So Arsenal sit in third, a point behind Manchester United and five behind Chelsea, after yesterday's win at Wolverhampton. Goodison Park and Everton loom on the near horizon in three days, another chance to steer the good ship November in the right direction. After yesterday's match and all the simplistic post-match musings on Arsenal being a bunch of hypocrites, already the match this weekend beckons, an excuse to get out of the press and back onto the pitch.
Here are some links, then:
OleGunner points out what should be obvious, but apparently needs hammering for some people: dangerous tackles are dangerous.
Eleven staff members from Arsenal, including the CEO, Ivan Gazidis, will be spending a night on the streets of London as part of the club's charity work with Centrepoint this year.
According to the official site, Wojciech Szczesny has signed a long-term contract with the club. So that's taken care of, then. Pressure on Fabianski from below, Almunia's getting older and won't be around too much longer...
The Telegraph starts the roundup of simplistic thinking with some pointless comment about Arsenal in a column by Steve Wilson:
Arsenal lead the way in sending offs this season, having picked up four red cards in league matches, no other team has had more...
While the paper's own match report, right below his article, points out that both Arsène Wenger and Cesc Fabregas directly and immediately apologized for the tackle. Also, there was not a single mention--not one!--of the Karl Henry tackle on Arshavin, probably because it went unpunished.
Meanwhile, in the Guardian, Mick McCarthy is quoted as being tired of people complaining about a player, Henry, who this season has seemed to be tackling entirely dangerously and breaking legs as part of his game:
What I can't stand is people whingeing at my players. It's all amateur dramatic [redacted].
It's hard, isn't it, Mick? It's hard to understand people being angry at a player breaking legs. What is also hard to understand, though, is why the only solution to the so-called "hypocrisy" of Arsenal in this regard is to apparently call for nobody at all to ever say anything, for the reckless play to simply continue unaddressed indefinitely. The only solutions to a problem are apparently to pretend that it doesn't exist or that everyone is equally guilty despite all nuance or ambiguity.
Of course Arsenal are not saints. Nobody has ever said that they were, not even Wenger. But to act like simply because Arsenal have four red cards this year (how did they get those, by the way? One can only assume they've snapped four legs in half with blood-curdling tackles of doom and despair and pestilence, right? Didn't Jack Wilshere bring a morningstar onto the pitch with him during the Manchester City match?) that they are not allowed to criticize or be upset about reckless tackling is silly. It won't get the League or the game anywhere in the short or long run.
7AM Kickoff sums it all up rather nicely in his match report today:
I wake up this morning to article proclaiming that Arsenal are the dirtiest team in the history of mankind, that Arsene Wenger is a hypocrite, and that Mick McCarthy was "magnanimous" about Cesc’s challenge. It’s all so mind bogglingly stupid that I don’t even know where to start.
Perhaps it's simply time to declare a sort of "reckless play amnesty" day. Everyone in the game should acknowledge that at one time or another every club has had players who have borne the mark of footballing sin, and once that has been worked through, everyone should try to work together to move forward in a more sensible way. Nobody is trying to eliminate tackling (to which, as Wenger points out, there is a real art that seems to escape a lot of today's players), and of course it's very hard to completely rule against danger without the game becoming farcical and draconian (see for example the NFL this year), but right now, at least, the whole debate feels like a weird series of half-truths, veiled accusations, and repressed anger, which is a recipe for nothing.