Good morning folks. Things are quiet here in Tacoma. I took the dog for a walk this morning and the only sound I heard was the white-noise of cars on the freeway off in the distance. It’s days like this that I feel lucky.
I want to start by saying thank you to the folks who have donated to Margarette through my paypal account. If you missed yesterday’s article, I encourage you to read her own words. She is a dear friend and as you know Dominica has been through hell with Hurricane Maria hitting them hard, destroying their buildings, roads, and power and leaving them dependent on the kindness of others.
You are those others, and your donations are that kindness.
Maybe I should just stop here because I don’t want to get too negative and I don’t want to talk about the defeat to Watford too much.
It was predictable. Like literally: my model predicted defeat. And it was simply down to team selection, Arsenal didn’t start their best 11, and the fact that Arsenal were away from home. My model actually predicted the score 2-1.
However, if I’m honest, my personal expected goals model showed that the score should have been about 1-1… if we don’t include the penalty.
I do include the penalty. It was a good call. I know I’m in the minority by voicing that opinion but when I saw it live, I thought “damn, that’s a pen.” And then when I saw the replay I thought “what are they talking about, there is definite contact and that is a pen”. And then when I saw the replay again and again, I thought “am I really the only one who sees the contact?”
That incident is one which happens all the time in the Premier League. We actually saw a carbon copy of that play in the match on Sunday when Shane Long won a penalty for Southampton. I hate linking to things and putting video or pictures in the blog but I will do it when necessary and here it’s necessary. Here is the video of Shane Long literally toe-poking the ball out of play, drawing the contact, and then going down:
This drives me crazy: should a player be able to win a penalty if they kick the ball out of play? pic.twitter.com/zERj6EdER2
— 7amkickoff (@7amkickoff) October 15, 2017
Long knows exactly what he’s doing here. He has no chance of controlling the ball, so his only hope is to get there first and draw contact from the defender. Wayne Rooney famously did this exact thing against Manuel Almunia. He toe-poked the ball into Greater Manchester and fell over – you can even see Rooney actually dragging his trailing foot in the grass in order to draw contact with Almunia.
Richarliason did the exact thing against Arsenal. A through ball is played, he runs after it, Bellerin makes a bona fide effort to get there first, Richarliason toe-pokes the ball away and draws contact. I know you don’t believe me so here are the video stills:
Richarliason reaches the ball first and toe-pokes it:
Bellerin is late and when his foot lands it’s in Richarliason’s path and hits Richarliason’s leg:
Personally I hate the rule. The defenders have no choice, they have to go after the ball. The referees have no choice, they see contact like that in the box and according to the laws of the game, they have to call a foul. Personally, I think that in order to draw a penalty, a shot which has an 80% chance of scoring (100% against Arsenal), the player should have to control the ball. But this is just how penalties are called.
Wenger after the match disagreed saying that it was a “scandalous decision to give a penalty like that.” I get that he’s defending his club and team and trying to probably get some penalties called for Arsenal down the road but it wasn’t a scandal. Or if it is, then it’s a scandal that happens every weekend and sometimes twice.
Anyway, I’m not upset by the loss. Like I said, I expected it. Just like I expect Arsenal to finish well outside of the Champions League places this season and get dumped out of the Europa League as soon as the knockout rounds start.
This doesn’t even feel like negativity to me! It just feels like “this is just how things are.” Like last week, the US Secretary of State had to tell everyone that he hasn’t been castrated “I checked,” he said “I’m still intact.” And today a hurricane is buffeting Ireland and Wales. The world has turned upside down.
But we can still have some moments of joy; savor the moments of silence and help the people we can.