Saturday 29 December 2012

Villas-Boas hinted at corruption in Premier League

The Ferguson influence story is going to run and run, and I thought it was a good time to delve back into the archives to examine some words of the Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas from earlier this year:

"'It would be brilliant to be able to talk about this, but I paid a very high fine last season and I don't want to do it again.....In this country, it is impossible to respond to it"

It is extremely worrying that the referee selection process for Premier League games is so biased and completely hidden from public view.  Chris Foy has an interesting record of bad decisions against Villas-Boas, and his appointment for Tottenham's trip to Old Trafford appeared to be yet another interesting coincidence.  Strangely these interesting coincidences seem to be so regular that it makes it very hard to ignore the way referees are influenced by Ferguson's intimidation, as Jeff Winter, an ex-PL referee, points out:

"I'm not a psychologist so I don't know how that has affected referees' performances in the past or what impact it will have in the future when it comes to debatable decisions. But it is fair to say that it can't be a healthy situation when he gives referees so much stick and human nature is bound to be a factor so his criticism could rebound on him."

One must remember that after Tottenham won at Old Trafford Chris Foy was bizarrely relegated to League 2 for his next game, the FA told us this was not a punishment, but it simply couldn't be anything else.  Of note Foy, after presiding over a United defeat at the Emirates, did not referee a Manchester United game again for another year.  Another random coincidence?

Events speak for themselves and the grim picture of bias in Premier League refereeing is becoming clearer by the week.  The facts are clear.  The process of referee selection is biased and hidden from public view.  The FA selectively enforce the rules in a manner that allows certain clubs to remain immune from prosecution while others are routinely silenced for openly speaking the truth.  The system is bent, and this is sad for football in this country.

Friday 28 December 2012

Pardew spot on as Ferguson shows his nasty colours

The fallout from the Manchester United - Newcastle game continues.  Alan Pardew said some very reasonable things in very reasonable fashion including:

"I think Mike Dean might feel slightly disappointed he didn't do something about it, I think the pressure that was on him was tough for a referee to take......Sometimes when you reflect on a game you think you might have acted differently. You do that as a manager and I think he might have done that as a referee......But it's an emotional game and apparently they had a cordial discussion. I've had a few of those myself and sometimes I've ended up in the stands as a result of that cordial discussion.......I think there were a lot of things the FA could look at. But it seems they are looking at none."
Pardew's words are understated and entirely reasonable given what was obvious to anyone that saw the appalling aggression with Ferguson showed towards the match officials.  Unsurprisingly 'Sir' Alex has responded in typically aggressive fashion.  As always Ferguson took zero responsibility for intimidating the officials and tried to attack Pardew.  It was fascinating that Ferguson hints at 'help he gave' to Pardew, it appears Ferguson will use his power to make Pardew's life difficult in football circles from now on, standing up to Ferguson's bullying has severe consequences it appears.
Interestingly Arsene Wenger has made some very cryptic comments which hint at what many of us have known for a while, it has become clear that the rules are selectively enforced, that Manchester United can do what they want and that the system is corrupt.  The FA are either scared or corrupt, neither being good for the future of football, with their 'respect' campaign being an utter shambles, discipline will always be non-existent if rules are not consistently enforced.
'Sir' Alex Ferguson is a cowardly bully who cannot bear to look at his own ugly behaviour in the mirror.  A key part of his success has been down to his, his players' and his clubs' systematic manipulation of referees and officials.  The intimidation is clear, it is unpunished and it influences results.  The referee selection process is also dodgy, hidden from public view and arguably subject to huge bias.  The PGMOL, Mike Riley and the Premier League seem to have a lot to hide.
In Alex Ferguson's eyes it is all someone else's fault, the disgusting abuse and intimidation that he and his players have been guilty of over the years is just someone else's problem, it is just because of his club's profile, is he so stupid that he expects us to buy this?  Does he really think he is harshly treated by the media?  What utter cods wallop   His aggressive reaction smacks of his guilt, he knows that the momentum against his nasty tactics is building.  I suspect Ferguson's legacy will not be one of great football, it will be one of the nasty side of human nature and of a corrupt bully being exposed for what he is.

Thursday 27 December 2012

Ferguson intimidating his way to another title

How much longer can the pathetic footballing authorities allow this to go on?  The disgraceful abuse and intimidation dished out to the match officials yesterday at Old Trafford was typical of the bully who has built his success on fear.  Even Gary Lineker commented on Ferguson's disgusting behaviour yesterday, although MOTD stopped short of really dealing with the issue properly.

Alex Ferguson, his managerial staff and his players have done this for years and will continue to do so until the authorities clamp down on it, unfortunately there is precious little chance of that happening given the weakness and clear vested interests in football's governing bodies.  Yesterday the officials had to back away from the abuse as the physical element of the intimidation was obvious.

The bottom line is that officials are afraid of Ferguson and Manchester United.  This means that Manchester United continue to get the rub of the green with the big decisions and the small decisions, and anyone who understands statistics will tell you that this adds up over the course of a season, it most definitely doesn't even out.  It is like having a weighted coin, even if the odds of a heads being tossed are 60% versus 40% for tails this quickly leads to some very significant differences.  The penalty statistics, the lack of ref cards and other evidence all points to a clear systematic bias in favour of Manchester United as a result of this systematic intimidation of officials.

I have no respect for the scum bag that is Alex Ferguson.  He is a pathetic coward and a bully.  His success has been built on his unpleasant personality traits and on scaring people into doing what he wants them to do.  This is not a human being we should look up to and respect, this is not someone who is a good example to our children, this man is an appalling human being and it is about time that the FA stood up to him.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Massive problems but keep your heads

Last night was a night that summed up many of the manager's and the club's failings.  Great credit to League 2 side Bradford for a true battling performance and congratulations to their supporters.  We played a strong side but in truth we were not at the races for much of the first half and most of the second, although Vermaelen equalised late on, we could not make our complete domination in extra time count and narrowly went out on penalties, two of our spot kicks rather unfortunately cannoning back of the inside of the post.

I have to say that I am slightly ashamed and embarrassed at the way many of our own supporters are behaving and reacting.  Fine, criticise the manager, criticise the board, criticise the players, but there is a way of doing this without sinking to offensive abuse and mocking.  We also should be supporting these players when they are on the field and the negative support of some fans at home games is actually having a real detrimental effect on performances.

I know our squad is weak and several players are not good enough.  However I do not buy the lack of effort or the mentality issue, we simply aren't good enough, there's no need to claim some of our average failing players are not trying when they appear to be putting in a lot of effort.  Gervinho is the perfect case in point, he is a frustrating player no doubt, but last night he was probably our most dangerous player going forward, yet in the eyes of some supporters he was to blame for everything including third world famine.

The manager has certainly lost the plot in recent years.  The 4-3-3 system, the way we play it, is an abject disaster area.  Again last night we had no pace and width in attacking areas.  I barely noticed Podolski in his left sided berth, surely he must play centrally?  Gervinho is not a centre forward, while there was no one on the right flank in the first half.  Ramsey was anonymous, Cazorla only came to life later in the game, again we had numerous central players in midfield and attack, and no proper width.

The lack of depth in the centre forward position was again demonstrated.  Chamakh's movement did show us what we had been missing to a degree, alas his poor finishing did not.  Gervinho was far more at home on the left and it begged the obvious question - why as Podolski playing wide and Gervinho centrally, again?

Sacking Arsene now mid season with no replacement lined up would be utterly stupid.  Change for the sake of it without any serious plan for what will happen afterwards is the stuff of idiots.  Arsene needs to sort this mess out and if he doesn't then he has to go in the summer.  We need better players in certain areas and we need to stop playing numerous central players in the same team without having any attacking width.  I would be fully in favour of switching back to a 4-4-2, or perhaps a 4-4-1-1 with Santi off the centre forward.  Arsene needs to remember the importance of width and bring in some quality in January.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Diving and our pathetic biased xenophobic media

I have absolutely no problem with anyone criticising Santi Cazorla's dive yesterday against West Brom.  There was minimal contact and it was not a penalty.  Reid did get nowhere near the ball and try to kick him though.  It was also rather evident that despite being a dive, there are far worse dives every week which are routinely ignored by out pathetic media.

The problem I do have is the ridiculous overreaction whenever an Arsenal player is caught out diving and it has to be said it doesn't happen very often as we get few penalties compared to regular cheats like Manchester United, and we don't dive as much as many other sides.  The reaction to Cazorla's dive in the media shows quite beautifully how morally bankrupt, inconsistent and hypocritical many of the morons covering football in this country are.  Interestingly last week many of our esteemed footballing pundits were trying to justify Gareth Bale's diving as he was simply 'anticipating' contact, funny how this logic is not applied to Arsenal players.

Gareth Bale is a terrible cheat, he does it week in week out and has already 4 bookings to his name for diving this season.  Yet the media have never hounded or ganged up on the cheating Welshman as they have pathetically bullied Eduardo and Cazorla.  This inconsistency gives their game away.  For example take Bale's pathetic dive at the Emirates last season, the media largely ignored this clear act of cheating.

The media have never been honest or objective on diving.  We have seen ritual cheating ignored from many domestic cheats like Rooney, Owen, Gerrard and Young.  There is clearly a xenophobic element to it.  However this is not the whole explanation, some clubs get away with it, look at Cristiano Ronaldo and Van Nistelrooy, two of the worst cheats I have ever seen, but as they played for Manu the media largely let it go and never hounded these serial cheats.

Interestingly Alex Ferguson's stupid comments on the matter help perpetuate this myth that it is just foreign players that are to blame, the fact that he has had several of the worst home-grown cheats in his squad make his logic seem utterly retarded (Beckham, Owen, Rooney, Young etc).  I agree to a degree with Kun Ageuro, referees are generally a bit biased against foreigners when it comes to diving, they are also a bit biased to certain clubs such as Manu.  The penalty statistics prove this pro-Manu bias clearly.

Overall diving is a serious problem in world football that is being ignored as the governing bodies, which include the Premier League and the FA.  If football were not a corrupt sport then we would have introduced video technology, we would have reduced refereeing bias and error in doing so, and we could have introduced retrospective punishment for diving and violent tackling.  Alas as things are at the moment, we have a corrupt sport in which a clear bias exists in refereeing, as well as a pathetic biased mainstream media which simply perpetuates common myths and preconceptions in a lazy manner.

Back at the races

This was just what the doctor ordered after the terrible display at home to Swansea.  Although the victory was clouded in a smidgeon of controversy, nothing could really take away from the fact that West Brom were distinctly second best to an Arsenal side that had rediscovered a bit of attacking zest.  Steve Clarke may have tried to blame the defeat on the ref but this was merely to distract from the fact that West Brom were hammered, they managed only 2 shots on goal in the entire match.

The penalty that did not turn the game should never have been, Reid took a swing at Cazorla but made little if no contact, with Cazorla throwing himself down, not a penalty in a million years.  The second half spot kick was stonewall, Oxlade-Chamberlain was hacked down by Brunt, the claims that a foul was committed in the build up were weak, Oxlade-Chamberlain's pressing was perfectly legitimate.  Arteta showed a lot of character to step up and dispatch both spot kicks after the Fulham disaster.  The referee Jones was dire, so many wrong decisions, so many soft free kicks and very lenient in dealing with a lot of rather nasty cynical West Brom fouls.

The back four were decent, Arteta and Wilshere were particularly impressive in front of them, dictating the play and breaking it up as needed, while the work rate and pace of Oxlade-Chamberlain and Gervinho on the flanks really made a difference.  We had that bit more width and pace on the field, Giroud led the line well too, and some of the dynamic attacking play was very encouraging.  It was also heartening to see some more direct play with longer balls seeking out our wide forwards, the way we mixed it up with short and long play made it much less predictable than in previous home games, we must continue in this vein.

Unsurprisingly we did not miss Theo today, and there is no way we would have got the work rate out of him that we got from the likes of Gervinho and Oxlade.  That eleven is starting to emerge as our first eleven and hopefully we can now build on this much better performance.  If we need anything in the window it is some more pace and width in midfield and in attacking areas.  It would be good to see Chamakh and Arshavin out, and to bring in a couple of younger pacier fresher faces instead.  Well done the Gunners.

Sunday 2 December 2012

Twitter 'muppets'

"Still out with loads of gooner in shadow of Emirates. Those who go home and away are voice on future of Arsenal. Not 606 or twitter muppets"

These are the words of Tim Payton, a board member of the AST (Arsenal Supporters Trust), taken from Twitter last night.  If these were the words of an individual Gooner who was nothing to do with the AST then it would be one thing, but they are an absolute disgrace for someone who is the official 'spokesperson' for the AST.  

There are so many deeply disturbing elements to the views of Tim Payton.  All Arsenal fans should have a say, who is anyone to judge who has more right than others?  The arrogance and condescending nature of Payton's comments are utterly deplorable.  

I will not rant on because Tim Payton's words tell the story beautifully, they tell the story of someone who is clearly not fit to be representing the AST, a man who seems to have a massively inflated opinion of himself and his own views, a man who has embarrassed himself massively with his comments and his complete failure to apologise to the massive number of loyal Gooners who he has shown such contempt for.

As a Fanshare member I shall be writing to the AST to express my opinion on their spokesperson's arrogant and senseless comments.  Tim Payton should do the right thing, he should either apologise properly to those supporters who has has offended, or he should resign from the AST.  The choice is yours Tim, show some backbone and moral fibre for once, do the right thing.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Tired, predictable and recurrent

As a one off today would have been just that, but in the context of the season so far and recent seasons, we are seeing a worrying trend, a sad demise, a great manager reaching the end of the road and a team that is failing on many levels on a repeated basis.  Recent performances against Swansea, Villa, Everton, Manu, Schalke, Fulham and Norwich have been concerning, to say the least.

We lack quality and certain attributes in the squad, however the players we have are still not as bad as recent performances would suggest.  The most worrying thing in my eyes is that Arsene is not managing the players well.  Our formation and tactics are tired and predictable.  Teams have worked us out, we lack an attacking cutting edge, we are poorly organised in terms of the team's whole defensive shape and we are tactically naive.  The sum of our parts is mediocre, and this is not good enough given the size of the club and our expenditure in terms of wages.

I am not angry, I am just sad at what we have become and how our manager has lost the plot.  There is little more to say.  The end of the road is not a pleasant place to be, I have massive respect for the manager but it is obvious that he does not have long left at the helm.  Finally great credit to Swansea who are an excellent side and thoroughly deserved the win today.

Sunday 25 November 2012

Not awful but obvious we are not a top side anymore

I have to start by saying that a lot of the reaction to yesterday's away draw at Villa was rather hysterical, lacking context and also disrespectful to a well organised Villa side who gave their all.  By no means am I saying that we were great, we were not, but we were nowhere near as bad and awful as some have been claiming.  Overall we played the better football, created the better chances and could easily have ground out a decent away win.  The reasons we did not win are not simple and I don't think it does anyone any favours to start jumping to easy conclusions, like saying the players didn't try and that there was a lack of effort, this is simply not true.

Our main problem is that we no longer have a side that is full of the best players around.  Other top sides have overtaken us and we do not have enough real top drawer quality in our squad.  This was demonstrated yesterday by the lack of attacking options on the bench.  Tactically we also have issues and this is hard to cleanly separate from our squad weakness.  I am no fan of Podolski being deployed on the left, he is not suited to this role and has to be used centrally. The problem is we have so few decent wide attacking players.  Arshavin is past his best, Gervinho is erratic, the Ox has great potential but needs time, while Theo is also erratic and also injury prone.

We do not have the real scary pace in the side that we used to.  Players like Anelka, Overmars and Henry used to scare defenders rigid.  We don't really have a proper centre forward on our books with real pace, then we have Theo, Ox and Gervinho as our quick players, I just don't think we have enough in our squad.  The return of Jack Wilshere has also shown just how we have lacked real quality in the centre of the park too.  Arteta is a very good player but he is no world beater, Ramsey is decent, Cazorla is a genuinely classy player.

It is hard to sum it all up and generalisation of accuracy are hard to find, but the Villa game showed it all quite perfectly.  It was a reasonable performance in many ways, defensively we were solid, we played some neat stuff at times, the problem was that we weren't just quite good enough in attacking terms.  In isolation this wouldn't be a problem, but this isn't an isolated example, we are consistently failing to see off relatively weak opposition, we are just not a top drawer side and top drawer squad any more 

I can't fault the effort or commitment of the players though, they give their all from what I can see, the problem is more one of overall squad quality, there is also an element of poor tactics from the manager.  It is sad to admit to, but deep down I know we are just not a great side any more  we are good, we have some fantastic players and great talent coming through, but we no longer scare opponents like we used to, we are no longer league title contenders.

Saturday 17 November 2012

An unpleasant 5-2 groundhog day sees spuds smashed

The starting eleven was spot on, Theo wide right to give us that much needed width and pace, Jack Wilshere back in midfield to add to Arteta's guile and Cazorla's craft.  Tottenham did start well and their attacking line up was brave.  It paid dividends when Adebayor tapped home after Szczesny had saved well from Defoe, questions will be asked as to how the Tottenham forward was afforded so much time and space in our box.  Lennon then had a decent chance when Vermaelen stood off him on the edge of the box, the Tottenham winger dragged his shot narrowly wide.

Then the moment which had a massive impact on the game, Emmanuel Adebayor lost it and dived into Santi Cazorla's shin with a reckless straight legged studs up lunge, Howard Webb rightly sent him from the field.  A sweet moment for many Gooners, as Adebayor is one of the most disliked footballers in the modern game and that is saying something.  He is incredibly selfish, hypocritical, lazy and arrogant.  I really do hope he feels ashamed tonight, he is a disgrace in so many ways.

From that moment on we showed Tottenham no mercy.  We pressed them hard and didn't allow them to settle on the ball for a second in the remainder of the first half.  Theo terrorised them down their left, our first coming from a lovely Theo cross, there was still a lot to do with the header and Per obliged, a proper tubthumper.  The second was crucial, coming just before half time, not the cleanest of Podolski strikes, but he hit it early and it found the corner.  Giroud's third just before half time ended the game as a contest, a cracking first time finish leaving Lloris no chance.

Tottenham gave it a go in the second half but they always looked fragile on the counter and so it proved with our neatly worked fourth, a lovely Giroud flick on, Theo played in Podolski who accurately squared for Cazorla, a sublime team goal.  Bale did score a consolation with a good shot with his right foot, he really looks too good for the rest of this Tottenham side, but it merely served to provoke another goal with Oxo rampaging down the right to feed Theo for a thoroughly deserved fifth goal.

Overall a much better display, and the way we attacked so directly and effectively was particularly encouraging.  Giroud leads the line so well and our width on the right was a real catalyst.  Perversely Tottenham looked rather Arsenal-like in their vulnerability at the back to the counter attack.  Still we did concede two goals and there is still much room for improvement defensively.  The captaincy issue is a real problem at the moment as Koscielny is playing well and Gibbs is out best left back, can the captain really warm the bench?  He may have to on form.

Saturday 10 November 2012

You'll win nothing with defending like this

It was just terrible defending again, conceding three at home to Fulham is bad but the manner of some of their goals was really concerning.  The last minute penalty miss was irrelevant for me, it would have papered over the cracks of a team that has been set-up without enough consideration of basic defending.

The 4-3-3 formation has been a dismal failure for me and we have never looked solid playing with it, it does not suit the players we have.  The full backs are terribly exposed, the wide players do not assist them enough, we have such a poor shape in wide areas when we do not have the ball.  The basics are being ignored, positionally we are poor and there is too much diving in to tackles.  The origin of the 4-3-3 was as a result of trying to accommodate Cesc, it has now become our Achilles heel and an excuse to play too many forwards while stupidly ignoring the importance of defending.

Podolski should be playing more centrally, he showed this again with his excellent movement for the 2nd goal, two nil up and we should have gone on to win comfortably.  Fulham equalised with an easy headed goal from a corner, than a shambolic second saw us caught out again down our left, Podolski is simply not a good defender and Vermaelen is erratic with his positional play, Mannone also made another error, he really should have kept out the header.

Luckily Olivier Giroud helped us out of the mire with his second and although Arteta could have won it late from the penalty spot, it would have been harsh on Fulham, it was never a penalty, much like Cazorla's at Old Trafford, an accidental hand ball given by a bad referee.  Fulham looked so dangerous every time they broke, and they did come worrying close to a fourth goal.

The bottom line is the manager has failed.  We are a defensive shambles and this has been the case for years now.  Some players are also not up to the task but the main issue is that the way we set-up the team, whoever was in it would struggle, is is just so naive and weak from a management point of view.  Terrible defending, terrible result against an average Fulham side.  Arsene needs to go back to the drawing board and fast.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Who was worse: Dean or Arsenal?

Depressing on many levels.  I shall keep it short and to the point.  Tactically we were a train wreck that had been hit by a meteor.  Arsene left a terrible defender in Santos terribly exposed in a formation which provided him with no protection.   Manu consequently destroyed us time and time again down our left side, utterly inexcusable and so very predictable.  The way we were setup was also so so toothless offensively, we had no pace and no width, Ramsey and Podolski are pointless in those wide positions.

As a result a mediocre Manu side thoroughly deserved their win, they created far more than us and were the better side.  It is just so disappointing that Vermaelen's early error and Arsene's woeful tactics gave us little chance of having a real go at their average defence.  The positives for us were the outstanding saves of Mannone and another excellent shift from big Per.  On the negative making Vermaelen skipper looks a terrible decision, his defending has been substandard this season and he is making too many basic errors.

Now to Mike Dean, he is truly the new Mike Riley.  He gave Manu a very very dodgy penalty towards the end of the first half, Cazorla's arms were raised but he was protecting his face instinctively, it was a clear accidental handball, nevertheless Dean pointed to the spot as he loves to do at Old Trafford.  Then was the rank inconsistency and apparent bias in his card decisions.

Dean let Carrick get away with murder all game long, he failed to send off Cleverley for a terrible late lunge when he has already been booked, shortly after this he sent off Wilshere for a far milder tackle on Evra, Evra's exaggerated feigning of injury did Wilshere no favours though.  Van Persie was also lucky not to receive a straight red for a terrible late potential leg breaker on Sagna, only a yellow was produced by the dodgy Dean.  Wilshere's red made it impossible to recover at a time in the game when United did look there for the taking.

I think Wenger has to be replaced this summer, he has taken the club as far as he can and he is now getting found out tactically on far far too frequent a basis.  The 4-3-3 system, the way we play it, is becoming an absolute defensive disaster and an impotent attacking joke.  We never really looked like getting anything from the game today and that is not good enough, 2-1 was flattering as well, it could have been a far more embarrassing scoreline.

The great frustration was that we have the players to beat this mediocre United side but the combination of terrible tactics combined with Dean giving all the big decisions to United made this almost impossible.  It is so painful to watch Arsene's naive tactical approach to games, because everything else he does as a manager is sublime, he develops players and coaches so well.  The problem is that this is a chronic problem that has been obvious for years now, I just cannot see us genuinely challenging unless these problems are addressed. Finally I should end by saying that Dean's biased performance today added yet more weight to the Premier League match fixing scandal, utterly scandalous officiating.

Brave Di Matteo opens Man United can of worms

I am no Chelsea fan but I do think Robert Di Matteo is a very decent chap.  Therefore it is no surprise that he has spoken out against United and in particular the malignant bully that is Sir Alex Ferguson.  Ferguson disgracefully labelled Chelsea's Clattenberg accusations as 'unthinkable'.  Ferguson should be charged by the FA for commenting on the truth of such serious allegations like this, it is appalling that he has practically labelled Chelsea's allegations 'lies'.

 We all know Sir Alex has a lot to hide in his dirty corrupt locker and the evidence that United routinely get the benefit of dodgy refereeing decisions is mounting.  Di Matteo said what many a fan and manager suspects and believes:

“There is a lot of evidence for being concerned that all the decisions go in United’s favour”

There are many potential reasons for this pro-United refereeing bias including the influence of Sir Alex, the influence of United on the FA and PGMOL, the FA's incompetent handling of discipline, the PGMOL's biased selection processes, the geographic bias of referee distribution, Mike Riley's incompetence and the lack of on field discipline which allows United players to regularly intimidate officials.  Di Matteo also added:

“There are some feelings in general but I don’t think they (referees) do that with a purpose it’s just part of their decision making and it seems to go in one direction.”

There may be no deliberate conscious bias from referees, this is something that many people completely fail to understand, but this doesn't mean that United are not systematically gaining from dodgy decisions, far from it, the evidence points towards the fact that they are routinely gaining many points from bad refereeing.

The ignorant idiots who write off the systematic bias of refereeing without thinking would do well to look at history and in particular the 2006 Italian match fixing scandal.  All it took to rig the league was for clubs to have influence over referee selection, the clubs simply made sure that they got favourable referees and the inevitable bias followed, of note it did not rely on any deliberate bias from referees.  All the hallmarks are there that the very same has been going on in England for years and United have been the chief beneficiaries.  Wake up people, the momentum is only going one way.

Friday 2 November 2012

The truth about 'Sir' Alex Ferguson

On the eve of Arsenal playing at Old Trafford,  the disingenuous Sir Alex is stirring things up by claiming that the disrespectful Robin Van Persie should be given a warm reception by Arsenal fans, apparently because ex-Manchester United players 'always' get a warm reception from Manu fans.  Obviously Sir Alex is forgetting Carlos Tevez, Paul Ince et cetera.  I thought this was a good moment to educate a few people on the real Sir Alex, the bully who has a lot of corrupt dirt to hide:

"Having researched the background to the feud between Alex Ferguson and the BBC, it has become pretty clear that Alex Ferguson may well have created this feud as a smokescreen to obscure our view of the real dirt. They key to the whole affair lies in a racehorse, the Rock of Gibraltar.

Firstly let's go back a few years to 2001 when John Magnier and JP McManus first began buying shares in Manchester United. Alex Ferguson was friendly with these men and was a keen dabbler in horse racing. At around the same time the racehorse, the Rock of Gibraltar, was carving out a reputation as one of the best around. Interestingly the 'gift' of 50% of the Rock to Alex Ferguson occurred at around the very same time that Magnier and McManus began acquiring their first shares in Manchester United. The fact that a senior manager in a PLC should be accepting such a large gift from a major shareholder is dubious in itself.

Whatever the truth behind the Rock, Ferguson was the 50% registered owner and as the horse's value skyrocketed with his success, it became clear that the potential stud value of the Rock would be huge (up to 10million/year). Whether Ferguson had any claim to the stud money was the root of the long running and ugly dispute which would ultimately see Ferguson sue Magnier for 50% of the stud fees.

There is some more interesting background to this affair. Magnier and McManus (via Cubic Expression Ltd) acquired another big chunk of Manchester United from BSkyB; Murdoch's company had their takeover of MUFC blocked which then resulted in them relinquishing their 9.9% stake to the Irishmen. It would therefore appear that Magnier and McManus are on pretty decent terms with Mr Murdoch, no wonder the Murdoch media empire has been so quiet on the Magnier/Ferguson/BBC saga.

Thus the informal gift of the Rock led to a dispute which turned friends into bitter enemies. Magnier was not going to give in easily, he vigorously denied Ferguson's claims and immediately hired Kroll Inc, Wall Street's so called 'private eye', to begin the digging into Ferguson's dodgy dealings. Kroll dug the dirt and this led to the infamous '99 questions' for the board. These 99 questions exposed Alex Ferguson and his son, Jason, as well as casting doubt over the honesty of 13 Manchester United transfers.

As the ante was upped by Magnier, Ferguson realised he was out of his depth and buckled by accepting a tiny settlement fee, of note this was significantly less than he had previously been offered to keep things away from a court. This was in March 2004, a key fact is that this was two months before the BBC's program that detailed some of Magnier's infamous 99 questions.

Ferguson was clearly rather scared that his dirty linen was to be aired in public. This was because neither Magnier or McManus had a seat on the board, meaning that they could at any point have called an emergency general meeting to discuss the 99 questions in front of all shareholders. Ferguson clearly had a lot to hide, he had bitten off more than he could chew in taking on MagnierMagnier had found out things that Ferguson didn't want to see the light of day, Ferguson didn't want the 99 questions to be made public and he quickly dropped the lawsuit.

The BBC program was actually a bit of a damp squib, they were just feeding off Manchester United's internal review which had been forced upon the club by Magnier's 99 questions. Even the club's own internal review found significant problems and irregularities in numerous transfers, as well as breaches of FIFA rules. The release of this internal review was moved forward to reduce the impact of the BBC program 'Ferguson and son' which was initially due to precede it.

In reality Ferguson is probably deflecting anger towards the BBC because he is still fuming that he was completely outmanoeuvred by John Magnier. A man that is used to bullying people into accepting his way was bullied into submission by a more powerful man and made to look very foolish in the process. Alex Ferguson came very close to losing his job in the process, he was also very close to having all his dirty linen washed in public. Magnier and McManus walked away with a huge profit, selling their stake to Malcolm Glazer in 2005.

The wonderful irony of this whole affair is that so much rage is now being directed at people who do not deserve it. Firstly Ferguson's rage with the BBC is completely misplaced, he should be looking long and hard at his own dodgy dealings, he also should never have taken on John Magnier and the muck raking would never have happened. Secondly Manchester United fans direct so much rage towards the Glazers when it is likely if it were not for Alex Ferguson's lawsuit then they would have far more benevolent dictators in charge, it is Alex Ferguson's greed that is really to blame, still it is easier to be angry with anyone other than your beloved bully of a manager.

This story really does have it all, blackmail, dodgy dealings, corruption, horse racing and football. Strangely the Premier League, the FA and FIFA have never looked into the dirt that Magnier exposed at Old Trafford.  It is likely that the 99 questions and Kroll's investigative findings have been locked in a safe somewhere in Ireland, just in case in the not too distant future someone needs reminding who their daddy is."

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Back from the dead! 7-5 to the Arsenal

It was a painful and bizarre first half.  Somehow we conceded four goals without really being dominated, that unique mixture of suicidal individual defending and poor team defending saw us concede four before the half was over, only a late Theo Walcott goal saw a glimmer of hope salvaged.  The starting eleven was extremely attacking with Chamakh/Arshavin/Walcott/Gnabry all starting, so no wonder that we looked extremely fragile as a direct Reading side started well and attacked us hard with a very high tempo.

Kos was culpable for the first two goals, caught napping for the first which was a very well taken goal by Roberts, and then a poor attempted clearance with the left foot left Martinez with no chance at preventing the own goal.  Martinez then dropped a clanger for the third, but the time and space allowed was symptomatic of some really poor general team defending again.  The fourth saw acres of space yet again appear on the flank and our defenders were weak in the aerial challenge despite outnumbering Reading in the box.

Theo's excellent goal and then a lightning bolt of a header from the substitute Giroud with about twenty minutes to go gave us some hope, then Koscielny's header from a corner with a minute to go.  It seemed like it was not quite going to be, but then Theo got the ball over the line with over 95 minutes on the clock, the linesman didn't give it but Jenkinson expertly tucked home the rebound, 4-4, the recovery was complete, utterly amazing!  Extra time then came.

Then came the most amazing and incredible thing, as if scoring twice from corners wasn't enough, but Chamakh came inside from the left wing and struck a beauty into the bottom left corner of the net, the comeback was now truly complete, 5-4 to the Arsenal, unbelievable stuff.  We then seemed to be cruising but incredibly Reading found an equaliser out of nowhere, a lucky deflected shot was headed home by Pogrebnyak who was just about level in offside terms, 5-5, blimey.  Giroud was then inches away from winning it in the 30th minute of extra time, his shot flashed narrowly wide.  With penalties looming both teams were still pushing for the win, we broke, Arshavin destroyed, the ball was cleared off the line and Theo hammered home, 6-5, words were failing me at this point.  Then Chamakh scored again, I thought I was hallucinating at this point, fortunately I was not.

Overall the appalling first half showing seemed too much for us to recover from.  Great credit must go to the players for keeping going and never lying down, great credit also to Reading for being truly excellent opponents. The thing that really frustrated me in the first half was not the effort of the players, nor the commitment shown, it is the naive way that the manager sent the team out and the terrible defensive shape we showed for so much of the first half.  Without the ball we have been too poor for some time now, we too often lack solidity as a unit and seem prone to conceding far far too easily when not under a great deal of pressure.  Anyway we showed terrific fight and courage to come back, well done the lads.  Many questioned your commitment and effort, unfairly in my opinion, and you proved them all wrong.  Amazing, incredible, in fact words struggle when it comes to games like that, awesome and spectacular, a truly magnificent game of football.

What do Mike Riley and the PGMOL have to hide?

So Mike Dean is set to officiate yet another Arsenal game as he takes charge of our away trip at Old Trafford this weekend, there is something so desperately wrong with a system that allows one official to referee almost a quarter of one team's games.  The massive scandal surrounding referee selection in the Premier League is going to run and run, the fact that the media routinely fail to investigate this gaping chasm says a lot about the sad lapdog state of many of the mainstream journalists out there.

I sent the PGMOL some rather simple and basic questions almost a year ago now, unsurprisingly this 'open' and 'transparent' organisation simply cut off contact with me as they do not want to reveal what actually goes on as regards their organisation and referee selection in the PGMOL.  Here are the basic questions that the PGMOL will not 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 susbstantive body of research that shows referees will tend to unconsciously favour the home side with decisons?

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?

 You can make up your own minds as to why the PGMOL will not answer any of these questions or even dignify my questions with any kind of comment.  Personally I think it is utterly shameful that the biggest football league in the world is run in such a hidden and shady manner.  Their refusal to answer does not make them appear open, transparent or honest.

The Lance Armstrong scandal in cycling has shown how corrupt sport and business can become, and that assuming things are fine just because they should be is about as naive and stupid as one can get.  The Premier League is a multi-billion pound business, the way it operates should be transparent and open, alas beneath the shiny brochures and glossy pamphlets lurks a very dodgy world filled with numerous huge conflicts of interest.  Assuming football to be clean when everything is hidden from view and when everything is pointing in the other direction is about as stupid as one can get.

Sunday 28 October 2012

Manu aided and abetted by suspicious Clattenberg

There is bad luck, there are coincidences and there is blatant systematic corruption.  Today Manu have been massively helped on their way to another highly contentious victory by some highly dodgy refereeing from Mark Clattenberg at Stamford Bridge.  This is the same Mark Clattenberg who didn't referee Manu for over thirty games after having the audacity to send off a Manu player at Old Trafford.

I don't like either side so I can be pretty objective in analysing the game.  Clattenberg was spot on with the first red card, Ivanovic left him no choice at all with a cynical last man challenge.  The problem was with what came after this.  Being down to ten men is one thing, it is manageable, but going down to nine is another, and this is what Clattenberg did to Chelsea when he unfairly sent off Fernando Torres for 'diving'.

Evans was beaten by Torres and he wasn't far off being clean through on goal, he slid in and made decent contact with Torres' shin, Torres was then inexplicably given a second yellow for 'diving', ridiculous.  A few moments later Clattenberg then made an incredibly suspicious decision by failing to send off Wayne Rooney for a clear yellow card offence.  Rooney had been rightly booked in the first half, he was skinned in the midfield, effectively rugby tackled his opponent to the floor, Clattenberg gave the free kick but didn't book Rooney, inexcusable and inexplicable, a decision that really stunk of flagrant bias.

Chelsea were now up against it with only nine men on the field, they had previously been in the ascendancy before the sendings off, and to add insult to injury Manu won the game with an offside goal, this was a tough call for the officials though.  When one remembers how Manu got a draw at Stamford Bridge last season with two clear non-penalties given to them, this is a sickening way to lose a game of football.

Overall it is extremely suspicious just how keen referees are to send off Manu's opponents, while the same harsh hand is rarely applied to offences committed by Manchester United players.  I am no Chelsea fan, far from it, but it is appalling that such injustice is so very commonplace in the modern game.  The way Alex Ferguson bullies and intimidates people is disgraceful; it has also has a massive affect on the decisions made by many referees and the governing bodies.  Until we have a fair and transparent referee selection process with video technology and the use of regular retrospective bans, the Premier League and football in general will continue to look very very bent indeed.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Squad weakness exposed by Schalke

It was a depressing watch, we never really looked the better side and we could have gone behind on several occasions before Huntelaar finally broke the deadlock.  There was no lack of effort from the players on the field though, it was simply that this team was not good enough and that the manager had not set-up the players as effectively as he might have done.

A few injuries and we are looking very weak indeed, we are down to the bare bones on the bench and there were very few options for the manager in terms of personnel.  Santos is a defensive liability, Ramsey was deployed in a role that he simply cannot perform in, while playing Gervinho centrally and Podolski wide was simply bizarre.  Even if the team had been set up a bit better, I still doubt whether we could have really dominated the Germans as we should be able to.

This squad is simply too weak and it pains me to say it.  This was demonstrated by the options on the bench, the experienced attacking players were Chamakh and Arshavin, it's just not good enough.  With Ox and Theo out there was absolutely zero width in the team, one of the few positives was the outstanding performance of Francis Coquelin, he was combative and sharp, a great display.

We lack forwards, we lack width and we lack quality squad depth.  These things were all so predictable at the start of the season and it is so frustrating to be pointing them out again now.  It is no surprise that our injury prone players like Diaby and Rosicky are currently unfit.  I can't fault the effort of the players on the field tonight, they largely did their best, they just weren't as good as Schalke.  We need our injured players back fast and we need to turn this poor run around.  This squad is in danger of producing our most average and mediocre season for a very long time.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Simply bad defending (again)

I have left it a few days to give my verdict on the Norwich defeat and I hope that taking the time to calm down gives me an advantage in terms of perspective.  It is easy to see things out of context and get overly depressed, not that I think it was a good performance by any means, it was not.  Certainly there were several factors in our defeat but I think it can be simplified down into a few key problems.  It is also worth remembering that we were not outplayed, we had a lot of the ball, it was more the fact that we couldn't convert our possession into chances.

The first point is that goals change games and the first goal is open pivotal, this was emphatically the case against Norwich.  It was also a very poor goal to concede from a defensive point of view.  Firstly Mannone's goalkeeping was awful, he couldn't hold onto a moderately decent shot and he palmed the ball out across his own goal, poor on both fronts.  Santos also played Holt onside, the rest of the back four were nicely in line.  Having controlled the opening few minutes conceding midway through the first half in such fashion changed the game, Norwich could sit deep and defend in numbers, thus making it very tough indeed for us to find space and break them down.

So having gone one nil down we never really created enough in front of goal, we did have several half chances but nothing that clear cut, so given the amount of ball we had why was this?  I think we rely too much on our full backs for width, the midfield three don't give us width, while our forward line can also be rather narrow.  This all adds up to it being too easy for Norwich to defend against us, our lack of width means that can defend narrow and in numbers, making things very congested and making it very hard for us to create anything clear cut.  The answer to this is to play with more width and simply apply pressure by hitting a lot of balls into their box from wide areas, eventually the pressure will tell.  However if you do not bombard their box then the possession may well not tell and this proved the case on Saturday.

So the bottom line for me is that we need to stop making such basic defensive errors as it becomes very hard to win football matches if one goes behind to such sloppy goals time after time.  It also begs the question as regards goalkeeping depth, I don't rate Mannone or Fabianski, I would like to see a better more experienced no2 at the club.  Tactically we also need to have more options at our disposal for when teams decided to park the bus, sometimes we need to stick two men up front, we need to have two wide men in the midfield and we have to change tack.  Come on you Gunners, bring on Schalke.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Random mix including Serbia shame

I have largely taken my mind off football for the last few days and the lack of Arsenal games has made it a very stress-free period indeed!  I spent an evening listening all about Lance Armstrong's disgraceful cheating and bullying, the rank corruption within the cycling authorities and how they still have many miles to go before they can claim their sport is even remotely clean.

It also brings up a very interesting point which makes those who write off talk of systemic bias in the Premier League as mad 'conspiracy theories' look like idiots.  When there is a lot of money around in sport, do not underestimate just how bent and corrupt things can become.  Networks of nepotism and corruption grow and thrive, this is life, simply assuming that things are fine when one has a lot of good evidence to the contrary is nothing other than naive.

Oliver Giroud's confidence must be climbing up there after his excellent last minute goal away to Spain, many other Arsenal players have been in action and touch wood, there is no terrible injury news as yet.  I just hope we get a full set of players back for Norwich, it is just the kind of game we need to get three points out of, there is no room for complacency or error.  The other fantastic news is that Jack Wilshere and Bacary Sagna both came through a behind closed doors friendly against Chelsea, again I am touching wood.

Finally onto the most serious issue of all and that is racism.  It is no surprise that racism is rife in certain corners of the globe, both FIFA and UEFA have failed to adequately take on this disgraceful cancer in the game, they both seem intent on punishing other more trivial matters such as Arsene texting people during games.  I suspect the reason UEFA and FIFA are so reluctant to properly punish the racists like Serbia is that the Presidential votes of many countries may be lost if they do show the balls to stand up to racism.

The Serbian FA have behaved just as badly as the significant number of supporters who racially abused Danny Rose in a quite disgraceful and sustained manner last night, they have launched a pathetic attack on Rose, labelling him 'inappropriate and vulgar'.  Words fail me at moments like these, the Serbian FA have truly plumbed new depths with their complete failure to look at their own ugly racist face in the mirror.  No player should have to endure what Danny Rose did, we are all human beings and racism has no place in sport, or in any aspect of modern life.  Shame on the Serbian supporters and the Serbian FA.  Only a ban from all competitions will suffice now.

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Dodgy first half forgotten as Ramsey ices cake

The starting eleven was pretty much what we had expected, le Coq coming in for Diaby in midfield, perhaps slightly surprisingly there was no Giroud up top though, Oxo starting on the right with Podolski and Gervinho making up the front three.  The rain poured and we showed some nerves early on when Mannone's bungled ball to Vermaelen amost set up a chance for Olympiakos.  The full backs started brightly and it came after a foul on Gibbs, that Cazorla tested their keeper's fingertips with a fizzing free kick.

We seemed to lose our way as the first half wore on, Olympiakos kept men behind the ball and made things tough, it resulted in us making several loose errors.  We had plenty of the ball but couldn't make it count, several corners came and went, but Olympiakos has the best two chances, one good save forced from Mannone and a missed sitter by Machado.  Kos was fortunate not to see red for a terrible lunge after a heavy touch, Vermaelen gave away another free kick by lunging in recklessly.

Then out of nowhere we took the lead, good work on the left by Cazorla and the ball came infield, it broke to Gerivnho whose touch and finish were excellent.  A rather fortunate 1-0 lead all things considered.  We then seemed to slacken off completely, thinking the half time whistle would just come, it didn't, Jenkinson stood off his man, a good cross was whipped in, Kos and Vermaelen were again caught napping, Mitroglou headed home and left Mannone no chance at all.  It was exactly what we deserved, we had been poor for most of the first half, defensively sloppy, too weak in midfield and lacklustre in attacking areas.

The second half began brightly, Gervinho's excellent work teeing up Cazorla who should have hit the target with his side footed attempt.  Shortly afterwards more great Gervinho work on the left edge of the box saw him centre to Podolski, who was now thankfully playing more centrally, and he dispatched the ball hard and low, in off the keeper's back side.  The second half had started so much better, the tempo was right, the ball was being zipped around as it should, rather a contrast to much of the first half.

Kos then missed an absolute sitter with a free header from about five yards out.  The game gradually faded away, we did look a good deal more solid defensively, Theo's introduction certainly made a difference, one cross was well captured by their keeper, another led to a decent Giroud flick that was well saved.  The Greek diving became rather tedious but the referee seemed to slowly lose the plot, gifting Olympiakos soft free kick after soft free kick.  There was still time for the unfortunate Giroud to see his goal bound shot deflected wide off a shoulder for a corner.  The final icing on the cake was Ramsey's expertly taken goal, he did a Henry impression and magnificently lobbed the ball over the keeper after nailing the defender for pace.

Overall job done, despite a dodgy first half, we showed good character to grind out a good win with a far better second half performance, and this was against a well organised side who made it very difficult for us to break them down.  The positives were Gervinho, the full backs, Giroud and Theo.  The negatives must include the dodgy defending at times from the centre backs, the shaky Mannone and our lack of togetherness in the first half.  Can't grumble though, six out of six ain't bad!

Alex Ferguson and referee selection: too many coincidences?

It is a well known fact that human behaviour is modified by rewards and punishments, therefore in order to have a fair system of refereeing it is vital that all referees are treated equally and objectively when it comes to assessing their performances.  It is also vital that for a referee selection process to be free from bias, it has to be pretty random and free from outside influence.  Unfortunately the PGMO's referee selection and assessment process, run by Mike Riley, is flawed, subjective and highly  subject to outside influence.  Mike Riley's own objectivity and bias has been called into question by managers in the past.

Yet another blatant example of Sir Alex Ferguson having an obvious influence on referee selection has reared its ugly head this week.  Chris Foy, who refereed Manu's defeat to Tottenham, has been bizarrely demoted to a League 2 game this weekend, his first League 2 game since 2006.  Obviously our friends at the FA deny  this is a 'demotion' and claim it is just part of his normal refereeing rota.  Alex Ferguson insulted the refereeing after the game and should have been charged by the FA, instead Alex Ferguson appears to have got his own way yet again.

If one looks back at referees who have dared allow Manchester United to lose games in recent years, there is a clear trend of great concern after these Manu defeats.  Alan Wiley refereed United’s 4-1 loss to Liverpool in 2009 and in that game, he gave both United and Liverpool penalties and sent off Nemanja Vidic. All 3 decisions were reasonable and Wiley was praised by Sky TV co-commentator Andy Gray for his performance; not even Ferguson complained.  Later that year, Wiley was given another United game to referee and despite sending off Kieran Richardson of Sunderland, Wiley was lambasted by Ferguson for being “fat and unfit”. The game ended 2-2.  That would be the end of Wiley’s refereeing career. Wiley, it says cryptically on his Wikipedia page, “agreed to retire” at the end of that season. Agreed with whom? No one knows.

Last season, Manchester City romped to a 6-1 win at Old Trafford, inflicting on their rivals their biggest embarrassment under Ferguson. The referee on that day was Mark Clattenburg. He sent Johnny Evans off in the second half for a clear professional foul.  There have been 34 Man United league games since that day and Clattenberg has not refereed a single one of them. The same absence of United fixtures after refereeing a United defeat is common to Martin Atkinson and Chris Foy as well.  There are also some other remarkable coincidences after the refereeing of United defeats.  

Whether there is rank corruption or just biased decision making as a result of dodgy processes is open to question, however what is clear is that the referee selection procedure and system is far too open to influence and consequently bias.  Untold Arsenal's statistical analysis of referee performances show this is now beyond significant doubt.  Manchester United have far too much influence within the game and on referee selection, and this is consequently giving them an unfair advantage over their competitors.  Referees like Howard Webb know that it is career dynamite to be favourable to Manu with one's decisions making, while it is career death to dare to upset Sir Alex with a defeat.

The PGMO is not fit for purpose, it is simply not good enough that the richest league in the whole of the world has such a hidden and subjective method of selecting referees for games.  We have seen in many other countries including in Italy how just a bit of influence on this process can result in massive bias, this appears to be happening under our very noses in the Premier League.  The silence of the media is one of the most worrying aspects of this, journalists are either scared of the ability of Ferguson and Manu to end their careers, or they are more involved than we know, either way the world's 'greatest' league is beginning to stink of corruption.

Sunday 30 September 2012

Physical power and fine margins

Twenty four hours often gives one time to find more context and perspective, and this is definitely the case after yesterday's tightly contested encounter with Chelsea.  Firstly it is remarkable that we can compete against a team that would be bankrupt if they were forced to live in the real world, they have a team full of massive 20/30/40 million pound signings and taking this into account it makes our recent record against them even more impressive.

It was certainly not our best performance against Chelsea but it was far from our worst.  There is no doubt that we created by far the better chances in open play and Cech was the far busier of the too keepers.  The slack defending from Laurent Koscielny in particular allowed Chelsea to play the game as they wanted, with men back in numbers and counter attacking at will, but they still created very very little from open play, and we did enough to merit a point at the absolute minimum.

There is no doubt that Alan Hansen had a point for once, unusual I know, we are not a big side and we are susceptible to set pieces, and this is especially true with Per starting and with Diaby off injured.  The system of defending, whether zonal or not, is pretty irrelevant; our lack of size and experience in defensive terms is there for all to see.  Certainly Kos made the clear errors, but these were not isolated, Luiz was unmarked for the first goal, there were other men left in far too much room without due attention.  Mannone couldn't have really done much for either goal, he was let down by the defending in front of him.  Ramsey showed again that he cannot perform Diaby's role in the side, demonstrating the strong argument for a signing in this area in the window, Coquelin with his better defensive attributes must have a good chance of a run of games now.

We had no luck in front of goal either.  Cazorla wasn't having a shooting day, plus Cech was inspired, his stops from Giroud and Podolski were absolutely spectacular and of the highest order, Giroud did everything right with his injury time chance until he shot, then he just sliced his shot, letting it fly narrowly wide, fine margins indeed.  I do like the look of Giroud though, he is strong and powerful, he has a nice touch, his left foot is quality and he shoots quickly, I think he will come good.

Finally I agree fully with Ashburton Grove, yesterday showed just why Theo Walcott is not an important player to Arsenal, his work ethic and effort summed up why this is the case quite perfectly:

 "But if you watched him off the ball, like I did, it showed you a player who wasn't concerned about tracking back or helping his team mates and only playing for himself. I'm sorry but there is no room for passengers in this team and I'm getting to the end of my tether with Theo. Yesterday showed why Arsene Wenger hasn't picked him. There is no "I" in "Team" and that's what Theo should be told in no uncertain terms."