Despite the inclement weather, last night’s man in black (He Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned) decided to let the game sneak over the fence and steal an apple from the low-hanging branch of next-door’s Tree of Injustice.
You could insist that there is no way that HWNSNBM could have known that David Luiz would davidluiz in the very next run of play: by getting too tight on his mark, switching off for the through ball which followed the chest-down, being wrong-sided on the break, and then inexplicably getting close enough to clip the striking foot of Willian J.(yes, Willian… the irony) – but I would remind you: EVERYONE knows that David Luiz is ALWAYS moments away from a catastrophic and untimely davidluiz.
Upon repeated (and repeated and repeated) close and objective analysis of the incident, it was clear to me (and should have been clear and obvious to anyone) that Luiz’s indiscretion was accidental. Curlytwat even adjusted his running stride to specifically AVOID tapping Willian’s heel, and get behind Leno to defend the goal-line.
No – the Brazilian didn’t make a legal attempt to tackle the other Brazilian, but he didn’t make a cynical attempt to bring him down either. Any contact looked purely accidental, and elsewhere on the pitch would probably not have even resulted in a free kick. (In my totally unbiased and objective opinion, of course…)
Besides – I thought the double-jeopardy rule was fairly well-established by now: the spot kick would be awarded, Wolves would get the almost-certain subsequent goal, and justice would be served. Reducing one team to ten men would be unnecessarily harsh, 47-and-a-half minutes into a 47-minute first half.
Here’s the FA wording on the matter:
DENYING A GOAL OR AN OBVIOUS GOAL-SCORING OPPORTUNITY
Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned if the offence was an attempt to play the ball; in all other circumstances (e.g. holding, pulling, pushing, no possibility to play the ball etc.) the offending player must be sent off.
“…in all other circumstances…”
Ahhhhhh. Therein lies the rub.
Luiz’s interference with Willian J. Is covered by a vague and over-reaching generalisation in the Rules of the Game. There is no room for debate, for reason, for exception. It’s not corruption and incompetence after all, it’s another well-placed phrase for the PGMOL cabal to hide behind, covering all their indiscretions, mis-interpretations and blatant errors.
And that’s why our blood boils: because despite the advancement of technology, and the opportunity for clarity and exactitude in the laws that govern the game – there is none. Deliberate obscuration and obfuscation gives match officials the grey areas they need in which to hide their incompetence and/or corruption.
This lack of transparency, this sethblattery ruins so many games but it is never addressed, and never shall be.
In other news:
- Leno got himself sent off.
- Penalty shouts were ignored.
- Wolves grabbed a winner.
- It rained and rained.
- Arsenal went home with their tails between their legs.
The game was ruined already.
We move on.
I was eleven-and-a-half. My family had just emigrated from Rhodesia to South Africa. All the kids on my street supported United or Liverpool, because of their Southern African goalkeeper connections: Bailey for United and Grobbelaar for ‘Pool. Problem was: I didn’t like the colour red – so when FA Cup Final day came around in 1979, I supported the team in yellow, even though their name sounded like “Asshole”. At the final whistle, I had bragging rights and a team that had won my heart.
Then I discovered that the Gunners also wore red. Luckily, I remained loyal, and the Arsenal has kicked my heart around ever since… (apart from a few lost years in the ’90s and early ’00s, when I was busy doing grownup things as a composer in Hollywood).
Abandoned invinciblog.com to launch this site with 1 Nil Down 2 One Up blogfather Dave Seager – and we have used this platform to help launch the writing careers of a number of amazing Arsenal bloggers.