Saturday 5 February 2011
Dowd 4 Arsenal 4: is the game corrupt?
It is hard to be angry with the team today because they deserved the three points for an excellent overall performance, in the end they were undone largely by an absolutely terrible refereeing performance from Phil Dowd. Arsene has been pretty coy following the match but he knows this too, I am impressed that he has controlled his words so well, he was 'surprised' with the penalty decisions, a cleverly worded response.
We killed Newcastle in the first half and this should not be forgotten. Some outstanding play and some truly excellent goals. It could have been more than the four. Walcott's tidy opener, Djourou's powerful header, RVP's powerful finish from Theo's cutback and the best of the bunch for me, RVP's thumping header from Sagna's delicious curling cross.
Then came Dowd. Joey Barton was lucky to be on the field after just the first half, a shocking tackle on Diaby missed by Dowd, then another reckless one through the back of Arshavin, not a free kick and not even a card. Then early in the second half Barton went through the ball in a way that was designed to break Diaby's legs, Diaby was then sent off for a rather tame shove in the back of Barton's lower neck. Barton escaped completely unpunished. Diaby deserved a yellow and Barton a red, instead down got it hopelessly wrong and leg breaking was again encouraged by our incompetent officials.
It is easy for some to have a go at Diaby and judge him. He was stupid to a degree but he has almost lost his career to tackles like this, he is bound to get angry, it's instinctive, and his reaction was pretty mild, certainly not enough to justify a red card, especially in the context of Nolan doing worse to Szczesny late in the game. Unfortunately Dowd didn't stop there.
He handed Newcastle the initiative with an incredibly soft penalty, Koscielny barely made contact and the contact that was made was minimal, Best played for it and the incompetent Dowd provided, even though he was in a poor position to see the lack of contact made. This changed the game as the sending off had done earlier, Newcastle had been gifted a man advantage and a goal.
The second goal was probably the only one where our defending can be blamed. Best was slightly lucky with the way the ball broke and he finished well, Clichy dived in a bit and the centre backs didn't cover well enough.
The second penalty was even more of a joke than the first and that is saying something. There just wasn't a foul, the players went up and Dowd simply donated Newcastle their second goal of the day from the spot. I was watching on foreign TV and the commentators burst out into laughter, that says it all really. The fourth was academic, Dowd had been the primary driver behind Newcastle's comeback, although it was a fantastic hit from Tiote, Newcastle would have been nowhere near this goal being meaningful if it had not been for Dowd's shocking partisan decisions. Interestingly the fourth Newcastle goal came following yet another non free kick when Barton dived over after shoulder to shouldet contact with the powerhouse Tomas Rosicky!
It is so hard for us to win the league when we are up against incompetent decision making like this from officials on such a regular basis. It is easy to try to deflect attention elsewhere, Diaby was silly, our defending was not perfect, I know these things, but it is undeniable that the main reason for our demise today was the recurrent incompetent decision making of a terrible terrible referee. Phil Dowd is either useless or corrupt, I do not say this lightly. The only decision that went our way all day was when Newcastle incorrectly had a goal given for offside.
Manu simply do not have to climb these kind of mountains, in fact the reverse is often true. We have thrown some games away this season, but this was not one of them, Phil Dowd wrestled it from us and handed it to Newcastle on a plate, there is only so much one can look to blame ourselves when we are up against this kind of rank bias. In fact I am f*cking proud of the lads today, I would have been tempted to walk off the pitch today had I been playing, RVP played on and scored an excellent goal which was chalked off by the linesman despite him being level.
It was just one of those days when we were beaten by the referee, shame on you Phil Dowd, you were beneath a disgrace today, if the game had any credibility there would be a formal investigation into your performance today, it was so bad that it has left me questioning the honesty of the Premier League. A sad sad day for football indeed.