Mike Dean 2-1 Arsenal; the Good, Bad, and the Rooney

Match Reports

ESPNSoccernet: United are hairy cunts.

Telegraph: I said HAIRY cunts. (The Telegraph gave MotM to Clichy, they couldn’t very well give it to a United player.)

Match Video

Arsenalist, who else? Though if anyone can recommend cheap (or free) video editing software, I’m very interested. Now that the dot com offers up the whole match, it would be fascinating to edit together a video of, say, all of United’s fouls and send it to the league.

Man of the Match

Mike Dean handed out 9 yellow cards, awarded 1 non-penalty, failed to award another stonewall penalty, and in the final 30 seconds expelled Arsene Wenger to the seats, no wait, the stands, no, I mean the standing area in front of the stands, or maybe it’s just best to go to the dressing room.  It was a masterful performance from Man U’s 12th man who was right where he likes to be, the center of attention, in the spotlight, dishing out yellows and handing out penalties.

Mike Dean is the most controversial referee in the league. He hands out more yellows than any other and assigns more penalties than any other. As I’ve said already, he loves to be the center of attention and yesterday was no different than any other Mike Dean match.

That said, the big decisions are always the stuff of controversy but the subtle decisions are often more, erm, decisive in the total tally. So, if you don’t want to use the Rooney decision, or the Arshavin decision, you could point to several other early calls by Dean which radically changed the game.

For example, there was an early elbow by Valencia into the face of Vermaelen which went unpunished. It was pretty clear that Valencia led with his elbow and had no hope of getting the ball. Dean even took him aside and explained at length how he had violated the rules, miming why the way he used his elbow was a foul. Not but a few moments later, on LITERALLY his first foul, and for an action that was far from dangerous, Mike Dean gave Alex Song a yellow card.

I’m going to say that again, because I think it’s mildly important: in the 23rd minute of a crucial match and for his first infraction, Mike Dean gave Arsenal’s defensive midfielder a yellow card for a minor challenge. At the same time Darren Fletcher was fouling people all over the pitch, consistently making dangerous tackles. By ESPN’s count, Fletcher ended the day with 6 fouls (which doesn’t even count the two-footed tackle on Arshavin which didn’t get called as a foul) and Song ended the day with 3 fouls — and only Song got the caution. It was a critical decision which left Song hampered the rest of the match.

So, since he was the most important person on the pitch and since his calls so consistently and demonstrably favored United, Mike Dean wins Man of the Match.

In fact, he was so bad that I heard UEFA is going to investigate him for simulating being a referee.

The Good

Don’t let anyone bring you down, Arsenal should have won that game. Against a very average looking Man U team Arsenal put on a hell of a show and outplayed Man U on their home patch. How many teams could boast that they went to Man U’s home, in front of 75,000 hostile fans and went toe to toe with them as far as shots, shots on goal, time of possession, corners, and even forced Man U into more fouls (always the sign of a lesser team)? All the while missing their captain and best player, their captain’s backup, a critical wing player who has single-handedly won games for them against United, their fastest player, and at least two other players? How many teams could do that? Man U were less than ordinary, they were below average. Arsenal should take solace in the fact that Mike Dean won that match, not Man U.

Song and Denilson in the middle of the park were magnificent. Denilson, in particular, hardly put a foot wrong. Moreover, he was a man in constant motion, nipping in to steal the ball when United’s midfielders lost control, then playing the perfect pass to start the attack, dribbling to create space and even had a shot. Neat, tidy, and more than once his vision forward nearly led to a goal.

Song meanwhile tracked back, covered defense, and even with a yellow card was still strong in the challenge and still bossing Man U’s midfield around. But my favorite part was how Song made Giggs look old and obviously outclassed.

And Andrei Arshavin… the English language does not contain enough adjectives to describe how brilliant he is. I mean, all he did was receive a two-footed lunge from Fletcher and promptly dust himself off and rifle home a shot that silenced Old Trafford.

This is a great team, guys, let’s be proud of them, they will do something great, this year.

The Bad

I’ve already heard enough complaints about Diaby and I’m done with it. I don’t really want us to start that trend over from last year when we shredded Eboue on a weekly basis.  Diaby made a mistake, so what? He’s an Arsenal player, he’s a very talented player, with amazing touch, who is working hard on his strength and speed. As far as I can tell his major flaw is that due to his size and shape people keep comparing him to Vieira. Well, he’s not Vieira, he’s more like a Fellaini and it’s unfair of us to be getting on his back. We need to accept him for who he is, not for who we WISH he were.

And for the record, I though he was fantastic today. My big beef with him has always been that he looks lazy some times but today he ran for the full 90 and it showed.

You all can say what you want and it seems endemic to Arsenal fans that we love to hate our own men. Perry Groves talked about it in his book, how people would come up to him and tell him he was shite. But me, I’m not going to get down on Diaby, I don’t feel like I’ve earned that right. Besides which none of you could possibly be more down on Diaby than he probably is on himself at this moment. What he needs from us is support right now, look what it did for Eboue.

The Rooney

Rooney’s “penalty” was a dive. It was actually, in many ways, a worse dive than Eduardo’s and is exactly the type of intentional deception that needs to be stamped out of the game, right?.

Here, watch it again.

Notice the following things:

  1. Rooney does get to the ball first, but he is always looking for the contact. He went into that challenge with the intent to get a penalty, the same that has been said about Eduardo.
  2. Rooney’s touch is so astonishingly poor that he knocks the ball nearly out of the park, there’s no way he could have gotten to the ball, so even if there’s contact it shouldn’t be a penalty. We see that decision waved off for that exact reason pretty much every weekend.
  3. It’s a dive for the exact reason we’re told that Eduardo’s is a dive, watch it again, Rooney is nearly to ground before Mooney gets anywhere near him. In fact, it seems to me like he screws the ball out of play because he was on his way down when he kicks the ball. Rooney goes down before the contact, he was simulating all the way, thus it’s a dive and should be a yellow card.

So, Mike Dean’s only excuse to give the penalty? Dangerous play. What’s funny is that might be what he called because “dangerous play” would explain the strange yellow card. Mike Dean saw Almunia racing out to get the ball and decided that Alumina went out, head first, with intent to injure Rooney. Probably with his head. In which case it IS a penalty and Almunia deserves a yellow card.

Now, I’ve just gone and done a lot of logic there to explain how it’s not a penalty but there’s a simpler way to look at this and that is to apply the “Rooney test.” The “Rooney test” goes like this: would that have been a (foul, yellow card, penalty, etc) if Wayne Rooney did it? Now, take that same test and skew it a bit and ask; would Man U fans have been so certain that this was a penalty if Eduardo was the one going down?

Exactly.

Conclusions

Well, we got fucked.

And now we have a week to lick our wounds. Hopefully, key guys like Cesc, Walcott and Rosicky get a rest, though you can’t count on it because they are still included in their national sides. Wenger’s got some thinking to do this week and the team is going to be coming in for a lot of criticism for all that;s gone on this week. The thing is, this is a young side and they are challenging the status quo. When you do that, when you’re the up and coming side, and when you’re challenging the very fundamentals of the way the game is played, managed and financed, you’re going to get a lot of stick and you’re going to have a lot of games where cunts like Mike Dean screw you over. The only way to beat that is, well, to overcome it. The players, managers, and fans all need to stand up, as one, and keep pushing. Because when we win something, and especially when we win many things, then we will become the status quo and then we will get the benefit of these calls and people like Platini will get off our backs.

Notice I said “when” and not “if.” I still believe in this team with all my heart, this match didn’t lessen that belief. If anything it strengthened it. Arsenal are a massive threat to the footballing order. If we weren’t we wouldn’t be in all the papers. I’m full of belief that this team can do it. Fuck… if I can become an Eboue supporter then anything, and I mean ANYTHING is possible.

Right… I’m thinking I might not post every day during the inter-lull. I hate writing about the daily nothing that happens during inter-lull and refuse to suckle fools and chronicle small beer.* I’d rather, and I think you’d rather, get one or two good articles that week and maybe a caption contest. Sound fair?

Too bad! It’s my blog and I’ll take time off if I want!

*Yes, that is William Shakespeare, from my second favorite play “Othello.”

Preview: Manchest Untied v. Arsenal

Today is one day that I really wish I could get to a crowded bar and watch the match. Both for the spectacle that is an Arsenal v. Manure match and for the fact that I’m sitting here with my Eduardo strip on and I want to proudly show off my shirt. I guess I’ll just have to show it off here:

Haters will hate on you and make negative comments such as That cat looks scared and the cat should not be eating spaghetti but you just keep on eating that spaghetti because you'll always be...spaghetti cat

Suck it, haters.

Wenger’s amazing pre-match presser (available to ATVO subscribers) tells all the story we need on the Eduardo situation and I’ll just let the crucial quotes speak for themselves:

I find it a complete disgrace and unacceptable,we won’t accept the way we have been treated in this case for two reasons. One, I believe that you can debate whether it was a penalty or not. This charge implies there was intent and a desire to cheat the referee. Having watched the pictures again there was nothing conclusive.  Two, it singles out a player in Europe to be a cheat and that is not acceptable.

I believe that, first of all, there are two cases in this case and that Uefa has taken action that is not defendable.

I’ve fought my whole life against cheating and I’ve seen some obvious cases where Uefa didn’t intervene. On and off the pitch things have happened where no action was taken. This is the first time since I’ve been in football that the judgement has been made by the referee is not accepted by the football bodies.

Usually a situation that has been assessed and judged by the referee can’t be touched again. Now every single decision made by a referee can be challenged. So for me they’ve opened a very dangerous door here.

I think we have to fight against diving, the best way to do that is to have video evidence when you make decisions.The referee could say straight away ‘penalty or not’. If he is told no, we continue, or yes, we take the penalty.

The referees need help. How many times have I come out and said I am for video technology? Uefa refused the video technology but now they have used it to judge our player. Where is the logic? It is something that is quite surprising.

For me it’s a witch-hunt that we see and not an objective judgement of a case. Eduardo has been touched by the goalkeeper and we can prove that. I’m the first to say that, at first, it doesn’t look like a penalty but it’s another thing to say that he went down with intent. I wish you good luck to prove that having seen the pictures again.

To single out a player who is coming back from injury like he had, when he was hit in the way he was, for going down… well I don’t blame him. When you saw his leg after that tackle I don’t blame him for getting out of the way of the goalkeeper.

That’s all we need to know about this situation; Wenger’s going to fight this decision, he has evidence and feels like he can make a good case that the intent was not to deceive but rather to avoid contact. Not only that, it’s exactly as I said in yesterday’s comments: Arsenal are being singled out here. It’s been fully 2 years since UEFA used video replay to ban Mikoliunas and in the intervening time there have been ZERO cases brought by UEFA despite countless examples of cheating.

There’s something to be said for the fact that the folks who are most vocal in comments across the web about wanting to “stamp out diving” by making an example of Eduardo are Manchester United supporters and their ilk. Supporters of the team who have most benefited over the last two years from one of the dirtiest cheats to ever put on cleats have the amazing audacity to suddenly find morals and bray for the head of Eduardo.

Well fuck you.

Just as important in all of this is the fact that irregardless of whether UEFA find him guilty, Eduardo will be labeled a “diver” for one, just one, “dive.” More than Taylor’s leg breaking tackle, this has the potential for unfairly putting a pall over the rest of his career. From now on every single tackle will be scrutinized and any glimmer of simulation will be called a “dive” by opponents.

Well, fuck that. Eduardo’s an Arsenal player and what Platini and his goons are doing here is unfair. Dudu is a class player and racist clap-trap about this being “in his genes” should be denounced. I will proudly wear my Eduardo shirt, and I will defend him from his detractors, after all, he is an Arsenal player and we are the Arsenal. Who are you?

You know that the world has gone crazy when Man U fans are calling for a ban for diving and Andy Gray is calling this action “A Staggering Decision.” Incredible really.

Enough about that, we’ve got some cunts to beat

Down the years there have been some famously fiery matches between the two clubs, pizzagate springs instantly to mind. But over the last 4 years, the key matches have not come in the League but rather in the cup competitions. In fact, Arsenal have a good record in the League over the last four years with 3 wins, 3 draws, and 2 losses: taking 12 points to Manure’s 9.

Where we have struggled against them has been in the FA Cup and the Champions League over the last two years. Last year, they came to the Emirates and gave us a 3-1 drubbing, and it was after that Evra talked about how it was Men v. Boys. The season before it was the FA Cup and a 4-0 beating which featured Nani’s “Seal Dribble” and subsequent attempted kneecapitation by Flamini.

With both Nani and Evra disrespecting Arsenal at pretty much every turn Arsenal feel like they have something to prove today. For example, when asked how they feel about Evra’s comments Alex Song put it thus:

We will never forget that, it was very difficult to lose the game but, when you wake up in the morning, you see the newspaper and you see someone saying they played against 11 kids. That, for me, is not respect. You cannot say that. Barcelona won everything last year and they didn’t say things like that. When we go there, everyone wants to show him we are not kids. We will see, but we are confident. We are different to the team that played in May.

Indeed Arsenal are a different team than May. Over the first four games of the season, Song and Denilson look vastly improved over last year and have been absolutely dominant in the middle of the park. At the back, Thomas Vermaelen is a confident figure, where Toure was at times a bit less assured and thus the team less confident. Nothing shows this more that the fact that Arsenal seem vastly improved aerially where TV5′s dominance seems to have infected the whole team.

Tactically Arsenal are different as well. Last year we often played a 4-5-1 with a clearly disgruntled Adebayor as the lone strike threat. This year, Arsenal play a 4-3-3 and along with the high line and beautiful passing, Arsenal have added a high pressure aspect to the game which is causing teams a lot of trouble.

Man U won’t have Ronalda to take the heat off  and are relying on Anderson, Nani, Carrick and new boy Valencia to carry the load in the middle. Up front, losing Ronalda and Tevez left a huge hole in their attack, one which they are hoping Rooney and Bobblekoph can fill.

But honestly, what won Man U the title last year was their stalwart defense and at the back, they are missing Ferdinand and van der Saar for today’s match. I think this leaves them highly vulnerable and hopefully Arsenal’s 4 goals per game tally so far in this season continues.

Obviously, missing Chesk (who is inexplicably still in the Spain squad), Rosicky, and Nasri is a big loss in the creative department for Arsenal, but as we saw at Anfield last season and with his brief introduction against Celtic, Andrei Arshavin is more than good enough to fill Cesc’s shoes.

It’s going to take one hell of a team effort today: the Prawn Sandwich crowd will be up for the game and Funguscunt will have his players fully yelled at and ready for this match.

We’ve talked a lot about how each of the matches so far this season have been big tests and at each turn Arsenal have breezed through those tests. Today is the biggest test so far this season. It’s a test of Eduardo’s character should the boss play him, it’s a test of how Arsenal can cope without Cesc, and it’s a test of how much Arsenal have grown since Evra disgraced himself last May. But I’m confident they can pass this test with flying colors, after all, Arsenal begins with an ‘A.’

UEFA Open a Can of Dudu

Eduardo has been retroactively charged by UEFA for “deceiving the referee” and I, for one, would like to embrace this charge but only under the following conditions.

First, you’ll need to have some context. The relevant rule is Article 10, Paragraph 1c of UEFA’s disciplinary handbook. It states:

Players may be suspended for two competition matches, or for a specified period, for acting with the obvious intent to cause any match official to make an incorrect decision or supporting his error of judgment and thereby causing him to make an incorrect decision.

That’s pretty clear, if you dive to win a penalty, UEFA can go back and look at the video tape and give you a two-match ban, or more. Interestingly, this has actually been tested by UEFA: Saulius Mikoliunas missed two Euro 2008 matches for home country Lithuania after video evidence was used to prove he dived against, of all countries, Scotland in their 3-1 win. Evidently, Scotland suffers from the indignity of divers more than any other country.

The Mikoliunas dive is a bit different than Eduardo’s dive in that the match against Scotland was 1-0 at the time of the dive and the contact between Mikoliunas and the Scottish defender even less than the contact between Eduardo and Boruc. Mikoliunas dived at a crucial moment, in a crucial match and earned his team a penalty. Eduardo’s dive was no where near as crucial. But, again, I’m embracing this action and in fact I don’t think it goes far enough.

Now that we’re headed down the road of video replay I think that all sorts of simulation should be examined and I think retroactive bans for all acts of simulation in UEFA sanctioned matches should be imposed: whether they resulted in a penalty or just a free kick. As long as the player’s actions resulted in the referee making a wrong decision, UEFA should examine the tapes, and ban the offending player for two or more games.

Ryan Babel’s dive in the Champions League? Clear simulation, the referee was duped, Liverpool didn’t do anything to deny the penalty, therefore he gets a 2 match retroactive ban. To do anything less would be harsh on Arsenal since up to now the penalty for diving has ranged from the ref ignoring the infraction to a yellow card.

And as I have said many times before, I would even go further. It’s easy to wipe out plain old fashioned diving. The kind where video replays show that there was no contact and the player was already on his way down. The hard stuff, and the more important infractions, are the ones where the player “makes a meal” of light contact. So, under my plan, the Mascherano/Aliadiere incident, had it taken place in a UEFA sanctioned event, would see Javier Mascherano suspended for two games for simulation, maybe more since he’s a serial offender. There’s no way that Liverpool’s hard man goes down with the supposed facial injuries he intimated after Aliadiere brushes his face like that. It’s was an obviously exaggerated reaction intended to dupe the referee into thinking the contact was harder than it actually was and since the referee gave the red card to Aliadiere, the simulation must be punished.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about how it doesn’t make any sense that diving on video is a 2+ match ban while diving in real life usually results in the referee waving play on and occasionally, I’m talking maybe 2 times a year, the referee will hand out a yellow card. So, since we’re all in agreement that referees are incapable of making real time decisions, and what we want is the perfectly fair game, and we want to stamp out this pernicious cheating; we need to just go ahead and after every match use video to issue retroactive yellow and red cards for dives that DO NOT result in deception of the referee. After every UEFA sanctioned match there should be a team of Video Referees watching every moment of every game rewinding, and watching over and over, the match action. Issuing yellow or red cards for harsh tackles that went unpunished and yellow or red cards for simulations that went unpunished. After all, what we can’t have are instant replays and decisions made on the spot. We can only use video days or even weeks after the match, to re-referee the matches and dole out the appropriate punishment.

I’m not suggesting that we should go back to time immemorial, just a year, or hell, even 6 months. If we did that, Ryan Babel would be out for 2 matches and I’m sure if we look at all the video, Christiano Rolando won’t be allowed to play in the Champions League at all this season.

Tony Cascarino agrees with me and we all know what a fan I am of him. Tony thinks that the only way to stamp out this cheating is to look at video ex-post-facto. Because only a crazy person would suggest that it would be fairer for the match official, say the fourth official, to go over to a monitor and see that Eduardo dived and then (on the spot) issue a yellow card. No! What we need is for a game altering decision to be made after the match and for the punishment to be far harsher. Simulation, after all, is too important to get right on the spot.

I mean, if we’re going to retroactively ban people using video replay, let’s do it right.  Let’s let one team win the game and THEN go back and start banning people. It’s the only fair thing to do.