Alex Hleb has admitted to the charge of violent conduct on Graeme Murty and will now serve a three match ban. Since there’s only three matches left in the season, this sad incident ends what had been a very good year from Hleb and may even be his last act in the Red and White.
OK, so you get a three match ban for slapping someone in the face and having them pretend that they have been struck down like Sonny Liston. OK, I accept that.
My only question though, isn’t what Murty did the essence of diving? Feel a little contact, go down, and feign the need for treatment in order to try to trick the referee into giving a card. If so, then, isn’t Murty equally guilty in some respect? I remember when Cesc went down after a slight elbow to the face from Arteta and everyone cried foul (on Cesc). Why isn’t anyone crying foul on Murty right now?
Now, before everyone gets in a tizzy over my last comment, let me clarify: Alex Hleb was guilty. 3 Matches is the exact kind of penalty one should receive for this kind of stupidity. Intentionally slap someone in the face, get a 3 match penalty. That seems fair to me. End of question.
Moreover, intentionally punch someone in the face and break their jaw: 9 match ban? Heck that might even be too lenient. All of this is to say: I am not condoning the actions of Alex Hleb in any way, shape or form.
For me, the fact that Murty “made a meal of it” is the crux of the problem with modern football. Can you imagine Tony Adams writhing around on the ground and then going off to get treatment after 9 stone Hleb slapped him like that? Roy Keane? Vieira? Flamini? No. The problem is that the FA can’t really do anything about that kind of dive; someone got hit and went to ground. But think about it, it’s these “justified” dives that lead to the worst examples of diving.
It’s like those infamous “four squares” that supposedly can explain everything in life (I disagree). When two players come together in a clash you have contact/dive, contact/no dive, no contact/dive, and no contact/no dive.
Everyone can agree on the third square there (no contact/dive): when we see a player go down and there’s no contact it’s a dive. That one should be punished straight away with a yellow card and some of us even argue that those should be reviewed after the match just like the Hleb incident.
Everyone can also agree on the fourth square (no contact/no dive), because really that’s just a guy dribbling and falls over for some reason. He doesn’t look at the ref, throw a tantrum, roll around on the ground needlessly, just picks himself up and continues playing football.
Also, I’m pretty sure everyone can agree on the second square (contact/no dive): it’s refreshing to see a player take a healthy knock in the box and stay on his feet. It’s refreshing because it’s rare, but it is refreshing none the less.
What we can’t agree on is the first square (contact/dive). Is it acceptable for a player to go to ground when there’s ANY contact, no matter how slight? I would suggest that there’s a range of fan reactions here, depending on who’s team the diving player is on, how much that team’s supporters are used to their players diving, how desperate the team’s situation is, or even some specific team’s supporters and their inbred venom against another team (such as the bizarre reaction that Arsenal generates from Bolton supporters, etc.)
That first square there is what I’d like to call the Murty square. Was he justified in his reaction? I say no and here’s why: those types of dives lead to the more serious and pernicious types of simulation that we have seen invading the game of late. That type of reaction leads, inevitably, to Ronaldo’s famous words “I feel contact? I go down.” It’s the logical outcome isn’t it? But isn’t that kind of dive just as bad if not a worse form of simulation? And when we talk about getting rid of diving, isn’t this the kind of diving that we all really want to see stamped out? The no-contact dive is easy and I’ve actually seen a yellow for that. But the some contact/all dive is almost never awarded a card and I think it’s time to stamp that out too.
The reason Hleb gets a three match ban is because he violated our shared rules of sportsmanship. In the four square of sportsmanship everyone agrees that slapping your opponent in the mouth is a three match ban. But I think it’s almost just as unsporting to play act after getting slapped.
And don’t get me started on how the hell Hleb gets the same ban Taylor got for breaking Eduardo’s leg…
In Arsenal news, the Hleb ban will probably mean that Diaby will get the nod on the left wing. If he’s not fit (he picked up a bit of a knock for the reserves last weekend) then expect to see ye olde 4-5-1 with van Persie slotted on the left. Of course Wenger could bring up a young winger that I haven’t heard of and get him some experience in the last three games. I haven’t seen any news reports so I’m just speculating my ass off here.
Either way, the last three games only matter as far as positioning on the league table. Yes, I’d like to see Arsenal finish 2nd, so fielding a strong side against the final three teams is imperative. That said, the worst that could happen would be to lose all three games and slip to 4th place. In order to get into second we have to root for Chelsea to lose or draw against Man U and then get a draw against Newcastle or Bolton. Hmmm. It all depends. Chelsea could implode here at the end of the season. There’s a lot of tension in their dressing room. A bad loss to Man U and Liverpool at Stamford bridge could be the catalyst that actually destroys the team but they have such talented and experienced players that I just can’t see them going down without a fight. I don’t know, it will be interesting to watch the title race and possibly report on someone else choking for once!
You are also, no doubt, seeing a ton of negative reports about the Flamini deal. As per my new policy I am not giving rumors and innuendo any press here. I will just say this: agents, players, and clubs often try to use the press to their advantage spreading rumor and even lies to change a player’s price, so you all would be wise to ignore any of that stuff. The only press reports about personnel that should be trusted are the ones from Arsenal.com that say “such and such a player has signed for so and so.” Anything else is just a rumor so ignore it.
Speaking of “reported on The Dot Com:” 17 year old Norwegian Captain of the Arsenal Reserve team, Havard Nordtveit, feels like Wenger should choose him instead of dipping into the transfer market. I love the balls on this kid and the balls of the club. First, the kid is 17 and already feels ready to be selected for Arsenal’s first team. And second, this is a club generated story, folks. In my mind that means only one thing: they are preparing us for the fact that the boss is not going to buy a whole pack of established players, Hell, he might not buy anyone! Here:
Earlier this season Wenger admitted he had “rarely seen a boy of his age so mature”. If Nordtveit continues on his upward curve, the Frenchman may not have to look far when he hunts for reinforcements this summer.
Uhhh, yeah, I fully expect to see “Nordveit is like a whole new signing” stories this summer. Which is fine with me, I think the team could stand pat and win a trophy, but I just want you all to be prepared for a dearth of signings this summer.
And that’s it for today, see you tomorrow.