Arsenal might just be the real deal - so why the antics?

Published: Monday, 16 January 2023

I always like to try and start on the front foot. With something positive. That’s not always the case, but I do try. So here goes….

For the first time this weekend I started to believe that Arsenal might just win the title. There’s a long way to go yet, but I’m getting the same feeling about this season as I had when Leicester won it. No-one handed Leicester that title. They earned it, but the opposition wasn’t as strong as it had been in other years. It simply kept falling away. And it’s happening again.

What’s wrong with City? Do we subscribe to the view that Haaland is actually part of the problem and not the solution? That, despite the goals, he’s damaged the ‘team’ ethic? It can happen. Look at what’s happening at OT. I’ve been right all along - United are better without Ronaldo and his goals. Much better. It’s just a thought about Haaland. We can discuss another time.

What’s not in question is that City have hit the wall. They’re nowhere near it right now. We’ll get back to this as well.

Conversely - as others stumble - Arsenal plough on. There’s no challenge from Liverpool or Chelsea. United aren’t really ready, but they’re in the chase. So are Newcastle. If City keep dropping points, that’s it. Arsenal have got a rare chance here to win this title.

What a shame then that they keep ending up in situations like the one at Spurs Sunday. Look - there is no excuse for that thug lunging at Ramsdale and trying to kick him. Whoever it was should be banned for life. And never mind 31,657 people have come forward claiming it was them. 😂. We’ve all seen that meme.

But I knew Ramsdale wasn’t entirely innocent. You could see him laughing at Richarlison as he cleared the last ball of the game up field. Within minutes he was telling Geoff Shreeves that he’d been winding up Spurs fans at that end for the entire second-half. Why? Ramsdale thinks it’s good natured and fun, but it’s not. And it’s certainly not in a North London derby when the home team are losing. He was asking for trouble and he got it. He does it all the time. He’s a good keeper and should concentrate on being just that. Cut the clown Aaron. It’s not necessary.

Inevitably all the expected suspects jumped in at the end. And at the heart of the melee was the architect of so much of the nonsense - the coach - trying to calm things down. 🤷‍♂️.

Look. The Arsenal are a class act. Some of us remember being totally overawed walking into the marble halls at Highbury and being greeted by the bust of Herbert Chapman and a suited and booted George Graham - looking magnificent. Graham understood the club. It because a Rolls-Royce of an institution from Chapman’s time on. Graham’s teams competed - in every sense of the word - but he knew how behave and represent The Arsenal.

Wenger’s teams didn’t take prisoners - but he didn’t behave like a lunatic week in week out. Yes - he occasionally got carried away - but he didn’t patrol the touchline waving his arms about like a whirling dervish screaming at players who are taking throw-ins. If they don’t know how to take a throw-in they shouldn’t be playing.

As regulars know I’ve been warning about this for weeks. We all got away with one on Sunday - but it was close. Arteta has got to calm down and lead by example. The Gunners are already on two FA charges. They’ve got to be careful. Someone - please - explain to Arteta that actions have consequences.  If the coach can’t behave and set the right example then players won’t either. This won’t end well.

I’ve seen a few daft decisions during Mike Riley’s time in charge at the PGMOL - but nothing like the one that led to Utd’s equalising goal v City. It was the worst decision I’ve ever seen on a football pitch.

Of course Rashford was off-side. Never mind that he didn’t touch the ball. He affected City’s defending. Akanji actually stopped running. Rashford got clear as a result and then shielded the ball from defenders - shaped like he might hit it - confusing Ederson - before the keeper had to re-adjust to try and save Fernandes’ shot. Offside. Offside. Offside. And I don’t care about the arguments that the current law is written to allow for Rashford’s part in the goal. No it isn’t. All the above applies to overrule that judgement.

It wasn’t just a daft decision that affected the game - it was a decision to adversely affect City’s challenge for the title. We don’t know - but my guess is they win the game if United don’t score then.

Read Keith Hackett - X-chief of the PGMOL - in the Sunday Telegraph if you don’t believe me. There are few better judges than Hackett. He actually argued it was ‘an OT decision’. It might have been. Would it have been given at the other end? Or in Covid times with no crowd to have such an influence?

Last word on Stuart Attwell/Darren Cann’s decision. And I know Cann lectures on the laws of the game and believes it was a correct decision. But….

If so - then why was Havertz adjudged to have been offside in Chelsea’s game v Palace. Here’s what happened - Chelsea corner that Silva heads towards goal. The ball is cleared -Silva heads it back straight back. Havertz is caught coming away from goal - between the last defender and the keeper. The flag goes up. Silva, meanwhile, hits a left footed volley that Guaita saves and the ball goes out. So another corner? But no - Havertz is given off-side and the game resumes with a free-kick. Why was he offside? He didn’t touch the ball. What if Silva had scored?  No-one has addressed this. Why not?

A couple of things to end on. It’s great to have Bayern Munich in Qatar warm weather training. Yep. Bayern - and the very same players that were making their WC protests a couple of weeks ago. You really couldn’t make it up. What’s changed guys?

And I don’t know if you saw Sunday’s story about the luxury watch store in Newcastle raided by the UK’s FBI in what was described as a ‘money laundering probe’. Wow. If Disneyland did luxury watch stores…..