Monday, 30 April 2012

Podolski + Lineker coverage - and over a million site hits

What a fantastic start to a summer that I hope shall see several transfers of top quality talent into the Arsenal.  The board and manager know that the shambles of last summer cannot be repeated, and the early signing of Lukas Podolski is a very encouraging sign that they have learnt their lessons.  Podolski is a top striker, his record speaks for itself, even though he did not set Munich on fire, his goal scoring record there was still decent.  Mean Lean has a great Cologne fan view on Podolski as a player over at ArsenalVision that I would thoroughly recommend.  Podolski is a very positive signing, a fantastic move for the club that not only massively strengthens our squad, it also sends out a strong message of Gooner intent and may well have implications in terms of keeping certain players.

Thanks to all those who have sent complaints into the BBC about Gary Lineker's classless mocking of Arsene Wenger, the blog piece I wrote mushroomed into quite a story and was even covered in the Daily Mail.  Great credit to the Mail for covering Lineker's woeful behaviour in the manner it deserves, it is telling that a massive majority of reader comments on the Mail website are very much anti-Lineker.

I shall wait and see what the BBC do before casting further judgement on the BBC, I think the minimum Arsene Wenger deserves is a formal apology from Lineker, in fact I have written to Arsenal to encourage them to make a formal complaint about Lineker's behaviour.  The general tone of the program was quite pathetic in the way in made fun of a manager who was being abused, especially given that he had to endure large quantities of racist abuse from the Stoke fans throughout the game.

The fact that Pulis defended the behaviour of Stoke fans on MOTD, including the sick abuse of Aaron Ramsey, and that the BBC allowed him to do this says a lot about both Pulis and the BBC.  Pulis deliberately incites hatred in his own support in order to create a cauldron of hate at the Britannia and this is the key behind Stoke not being relegated, referees are afraid to penalise them at home.  Stoke City Football Club are a nasty stain on the Premier League in my opinion for this and many other reasons.

Finally many thanks to all our regular readers, we have recently surpassed the one million hit mark and I certainly think that is some kind of achievement.  We may not please everyone with what we write, but frankly we do not try to, we simply want to express our opinion on all matters Arsenal related.  Thanks for reading.  Big game tonight, just can't decided who I want to win, maybe I will just have to enjoy watching someone lose, that's unless it's a draw of course.......

Sunday, 29 April 2012

BBC and Lineker sink to new lows

The behaviour of Stoke fans was bad enough yesterday in itself.  Aaron Ramsey was abused by a majority of brainless Stoke fans for daring to have his leg broken by the aggressive Ryan Shawcross' reckless tackling, while Arsene Wenger was abused by the Stoke fans in that classless manner that is sometimes tinged with a rather significant dose of xenophobia.

The coverage of events on the BBC's Match of the Day was biased and offensive.  They largely ignored the shameful abuse dished out to Ramsey and made a joke of Arsene Wenger being abused by Stoke fans.  Then at the end of the program, Gary Lineker did his Arsene Wenger 'impression'.

I have to say, words almost fail me, it was childish, offensive and utterly pathetic from a grown man who really should know a lot better.   There was also a rather unpleasant streak of xenophobia running through Lineker's mocking of Arsene Wenger.  It is a disgrace that a public sector broadcaster such as the BBC, which is meant to be impartial, should cover events in such a partisan fashion and allow a presenter to mock a manager in such a fashion.

It was a new low for Lineker and the BBC in my opinion.  I have complained and would urge everyone else to do the same, make sure you mention the failure to cover the Ramsey abuse and Lineker's offensive 'impression'.  Lineker should lose his job for this, no impartial presenter should behave in such a deplorable manner, it was utterly shameful.

                                          Complain to the BBC LINK

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Stoke City fans: I hope you're proud

Firstly the game, a point gained given Newcastle's spanking at Wigan and Stoke's decent home record against top sides.  Still, we comprehensively outplayed Stoke for the vast majority of the game, and a mixture of bad refereeing, poor finishing and bad luck saw it end as a draw.  This is life, sometimes you don't get the rub of the green, but overall a draw is no disaster for our 3rd place quest.

Stoke are a dire dire football team who demonstrate most things that can be bad in sport.  They are a team with many thugs who have learnt to exploit poor refereeing, a lot of their deliberate fouling is pathetic and clearly something coached by their manager, their 'rugby' tactics are an embarrassment to the game, especially given that this is not a side assembled on a shoe string budget, many millions have been spent, interestingly Stoke's net spend over the last few years is way greater then ours.  The fact that this team of violent thugs also sees it as acceptable to dive to ground when barely touched is rather amusing too, for example Whitehead's laughable dive in injury time today.

Stoke's players and managers sink pretty low, but it has to be said that their fans can often be guaranteed to sink even lower, and this was again proven today.  The unique brand of aggressive, uneducated, vile and stupid individual that follows Stoke City Football Club is quite something to behold and it is not joyful, rather the opposite.  The fact that a rather large number of vermin chose to boo Aaron Ramsey today because this young footballer had the audacity have his leg recklessly snapped by the violent Stoke player, Ryan Shawcross, says it all.  They abused the young Welshman as he left the field too, it was utterly disgusting, some of the most disgraceful and brainless behaviour I have ever seen from 'football fans'.  The abuse dished out to Arsene Wenger was also completely unacceptable, it was also beneath contempt.

To finish on a positive note, well done Aaron Ramsey, he had a very decent game today, obviously he has not been on fine form, but he showed such strength of character to play so defiantly in such a heated cauldron of a stadium.  The media in this country should highlight the large number of truly despicable scum that support Stoke City and who booed Ramsey today, I doubt they will though and this makes a lot of the media just as bad for me.

Football is just a game, if you see it as more important than life or limb, then you need to take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror, you probably have a very sad empty life and you may have something in common with a Stoke City fan.  I would rather watch Arsenal play at home in complete silence than have supporters like Stoke City, they and their club are a disgrace to the so called 'beautiful' game.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Well done Chelsea - UEFA's rent boys lose

I am no Chelsea fan but one has to see the positive in tonight's result that sees Barcelona go crashing out of the Champions League against all the odds.  It was just fantastic to see Barcelona's cheating not pay.

Many of us Gooners went on about the dodgy refereeing and Barcelona cheating which robbed us in last year's knockout stages, the same happened to Chelsea tonight.

Terry was harshly sent off in the first half, Sanchez made a meal of a tiny touch which should have been just a yellow.  Cesc dived for a dodgy penalty in the second half which Messi missed.  Barca again got away with some off the ball shoving.

Chelsea were rather lucky in the end, they rode their luck but they did defend magnificently overall.  They now have four players suspended for the final including Terry and Ramires.  I won't go as far as wishing them luck in the final, and knowing that the scumbag Terry won't be playing is rather amusing.

One has to enjoy Barcelona's pain, UEFA's little rent boys couldn't even beat Chelsea with the help of some rather favourable refereeing.

Meaningless awards and final push

I gave up giving a few rat's giblets about footballing awards a very long time ago.  There is so much bias and stupidity at work that there is absolutely no point getting worked up over who wins the FIFA/UEFA/PFA or anyone else's award.  There is a massive bias towards strikers, there is a massive bias towards certain clubs and countries, also a lot of people who vote have about as many brain cells as Cashley Cole, enough said frankly.

RVP did deserve the player of the year award this year but looking at the selections in the team of the season has to make you chuckle, it is almost as laughable as Henry Winter's Tottenham XI, sorry combined Arsenal-Tottenham XI.  I had the misfortune of looking at the officials Premier League's shortlists for the greatest bits of the last 20 years, it is staggering what and who they have shortlisted, apparently Manu 8-2 Arsenal is one of their top ten games, there is also no room for Jens Lehmann in their best keepers, we have the likes of Given, James and Schwarzer instead, a truly laughable selection!  There is no Lauren, but we have Petrescu, Glen Johnson and Carr! I stopped reading at that point, the Premier League are again showing their complete lack of intelligence with or without a bit of bias chucked in.

Another huge potential joke is Andre Marriner taking charge of the Manchester derby match this monday, he is a poor referee who cannot control players and I think he will struggle badly to keep any level of order next week.  We shall see.  We have Chris Foy, but unfortunately Marriner is making an appearance as our 4th official the trip to Stoke.

I was away for the Chelsea game and will comment briefly with the convenient eye of retrospect.  We were unlucky, we created all the chances and on another day could have put 2 or 3 past the dire Russians.  RVP did not have his shooting boots on, Song is looking rather tired, but it was great to have the mighty Koscielny back in the fold, he has been one of our outstanding players this season without doubt.

The Tottenham result did us a massive favour, Newcastle are close to us but our vastly superior goal difference is useful, I think if we can beat Stoke this weekend, a big if I know, then we will be odds of for 3rd spot.  Things could be tricky if we do not win and other results do not drop though.  I just wonder if Francis Coquelin may be added into the starting XI to give us a bit more defensive beef, it will be interesting to see.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Poor excuses and defending

Having calmed down and re-analysed the Wigan goals from last night it has become rather more obvious as to what went wrong, those two goals killed us, even though we almost got back level, we just couldn't quite recover.  Arsene said:

"We conceded the first when Arteta was out and we could not put the player on because he is not ready. That penalised us for the second goal and after that we had a mountain to climb."

I am not impressed with this excuse.  Arteta was injured, this was key and I cannot argue with that, however we still had ten other men on the field.  Surely the team should have adapted and other players should have dropped deeper to cover Arteta?  This did not happen.

What happened was, Theo chickened out of a challenge to contest Sagna's knock down header, Wigan broke down their left.  Theo jogged back, Vermaelen and Song were nowhere to be seen.  Santos got dragged across to the Wigan left, Djourou and Benayoun were well behind Di Santo in the middle and couldn't make up the ground, that was the opener.  Great credit to Yossi Benayoun for tracking back and almost blocking Di Santo's finish, but where were the others, players like Song, Vermaelen and Djourou.  They were too slow to spot the danger and react for me, this is irrespective of Arteta's injury.

The second goal was poor but nowhere near as poor from a defensive point of view as the first.  Walcott lost the ball in midfield, dribbling where he should have known better, Wigan knocked the ball around nicely, Moses skinned Sagna down their left, then his cross somehow evaded our defence, we had enough men back, Song's position was not great, neither was Djourou's, and the latter slid in but got only minimal contact on the ball, Gomez then slid the ball home, Szczesny was inches away from getting hold of the ball.  It was a poor goal to concede.

Overall we just couldn't keep up our head of steam to get those two goals back, although we came close.  Looking back it does appear that this is a problem with both the team and individuals, it is systemic.  Just look how Benayoun saw the danger for the first and steamed back, it shows the importance of having a whole team of players with that mentality and team ethic, for that reason I really respect Benayoun, he is a true professional.  Walcott doesn't track back enough for me, Song doesn't show enough defensive discipline, Djourou is dodgy especially compared to Koscielny.

We just seem to have be so erratic in this regard, some games we do it, some we don't, the naivety and lack of appreciation of the danger in the build up to Wigan's opener was really depressing.  This cannot be blamed solely on Arteta's injury, we need to be more disciplined defensively in every minute of every game.  Sort it out Arsene, we need Champions League football next season.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Kamikaze shambles

What a start, we were utterly shambolic at the back and so terribly naive, caught out by Wigan on the counter attack, they killed us and took a shock lead early doors, Di Santo not being tracked by anyone and somehow working the ball into the net after Szczesny had almost stopped him.  Wigan then got a second, some more shocking defending, Sagna tricked by Moses, his cross was not cut out and Szczesny seemed to have two hands on the ball, obviously he didn't and it was two nil, a terrible start and a mountain to climb.

We were terrific for the rest of the first half, and in honesty we should have been ahead by half time, Vermaelen did halve the deficit with a terrific powered header from a great Sagna cross, we had countless other chances though, Benayoun forcing a fine save from Al Habsi, Djourou shooting a few inches wide with the keeper beaten.  Wigan did look dangerous on the counter attack and our defensive frailty persisted, a really worrying sign.

The second half was poor, we didn't really get going and Wigan do deserve a lot of credit for this, they defended well and made things difficult.  One has to add that the referee Andre Marriner, ignoring some of his woeful decisions in the second half, allowed a ridiculous amount of cheating in the form of time wasting, a didn't produce a yellow card until injury time and it allowed Wigan to time waste, time waste and time waste, it was quite pathetic.

Wigan players routinely held the ball and walked away with it after free kicks had been given against them, it was blatant cheating but the useless Marriner did nothing to stamp it out.  There were numerous examples of kicking the ball away after the whistle had gone, there was a lot of feigning injury from Gomez and Di Santo in particular.  I don't massively blame Wigan for it, but how on earth can a qualified referee allow this kind of systematic cheating in order to waste time?  It is beyond belief.

All in all though there were too many poor performances tonight and I think we lost discipline, we left ourselves too open as a team early on and paid a heavy price, it was ultra naive.  Arteta's injury didn't help but Song put in a rather woeful shift, his defending was indisciplined and lazy, his distribution poor, Ramsey didn't do a great deal good, Walcott was largely anonymous, Rosicky was tremendous though.  The substitutions came too late, Gervinho and the Ox came on when we had already gone flat.  Our lack of a good second striker is obvious, if we had someone of quality on the bench then this would have been the kind of game RVP needed some more support up top.

Tonight summed up our season, there was some brilliant high tempo attacking play at times, but overall it was all wrecked by some really naive and indisciplined team defending.  Well done Wigan, I truly hope you stay up.  We have now made things much harder for ourselves, what could have been an eight point gap is now a five point one and it puts a lot of extra pressure on us for Sunday.  So frustrating to see such gaping holes in our defence, a 0-0 would have been easier to take than this kamikaze shambles.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ashley Young: oh dear oh dear

I will let Ashley Young's acting do the talking, I do not need to condemn him with words, his actions do that on their own.

It is beyond a disgrace that we are having to see cheating like this week in week out and the authorities are doing absolutely nothing to stamp it out.

It would be easy to retrospectively ban players found guilty of clear diving in the penalty box for three games, it would go some way to eradicating this kind of cheating from the game.

It is a great shame that we have the corrupt and apathetic in change of football in the form of FIFA/UEFA/FA. The game is becoming a progressive laughing stock.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Stress free FA Cup weekend and video technology

Our lads can put their feet up and enjoy a weekend without a fixture, obviously Monday's game at Wigan is another potentially tricky game, but I look forward to enjoying the two FA Cup semi finals without having to get stressed about an Arsenal game.  Howard Webb is officiating today and Martin Atkinson tomorrow.

The FA's rank incompetence and lies have been at the top of the news this week and quite rightly so.  The media are at last standing up and taking notice.  Arsene is finally being listened to, and who could disagree with his comments on the bizarre decision not to rescind Derry's red while doing nothing about Balotelli's shocking tackle.  Arsene is keen on video technology, and frankly anyone with a brain is these days:

"I don't think referees are bad. I just think the game is so quick. It is impossible for a human being to see everything no matter how good you are. Out of 100 situations (with instant videos) you would be less wrong than you would be today because you would have help."

It has become clear in recent years that the governance in football is about as corrupt bent as a very bent thing (in the the Blackadder of course).   FIFA, UEFA and the FA are routinely covering themselves in shame in many regards, but the failure of football to embrace video technology has made the world's richest sport a laughing stock, there is no good argument against video technology's introduction, the supporters want it, the referees want it.  In fact the only people who do not want it are Sepp, Michel and chums:  I wonder why?  I couldn't possibly say that it is because they want to be able to influence the outcome of games for their friends, could I?

Sadly it does appear that FIFA, UEFA and our won hapless FA are going to dragged into introducing technology in the kicking and screaming manner, this is so very sad and an indictment on the complete lack of integrity in the game's governing bodies.  Video technology is no utopia but if introduced sensibly then it would reduce error, that is the point, and who can argue with that?

Anyways to finish on the FA Cup, I have a feeling it will be an Everton-Chelsea final.  Form is important because confidence is key, and these two sides are on better form than Tottenham and Liverpool.  Both games will be fairly tight I would imagine, but I think the poor form of Tottenham and Liverpool really counts against them.  Obviously pretty much every neutral in the country will want an Everton FA Cup win this year and who am I disagree?  Come on David Moyes and the Toffees!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Job done - no boys cried at Wolves

Benayoun continued in the midfield and Ramsey came in for the presumably tired Rosicky, and we started delightfully.  A neat one two between RVP and Theo saw the latter run through on goal, Bassong couldn't touch him without being sent off and conceding a penalty, yet this is precisely what the stupid Wolves defender did, he ran across both Theo's heels and have the referee no choice, RVP chipped home and one nil it was.  Then a few minutes later another cracking one two between the same two saw Theo clear again, a great side footed finish gave Hennessey no chance, two nil and the game looking over.

Wolves put in a fantastic shift having gone two down, they played like they were eleven, giving us no time to settle and they went on to create a few decent chances, only some stunning Szczesny saves in the second half denying them their moment of glory.  Benayoun did add some icing to the cake late on in the second half, it was finished at three nil, but Wolves did still have time to force another amazing Szczesny save.

It was as simple as job done tonight, no game is easy in the Premier League, especially away from home and Wolves proved this, credit to them for their fight and drive, even though they had precious little chance of getting back into the game.  Djourou put in a solid shift at centre back, as did Vermaelen, Arteta and Song were immense, we worked hard as a unit with Benayoun typifying this determined efficiency, on the downside Santos was a tad suspect with some of his decision making.  Three points was what was needed and three points achieved, happy days.

The FA: blood on its hands

I shall take you back to October 2010, at this point I had entered into a dialogue with the FA on the topic of retrospective punishment and dangerous tackling.  The FA had been doing nothing to confront this violent cancer in the game, several players had had their legs snapped and nothing much was being done.  The FA continued to repeat the same old tired excuses that they could not retrospectively punish acts that had already been seen by the referee:

"I couldn't help chuckling when I read this for the first time, it is quite clear from reading the above concerning rule E3 that the FA could easily act on this issue of dangerous tackling if they so wished. Their own guidance seems to encourage action on dangerous tackling."

I continued to chase up the FA on this subject and I was amazed at the mainstream media's complete lack of interest.  It seems now that the media are starting to take a little more interest, but it is a year and a half since i exposed the FA's inconsistency, lies and deception; so why has it taken the mainstream media so long to take the FA to task on this?

The FA continues to tell porkies, it pretends there are FIFA directives that prohibit retrospective action, this is a complete lie.  The FA have the power to act, FIFA happily admit this, it is just that the FA are a bunch of cowardly weasels who do not want to act for a reason that is only known to themselves.

Shame on the FA.  They have consistently failed to punish nasty leg breaking tackles like Balotelli's on Song from Sunday, in this manner they are failing in their duty to protect players from career threatening injuries.  The FA are a disgrace to the a game that should be owned by the fans, not a bunch of corrupt cronies who care only for themselves.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Why does the FA continue to lie?

I am a sad and bitter individual, hence I have looked into some things in a great more detail than many other people can be bothered to.  Today the FA did nothing about Balotelli's shocking challenge on Alex Song, they stated:

"Retrospective action in relation to the incident involving Mario Balotelli of Manchester City and Alex Song of Arsenal, which occurred in the 20th minute of Sunday’s game, will not be taken.

Where at least one of the officials has seen the coming together of players retrospective action is not taken, regardless of whether they have seen the full extent of the challenge.Retrospective action can only be taken in scenarios where none of the Match Officials saw the players coming together. The normal scenarios in which retrospective action is taken are for ‘off the ball’ incidents."

The FA are lying and I do not know why.  I have written exactly the same stuff many months ago explaining my case in great detail, the FA continue to make up this story about FIFA guidance that does not exist, it is all rather strange.

I have written to the FA and explained my case, as the FA's own guidance quite clearly states that they can make a subjective decision and charge players for incidents that have been seen by the officials, but the FA will not answer me, they consistently ignore the questions posed and continue to keep their heads in the sand.  Here is rule E3 from the FA's very own handbook which actually encourages retrospective punishment for reckless tackling:

                                       "RULE E3 OF THE ASSOCIATION

A charge of Misconduct (as defined in and) pursuant to Rule E3 of the Rules of The

Association may be brought against a Player in relation to an incident, notwithstanding

that the same incident has been dealt with pursuant to this Memorandum. For example,
against a player who has been dismissed from the Field of Play for an incident which The
Association is satisfied was sufficiently serious to warrant an additional sanction, having
particular (but not exclusive) regard to the following:

(a) Any applicable Law(s) of the Game or Rules and Regulations or FIFA instructions
and/or guidelines;
(b) The nature of the incident, and in particular any intent, recklessness, negligence
or other state of mind of the Player;
(c) Where applicable, the level of force used;
(d) Any injury to any Participant caused by the incident;
(e) Any other impact on the game in which the incident occurred;
(f) The prevalence of the type of incident in question in football generally;
(g) The wider interests of football in applying consistent sanctions."

Monday, 9 April 2012

Balotelli scapegoated as it turns sour for City

It is interesting to see the emerging fallout from yesterday's game, is Mancini giving Balotelli a final warning or is he actually going to give up on his temperamental Italian striker?  Either way, it does appear that a certain Italian striker is getting a disproportionate amount of blame for City's poor recent run of form.  Sadly and unsurprisingly the media focus has largely been on Balotelli, just as Mancini would have hoped I would imagine, it is just weak that the media get sucked in by this and continue to ignore that there were ten other City players on the field yesterday, who were comprehensively outplayed by their Arsenal counterparts managed by Arsene Wenger.

City fans and the media would do well to notice that Balotelli was actually one of City's most dangerous players, and although he should have been sent off in the first half, his red card at the death did not affect the outcome of the game, there were another ten City players on the field who also deserve their share of the blame, as well as a manager who seems to be rather keen to dump the blame with Balotelli rather than at his own door.

Hart, Lescott and Kompany were all solid in my opinion but that was about it in terms of positives for City.  I was particularly unimpressed with their midfield, but then I have never rated Barry or Milner, both great examples of how over hyped and overpriced English players can be, they both try hard but are not great footballers, Milner is particularly average.  The manager Mancini must also take a good share of the blame, as City died in the 2nd half, he did nothing, his multi-million pound bench was of no use to him.  The lack of media criticism of Mancini is strange given his obvious failings and his complete failure to try to win the game in yesterday's second period.

It is amusing to see some of the bitter City comments on yesterday's blog, one fan didn't think it was a defeat because Silva was injured, while another felt we shouldn't celebrate victory because it didn't reflect well upon our 'once great club'.  I have to say there are many great City fans out there, but this bunch of bitter idiots are not covering City with glory, rather the exact opposite.

I haven't done the maths but from what I've heard City's bench was not far off triple the cost of our starting eleven, that certain breed of bitter City fan should put that in their pipe and smoke it, certainly before moaning about their own injury woes.  Wins like yesterday are great moments, and for me they are just as good as winning titles, after all we should know, we have won several titles in recent years, and I be savouring yesterday for at least the rest of the day!  Well done Arsene and the lads once again!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Arsenal 1 Bank of Manchester Arabia 0

Cheers Wojciech (picture above courtesy of Younggunsblog) and well played Arsenal, a thoroughly deserved 3 points today against the money men of Manchester, even the most ardent of City fans would struggle to claim that we did not deserve the win today.  Arsene's big decision was to start with the same side that had humbled Tottenham 5-2, and starting Benayoun was a good move in my opinion.

We started well and had the bulk of the early pressure, our nearest was when RVP's flicked header hit Vermaelen and cannoned back off the crossbar, unlucky.  City lost Toure early on and this obviously affected them, Pizarro, his replacement, did little all game.  City did come into the game more as the half wore on but they never really broke us down, or got behind our defence.  Szczesny did excellently dart out of his box to sweep away the danger when it looked like City may have sprung our offside trap.  In the meantime Balotelli was lucky to still be on the field, a nasty lunge on Song was unpunished, then a nasty lunge on Sagna resulted in a yellow, he could easily have seen red before the half was up.

City didn't start the second half too badly either but they still failed to break us down, their only moments of threat came from free kicks and corners, Aguero never got in the game and their midfield struggled to offer much support to their strikers, so sad to see Samir Nasri with no end product.

We grew as the second half wore on, RVP so unlucky not to score with a powerful downward header from Song's cross, it rebounded back the foot of Hart's left hand post with the City keeper beaten.  City were on the ropes, our midfielders were everywhere like beavers, we gave City no space to breathe.  The work rate of Song, Arteta, Rosicky and Benayoun was outstanding.

It looked like it may not be our day, Sagna's expert low centre was hit firmly into the corner by Walcott's right foot, Hart magnificently tipped the ball onto the post, it rebounded to Benayoun who somehow scuffed the ball across the goal when it looked easier to score, and no one could force the ball home, was this going to be one of those days when the ball just wouldn't quite run for us?

With four minutes to go, Arteta strode forward, City backed off, RVP made a run towards the back post, Hart just edged towards the right of his goal, perhaps expected a cross towards our mercurial Dutchman, the ball sat up and Arteta let rip with an unstoppable tubthumping drive, 1-0 and so deserved, such a great goal.  City were dead on their feet, they had been comprehensively outplayed and that was that, Balotelli was sent off for a second yellow as he again clattered Sagna, this was immaterial, City were beaten.

It's funny how things go, Mancini has been given so much praise by his many lovers in the media but he's not looking so clever now, with all those hundreds of millions spent, is he?  Arsene got it right today, Benayoun and not Ramsey was the right call, the team gave their all and proved that football is about more than money.  Well done Arsenal and Arsene Wenger, a cracking three points, just need to keep things going and keep up this momentum for the final six games.

Wigan robbed: another game wrecked by the officials

One cannot help but feel Robert Martinez' pain, his Wigan side outplayed Chelsea for long periods at Stamford bridge and were undone by some atrocious officiating.  Chelsea's first goal was yards offside, a terrible error from the linesman, while their second goal saw two offside men interfering around and about the Wigan goalkeeper.  Martinez used the words 'disgusting' and 'robbed', it is hard not to agree with him, Chelsea were handed the points, they didn't deserve the win in the slightest.

It is yet another example of the pathetic joke that the world's richest sport has become.  It is worth repeating that the richest sport in the world is practically the last to introduce video technology in order to help minimise error in the decision making of officials.  It goes to prove that football has one of the most corrupt and stinking hierarchies of power of any sport.  FIFA are beyond a joke, as are the useless UEFA, the latter's limp measure of introducing extra officials near the penalty boxes has been nothing but a gross failure, we need video technology, things have gone far enough.

These decisions do not even out over a season, anyone who knows anything about statistics can tell you that the systematic bias that is reinforced by the hidden and dodgy process of referee selection in the Premier League will make error add up over a season, it will not even out.

Anyway onto today's game against City.  With Tottenham dropping more points yesterday, it gives us a great opportunity to put some daylight between them and us.  The interesting selection will be who plays in the front three with Theo and RVP, I certainly hope it's not Ramsey, I do not feel his recent form has been great, I would definitely plumb for the young and powerful Ox, who can threaten going forward and contribute defensively.  I would not argue with Gervinho or Benayoun starting though, just not Ramsey please.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

What does the PGMOL and Premier League have to hide?

These simple questions have been sent to the Premier League and PGMOL repeatedly.  These authorities have not even sent a response to these questions, not even a statement saying that they cannot answer the questions despite their silence making it very clear that they have something to hide.  Here are the simple 8 questions that the Premier League refuse to answer:

"1. Would it be possible to see the template scoring systems (for both match assessor and match delegate) used for assessing the performance of referees at games?  Obviously I do no expect to see specific scored but would like to see the blank marking sheets to see what they are scored on for each game.

2. Are referees routinely scored based on the review of match videos after games?

3. If the answer to 3 is yes, then are they scored for their technical performance ie whether specific decisions were right or wrong in games?

4. The figure quoted by Mike Riley is that 99% of assistant referee decisions on offside are correct.  Where does this data come from, it is based on video review of the decisions or some other form of review (match assessors or delegates)?

5. Does the PGMO think that the region of the country from which a referee originates may result in some unconscious decision making bias?

6. Does the PGMO agree with the substantive body of research that shows referees will tend to unconsciously favour the home side with decisions?

7. Are you able to give me some basic details of who makes up the PGMO?

8.  Are you able to give me any details on how referees are selected? ie how often are the meetings and who is involved?"

The geographic skew of Premier League officials is a massive source of subconscious bias in isolation, but given how many other potential flaws there are in the refereeing process it may just be the small tip of the iceberg.

The Premier League and PGMOL are behaving like a corrupt 3rd world dictatorship.  They are acting like they have something to hide.  The fact that such a massive multi-billion pound industry operate so unaccountably and behind closed doors is rather scary, especially when they appear to be completely unregulated by anyone independent.  I will not give up repeating my questions but do not hold out much hope for any kind of meaningful answer.  The Premier League knows that the best tactic is silence when their hidden and shady world is threatened with exposure. 

Friday, 6 April 2012

Systematic bias? Ignorance and stupidity is bliss

Some things are just coincidence, however when strange and unlikely things continue to happen, then it becomes less and less likely that they are down to chance, and more and more likely that they are subject to some kind of bias, whether that be subconsciously or consciously.  The more one looks at the way in which referees are selected from Premier League games, the more fishy things look, especially in the context of big decisions having big effects on the season's end outcome.

The evidence is gathering and I would strongly recommend that anyone interested have a look at Untold Arsenal's recent stuff on Mike Riley's PGMOL and the referee selection process, the excellent 'football is fixed' is also well worth a glance.  Untold Arsenal's recent work on the hidden process of referee selection is particularly interesting, the PGMOL's process is incredibly open to bias and subjectivity, meaning that even if there is no conscious manipulation of influence at work, then subconscious bias is going to be massive exaggerated and increased by such a weak system:

  • - The current form of the official
  • - The referee’s position in the merit table
  • - Overall experience
  • - How often they have refereed the Clubs involved
  • - Proximity to the ground or city in which they were born or live
  • - The team the referee supports
  • - International appointments (For example if referees have UEFA matches on Thursdays they will only be available for matches on Sundays or Mondays)
The above 'factors' essentially leave officials to be hand picked behind closed doors in a completely non-transparent manner.  Recently we have seen Howard Webb selected for 3 Manchester United games in a row at a crucial time of the season, what are the chances of that?  There are many other hugely suspicious coincidences, the Walton coincidence and the Mike Dean coincidences

Ignore the coincidences, ignore the strange runs, but one thing that simply has to be noticed is the way in which referees are allocated so very subjectively.  I wholeheartedly agree with Untold Arsenal on this one, there simply is no good argument against having a random allocation of referees that spreads the games evenly between all the 19 elite Premier League referees.  One could easily allocated all the games to referees at the beginning of the season when the fixtures are announced, this process should be as random as possible to remove all types of bias from the process.

We need video technology badly, there is no good argument against it, the same is true for having a decent transparent and objective system by which referees are selected for games.  The best case scenario at the moment is that the undeniable variable subconscious bias of referees that skews results is being exaggerated by a biased subjective process of referee selection, the worst case does not even bear thinking about.

Sadly it is rather obvious that football is about as corrupt as any business out there; FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League has given us many great examples of of this.  Football is now a largely unregulated business, the government aren't regulating it, the FA aren't and the Premier League certainly aren't.  There is also no democratic process by which the stakeholders, us - the fans, can hold any of these private institutions to account and force them to reform.  We have seen what a joke reform is at FIFA, it is like asking the tobacco industry to self regulate.  The mainstream media appear to largely have their head in the sand on many of these issues, they are often scared of biting the hand that feeds, the momentum is gathering though......

Monday, 2 April 2012

Mike Riley has openly lied on refereeing bias?

Mike Riley, the head of the refereeing body the PGMO, was recently interviewed on the BBC and he openly stated that:

" 'all the evidence' doesn't support there being any bias present in refereeing decision making"

I summarised the interview in two articles at the time.  There are numerous problems with refereeing in the Premier League and it now abundantly clear that the workings of the PGMO are completely hidden from the view of the media and the public.  However ignoring all the major problems with refereeing (like the lack of objective referee assessment, the lack of an open and transparent system of referee selection, and the massive potential for corruption by clubs influencing the referee selection process) for one minute, let us just analyse Riley's comments on refereeing bias.

We have numerous scientific studies that prove Mike Riley to be an idiot or a liar, either is not promising for the PL's refereeing system.  Statistical reviews have shown a systematic home bias in the decisions of referees (1):

"We can confirm a systematic home bias of referees."

Excellent research in Italy proved the subconscious and conscious bias in refereeing decisions (2).  The systematic home bias has also been demonstrated in Spanish football (3,4) and recently in English football by Professor Steven Dobson (5,6).

There is simply no doubt to anyone of sound mind who has read up on this issue, referees are inherently biased.  At best this is just a subconscious bias in favour of home sides, but at worst if the PGMO's referee selection process is subject to influence by the clubs then the amount of bias affecting the results of games could be huge.  We simply don't know because the PGMO and Premier League persistently refuse to release any meaningful information about referee assessment and selection, at the moment we are simply expected to trust that what goes on behind closed doors is perfectly fair.

Whatever the real truth behind the referee selection process in the Premier League, it is clear that Mike Riley's comments are at best ignorant and wrong, and at worst designed to hide a corrupt network of dodgy refereeing.  I have very little faith in Mike Riley, the PGMO and the Premier League, there is so much money and so many vested interests at work here.  Trusting  these people as the vast majority of the mainstream media do appears extremely foolish and naive.


1. M Sutter and M Kochler.  Favoritism of agents – The case of referees' home bias. Journal of Economic Psychology. Volume 25. Issue 4. August 2004. Pages 461-9.
3. Andrés Picazo-Tadeo & Francisco Gónzalez-Gómez & Jorge Guardiola Wanden-Berghe, 2011.
"Referee home bias due to social pressure. Evidence from Spanish football,"
Working Papers 1119, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
4. Andrés J. Picazo-Tadeo & Francisco González-Gómez & Jorge Guardiola, 2011.
"The importance of time in referee home bias due to social pressure. Evidence from Spanish football,"
FEG Working Paper Series 03/11, Faculty of Economics and Business (University of Granada).
5.  DAWSON, P, DOBSON, S., GODDARD, J.A. and WILSON, J., 2007. Are football referees really biased and inconsistent? Evidence from the English Premier League. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society: Series A (Statistics in Society), 170 (1), pp. 231-250. 
6.  The influence of social pressure and nationality on individual decisions: evidence from the behaviour of referees, Journal of Economic Psychology (2010) Vol. 31 No.2 pp 181–191 (with P Dawson).