Arsenal v Bayern Munich: Red Card, Fouls, and Injuries

So Arsenal will go into The Allianz Arena next month 2-0 down on aggregate. After last season 3-1 defeat at The Emirates, we manage to beat them 2-0 (the only team to beat them in the knockout stage) though we still lose the tie. Many said it was a turning point not just for the rest of 2012/13, but something we have build upon for this season, with us still in the running for 3 competitions.

It was a game full of promise, that maybe this time around we might give more of a challenge, and indeed we did with a very positive start, and then Özil was fouled in the box by Jerome Boateng, which means penalty. At that moment I was like "look at us now Bayern", only for Özil to completely botch the penalty. After that the game goes from bad to worse, Bayern began dominating us, similar to a few of our run-ins with Barcelona in the knockout stages, where they just played in our half, passing us to death. Kieran Gibbs then went down with an injury forcing Wenger's hand to make a substitution, Wojciech Szczesny then was sent off for hauling down Arjen Robben, David Alaba missed his penalty, but Bayern scored twice in the second half anyway.

Rather than rant and assigning blame here and there (Özil's crap penalties, Giroud's fall into temptation, refereeing, etc) I thought we can discuss several things that would make the beautiful game even better, so let's get to it!


When Gibbs was injured, forcing Wenger into making an unplanned substitution, it took one substitution that we can use later in the game for tactical purposes, this got me thinking "why not give a medical substitution?"

Obviously 3 substitution is probably enough, managers also doesn't like to alter their team too much in game by introducing substitutes, so 3 is probably a good number. But in case of an injury, say a player was injured within the first 10 minutes, the manager then need to make a substitution that he probably didn't plan to do (especially if it happens to one of the defenders, as they usually stay throughout the game), and lose a chance to alter his team later on, so why not give a medical substitution and keep the remaining 3 permitted substitution intact?

Another example is when Theo Walcott injured his knee in the FA Cup tie against Spurs, we have ran out of substitution by then, so we have to play with 10 man, how is that fair? Why do teams have to be at a disadvantage because of an injury (that could also be caused by the opposition) happening late in game? This is where I think a medical substitution would be useful. Obviously it can only be used for serious injuries that makes it obvious that the player can't continue, pulled hamstring, concussion, bone fracture, or knee injuries, one that would seriously impair a normal physical human function let alone play football. Furthermore, to ensure team doesn't exploit this it should probably be limited to one, or it can only be given when a team has ran out of substitution, and then a player is injured and can't continue.

Penalties and Red Card

Jamie Carragher said it best when he thinks that sending off a player just ruin the game, and in this case i agree. What Szczesny did was a foul, and based on the current rule he deserves to be sent-off. But on top of that, a penalty? And Arsenal now are forced to make TWO unplanned substitution? I think its absolutely ridiculous, its a punitive rule that gives too much advantage for the opposition.

At the moment the rule is also very inconsistent, sometimes you may concede a penalty but not given a yellow card (Podolski vs Livepool last Sunday), sometimes you concede a penalty and given a yellow card, and the worst one which is sending-off and a penalty. If there was no yellow card but a penalty was given, the question is was it even a penalty in the first place? Too many times we rely on the interpretation and judgment of the referee, yet the powers that be doesn't help the referees.

What needs to be done is that there should be a parameter of what kind of foul in the box that warrants a penalty, so that the referee doesn't have to interpret all situations and challenges in the box. Furthermore, a foul that warrants a penalty will be given an automatic yellow card. For me its not a case of "that's not really a heavy challenge,so a penalty but no yellow", but about being strict and deter defenders from committing silly challenges and be more disciplined when it comes to defending, while at the same time not punishing a team or provide a numbers advantage for the opposition for the entirety of the match, especially in football where there is a limited substitution. Obviously exception can be made, if you elbowed someone, or kick him in the nuts without intent of playing the ball, then a red card should be given. But only in those extreme situation should a red card on top of the penalty be given (the kind of fouls that warrant a red card should also be defined or given parameter).


So Jerome Boateng was booked when he brought down Özil, and then later in the first half he also committed a challenge that probably is a bookable offense and should be sent-off. The same thing happened to Steven Gerrard last Sunday. But in both occasions, Boateng and Gerrard was not sent off, I don't know if its a misplaced sense of justice ("I didn't give Liverpool an obvious second penalty, so I won't book Gerrard again") or the lack of courage to make a big call ("i should probably send Boateng off, but would that be too controversial since I've just sent Szczesny off?"). This obviously creates a problem, since players don't know whether their next challenge will result in red and its also wildly inconsistent for referee having to judge cases differently with each player.

My proposal for fouls that occur outside the penalty area (if you commit a foul in the penalty area then you'll be given an automatic yellow card), is that a player should be given a limited amount of fouls in a game that they can commit for example 6 (this is inspired by NBA's rulebook, but a better number should probably be adjusted to the average fouls per game by each team and individual players in football matches), after he committed three fouls then a yellow card is given, when he committed his 6th foul then he will be sent-off. What this does is that it gives the referee some sort of a tool/system that can be used for handing out warnings (yellow cards) and punishment (red cards). By limiting player to a certain amount of fouls referee don't have to give a red card the next instance a booked player commit a foul, but gives them some sort of leeway to let the game flow while at the same time providing an indirect warning to a player that he's walking on a tightrope. A player will also be more mindful when he realizes that he have committed 5 fouls and its only the first half. In this proposal, I also think that fouls needs to be defined or given parameter (The Laws of the Game probably has it but I'm not sure) so the referee don't have to guess, and there will be a bit uniformity when it comes to officiating. Obviously as with the above, if you throw a punch or breaks someone's leg with a tackle, then an automatic sending off should be given.

I'm pretty sure ideas/proposals similar to this has been discussed before, but most of this thoughts occurred to me after witnessing the universe's injustice towards Arsenal for the zillion times, and I thought other than discussing our performances, we can also discuss ways to make the game better.

Thanks for reading and Come on you Gunners!

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