West Bromwich Albion 1 – 1 Arsenal
Let’s cut to the chase. There are two aspects of yesterday’s match to address: the performance overall and Mike Dean’s decision.
We’ll go with the latter first. Kieran Gibbs, the nearest West Brom player, doesn’t appeal until the ball is out of play. He’s quite obviously asking for a corner. Mike Dean, obscured view and all, decided it was a penalty.
@Arsenal should make an official complaint to the @FA and @premierleague about Mike Dean. Apart from today’s ridiculous decision, many incidents have occurred in past Arsenal games which prove he has an anti-Arsenal bias. He should be prevented from ever officiating Arsenal again pic.twitter.com/JhL2f69bQf
— John (@John_AFC_Gooner) December 31, 2017
Even Petr Cech the politest footballer this side of Theo Walcott was on the verge of losing it post-match.
Petr Cech Angry Post-Match Interview https://t.co/2aF4F85GXs
— Arsenalist (@arsenalist) December 31, 2017
As he left the pitch, Cech was more succinct:
Petr Cech calling Mike Dean a Fucking Cunt has made my year 😃😃😃 pic.twitter.com/lorezhEBwB
— M1Ö (@MesutOzilClass) December 31, 2017
Mike Dean’s utter incompetence denied us a point, spoiling not only Arsène Wenger’s 811th match but also Petr Cech’s 200th clean sheet. What kind of fool does that? A Mike Dean sized one is what.
Some argued that Dean must be allowed to speak in front of the camera but on occasions like this, would that help? He can’t add anything other than a goofy, “Oops, got that one wrong, didn’t I?” and from thereon in, the machinations take place behind closed doors. A younger official than Dean can be ‘re-educated’, which sounds a bit 1984-ish but someone as old as King Pillock is beyond help.
That said, if officials are sacked or demoted each time they make a huge mistake like this one, we’re going to end up with the managers refereeing a half each.
And Then There’s Our Performance…
That’s not condoning refereeing standards, it’s condemning them. When Dean, an absolute lunatic, can continue unhindered by ignoring communicated standards, no wonder referees and PGMOL are viewed with suspicion.
It was such a bad decision that it’s beyond corruption. No-one bribed for a particular outcome could make a decision that bad and expect to get away with it. Not in a televised game?
If this was Ferguson-era Manchester United, Dean wouldn’t be anywhere near Old Trafford for years. I do genuinely believe Arsenal should make a complaint, citing other incidents as well. Don’t let the preening peacock off the hook.
Arsène observed afterwards that not one English referee is going to officiate at next summer’s World Cup. That’s a first for as long as I can remember but it also sums up the current situation. PGMOL has to address falling standards and removing a few of the bunglers – Dean, Moss, and Mason – for starters would send a powerful message to others that they need to raise their game.
So, we move onto Arsenal’s performance which was, well, frankly not unexpected. I mean, we don’t go into each game thinking the XI will play crap but we’re not surprised when it happens. One-touch passing, that’s what we’re constantly told Arsenal are famed for. One touch from Arsenal in this afternoon’s game was frankly leaden with the second touch ponderous.
Mesut Özil’s absence just cannot have this impact on the side but it does. Mentally, there is such a lack of belief that Alexis goes into ‘One-man Superhero’ mode and makes runs here, there and everywhere. No-one really knows where he’s going to go but he’s always looking forward with a pass. It was a shame he didn’t look to the wings sometimes but there you go.
Where’s Noele Gordon When You Need Her?
I’m not blaming him by the way. Iwobi had plenty of opportunities to send Bellerin away on the right but chose inside instead. Everything with this era Arsenal feels like it is an inside pass, and a general reluctance to use the flanks. All of them get sucked into the mentality, even if they start off with good intentions.
We are, in my view, about as far away from Wengerball as could be imagined. If drift any further away, we’ll be watching a Mourinho team.
Beforehand, the great and good regaled us of how Arsène loved passing football – “passing with progression” David Dein called it – but there was precious little sign of that happening. The only passing we’re doing is to bore everyone into submission and finding that doesn’t work.
I’ve just realised that 720 words in and I haven’t mentioned the Arsenal. An own goal, the Premier League decreed. Deflected say I, but an own goal? Football is disappearing up its own arsehole at a rapid rate of knots. I’ve never known a freekick which strikes the wall be classified as an own goal. It’s as if the Premier League clowns have fantasy teams and they are looking to nobble the league leader’s team.
Alexis, it’s your goal mate.
And so here we are at a crossroads. I know if I go on much further from this 800-word mark, all I’m going to do is moan about the performance. The trouble is, we’ve seen this type of performance all too often before.
Look, I know we can’t legislate for referees being arses and yes, good teams do win games 1 – 0 when playing badly. The question that raises is how often do you win 1 – 0 playing badly before you admit that the team isn’t actually that good?
Low Expectations Can Lead To Great Ones
We sit today 5th, three points off fourth and seven from Chelsea. Wednesday night’s game takes on extra importance in the race to finish in the top four, even to finish as high as possible. While nothing is definite, it’s hard to believe that anything other than a win torpedos hopes of getting into the Champions League via league position. The Europa League becomes the be-all and end-all of our season in that respect.
It was a performance which summed up Arsenal 2017, certainly away from home. We’re capable of so much better yet more often than not we turn out to be less than the sum of our parts. We read tale after tale about our new signings this January or how much money we’ve got to spend but we always end up with bits of a squad. We always fall short in that sense.
Maybe with Sven Mislintat’s new scouts, with Raul Sanellhi at the negotiating helm, 2018 will be different. But I’m not holding out hope on that front. I don’t expect things to improve but I am fully prepared for them to get a whole lot worse.
Happy new year to you all.