I didn’t blog yesterday on account of a bit of a stinking hangover, but also I didn’t really have much motivation after that disappointing performance against Aston Villa on Saturday lunchtime.
I did however put the football on whilst I was cooking yesterday, so was able to see Liverpool get utterly beat up against a Man City side who will clearly be romping their way to the title this season. I know they have the cash and so aren’t exactly a neutrals favourite, but if the options are between and Liverpool, United or the Tony Totts, then I can make my peace if they managed to walk their way to the title. There are those that are also talking about Leicester but I just don’t see that. Plus, I have an irrational dislike of Leicester for some reason. So Man City winning it is a-ok with me.
But what I did notice yesterday whilst watching the game, was that Mo Salah was able to throw himself to the ground and win a penalty with far less contact than Alexandre Lacazette received on Saturday’s game. I’ve heard a few people talking about how it is too easy to get a penalty and red card these days and that is spot on: there was barely any contact at all, but there was contact, so referees are leaning to the exact application of the law and giving fouls in the box as a result of minimal contact.
Except they aren’t, are they? And I say that having watched Martinez haul Lacazette to the floor, with Peter Walton – who seems to be changing his perspective with every game – justifying the decision for VAR not intervening by saying that we have to expect some kind of physical contact in the area.
Indeed we do Peter. But what about the minimal physical contact yesterday, eh? Or David Luiz’s minimal physical contact in midweek?
This is the biggest problem we all have and Peter Walton has highlighted it perfectly for me; it is not just about the ridiculous inconsistency that is being displayed with every single match that is going on, but it is also the old boys network who are currently running the refereeing, PGMOL and then in punditry. Getting ex-referees on sounds like a good idea so they can give the perspectives on decisions, but not when they are clearly cut from the same cloth as the existing lot of utterly useless referees and are basically just backing their mates whenever a contentious decision is made.
Go have a look at some of Peter Walton’s quotes from Saturday. They are a joke.
This isn’t an Arsenal conspiracy, this is a football conspiracy. The PGMOL and the way they have defined and are interpreting the laws of the game, as well as their use of VAR, is wrong and is destroying football completely. Look at the farce that was Tomas Soucek being sent off over the weekend. The game is being killed by those who are charged at administering justice on it. Somebody needs to change things and the noises are becoming louder and louder. Mike Riley’s head should be the first to roll.
And so I’ve spent 500 words this Monday once again talking about referees when really I should be focusing on some of the managers substitutions on Saturday, as well as the fact we reverted back to pre-Christmas Arsenal in the final third, looking toothless and making the wrong decisions or picking the wrong pass when an opportunity presents itself. On Saturday the decision to pick Willian from the bench instead of Martinelli was a bizarre one and as Pedro from Le-Grove said in his piece yesterday, Arteta’s desperation to justify the decision to pay Willian all that cash is now causing to be an active problem even when he’s not playing. The man effectively brings us down to 10 men when he is on the pitch and if you imagine what the injection of Martinelli on Saturday would have done instead, you start to wonder just how far Arteta is willing to go to prove that the busted Brazilian flush can still contribute in an Arsenal shirt.
Accept defeat, phase him out, then let’s let him go for free and let him collect his money elsewhere.
The other scary thought which I’ll admit hadn’t occurred to me until Mike from our GunnersTown post match pubcast suggested, was that if that type of situation was to continue to occur, would we start to see Gabriel Martinelli knocking on the managers door asking about his future if he isn’t getting game time in favour of a woefully out of sorts ageing Brazilian? Imagine if he decides he wants to play elsewhere because he isn’t getting enough minutes and those minutes are being given to a flop with whom the whole world can see isn’t working? That would be another smash in the face to us fans, wouldn’t it?
I honestly thought before Christmas Arteta would have realised that he’s given Willian enough chances, but he still keeps picking him, and that will be his undoing unless he realises he can eek out any more from a player who is mentally on the beaches of Rio. Cast him aside and give those minutes to players who ARE the future of the club. Please Mikel, we all implore you.
We have to accept that we are a mid table team and will continue to be so this season. Unless by some miracle we win the Europa League – unlikely given the strength of the opposition still in the competition – it will be a season with no European football next year and whilst that will at least mean we get our Saturday’s back, it will probably mean even more squad trimming will be needed. Willian should be one of the first names out the door, but we also need to look at the likes of Bellerin, of Lacazette, and fill with better players. Upgrades are needed in a few positions and if Thomas Partey has crossed over the English Channel as an injury prone player all of a sudden, then we also need to think about who plays in that midfield too. Even if to just share the minutes he might be missing, or ideally to work alongside him and Granit Xhaka.
There is much work to be done but Arteta now has an extended pre season to start working out what to do in 2021/22. By the summer he’ll have had a year and a half and him and Edu have already done a decent enough job in kicking out some of the wasters. But now there will be more tough decisions to be made and he needs to be strong enough to show them. His Willian mission is a black mark from that respect. Hopefully he can erase it by cutting him from his plans from now on.
Catch you all tomorrow.