Top celebration Dec.

Published: Monday, 12 February 2024

Class, Dec. Real class. Of course, I’m referring to the ‘celebration’ after Rice smashed Arsenal’s sixth against West Ham.

I thought Rice had a thunderous impact on the game. He looked every inch the player that left West Ham and used to play like it every week in their colours. Perhaps it was because he was back on familiar territory, but Rice cajoled, hit probing passes and to some degree ran the game, in a way I haven’t seen him do often enough in an Arsenal jersey.

His goal topped it all off. He did everything I said he should be doing when I wrote about him being Declan Nice recently. And the celebration police were quite happy with what followed his goal. He was muted. Respectful. And classy.

On that subject Arteta proved that he can behave himself on a touchline. There were none of his usual tiresome antics - which he claims are because he’s an excitable character. Nonsense. 

I know why he behaved - because David Moyes was in the other technical area and he has too much respect for his old boss. So - try pretending he’s there every week Mikel. You looked dignified for once. Well done.

Has ten Hag stumbled on a team I wonder? I don’t think United have played all that well in recent games, but they’ve been nicking results by digging in and they look a far better unit than at any time during ten Hag’s tenure.

There’s no doubt that Villa were the better team across the piece, but why they backed off when they’d got United by the throat, after equalising, I just don’t know. My feeling watching Emery was that he was asking himself that very same question. Anyway - United won it and maybe - just maybe they’ve turned a corner? 

I’m so pleased for Harry Maguire. As I’ve said here often - he’s a top pro. He was immovable on Sunday. Awesome. A lesser man would’ve crumbled with what he’s been through. He deserves plaudits now.

A couple of other things - of course Casemiro was off-side from the free-kick that led to the corner - that led to the goal! BeINSPORTS viewers knew that on Sunday when Andy and I pointed it out.

The assistant should’ve seen it. Casemiro made himself active when he challenged for the ball. There was no way VAR could get involved though because the incident didn’t lead immediately to the goal. 

It was never a free-kick mind you. Having worked Fernandes out referees have got to be as strong with Rashford now. He should’ve been booked for diving, not rewarded for his cheating.

And finally on that game - isn’t it funny how life can work out? I’ll tell you this for a fact - if David Moyes had said ‘yes’ - McTominay would be at West Ham now.

Moyes chased him all last summer, but couldn’t agree a fee with United. They wanted £40m for McTominay - Moyes offered £30m. Because he got frustrated, Moyes went shopping elsewhere - only for United to offer the player for £30m on deadline day. By then it was too late. Ten Hag must be a very happy man that once again fate has served him well.

Antony Taylor had a shocker at Forest. What was it he didn’t see when Dubravka took Awoniyi down? It was a pen. Taylor was actually looking at it. VAR froze - of course they did. There was no way Tony Harrington was going to tell Taylor that he’d dropped a bollock. Like Michael Oliver - Taylor doesn’t take kindly to having his decision making questioned by people he regards as inferior to him. This is an another problem with VAR. And we know this, because Mike Dean said as much earlier in the season.

Burnley were unlucky as well. Never mind that Klopp was angry because he thought his team should’ve had a pen - Aaron Ramsey was clearly fouled by Mac Allister in the build-up to Liverpool’s 2nd. Why is it that more fuss isn’t made about situations like the one at Forest and this one?

It didn’t affect the result - but the boys in VAR had a bad day at Luton as well. There’s no way either pen should’ve been given. Neither was handball. VAR were far too busy. 

Our refs chief, Howard Webb (showbiz showbiz showbiz) will no doubt ignore all of the above when he sits down to get grilled (😂) by Michael Owen on the next edition of Sorry! I can’t wait.

Webb (showbiz showbiz showbiz) is going to have a busy month in March. I’ve been sent a flier for an evening he and his wife are hosting in Stockport for the Stockport Referees Society

Tickets are available at £6.00 each.

I don’t know where that money is going - perhaps it’s to cover the cost of food and organisation, but I’d hate to think Webb (showbiz showbiz showbiz) was taking a fee from the evening. I would love to know if that the case. If you do - please get in touch. 

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I don’t know why it was sent to me. If the idea was that I should buy a ticket let me tell you right now - I’d rather spend the evening eating an out of date yoghurt. Webb should be concentrating more on doing his job and improving the standard of our refs than getting involved with stuff like this.