Monday, 21 January 2013

Alex Ferguson abuses with impunity (again)

"The stand-side linesman [Beck] didn’t give us a thing all day. For me it was a poor performance by him. Why he never saw the penalty kick from Wayne Rooney, some other decisions, we remember him well from his time at the Chelsea game when Drogba was three yards offside and he gave onside."
“He had a shocking game. I’m disappointed in his performance, I really am. He had a bad game and we never got anything on that side of the pitch. But you’re 1-0 up with a minute to go and comfortable at that stage.”
The above quotes are yet another example of the disgusting behaviour of Sir Alex Ferguson.  It seems that this nasty man is allowed to bully, abuse and intimidate officials with an impunity that is not afforded to anyone else in English football.
All other managers are charged by the FA when they criticise officials in such a fashion, in a way that is deliberately designed to intimidate and influence future decision making.  For example Sam Allardyce was charged last week for some similar comments on officials, arguably his were much milder than Ferguson's.
The FA's inaction on this is a disgrace and shows that football is overtly corrupt in this country.  Manchester United have too much power and have a free reign in ways that other clubs do not.  The referee selection process is just part of this, the systematic bias in Manchester United's favour is beyond a disgrace, and the way that Ferguson gets away with murder gives their game away.  The title might as well be handed out by Sir Alex, this would only be slightly less fair than the current system.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Schizophrenic Arsenal the victims of cheating Chelsea

Ultimately we couldn't recover from a terrible, an utterly terrible, start to the game.  Chelsea hammered us for the first twenty minutes and we were lucky that we came in only 2 nil down at half time.  Defensively we were shambolic, Bacary Sagna was caught badly out of position for both Chelsea goals, admittedly Diaby's loss of possession for the second was also woeful.  Generally we were all over the shop, we couldn't keep the ball and we didn't look good without the ball, a lethal combination.

Too many players didn't turn up in the first period of the game, we looked so defensively brittle, there wasn't enough shape when Chelsea attacked, and we frequently left too many men forward, playing right into Chelsea's hands by leaving ourselves very very vulnerable to the counter attack.  It was very frustrating that Chelsea's second also came as a result of a clear dive by Ramires, he deliberately hurled his leg at Szczesny rather than going for the ball, a clear piece of cheating.  There was also a blatant yellow card foul in the build up to Chelsea's first, Coquelin clattered late by Ramires' studs up challenge.

It is hard to put a finger on just exactly went wrong in the first half, but if I had to point somewhere it would be at our defensive performance.  This was personified by the lacklustre positioning of Bacary Sagna, a player who has been our most reliable in recent seasons, but who has not looked his self of late.  The overall balance of the team is wrong as well, we have no width on the left, only Kieran Gibbs gets wide, there wasn't enough beef in the middle too, Coquelin did pretty well on the whole, but Diaby looked as one would expect him to look, slightly rusty and off the pace.

The most frustrating thing is that this Chelsea side is eminently beatable, we opened them up on numerous occasions, especially in the second half, and could have easily escaped with a point after the much better second half performance.  We seemed to battle more in midfield, we pressed better, we worked harder, and Chelsea did drop off the pace that they set early doors.  Walcott's finish was superb from Cazorla's slide rule pass, he looked dangerous all afternoon and with better timing of his runs could easily have had a hat trick.  Giroud worked hard, missed a good early chance and so nearly equalised at the death, his header had Cech beaten but was just a couple of inches over.

We have it all to do to even scrape the top four this season and frankly if we don't bring in a couple of players this window then I can't see us doing it.  We lack quality on the bench in several areas.  We are reasonably well off for defenders, my main concern here is the form of Bacary Sagna.  In midfield we lack some power, we could badly do with a strong ball winning type to add some more depth to Arteta's guile, I also think we need some more quality wide midfielders, we have so many central players but so few who can offer us width.  As for strikers, if Podolski plays centrally we are not badly off, if he doesn't then we definitely need one more.  Finally it is well worth considering just how much Chelsea have spent and how average they are as a team, we gave as good as we got today, despite the fact that our side cost a tiny proportion of their team's cost.  All that glitters is not gold.

Friday, 18 January 2013

FA charge Allardyce for daring to speak truth

'The one difference between Rafael’s handball and Spence’s was that Jordan plays for West Ham away against Manchester United and Rafael plays at home at Old Trafford........'It's got to be that simple. Phil Dowd was in the perfect position. Rafael pushes the ball away with his left arm. No penalty. Go to the other end and the ball hits Jordan’s hand. If you give one you have to give both, simple as that.'

It is utterly pathetic that the FA have charged Sam Allardyce for daring to point out the terrible bias of referees in favour of Manchester United.  His comments above are simply a fact, Dowd's refereeing was inconsistent and biased.  

The biggest disgrace in all this is that the FA routinely do nothing when Alex Ferguson abuses, intimidates and says far worse about referees.  This is because the FA are in Manchester United's pocket, as are the referees' body, the PGMOL.

The sad fact is that Manchester United play by very different rules to everyone else.  The Premier League, the FA and the PGMOL are all the servants of Manchester United, for very different reasons.  The other grim fact in all this is that football in England is not fair as a result, the playing field is not level, and this corrupt state of affairs makes everything so much easier for Manchester United than it should be.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A 1-0 battering

That was more like it, although the game remained on a knife edge for most of the second half, it was as relaxing a 1-0 win as you will see.  There was a brief moment in the first half when we could have gone behind, Bartley drifted in behind Per, and hit the bar with a free header, a real let off.  However after that scare Swansea created very little, Szczesny was was forced into one decent left handed save in the second half, but that was it, for the remained we huffed, we puffed and eventually Swansea's house crumbled.

The first half was a little bitty, we did start to dominate as it wore on but Swansea were decent, pressing reasonably effectively for the most, although we did create some great spaces in the box, but our finishing wasn't up to the task.  In the second half we upped it a few gears, Swansea couldn't keep the ball, we outmanoeuvred them all over the field, wave after wave of attack came, a mixture of poor finishing, luck and a bit more luck meant we had to wait until a final ten minutes for the break through.

Theo had missed a few decent chances, one clear cut one on one where he was put off by a cynical clip and tug by the Swansea defender, just enough to put him off and push him wide, making it harder to score, Clattenberg bottled the decision in my eyes. Vorm made some decent saves, there were a couple of rather fortunate goal line clearances, there were a few slightly wasteful finishes.  The effort could not be faulted though, the tempo did not drop, we keep pushing and eventually our reward came.  Giroud's deft little flick fell beautifully for Jack, who thumped the ball low beyond Vorm from outside the box, a fantastic shot perfectly timed.

It was a much more encouraging team effort overall.  Although Jack will take all the plaudits, and rightly so, it must be noted that his attacking license was given to him by the excellent and industrious Coq, a very solid performance with some good attacking moments too.  Gibbs and Vermaelen were excellent too, Santi had a good second half, Diaby was a little peripheral but that is to be expected given his long absence, Giroud was outstanding in all he did, Theo was involved and on another night could have scored several with a tad more luck.

There isn't a great deal lacking from this kind of starting eleven, the problem comes that we cannot field this team twice a weak and the squad is not deep enough to cope.  Bodies are still very much need in this window.  Finally a word for our opponents Swansea, they are a great side, a credit to football and it is a shame to see them go out of the cup, not that much of a shame though!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Dean the destroyer

Firstly I don't deny we have our problems, of course we do, our squad is not strong enough, we have some gaping holes that need filling in this regard and City's squad is miles ahead of us at the moment.  Secondly I don't deny our defending was sloppy for the two first half goals we conceded today.  The problem was that Mike Dean killed the game today by a ridiculous decision to send off Koscielny early on in the first half and this decision was utterly pivotal in our defeat, to deny this is simply nonsensical.

"Denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity"

I am sure that the many media numpties will use the above quote to justify the terrible Mike Dean decision.  By this logic pretty much every foul in the penalty would be a red card, as most penalty area fouls prevent a clear goal scoring opportunity.  The rule is certainly not black and white, it is inherently subjective, and the fact of the matter is that the type of foul committed on Dzeko by Koscielny virtually never results in a red card.  The fact that Dzeko himself didn't even know if it was a red card proves my point, players only say this when they know the referee has royally buggered up.

Kos held Dzeko back in the box, it might have been a yellow on a bad day, a straight red was an absurd and nonsensical decision to make.  The 'goal scoring opportunity' rule was brought in to stop the professional foul, when a man is slotted through on goal and is taken down cynically, this was most definitely not that, Koscielny simply held Dzeko back from a hopeful flick on that he was not actually going to get on the end of.  It was emphatically not the clean through on goal with time and space scenario that is meant by the rule book's phrase 'obvious goal scoring opportunity'.

It is a remarkable statistic that Arsenal have won just one game in the 17 games that Mike Dean has presided over in recent years, if the Premier League were not a corrupt organisation then this would be something that they would investigate, such is the statistical freak of this run of bad decisions.

I have lost all faith in the standard and consistency of officiating in the Premier League, and Mike Dean provided us all with a great case study of just how bad the problem is today.  He wrecked a game before it had really got going, he interpreted the rules wrongly with absolutely zero common sense and it is not the first time has has shafted us with a bad incoherent piece of decision making.  Mike Dean, you are a disgrace to football and you are symptomatic of the shabby state of refereeing and referee selection in this country.  Shame on you.

The Premier League is getting less and less competitive

I have done some very simple graphs and statistical tests in order to test the theory that the Premier League is becoming increasingly dominated by the rich elite.  The first graph above shows the adjusted relative points difference between the top two in the Premier League and the bottom two; by 'adjusting' I have simply zeroed the points to make the graph easier to look at.  The second graph shows the adjusted relative points between the top two sides and the side in fifth place:

The third graph shows the adjusted points total of the top two sides:

The trends in each graph are obvious, it is clear that the gap between the elite and the rest is growing over time.  I have also done some simple statistical tests to see if there is a significant (beyond 95% chance) trend over time of these point differentials.  Interestingly all three trends are significant beyond the 95% level.  The trends are worrying in my eyes as they show several concerning things are taking place in the top tier of English football. Firstly the elite are becoming more and more dominant in the league and this is relative to both the side in 5th place and the sides at the bottom of the table.  

The Premier League is becoming less competitive year on year, and consequently it is becoming more and more boring.  The title race is becoming increasingly predictable and it is becoming harder for clubs to break into the group of rich elite clubs.  This is bad for the fans and bad for English football.  I rest my case.  Something has to be done about this in my opinion, UEFA's financial fair play won't help that much, we need something far more robust and tougher than forces more of an even playing field upon the clubs in the Premier League.