December 12, 2005
Last week, F365 were on Gilberto’s back, but this week they are sympathizing with him:
It’s suddenly fashionable to embrace the notion that Arsenal are a soft touch away from HIghbury but, as with most modern fashions, it’s pretty silly to do so.
Defeat at Newcastle was the Vincibles’ fifth defeat on their travels but a lack of fight wasn’t the cause.
The Gunners, as at Boro and West Brom, failed to convert their chances but remained in control of the match until Dermot Gallagher responded to an innocuous Gilberto Silva tackle with a yellow card. The Guardian claims that he did so to “everybody’s consternation”. Not so; the Toon players, aware that the game had just been altered in their favour, displayed their class by applauding enthusiastically.
The decision was so harsh - or, in non-footballspeak, just plain wrong - that comparisons highlighting its poverty should be unnecessary, although MOTD decided the sight of Alan Shearer hacking at Sol Campbell with impunity would suffice as a demonstration.
When Arsene Wenger later complained at Shearer’s habit of playing the “man rather than ball” he was not speaking of that hack - or any alleged ‘bullying’ tactics - but the Toon captain’s tendency to jump into defenders. He did so repeatedly on Saturday, presumably encouraged by Gallagher’s unwillingness to earn the ire of a pumped-up St James’ Park crowd by pointing out that it was a foul.
If MoTD had any imagination then they would have compared any number of such unpunished offences with the challenge by Thierry Henry at Bolton last weekend which was deemed illegal and caused Van Persie’s ‘goal’ to be disallowed. Had the game been played at Highbury then the challenge would surely have been acceptable - just as Faye would have been sent off for a deliberate handball mid-way through the second half.