I know in my last blog I said I would sway around the Tackling issue but enough is enough. So much has happened in the last few days and some of it has been over the top.
Sam Allardyce, Owen Coyle, Harry Redknapp and even Steve Bruce have criticized Mr Wenger on his comments about referees. They all pretty much said that Arsene Wenger is trying to influence referees and Bruce reminded us all of the players Arsene Wenger have managed over the years such as the Adams and Keown’s etc.
Firstly, I would like to see the reaction of the same managers if they had 3 players out for around a year with a broken leg. A fourth could have been added last week too. So for them managers to be saying what they were saying was slightly out of order. Perhaps all this interest from Madrid and Milan has distracted big Sam. (I wonder what Sam has to say about Diouf not looking at the ball as the cross came in and shoulder barging Mark Schwarzer in the box.)
I can see that Owen Coyle was just trying to support his players but did he not see Cahill take out Chamakh on the half way line when the striker was nearly off the pitch?! Did he not see Robinsons challenge on Diaby?
For the record, Mr Wenger never said he does not like the physical side of football in England. In fact he said he enjoys the competitive side and said he does not like players ‘that jump out of tackles’. Mr Wenger was talking to the FA more then any team or manager. He was saying how tackling is a technique and perhaps isn’t taught enough. He said he is fine with tackling but when studs are up and the tackle is near his player’s knee or from behind or two footed, then something has to be done and more protection needs to be available. I remember a tackle from Boateng last season at Hull that could have been a leg breaker too.
An unlikely source in this argument was none other then Adrian Durham from TalkSport radio. Let’s just say, I have had some heated discussions with Mr Durham before but this week he jumped to the defence of Mr Wenger and that deserves some respect as he is proving that maybe he is fair and just says what he thinks. He offered an apology to Mr Wenger because he feels he has done a great job with Jack Wilshire and that Wilshire is the brightest prospect since Gazza (that does mean he left out Rooney). As soon as Darren Gough (who is a cricketer not a footballer in case you didn’t know) and Micky Quinn started talking about Mr Wenger not liking the physical game, Durham was quick to step in, he told the world what Mr Wenger actually said. Adrian Durham told the listeners and the so called pundits and presentations that Mr Wenger said that the technique and art of tackling is not there. He said nothing about not like the physical game. Every single caller was set straight by Durham too. Durham also thought that some of the tackles have such a poor technique that they can easily hurt players and this is wrong.
When so called experts talk about Mr Wenger’s comments, they often say, well ‘what does Mr Wenger expect teams to do? Let Arsenal just play and walk the ball in the net’, well Durham had an argument about that too. The one team to outplay Arsenal last season was Barcelona. They did not come and kick Arsenal or have any leg breakers; they pressed the ball, they did not give Arsenal space and closed them down as soon as Arsenal had the ball. This worked. Barcelona was much better then Arsenal and this was not by tackling illegally. I do not think anyone can argue with that theory and well played Adrian Durham for coming up with it. I certainly have changed my opinion on Durham and may tune in more (till the next time he slates Arsenal!)
Another argument I have heard is that Mr Wenger never seems to say anything about his own players making bad tackles. Well, I beg the question, what manager does?! Any Arsenal fan will admit that there have been tackles from Arsenal players that have been poor tacklers. The Gallas tackle against Bolton was poor and many have said the Wilshire tackle against Liverpool was also bad. Both were poor tackles, but is Mr Wenger publically going to slate his players? That would be foolish and bad management. I cannot tell you what Mr Wenger said to Gallas or Wilshire but one former player tells us all about how it was when he was playing…
Ray Parlour, nicknamed the Romford Pele, was also on TalkSport this week with Durham and talked about his days at the club under Mr Wenger. He admitted that he had made a few challenges that were not the best, he stated he did not want to hurt the player but miss-timed the tackle and Mr Wenger always had a word after the game telling Ray to Cut it out of his game. So if Mr Wenger was having a word with these players who had been in the game for years and been at Arsenal longer then Mr Wenger himself, you would think, he would do the same for the current crop. It’s something that cannot be proved but with Parlour giving his evidence, the likeliness is that Mr Wenger does talk about tackles with his players.
Then we come to the game at the Stadium of Light and that highlights Mr Wenger’s argument with the FA again. Last week at Everton, the whistle blew when Everton were on the break and attacking and were nearly in a shooting opportunity. So that must mean, if the time is up, the time is up right?
Then why when the corner was cleared out by Arsenal, was the whistle not blown. There was four minutes of injury time and there was no injuries, subs or goals and therefore, do not understand where the extra 30 seconds or so came from. I can understand a referee missing a goal, or calling a wrong offside, or perhaps getting a small foul wrong, but when a referee fails to count to sixty, four times, it does worry me. Perhaps I am just bitter because of my passion of my club but that was tough to take.
In regards to the game in general, Sunderland were superb and importantly were fair. Their was no real tackles that I thought were over the top, there was a few miss timed ones from both teams but generally the game was fair.
Alex Song was sent off for two yellow cards. The first yellow card was very harsh. There was no contact in the tackle and that was not a yellow. The second yellow was correct as Song did block the player but because the first yellow was wrong, the second yellow could have been the first yellow and therefore Song may not have been sent off (still with me?) He did give away a few fouls so may have got a yellow before the second yellow but if the first yellow had come later, then he may not have been sent off. However, a player like Alex Song should know he must adapt his game when on a yellow and must take more responsibility. He should have known he was on a booking and not committed the foul that eventually saw him sent him off.
One last thing I noticed was that ESPN certainly do their best to stir up trouble! I didn’t make it down to Sunderland due to personal reasons however; I saw how Rebecca Lowe told Steve Bruce that Arsene Wenger does not like the physical game and asked for a reaction. Was Lowe actually at the Mr Wenger press conference because she clearly did not know what she was talking about. That then got Bruce mocking Mr Wenger and all from a question that shouldn’t have been asked. I found her very two faced and she was trying to cause trouble between the two managers.
This is now the end of my rant. I felt I could not take it any more! A draw is not the worst result but its always disappointing to concede in the last kick of the game.
There’s nothing like a game against them down the road mid-week and a chance to bounce back at the Emirates on Saturday.
Come on you Arsenal
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