Failure to control

Good morning, I hope you’re having a great day. Arsenal are having a great day. Their match with Liverpool has been called off due to covid (at Liverpool) and the Football Association has charged them with the old gem “failing to control their players” after the Oilers game.

The charge stems from something that happened in the 59th minute. That was when Gabriel was sent off for clotheslining Jesus (and as we all know, nobody fucks with the Jesus).

It’s important to remember that the FA is not the same as the PGMOL. They are two separate pearl-clutching organizations. So, what’s happened here is that the match official Stuart Attwell has probably included something in his match report about the Arsenal players getting in his face in the 59th minute.

Watching the video you could see that Xhaka was throwing his hands in the air and very animated, then Gabriel barreled in, and as he walked off the pitch he clearly clapped at the fourth official, said something, gave him a thumbs up, and stormed into the tunnel.

The “failure to control your players” thing is always hilarious to me. What is the club supposed to do? Is Enos supposed to drop his prawn sandwich, burst out of his luxury box, run on to the pitch, and bear hug Gabriel into submission? Are we supposed to lecture the players before hand? “Ok, guys, no matter how heated things get, you are NOT allowed to show emotions when you think a call has gone against you. And sarcastic clapping is right out!”

Failure to control the players is such a weird charge but the actual charge wording is “Arsenal FC failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion“. So, I guess what the players should have done is formed a queue (we know how much the Brits love a queue!), taken numbers, and complained to the referee each in turn.

Whatever the wording, this is a transparent “show of support” by the FA to the referees. Attwell came in for a lot of criticism from Arsenal supporters (and pretty much no one else, all the main non-Arsenal pods said he had a great game) with one going so far as to make a Banksy-like installation of him lifting a pile of cash out of a pool of oil. But the referees have been receiving a LOT of criticism this year (actually for the last few years) and every VAR decision is reviewed at length on the various pods and blogs – also on TV for the three or four people who still watch stuff like Match of the Day. So, I guess the FA just wanted to make some kind of statement and of course we are the ones who are getting the sharp end of the stick. Though exactly what that sharp end will be, I’m not sure. Jurgen Klopp basically said Kevin Friend is a cheat and he got an £8,000 fine so we will probably get an £80,000 fine. Because when we did was so utterly damaging to the very fabric of football – no one has ever seen such a ruckus (since a few hours ago).

Meanwhile, in the real world, Arsenal’s Caribou Cup matches with Liverpool have been postponed to the 12th and the 20th. This is causing some fixture pile-up for us now and it will probably mean that the Burnley match, scheduled for the 22nd (2 days after the return leg against Liverpool), will be moved?

The thing I keep thinking about is how utterly stupid it is that the Caribou Cup has a single, two-legged fixture. It’s not stupid for the broadcasters and sponsors (of course) because the semi-final is usually where all the big teams meet – so forcing Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Chelsea to play four games instead of just two lights up $$$ in their eyes.

I don’t even know why Arsenal (or any Premier League teams) play in the EFL cup, technically, none of the Premier League clubs are in the English Football League. And it’s kind of a joke tournament because Premier League teams typically play their youth brigade.

I get it. It’s just a way for Premier League teams to give back to the “football pyramid”. But it’s such a weird thing to call it the EFL cup when there hasn’t been a Football League team in the final since 2013 and I think the last time a club from Football League won the title was 1991, before the Premier League broke away from the Football League (BTW: the original name of the Premier League was actually the Super League).

But alas and alack we are in the Caribou Cup. And to be clear, I’m not really complaining about Arsenal helping out the Football League by being in their tournament – it’s fine. It’s all fine. Just stop it with the two legged semi-final. It’s really weird. Play the match at some neutral venue instead. Like, ohh, I dunno, Wembley? Or take it to some EFL ground like Tranmere Rovers. You can get 16k in there at Prenton Park.

Also, please rebrand it as the Milk Cup. Did you know that the original sponsors were the Milk Marketing Board? When I first started following football my friend Curtis (who was from England and supported Nottingham Forest) always called it the Milk Cup because that was what it was called when he lived there. So, I’ve always thought of it as the Milk Cup. And “Milk Cup” fit in with Wenger’s approach to the tournament since he was always fielding babies! You wouldn’t give babies that hideous taurine drink (which is made from Caribou piss) that sponsors it now!

I’ve rambled long enough. I’m sure I’ve angered all three of my remaining readers. See you tomorrow!



  1. Best report I’ve read this year.. (lol well it is only the 5th January!!!). Enjoyed thoroughly. “destroyed the very fabric of football”. I think I wet myself!

  2. There was a little extra, Tim. Gabriel had to be restrained by his captain, Lacazette. And he took longer than he should have to leave the pitch.

    The question for me is why did we have 2 sendings off in our 2 matches against City? Because they’re the champions, are we kind of too pumped and out of control? I want to see Xhaka in that situation helping Laca to calm Gabriel down and usher him off the filed. I’ve warmed to Xhaka a little because of his recent good play, but his attitude on the field reminds me why I’ll never really like him. Sly and niggly in the foul, and always in the face of refs.

    Gabriel was an idiot to commit that foul while on a card, and I couldn’t understand his outrage. Who did he have to be restrained from charging at?

    The club should just take its medicine, get on with life, and have a quiet word with its hotheads. And teach them the difference between being passionate and out of control.

  3. On the covid postponement, we face Burnley 43 hours after facing Liverpool. And if they dont push back the Burnley game by a day or so, we’ll probably lose it. We’re not going to win the league, so we have to target cups. So Mikel will probably put out as close to his strongest side as possible against Liverpool. And because it’s the league, will have to do so again against Burnley. A Burnley which will be physical and committed. That’s really rough on Arsenal.

      1. Good. That’s a buzzsaw fixture. After a hard Thursday night cup tie against one of the best teams in the country, a Saturday afternoon rumble against roughhouse opposition? Even with the extra day, there’ll be some tired legs. If Im Burnley, Im playing high tempo ball.

  4. The League Cup (as it was originally called) was quite popular for the first few years. I went to my one & only Wembley final to see us get beaten by 3-1 by Swindon in 1969 on a pitch that had been churned up the previous week by the Horse of The Year Show. Imagine doing that to the Wembley turf nowadays. Mostly know these day as The Wankers Cup.

    1. Hey! My one and only Arsenal final is also a Milk Cup: when we lost to Birmingham City FC. I never forgave Obafemi Martins – even when he came to play for the Sounders and helped us win titles. In fact, I’ve never warmed to the Sounders mostly because they had such players as Deuce and Martins.

          1. hadn’t really noticed that myself, but perhaps we watched different games. i mostly saw him with the usmnt except when fulham played arsenal. i wouldn’t say he’s a favorite or anything but i never held antipathy towards him.

            re: him playing for spuds, i’d entirely forgot that. i guess i gave him a bit of a pass on it at the time because (a) it was only one year, (b) i feel like most americans, if they get an offer from a premier league club, are going to accept and rightly so (at the time spuds were regularly ahead of fulham in the table iirc so it represented a move up of sorts and meant he didn’t have to leave london), and (c) he was basically the best u.s. forward for several years and i have a soft spot for them despite not being much of a nationalist in general.

          2. Another one that killed his career for me was Deandre Yedlin. He’s a Tacoma kid as well and I loved watching him play for the Sounders but just one appearance for Spurs and you’re dead to me (unless you’re Sol Campbell).

  5. I love the image of Enos running onto the field to intervene in our players’ protest, chucking his prawn sandwich over his shoulder, prawns spilling from his gob and his syrup blowing off. Lovely stuff!

  6. Just heard LFC have 7 players injured, 3 at AFCON and only 3 players with Covid. Questions need to asked esp after speerz had a walk over bcos orient couldn’t field a team in Carabou last year

  7. I thought we were, overall, doing a bit too much jostling of the referee and getting in his face. I don’t like to see that in general, even if it’s my own team that’s on the wrong end of a bad call. There are “make-up” calls if a referee thinks he’s put his thumbs on the scales with a bad call, but when you aggravate a referee to the degree we were doing, we’re not going to get any benefit of the doubt. I understand the charge, personally.

    Could the re-schedule of the fixtures help us in that Partey might be back, but Salah and Mane might not? Egypt and Senegal are thought might go deeper into the cup than Ghana.

    Lots of transfer news today – AMN is official to Roma, Nketiah to Brighton, Palace or Leverkusen, Balogun to Middlesborough on loan. We’ve recalled our 19 year old striker from Germany to replace Balogun in the U23’s (I’m guessing). There might be more action than expected this month.

  8. It’s funny, having lived in Minnesota where Caribou Coffee is in abundance, I didn’t notice anything wrong with Caribou Cup until the last sentence. And I go check, yes, it is Carabao Cup. I know you must have intentionally done it. Well done.

  9. I appreciate this may be controversial but I liked Gabriel and Co kicking off. Showing they cared. Feeling wronged. And why would I care if Stan has to pay the FA some of his pocket change?

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want them doing it that way again. This was – I hope – a learning experience not least for Gabriel. But it’s one in which our players had the rock solid support of the crowd. An exercise in bonding. As a team and as individuals we have lacked teeth for too long. Most of our players have never felt or heard raw guttural passion from their fans like they did last Saturday. As I say, my view will change if this turns out to be the first of many. But as a one-off incident I think despite the red card arguably leading to the loss, this game will mark a new stage in this team’s evolution.

    1. that’s very possible. reminds me of the van nistlerooy penalty miss and how the team lost their minds. i was disgusted by their behavior on the day but they went on to win the league unbeaten that season.

  10. Following sport at the very top level, it’s easy to forget that these are (sometimes very) young men and women, with all the raging emotions and hormones that are so much a part of that stage of life. That’s…just normal. But these athletes are anything but. They’re absolutely freaks of both nature and nurture and to be able to discipline yourself at the elite level is what helps you get there and stay there for the briefest of careers.

    Maybe that’s why “player coaches” like Wenger put so much emphasis on the their personalities, their backgrounds, their individual identities as young people with the other kinds of issues we all have at that period of life.

    Maybe what I’m try to say, is that I really like and enjoy this edition of the soon-to-be-mighty-again Arsenal. And maybe a few little dustups and misplaced aggression is a part of that. Live and learn. Play and win. Get yer ya yas out.

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