Chapter 3: an old Coote

I thought we were going to escape the summer fires which have plagued us in the Northwest for the last 5 or so years but thanks to man made climate change we have once again been surrounded by massive forest fires which are raging from Spokane to Alaska. The result is a constant pall of smoke hanging in the air, burning the back of your throat, stinging the eyes. It’s like being down wind from a campfire but you can’t just switch seats, you have to sit there and choke on it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And there’s still COVID. My coworker tested positive this week and he’s out now for 5 days or so.

Amid that backdrop football was a welcome relief this week. I watched Harry Kane get a debut goal and assist for Bayern Munich, Granit Xhaka had a great debut for Bayer 04 getting a pre-assist in his role as deep lying playmaker, and of course there was the Arsenal taking a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The Arsenal match wasn’t too interesting from a tactical standpoint. Arteta was always going to have to peck away at the Palace wall. It was just going to be one of those games, low block organized defending is Hodgson’s calling card.

Arteta’s lineup was unchanged from the previous win, persisting with Partey as a nominal RB which I think means that Gabriel M is dropped to the bench so that Saliba can be played in the middle as sweeper. There is a great deal of speculation that Gabriel M is being sold this summer and I don’t agree. When Zinchenko comes back into the team (he had a cameo in yesterday’s match) Gabriel will start again. This is just a tactical thing: Gabriel can’t play LB and with Partey at RB all the CBs shift to the right when he creeps into midfield. If Gabriel started he would be the sweeper and I don’t think that’s one of his strengths. When Zinchenko starts, and moves into midfield, everyone shifts to the left which would put Gabriel in the left side and keeps Saliba as sweeper. And we yesterday exactly why Saliba is the preferred player in the sweeper position: he bobbled control of the ball, which allowed Ayew to attack the Arsenal goal, but with Saliba’s speed and intelligence, he was able to get back and make a perfect tackle to stop Ayew from missing the target. It’s really just that simple but I get that we need to have some drama.

Up front, Arteta persisted with Eddie Nketiah as the number 9. I’ve had a few disagreements with folks over this decision with people suggesting that his “work rate” is why he gets the start. His off the ball work in the first half was pretty poor from what I saw. It picked up considerably in the 2nd half, almost as if Arteta had a word with him. Nketiah also missed two big chances, one set up beautifully by Declan Rice. Which is what Nketiah does. In fact, we have a lot of players who are big chance missers: Jesus, Havertz, and Nketiah. Eddie is just the most profligate of the bunch. Over the last two seasons, Eddie has only scored 4 of 19 big chances. That’s an atrocious rate of return. I still believe that finishing is a skill which can be learned but man, this fella is 24, I’d really love to see him start finishing. It’s also a problem that he doesn’t drop to help progress the ball. In fact, when he plays as number 9 Arsenal basically play with 10 men. Arteta is the coach though and he must see something in training that we don’t because it looks like Balogun is on his way out (he’s training alone which is sad) for whatever reason. Looks like Balogun is going to Chelsea. Which sucks actually.

The real villain of this chapter is David Coote. His refereeing was astonishingly bad. Comically bad. Well, at least it would be comical if it wasn’t so unfunny. This new yellow card for timewasting on throw ins is infuriating. Tomiyasu had the ball for 8 seconds and got a yellow card. It did take 20 seconds for the throw but that’s because Havertz had the ball for 12 seconds.

The thing about throw ins is that the throwing team doesn’t have an advantage. It’s actually a disadvantage because the defending team has an extra man. So, as we’ve seen with both Arsenal yellow cards on throw ins, the defending team can prevent the throw in from being taken by simply covering all options. In fact, if I’m a coach, I’m going to train my team to prevent throw ins simply because it will force the referee to make a decision and that will probably result in some yellow cards. Don’t be surprised if we see this tactic deployed this season. Getting a fullback a yellow card is a huge advantage.

Especially, as we saw, if the referee has actual shit for brains. How David Coote saw that Ayew dive as a yellow card, but didn’t see Ayew pulling Saka down as the same type of offence is a mystery (it’s not, he was just swayed by the home crowd). This same ref also managed to miss both Eze and Thomas Partey waving imaginary yellow cards (which is supposed to be a yellow card) and somehow missed two pens (one for Eddie who was dragged down when he hit the post and the other for Eze who was fouled by Thomas in my opinion). The officials in England are normally quite good (compared to other leagues) but David Coote shouldn’t be a top level official. He is simply not good enough, not strong enough to resist the home crowd, and not consistent in his application of the laws. His officiating ruined this match.

The good news, however, is that Arsenal overcame Coote and his shitty refereeing and saw the game out with mostly minimal distress. Next up, Arsenal host Fulham and it’s another must win for Arteta’s men.



  1. This is a nice writeup, I thought we managed the game well espeacillay after that red card, our players need to be smarter with receiving the throw ins, make yourself available quickly so that we can get the ball moving… Fulham next, another must win game… COYG

  2. Been thinking about the throw in conundrum. One solution might be to give the throwing side a certain amount of time (15 seconds?) to get the ball in and if they don’t, award the throw (or an indirect free kick?) to the other side. Yellow for time wasting in these cases is too much, especially if they’re adding every second back on anyway.

    1. I like it. Just like in baseball when they introduced the pitch timer to speed up the game a bit.

  3. Coote has a forlorn look on his face all the time. Looks s*** scared to be out there. Doesn’t exactly radiate trust and authority. He was woeful yesterday.

    He mimed a tug for Tomi’s 2nd yellow, but if that is a shirt pull, I’m Miss USA.

    To Jayke’s point, if you do that then all the opposing team has to do is aggressively cover your players. For many teams, a throw is as good a turnover anyway.

    If Team A kicked the ball out of play, they shouldn’t get to contest a throw. It should be like a free kick.

    1. Well yeah, but they do that anyway. And why not, if they can force a yellow card. And if a throw in is so disadvantageous, maybe threatening to give it over to the other team would make them be less aggressive, not more ;-)….

  4. One of Havertz or Tomi were literally asking to get yellow carded for time wasting on that throw in. If Havertz had no intention to put the ball back into play, he should not have picked it up in the first place. The ref allowed him all the time in the world only for him to give the ball to Tomi. What if Tomi decided to hand it over to someone else after that? I can’t stand time wasting, and personally I would’ve booked Havertz myself but Tomi should’ve known better than taking his sweet time as well. So I was not bothered by that yellow at all. Second one, on the other hand, is a different story. However, in real time it did look like a shirt pull (Ayew deserves an Oscar for that one). Having said that, the ref did have a pretty bad game overall.

  5. A bit harsh on Eddie, I think. He was unlucky not to score when he hit the post. It wasn’t an easy chance, and he was actually been dragged down while taking the shot. He also won the penalty which we scored. I’d say that’s a pretty decent contribution.

  6. The only thing that bothered me is that we did not manage to put together those lovely fast and intricate moves that we were creating last year. Our football was less fluid. We were less good at entering the box. We had some nice possession but the Man City way: dominant but sterile. The team needs to gel still.
    For the rest, happy with the result, happy to see Saliba at work again. Disappointed with the referee. Unconvinced by Havertz.

  7. i share the same thought as you regarding gabriel. he’s going nowhere.

    i thought eddie had a good game. my only gripe with him has always been his pay package. as we discussed before, i think it disrupts the pay scale for the team when your backup center forward is on £100k a week. you have to pay all of your starters more than that. who else is paying their second string, center forward that much? maybe man city but alvarez seems to be considerably better than eddie. what i absolutely love about eddie is his turns; they’re some of the coldest in world football.

    i think var got the partey/eze call right. sure, partey lifted his leg but he didn’t reach for or challenge eze for the ball. eze made contact with his leg. simply lifting your leg off the ground is not a foul, especially when you don’t move or reach for the ball.

    if kai didn’t take the throw right away, he was never gonna take the throw. more importantly, giving a yellow card for not taking a throw fast enough has got to be one of the dumbest rules ever. if someone was slow making throws after several warnings from the referee, i get it. there’s not even a standard time limit to take the throw so what constitutes a yellow? just when i thought the rules couldn’t get any dumber…

  8. As a typical American fan, I am fully onboard with a throw in clock. Everyone should know how long is too long and how much time they have left. I don’t think one can simultaneously say they want to reduce time-wasting but not be open to making changes to fix it. And it’s infinitely superior to leaving it to the whims of the old Coyotes to decide.

    I have an anti- Eddie bias but I think he played reasonably well. Tough chances even if they were good ones.

    I think we’re going through some growing pains figuring out how to beat the block with this new formation. Having Zinny back will help.

    My big gripe with Arteta is what does Trossard have to do to get a start? Dude lights it up whenever he’s on the pitch and he’s the perfect guy to help unlock a low block. I get you want Eddie’s speed and Havertz’ hold up play, but don’t you also want Trossard’s vision and technical skill for one of these three low block games to open the season? He needs some minutes against Fulham.

    But – I’m an American – what do I know?

    1. Hey, LA… a lot of the football energy is coming from the US. Power to you guys, man. On the whole, very excited about Messi’s presence there. Be wearing a pink shirt to the gym… something I didn’t even do for Arsenal last season.

      Im not anti-Eddie. I just don’t think we can win things with neither of our 2 main strikers being habitual big scorers. I know we share the load, but still…

      With you 100% on Trossard. I know their positions are different, but I dont know how an Nketiah gets into our staring XI ahead of him.

      1. Good to hear from you Claude! Hope all’s well! Really hope Trossard gets a start Saturday. Just seemed like we were so much more fluid when he played. And with Havertz he’d have another good scoring option to pick out. Just love his energy and mojo.

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