This is Premier League: Where Some are more equal than the rest! 

​A forthnight ago, a certain Harry Kane who plays for Tottenham FC in England was involved in a controversy, the kind that would have gotten an international player(especially players of colour) an instant two match ban with all the media circus that would accompany it. That same player (Harry Kane) scored the winner in the NLD last weekend against Arsenal FC at Wembley stadium which ended TOTTENHAM 1:0 ARSENAL. The FA never found any thing remotely wrong with that blatant dive at Anfield, and its very worrying how selective they are in dispensing justice.

 Below was the FA’s statement regarding Oumar Niasse’s incident at Crystal Palace last November:

Everton’s Oumar Niasse has been charged for ‘Successful Deception of a Match Official’ following the game against Crystal Palace on 18 November 2017. It is alleged he committed an act of simulation which led to a penalty being awarded in the 5th minute of the game. Incidents which suggest a match official has been deceived by an act of simulation are referred to a panel consisting of one ex-match official, one ex-manager and one ex-player.

(There were five reasons on which their verdict was based):

1. Is there contact between the players involved? Simulation is more likely in cases where a player attempts to deceive the referee when no contact occurred between the palyers.

2. Is there fair/normal contact between the players, resulting in no offence being committed?

3. Is a player legitimately avoiding contact with his opponent to prevent injury?

4. Has the player initiated the contact between his opponent and himself in order to deceive the referee.

5. Does the player exaggerate the effect of a normal contact challenge in order to deceive the referee?

FA’s conclusion: “The Commission unanimously agree that the nature of the contact made by Scott Dan was minimal in nature and would not have thrown Mr Niasse off balance and knock him down in the way that Mr Niasse portrayed it to have done.”

Now we at Fair Play Gooner have now waited two weeks to see if the FA would display such keen interest and carry out the same astute analysis of that Anfield incident, when Harry Kane threw himslef to the ground while Karius had not even made contact with him, and guess what; none is forth coming. I, especially, was left flabbagasted about how the media spinned the incident about Kane being onside or offside, while mostly agreeing that there was a clear contact (even when we all know there wasn’t).

Makes me wonder, is there a conspiracy going on? Does the premier league indeed doctor what the media and sports newspapers in the country say and write? Why would almost all the important papers tow the same line in a given argument? Licensing? Broadcast right? Mafia? 

The enthusiasm of the average football fan is waning at an alarming rate, as its very disheartening knowing that the game is no more fair, but certain people are favoured and others are totally undone. At this rate, football will not have such ardent followers and club fans as it saw in this generation. The younger generation are not being inspired because of the blatant favouritism being perpetuated from the very top.

Sadly, some players are “more equal” than others, especially the ones who don the English national team colours. Others are trampled upon and are spotlighted (given the same circumstances, as seen with Niasse), especially if they are foreign internationals and people of colour mostly. Its sad.


Advertisements

So we are back!!

(Credit: arsenal.com)

Its been a painful journey this season, with everything happening so fast off and on the pitch, up until this morning when #yopierre happened. Apart from the signing of Mesut Özil in 2013, there has never been a transfer that was anticipated like the impending arrival of Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund! What with 33k+ Arsenal fans tracking the private jet which flew him from Germany yesterday, it was pretty clear how gooners world wide were dying from apprehension.

The window started somewhat slugggishly with the only arrival being an unknown young Greek Centre back with a very big name, wait for it; Konstantinos Mavropanos!! I didn’t make that up, he’s actually an Arsenal player at the moment, and the early prognosis confirms he’s a gem, thanks to our world class network of scouts scattered across the world. The following week saw the departures of Francis Coquelin and Theo Walcott to Valencia (Spain) and Everton FC (England) respectively. These were squad players at best for many months before their transfers. We wish them all the best in their new adventures. 

It wasn’t until a few days ago did the incoming gate to the Emirates stadium was opened, at least for 1st teamers. The first being swap deal involving Mkhitaryan and contract rebel Alexis Sanchez, to Arsenal and Manchester United respectively. The good thing about this deal was that each club got a player willing to play for them; their motives notwithstanding. 

It should be recalled that we were priced out of the running for the Armenian’s signature by Manchester United only in 2016, but he fell out of favour (or had a fall out with Mourinho) and regressed so much that he would not make the matchday sheet. That really escalated very fast. However, his ability on the field 0f play can never be undermined by bias or disagreement. He’s a gifted player who has always wanted to play for Arsenal (as per his 2009 interview with ESPN). 

Just when the dust of Miki’s coming was about to settle, we got concrete evidence of our club’s intention of bringing his former Dortmund team mate, Aubameyang, to the red part of North London. At first, I was sure nothing would come of it because we are forever linked to 10k players so long as the window was open, and we end up signing no one. Its been a recurring theme *yawns*, but soon the evidence became even stronger as Arsenal officials were spotted at the Dortmund airport. They were not there for sight seeing. It almost felt like a strict order was given to them not to come back to London until a deal is struck for the pacey forward. Soon a price was agreed albeit after “haggling” and “coins pinching” from them, as there were up to 3 bids rejected for the Gabonese striker by Dortmund. £56m is the figure quoted on many news outlets. Suddenly Arsenal has such a fearsome quartet in attack; Auba, Miki, Lacazette and Özil! #goodtimes

As if it can’t get any better, we got wind that Özil has assisted himself to a new 3.5 years contract worth £350k pk (before tax), that would keep him at North London until 2021! Talk of stuffs dreams are made of! Arsenal twitter mention went into overdrive (even though at the time of writing this, there is no official statement from the club yet), but these deals have strengthened the belief that its possible. If this doesn’t lift the dressing room and get the boys fired up for the business end to the season, well they can never be helped. Even the underwhelming performance the team produced last night was not enough to dampen the optimism coursing through the fanbase and real Arsenal fans blogettas! 

Its really a happy time to be a gooner! Its fair to say that the club is moving in the right direction. Its the beginning to a new era. Giroud moved to Chelsea inorder to facilitate the transfer triangle involving Arsenal, Chelsea and Dortmund. Arsenal want Auba, Chelsea want a target man like Giroud and Dortmund want an Auba replacement and Batshuayi goes off to Germany on loan. It worked out alright and the 3 teams are happy. Giroud’s 6 years association with club comes to an end. We wish the #scorpionking all the best in his new adventure and quest for a world cup call up from the Le blues! Mattieu Debuchy is also being reported to have agreed to a move back to France with Rennes. #Goodtimes ahead. Lets enjoy this gooners/ettes! We have LMAO: Laca-Miki-Auba-Özil!! What a quartet!! 

Mutiny!!!

Koscielny, Mustafi, Cech, Xhaka and Alexis (for me) were the reasons we lost this match against a United side there for the slaughters ! On a night where all Field Marshals  would want their trusted generals to be 100% committed to the cause, Arsene was badly let down by his senior players.

He must be pretty riled up but just trying to be cool.

While some of the senior players underperformed, a handful of Arsene’s troops were sweating blood on the cold night; Özil, Lacazette and Ramsey(sadly). The others that put in very good shifts were Kolasinac, Monreal and Iwobi (when he came on).

The rest of the players all have serious questions to answer; 

Koscielny:

1. you can never justify giving the ball away when your whole ‘team is on the move, 

2. You  don’t let your man get into the wrong side of you (for the third goal)

Mustafi:

1. You dont give the ball away even sloppier than your defence partner, especially when Monreal is well positioned to receive the ball from you and you have over 3 more options, including putting it out of play.

Xhaka:

You don’t repeatedly lose your man inside the box, as he’s done this season time and time again, with most resulting in  match damaging goals.

Alexis:

1. You don’t play for your own stats in a club as big and as technical as Arsenal.

2. He loses the ball a whopping 34 times during the match (the highest of any player on the pitch) 

3. He leaves the simple things required of a left sided forward in any team, and keep trying the ridiculous which almost never bears any fruit.

3. He disjoints the game plan of the team when Olivier is on, by (most times) nicking off passes intended for another team mate that was meant to go wide in order to stretch the Man United’s defence so that our tall striker(Giroud), our diminutive striker(Lacazette) and our running striker (welbeck) would pounce on the resulting deliveries, however way they come into the box.

Arsenal totally outplayed Man United.

In all, I was disappointed with these players, but laud the positivity and never-say-die attitude starting to take root in this team.

In a night where the level of officiating was unsurprisingly poor, we let 3 points slip through our fingers. Only the manner in which it was lost remained the sole source of consolation. Let’s build on it and hopefully, yesterday was one of those days where things didn’t go our way. 

#ArsMun #liveandfightagain #neversaydie #coyg

26 Goals, 14 Assists, £121 Million Quoted: Is Mbappe Arsenal’s Man?

At 18 years of age, most prodigious talents are still at the cusp of breakthrough, but not for this young French stalwart. 1.78m height does not strike fear into the heart of defenders, but his blistering pace with unreal close control, unpredictability and ice-cold predatory movement inside and outside the box surely does. This guy is the player of the future. Any club willing to take the risk with the big sum of money touted; who can keep him grounded, working with a world class coach; is set for his world class performances in the striking department  (barring injuries) for the next 12 years at least.

The Bondy(France) born player scored an incredible 26 goals and created a further 14 goals for his team mates in his debut season as a professional player, winning the Ligue 1 and going as far as the Champions league semi-final with Monaco. It comes as no surprise that he was included in the UCL 18 man squad of the year. So it’s safe to say that he is among the 18 elite players in Europe at the moment..not so bad for an 18 year old.

L’Equipe reported that Arsène Wenger and Gazidis were spotted in Nice of France, and the rumoured deal was Mbappè’s. It should come as no surprise for a man who once said (back in 2010)that a player who is worth £30m should be able to score hat-tricks in every match, but then went out of his way to sign Mesùt Özil from Real Madrid for £42.5m in 2013/2014. So it’s safe to assume that his outlook on big money transfers has changed considerably at the turn of the present decade.

This young lad is the sort of striker Arsenal need to mount a sustained title challenge for years to come. If Arsène can prize him away from Monaco, then his coming to the Emirates stadium will not only complete our attack, but will inspire our academy players to make the final strides of breaking through to the first team; that they can hit the roof yet so young. 

I use to be anti-mega transfers, especially to Arsenal, especially for very young players, but this Mbappè guy is worth every penny being quoted for him. I hope he will heed the wisdom of the sages who have advised him to sign for a team where he will be given the chance to develop and reach his full potentials. Arsenal is such place. A look at Anthony Martial and his ordeals at Manchester United should be enough to persuade him to. 

“Where do you think he might finish? Somewhere where he is sure to play. That is why Deschamps made that statement.

He thinks he needs to play, but I’d say the boy has made enough of an  impression to be sure that a club who spends £100m for you gives you the red carpet treatment.

You have the generation of  players now between 24 and 28 years old who should come in next for the Ballon d’Or.

You have Neymar in there certainly, maybe Griezmann can come in, you have Mbappè”      

-Arsène Wenger.

All That Ends Well is Well?

What a rollercoaster season we had at Arsenal, so much talking points. From finishing the lowest we have done in 20 years to Winning the EmiratesFAcup in such a convincing manner and making certain that our worst campaign in 20 years was more productive than Tottenham’s best campaign in more than 50 years, Stan Kroenke rejecting a £1bn take over bid from Russian billionaire and Arsenal fan Alisher Usmanov, Wenger finally getting another 2 years contract amid fierce protest from a section of Arsenal supporters (Wenger Out Brigade) and the club looking to build from the strong finish of our late charge in the season. There is just so much to talk about.

I have been away on a self imposed holiday from writing on Arsenal affairs until the season ends, because I was so sick and tired of the happenings at the time. Do not get it the wrong way, I never missed a single match that we played..I only decided it was in my best health interest that I stop for a while and reflect. As I said, it’s been a rollercoaster season where many different Arsenal showed up in different matches. There were times they were drop dead brilliant, and there were times they were literary crap. All in all, I remained a gooner through and through.

During the course of this break, we shall be looking back on some of the problems that made our season go haywire and what can be done to make sure that it doesn’t happen again. We shall profile and discuss our potential targets and look at how they can add quality to the team. (Its rumoured we have already acquired the services of Kolasinac and have also agreed to buy Nigerian forward Henry Onyekuru, and are on the heels of Monaco’s young prodigy kylian Mbappe; for whom a bid of £87m was lodged a few days ago…as reported by L’equipe. It’s really refreshing to see that things are moving faster than other times, and the amount quoted are quite audacious.

Let’s sit back and enjoy the summer. It promises to be an exciting one! COYG!!

-fair play gooner

Arsène Has A Big Task Of Changing The Team’s Mentality.

I can’t believe I am still talking of mentality in 2017. I can’t believe the team still start a game sluggishly, shoot themselves on the feet and fail to get even a single point from a match they are supposed to win with minimal ease inside the Emirates stadium. I can’t believe that in 2017, Aaron Ramsey would still be just a prospect within Arsenal fold, can’t be trusted to keep composure and concentration for 90 minutes without selling his team out, almost 10 years after the start of his Arsenal adventure.

Maybe it’s time to cut our losses and get him moved on. Maybe he needs a new surrounding. His development seems to have stalled, and he doesn’t have any motivation whatsoever. Looking at him last night lose the ball, from an otherwise low pressure circumstance; when his defenders were all coming out from the 18 area, and trudged back with nonchalance only reminicent of one Andrey Asharvin’s during the last months of his Arsenal career, I was lost for words to describe him; considering the enormous faith Arsenal and Arsène Wenger put in him. It’s just plain pity that he (Aaron Ramsey) thinks he’s doing enough to repay the club with such lackadaisical attitudes. Deflecting an otherwise harmless free-kick into his own net and strolling back after gifting the opponents the ball in a dangerous area directly resulting in a 2-0 deficit inside 15 minutes of the first half, then you go down with injury before 20th minute; leaving your team mates with a mountain to climb.👏👏

Even though the team had no power over the outcome of other title contenders’ results, they had absolute power to determine the outcome of their own match. Their fate was always in their own hands. What did they do? Throw it away to the wind. Chelsea dropped point, Tottenham dropped points to relegation strugglers Sunderland. What an opportunity to close the gap on the top and put a psychological hold on Chelsea ahead of our clash with them at Stamford bridge this weekend. At the end, we did what we know to do best; we bottled it.

“We didn’t start the way we wanted, in the second half it was all us, and we were unlucky to lose the game as well. We did not deserve to lose this game.”
 -Arsène Wenger

Any title chasing side must first be hard to score against, must have the technical skills, must be opportunists, must be psychologically and physically ready every week, must have the dugout tactical prowess to change things in little or no notice; must be able to improvise. Last night caught us wanting on several of these key areas. Arsène Wenger picked a wrong team. Inasmuch as the manager knows best, we football fans sometimes can determine the outcome of a game just by looking at the team sheet. We know them, we know their current form, so we can tell. As soon as I saw that line up yesterday, I was sure that something could go wrong. Whatever happened to the trio we saw at Southampton in midweek?  A team so dynamic that a very good Southampton side did not have any answer to the questions being thrown at them. Welbeck, Walcott, Perez.. You can argue that Welbeck need not to be rushed back, but the truth remains he is still fresh and would benefit from an extended run in the team. With the absence of Xhaka through suspension, why not Chamberlain-after his five star showing against the saints? Why start with Paulista against a saints side which does not boast of any outstanding wing backs, why keep Bellerin on the bench? Why start with Giroud who always have his best days coming in from the bench? Why sub Coquelin just when Arsenal were on the ascendency with Iwobi at the heart of everything good, moving the youngster down into the place vacated by the defensive midfielder? Since I didn’t want to risk Bellerin, why not sub Gabriel Paulista, who never found his touch going forward, bringing in whichever more offensive option you want while leaving Coquelin to man the middle and also snuff out any attempt of theirs down the right wing; thereby overloading Watford defence with goal scoring threats? These are calls which I think should be common knowledge to any good thinking football analyst or enthusiast, but our manager didn’t quite get them spot on; hence Arsenal paid the price. He took the blames head on though. 

Arsène will not always get the calls spot on all the time, but I expect him to instill in these hugely talented group of players a mentality that befits a title challenging team. I do not wish to compare Arsène with anyone, but in his days, Alex Ferguson would be smiling to the title with this set of players at Arsène’s disposal. It’s all a matter of mind set. Wars are first fought and won on the battlefield of the mind. These set of players are proving year after year that they are not up for it. Therefore, if Arsenal will be champions of England come May, nay, if the team has any dream of being in the top four come the end of the season, then Arsène has got a big task of changing his player’s mentality. Next up is a trip across London to Stamford bridge. Lets hope for the best. COYG!!

Here is the full match media conference by Arsène Wenger. Mind you, he’s always got his reasons.

That Was Some Fire From Arsène!

No, no, no, I just went in and watched the game here after. I thought I could stay in the corridor.

There was nothing malicious I just shouldn’t have said some words and kept my control even if it was a hectic time.”

-Arsène Wenger

What a game of football that was at the Emirates last evening! Shkodran Mustafi with his first Arsenal goal, Alexis with a classic 97th minute panenka penalty to ensure the Gunners took home the maximum points on a day ladden with drama and controversies.

For the first time in recent weeks, the line-up was the same as the last match against Swansea. Bellerin could only return to the bench as Gabriel continued at RB. Arsenal started the match with zip and speed. They should have been ahead before 15 minutes if not for Burnley’s deep sitting formation in two banks of five players and Arsenal’s lack of cutting edge in the final third. It must be noted that most teams who play Arsenal in recent years sit deep more than half the time. Burnley were no different.

We got our breakthrough after the break when Mustafi evaded Burnley’s defence to scored a headed goal from a Mesut Özil’s corner, which is his first for the club. We continued to threaten until Xhaka did the unthinkable, and for the second time this season, put the team under untold labour and tension. He lunged with both feet on Defour.

“Our penalty, I saw it on television. I think it was a penalty and red card. Xhaka’s red card? Honestly I have to look at it again. The noises I get is that it was a red card and he has to control his game and not punish the team with lack of control in his tackling. We don’t encourage our midfielders to go down on tackles, we want them to stand up and not to make these kind of fouls. If it’s a bad tackle, it’s a red card.”

-Arsène Wenger 

It was typical Granit Xhaka and needless too. I must be honest, he was bossing the central area until that incident. However, I must congratulate Aaron Ramsey, Mesut and Sanchez who put in 110% after the team lost a man. Their energy and desire to burst their lungs thrusting forward was one of the high points of that nerve racking game.

Must be noted that this game could have gone without much drama if the match officials or whoever it is that assigns extra time didn’t give 7 additional minutes to a team which played almost half an hour with one man down, in a match without much time wastage. I guess they really wanted Burnley to get something from that game. If the normal 2 or 3 minutes injury time was given yesterday, the match would certainly have ended 1-0 and Arsène would not have protested. He wouldn’t have been asked to go to the stands. Most certainly, he wouldn’t have had a physical altercation with the match official Anthony Taylor. At the end of the day, the added 7 minutes was our saving grace.. Koscielny was again at the centre of controversy (having been the focal point in the reversed fixture when he scored a stoppage time winner, after appearing to handle the ball) when Mee rose more than 5 feet to poke the French defender’s face with his stud inside the penalty area. The argument now is: was the Arsenal player offside before being smashed in the face? Well I will leave the FA and PGMOL to answer that and other horrendous decisions metted out to my team in recent seasons. We could have been the recipients. No one talked about Mustafi being clipped inside Burnley 18 yards box.

Arsène speaking after the game said: 

on Xhaka being sent off by Jon Moss twice this season…

We’ve had two red cards and four penalties [given against us] this season at home now. You cannot say that we make it easy for ourselves, or that we get it easy.

 I didn’t know if I was sent to the stands but I was sent out. I thought I could watch it from the corridor, you know. I went inside and watched it on television. 

on if he regrets it…

I regret it . I should have shut up, gone in and gone home, basically. I apologise for that.


on if he’s spoken to the fourth official
Not yet, because I have a press conference to make. It was nothing bad. I said something that you hear every day in football, but overall nine times out of 10, you’re not sent to the stands for that. But if I am, I am – and I should have shut up completely. I was quite calm the whole game, more than usual, but just [not] in the last two or three minutes.

on if he’s spoken to the fourth official…
Not yet, because I have a press conference to make. It was nothing bad. I said something that you hear every day in football, but overall nine times out of 10, you’re not sent to the stands for that. But if I am, I am – and I should have shut up completely. I was quite calm the whole game, more than usual, but just [not] in the last two or three minutes.

(Source: arsenal.com)

I am not sure if the French tactician will be reprimanded by the FA, but all I know is we got the 3 points which propelled us to within 8 points off the leaders and in second place above Tottenham. I must say that it was quite some fire from the impeccable Arsène. This was a wonderful weekend in which we defied the odds to grab maximum points. I see a new Arsenal!! COYG!!

-Fair Play Gooner