What an peculiar this weekend has been, it’s like there is indeed two Sundays because of New Year’s Day and then the actual Sunday. Does that stimulate today a double Monday? It unquestionably may seem like it a bit.

Anyway, it’s cold light of day stuff today for me. The strength of the exasperation after the final whistle on Saturday( Sunday 1) has more or less scattered, and it’s easier to be analytical about things. I still find myself enormously encouraged by most of what we did against Man City, it felt like a real step forward, and the sort of unexpected mood of that carry-on is like a belated Christmas present or something.

As I said yesterday, there is something brewing at Arsenal right now, and how we can continue to develop this team is going to be so important. I wonder about the January window and how, if it’s at all possible, the freedom kind of signing might be absolutely the thing we need. We’ve already seen the summer signs come in and do well, there’s a sense of togetherness within the squad, but too health rivalry. Maintaining that, is in addition to it, could be simply the thing.

It’s tough though, for all the obvious grounds, but we also know there are large-scale decisions to be made sooner rather than last-minute. We have three strikers whose futures are unclear; there’s chamber in central midfield for one more anyway- especially as Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Mohamed Elneny are more or less sitting in the deviation sofa; and if the title actor are available for consultation this month, it would signal real goal. I don’t want to only hurry straight to transfer stuff after such a promising execution, but top four “re a long way from” hopeless this season if this squad can continue its path, and I just wonder if these encouraging signal might identify us try and do something now to really drive us towards that various kinds of finish.

Going back to the City game, a couple of things that we discussed on the Arsecast Extra are worth mentioning. First, the Gabriel sending off. I think that is the quintessential speciman of why football should consider a sin-bin system. The play had got heated after the penalty incident. Gabriel lost his composure a bit, but let’s also talk about the referee’s composure, he was wound up too. It was an self-evident clog by the Arsenal man, but did it truly quality the punishment? We’re down to 10 boys against the best team in England for over half an hour, and he is suspended for the next play. It feels too harsh for what it was.

When you think about how much coin football supporters spend on their season tickets and affiliated match-day overheads; when you consider the money people pay for their TV subscriptions( and it is necessary to about five of them these days to watch all the games ), and how much the broadcasters pay for the rights to show football in the first place, the in-the-moment drama that a wine poster makes isn’t ample for what it does to the spectacle of the game.

I thought we absolved ourselves really well with 10 adults, and when you consider what happened last time we represented City after a colour poster, it’s another reason to be encouraged by this Arsenal team. However, it radically skewed what was a great game of football until then. How considerably better would the umpire( well, a good adjudicator regardles) have been able to manage that situation if could have shown an’ orange poster'( for example ), and ship Gabriel to the sin-bin for 10 minutes? We have a temporary question, censured because of the foul play, but not to such a significant extent. The reward does not fit the crime in cases like this.

That kind of reform will obviously lend itself to issues of subjectivity when it comes to decision making. What’s the line between a second yellow and an orange etc? But, as much as possible, referees should seek to keep plays of football 11 v 11 unless there’s no other select. Their influence on the outcome of parallels is too high, and players are routinely being mail off for things which they genuinely shouldn’t be( while others get away with very obvious red placards, but that’s a whole other floor ). We should be thinking and talking about how changes to how games are officiated would improve the quality of football matches. This kind of thing, to me at least, is much more important than a World Cup every two years- the’ modification’ to football that nobody really wants apart from the organisation that stands to profit to the tune of billions from it( oh Arsene, what are you doing ?).

As it stands under the current rules, Gabriel should have managed the situation better, but surely things like this, and the furore around the referee/ VAR can trigger intelligent discussion about how we can improve officiating. We shouldn’t simply accept that this is the way that it is, and really get on with it. Clearly it’s a difficult job, and referees get abuse that must be hard to make, but it’s not helpful to dismiss all denunciation and examination of what they do because of that. Help the officials and you help the game by extension.

I also believe that some of the exasperation felt by Arsenal supporters about the officiating against Man City comes from a series of incidents this season which have felt peculiarly grievous. James McArthur getting simply a yellowed for booting Bukayo Saka; Ben Godfrey standing on Tomiyasu’s face and VAR deciding that’s not a crimson poster; Maguire on Tomiyasu at Old Trafford. The first two are exactly what red poster offences should be, and in both competitions we ought to have been playing against 10 adults. Instead, we took one point from six. Yes, we have to manage sports for what they are rather than what they should be, but I do feel that played a part in how intense the ire was during/ after the City game.

There’ll be slew to talk about during the week, I’m sure. We have a cup semi-final to think about too, so quantity to get on with. For now, I’ll left open there this morning, and if you haven’t had a chance to listen to the podcast, all the links you need are below. Have a good doubled Monday, back for regular Tuesday tomorrow.


This Arsecast Extra was recorded with ipDTL

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