Already the whining has started.
Arsenal are often painted as a whining club, our manager complains about officials, we all complain about the overly physical play of teams like Bolton, the fans complain when our team doesn’t beat clubs that we’re “supposed” to beat, in general we get a lot of stick for being a bunch of whiners.
What’s funny, though, is that Arsenal aren’t really that bad: if we make a mistake, we generally apologize for it (which is what adults like Pogatetz do when they make a mistake) and generally the Boss will have a word or two after the match and that will be it. What the boss never does (as far as I know) is whine about the refereeing before the match.
But that’s what Bolton, I mean Hull City boss Sam all… wait, his name’s Phil Brown? Oh. Well, whine before the match in order to get the officials to call this game their way is exactly what Hull City boss Phil Brown has decided to do. It comes as no surprise to learn that this guy, who thinks Kevin Davies’ tackle was a good tackle, is a former Bolton sub-commander under Sam Allardyce. It should also come as no surprise that Hull employ the exact same tactics as Bolton, and will go into tomorrow’s 9:30am pst kickoff looking to literally kick things off: off the pitch, out of the stadium, “up Wenger’s nose,” the tea lady, whomever and whatever gets in their way they will kick. Unashamedly.
For me, the Kevin Davies tackle, there was nothing wrong with that. If you take that out of the game Hull City might as well not play at the Emirates. If you allow Arsenal to dictate that that tackle goes out of the game, then we are finished.
We have got that tackle on our side – they have got the technical side of the game on their side. (emp. added)
If they are allowed to express that technical side without tackling, without physical contact, we might as well not turn up.
This is, honestly, the most cowardly, childish, churlish thing a manager has said all year. It is the adult equivalent of saying “if you don’t play by my rules, I’m taking my ball and going home.” What’s worse though is this insistence that if players aren’t allowed to tackle STUDS UP AND SHIN HIGH that there will be “no contact” in the game. There’s some kind of logic wormhole in effect here if people can seriously make the jump from “if illegal tackles aren’t allowed, then there won’t be any contact left in the game.”
But possibly the worst crime in this statement is the idea that all his team has is poor tackling: Arsenal play beautiful football; Hull City, they tackle poorly.
Hull City: we tackle poorly.
Arsene responded to Phil Brown with this simple statement:
A defender has to be tough and committed, for me if tough is committed I don’t have a problem with it. If tough is the desire to hurt your opponent it’s not acceptable because that’s not the game.
The beauty of sport is to win in respect of the rules. If us as managers start to say we don’t have to respect the rules then it can’t be accepted. That’s in boxing, in football, in every sport. You have to respect the rules.
Aye, and two-footed, studs up, shin high, aggressive lunges aren’t in the rules, Phil.
Since Phil Brown doesn’t understand what a proper tackle is I have designed a chart for him to show his players:
Please note that while the player (Kevin Davies) is a bit behind his opponent, he’s trying to win the ball first and is not playing the man’s (Cesc) ankles or shins with a studs up lunge.
Note that Pogetetz had just won the ball in this challenge but he is very high, he leaves his left leg in, and he’s challenging studs up.
If Phil Brown would like I will give him a personal demonstration of both techniques. I’m sure he knows them though since that’s all his team has.
Enough of that, the two teams will have to play a match tomorrow and Arsenal know that they will have to play with a lot of grit, be wary of the long diagonal ball, and defend off set pieces. So far, the last item has been their weakest suit this season; while they haven’t conceded a goal off open play in 9 matches they have conceded off set pieces three times. Almunia will have a lot of work to do to command the box and the whole squad will have to pay extra attention on set pieces to make sure they clear the lines. If they don’t do that, it could turn into one of those games where Arsenal have 70% of the possession and Hull hit on a counter or a corner and steal a point.
Silvestre and Clichy are both fit for tomorrow’s match and we may see Gallas get a rest this week. I’m kind of excited to see what Silvestre can do for this team, we get a lot of criticism for being young and not doing well in the air, will Silvestre bring experience and aerial defense?
Nasri is still out, his knee is still bugging him, and Song was doubtful with some kind of hip injury but according to that link he’s available. That leaves just Nasri, Rosicky, Eduardo and Diaby in the infirmary. Not bad for this part of the season and considering that Eduardo had his leg broken. The one odd bit of news is that the article linked above says that Diaby is on the “long term injury list.” I’m not sure what to make of that as the team has been closed lipped about the whole affair.
Ok, that’s that. Like I said, the game kicks off at 9:30am local time and is on Fox Soccer Channel. I know a bunch of the locals are going down to Doyle’s to catch the Liverpool derby but I’m staying home because Doyle’s won’t be playing the Arsenal match until 11am and by then someone will have told me the score. Plus, there’s only one thing better than watching the match at home in your underwear while eating some fresh breakfast: seeing the game live at the Emirates.