Before I start I should point out that I realise that this article will be met with derision by a whole host of supporters.
Top class numptys will bang on about ‘you win some, you lose some’ and ‘you make your own luck’ and other such banal comments. Well, if you disagree with me that’s fine, but you’re a shmuck if you do. When faced with the injustices that we Gooners have been of late, any supporter would be livid.
Arsenal are not in crisis. To suggest otherwise is plain stupid. So we’ve started slowly. Big deal. Liverpool and Tottenham have both done the same in recent seasons and finished comfortably in the top half of the league. We will do the same, maybe even finishing in the top six. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
The Gunners have 7 points from a possible 21 – a stark contrast to the hauls of both Manchester clubs, with both of them sitting pretty on 19. This is not the Arsenal that we are all used to seeing. They seem to be lacking some essential ingredient. I would suggest that this missing element is ‘belief’.
But this isn’t the reason for their lowly league standing. For that you need look no further than the refs that are ruining the modern game.
Newcastle – Joey Barton commits a foul inside the penalty box by hauling Gervinho up by his collar. No penalty given.
Liverpool – 2 offside goals given.
Blackburn – An offside goal given to Blackburn and Arsenal are denied a stone-wall penalty at the death.
Tottenham – A handball from Van Der Vaart. Then, whilst on a yellow, he runs into the crowd to celebrate. Whilst I don’t agree that this is a card worthy offence, that’s the rules and they weren’t enforced – he should have been sent off.
If the correct decisions were made in those matches, then several results change. We should’ve had three points against Newcastle, one against Liverpool, three against Blackburn and a draw at Spurs. That is three losses and a draw in what should have been two wins and two draws.
That makes seven points taken away form Arsenal by inept officiating and that’s just not good enough.
Arsenal are under severe pressure that they don’t really deserve. Are they worthy of a top four place? No. Clearly not. Are they relegation fodder? No. Clearly not.
A succession of piss poor refereeing decisions have conspired to send Arsenal to the lowly position that they now inhabit. It is becoming ridiculous.
This is where other supporters, especially those of the clubs that I have mentioned, get on their high horses. This is where they say it’s our own fault and that blaming the referees is futile. Whilst I can’t disagree with the often stated opinion that our defence is not consistent enough, I can’t subscribe to the notion that Arsenal are completely at fault for their current predicament.
Referees don’t get a lot of respect in the modern game. This is a very sad fact. They have a terrible job to do and they very rarely get praise for good work, just condemnation for their mistakes.
However, I feel that respect for referees needs to be earned. Players watch the Sky coverage and MOTD; they know just how fallible the officials are, they also know how impressionable they are if pressure is applied in mass. Why wouldn’t you challenge a decision if you knew there was a realistic chance that the referee had got it wrong? It happens so often, it’d be criminal not to.
That is why we need video officials. We need to help our refs because on current evidence I think it’s fair to say that they can’t manage on their own. We need a change of direction because the system that we’ve currently got just isn’t working. Today it’s Arsenal on the receiving end of all the bad luck and bad decisions. Tomorrow it could be any other club. When so much is at stake; championships, European places and even relegation, how can we keep leaving things to chance, which is exactly what we’re doing at the moment.
Everton had a player wrongly sent off against Liverpool on Saturday – just another example of a hastily conceived decision having a massive impact on a football match. If I was to delve into it, I bet we could find three or four game changing incidents EVERY WEEK.
I believe there was a study done last season to see what would happen if bad decisions were erased from the game, needless to say that it changed the final standings considerably. It even consigned some teams to relegation that should’ve stayed up. How can this be considered fair? How can anyone disagree that this injustice is ruining the game?
The fans who speak out against this article are the fans that are lucky enough not to be inArsenal’s position (or Blackpool’s last season). They’re getting the rub of the green and the decisions are going their way. You can’t expect sympathy from a body of supporters that don’t see anything wrong with the way the game is run. But, I imagine there are plenty of people out there who agree with me, who think that refereeing in this league is coming to a crisis point. We’re getting to the stage now where bad decisions made by referees are having a direct impact on the outcome of games, the survival of smaller clubs, and maybe even the destination of titles and European places.
We’ve got one of the best leagues in the world. The players are class. The pace is frantic. The games are end to end and full of excitement. But there is something rotten in Denmark. There is something that just isn’t right. What is it? Our refs are not good enough. They can’t keep up.
They’re making mistakes that undermine not only themselves and their decisions, but the integrity of the sport. They’re either incompetent or corrupt. Either way, it’s ruining the beautiful game and turning it into a spectacle where the only important things are, 1. How rich your investors are and 2. How lucky you are when it comes to refereeing decisions. And frankly, that sucks.
Mike Holmes writes for Gunnersphere.com