Category Archives: FA

FA confuses Gibbs and Ox again, and fans fightin’…

All rights’ in the world again, it seems. We’re back to winning ways. We all agree that Wenger should stay infinitely, Sanogo is full of potential, and fourth place is once again our target. Elsewhere, flowers are blooming, birds and bees are attempting to mate (although I’m almost sure there’s some kind of law, natural or otherwise, that agitates against this abomination. What would result? Birds that sting? Bees that sing? Birds with bees in their mouths and when they sing they shoot bees at you? The horror). Just when I thought that the chorus was warming up to sing a rousing rendition of kumbayah, however, the storm clouds gathered. Always with the storm clouds. Of course, it is raining in these parts, so that might be more about cold fronts and cumulonimubus clouds than symbolism…

First, the FA, proving that it either was a gleefully self-aware sense of self-deprecation, or blissful, casual, ignorance, mentioned in its match report that, during the FA Cup semifinal, “Gibbs’ [sic] shot skipped up off the Wembley turf and directly into the big German’s path—who was able to head home from three yards out”. Now, like me, you’re taking umbrage at the missing s that should follow “Gibbs'”, resulting in a word that sounds like “Gibbses”. If that didn’t get your panties in a twist, well, sit tight. That “who was able to head home” business? “The big German’s” is an adjectival phrase describing “path”—and the path is not a person “who was able to head home.” Don’t even get me started on their omission of the “F” part of “BFG.”  It’s almost enough to make their post-Marriner gaffe get lost in the shuffle. To have mistaken Ox for Gibbs not once but twice goes beyond the pallor—er, pale. Casual racism is one thing, but bad grammar? It’s all that separates us from the barbarians, infidels, and other less civilized types.

More seriously, though, are reports that Gooners came to blows on Saturday—with other Gooners. Apparently, in blocks 519 and 538, among others, differing opinions on how best to respond to Wigan’s goal led to philosophical exchanges that consisted more of pugilism than postulates. Look—whatever disagreements we might have, whose fault it is that we conceded or struggled to score or are in the fix we’re in—those can wait until after the match. Let the tempers cool and keep the focus on the players we do have on the pitch. Hurling abuse at the players, or turning on each other in the stands, just ain’t worth it. We’re all in this together, aren’t we? If you can’t hold your liquor and your temper at the same time, let someone who can have the seat. There are families there, some with kids, and while it’s one thing for a kid to hear a few new vocabulary words from time to time, they really shouldn’t have to fear for their safety. I won’t make too much of the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy, but it does seem to merit a mention. It was, after all, almost 25 years ago to the day, and it was an FA Cup semifinal that resulted in death and injury. It seems a bit callous to resort to punching and fighting fellow fans and stewards because you’ve been overserved and/or have let your frustrations reach a boiling point.

Let’s hope that the win, for as messy and as tight as it was, gives some of the more hot-headed Gooners among us a chance to cool down and remember that it is, after all, just a game. For as much as we claim to love the game and this club, it seems ironic at best to express that love so forcefully, to the point of bloodying fellow fans and stewards. What would have happened had we lost? Yeesh. For as much attention as gets paid to throwing a banana on the pitch or making monkey-chants, I wouldn’t mind it in the least if the FA or Arsenal looked into this, found out who instigated the violence, and had them banned.

In the meantime, we have an appearance in the FA Cup final to celebrate—our first since winning it in 2005—not to mention a clash with West Ham to prepare for. Let’s set aside the feudin’ and get back to some fightin’—on the pitch.

Victoria Concordia Crescit.

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Gibbs and Ox both available to face Swansea after successful appeal

Good news from the FA as it ruled that Gibbs was dismissed through mistaken identity, and Ox will not serve any suspension at all. To wit, from the FA’s website and official announcement:

The Commission ruled that the dismissal of Kieran Gibbs was a case of mistaken identity and transferred this to his team-mate Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Subsequent to deciding this matter, the Commission then considered Arsenal’s claim for wrongful dismissal in relation to Oxlade-Chamberlain. This claim was upheld meaning Oxlade-Chamberlain will not serve any suspension with the standard punishment withdrawn with immediate effect.

Good news all around, obviously. Via twitter:

The wrongful dismissal came after Oxlade-Chamberlain deflected a shot with his hand, but because the shot was not clearly going in, apparently, Ox will not serve the one-match ban that might have otherwise followed.

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Appeal denied, Wilshere’s suspended for two matches

Perhaps hoping to add “stubborn” to its list of undesirable qualities that it is somehow proud of having, the FA stood by its initial ruling, meaning that Wilshere will miss Monday’s match against Chelsea (not much of a surprise) and the Boxing Day trip to face West Ham. The FA still has adequately explained why earlier suspensions for the same offense received one-match bans and this one receives two, other than they have a new protocol and panel for dealing with these offenses. No one seriously doubts that Wilshere flipped off the Man City fans, but no one has explained why the suspension has doubled since last season.

If this is the new policy, fine. I don’t actually object to that. After all, I’m all for stamping out this kind of nonsense. Jack was immature and rude, and he deserves a suspension. However, the two-match suspension seems capricious and even a bit harsh, coming as it does without previous warnings, without explanation, and in contrast with previous such incidents. Might Jack have thought twice if he had known that he’d miss two matches? Probably not—as he probably wasn’t thinking all that much about it in the first place. It was impulsive almost by nature.

However, as I mentioned earlier, the fact that an unseen finger merits closer scrutiny and punishment than an unseen rash tackle or blown offsides that cancels a goal baffles me. A middle finger is rude and hurts feelings, and, yes, children probably saw it. Stars and garters. Where’s my fainting couch when I need it? However, cleats-up tackles can, at the risk of getting hyperbolic, can end careers.

So it looks like we’ll be reading tea-leaves rather than knowing for certain ahead of time how the FA will judge further offenses. Will the next middle-fingerer also get a two-match ban, or were their circumstances that mitigated—or exacerbated—the nature of Wilshere’s transgression? It’s hard to know. The FA offers without much help the following:

Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has been suspended for two matches by an Independent Regulatory Commission. Wilshere was charged by The FA with making an offensive and/or insulting and/or abusive gesture during the fixture between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday 14 December. The incident was not seen by match officials but was caught on video. Whilst admitting the charge, Wilshere claimed the standard sanction for this offence was clearly excessive. The Commission rejected this claim and the two match suspension will commence with immediate effect.

Thanks, FA, for being as transparent as muddy water on this one.  

FA hands down two-game ban to Wilshere; appeal in the cards

Contrary to precedents set through one-game bans to Luis Suarez and Wilfried Zaha, the FA’s new three-member panel agreed unanimously that Wilshere’s gesture was a sending-off offense and handed down the two-game ban. It’s abundantly clear that Wilshere made the gesture, but the difference between his ban and those given to Suarez or Zaha is apparently attributable to the newly formed FA panel set up to review cases such as this when the offense went unnoticed by the referee. An appeal is apparently in the works with a final decision scheduled for Thursday. If it stands, Wilshere would miss Monday’s clash with Chelsea and the following fixture at West Ham the 26th of December.

Maybe the FA panel could check this offsides ruling?

I’m not sure what makes Wilshere’s finger twice as offensive as Suarez’s or Zaha, who were also fined £20,000 and £3,000, respectively, but it feels arbitrary and excessive. I don’t say so as a Gooner; I say so as an objective observer. Will the FA start using its three-member panel to assess actual fouls that may have gone unnoticed or that the referee waved off or that the linesmen got wrong? If so, I can think of three, perhaps four goals that we’re owed from our trip to the Etihad on Saturday. I imagine Olivier Giroud’s leg would also like to be depositioned after Yaya Toure’s cleats went straight in, just under his knee.

I know that Gunners get away with more than few favorable calls and non-calls, and I’m not arguing that we’ve been treated any worse than any other club. However, it does feel like it—then again, I’d wager that more fans than not share the same feeling. Call it the Rashomon effect—each of us sees an event from our own point of view and through our own biases.

So be it. In the case of Wilshere, there’s little to dispute; the evidence is clear. However, it’s just as clear, if not more blatant in the cases of Suarez and Zaha. So why the discrepancy? I’m not suggesting that the FA is bound by those precedents, but the departure seems, as I said before, arbitrary. The FA says that “Under the new process, if an incident has not been seen by the match officials, a three-man panel will be asked by The FA to review it and advise what, if any action, they believe the match referee should have taken had it been witnessed at the time.”

Fair enough, but why two games? Is it because he should have been sent off and suspended from the next match? If that’s the logic, it would beggar belief. Because the referee and linesmen missed something that happened in the 68th minute, Wilshere has to serve two full matches? I’m not sure that’s what’s at work here because the FA didn’t explain the reasoning behind the ban. I’m not suggesting that Wilshere get a 22-minute “ban” to make up for the time he should have missed from the Man City match, but it does feel as if a more-complete explanation, or a one-match ban in line with previous ones, is in order. Perhaps an appeal can bring it down to one match. We’ll find out Thursday, I suppose.

Meh. Considering the way that Wilshere played, it’s probably a good thing that he’s not available for the Chelsea fixture. We have options, such is our depth in midfield. Walcott’s back, and Podolski could also be available. Enjoy your rest, Jack, and I look forward to seeing you against West Ham!

Wilshere faces a one-match ban plus fine…

Shortly after David Silva scored to make it 4-2, Jack Wilshere made his feelings pretty clear, gesturing the their fans with what appears to be a middle finger. It’s pretty clear from this photo as well as from the video, and so there’s no sense beating around the bush. It looks like Jack will probably sit out against Chelsea, which, given how he played against City, may not be such a bad thing.

Luis Suarez was served a three-match ban and a £20,000 fine for his salute to Fulham fans in December 2011, but a more-useful comparison might be to Wilfried Zaha, who received a one-match ban and £3,000 fine for his digital communication with Leeds fans while playing on-loan for Crystal Palace in March 2013. The one-match ban seems like pretty standard fare, so we might as well reconcile ourselves to that. It’s the size of the fine that may vary, and that’s more an issue for Jack and his budget than it is for the make-up of the squad going forward.

Suarez’s finger was both slower and more blatant than Wilshere’s—Suarez came to a full-stop and pointed to his middle finger with his other hand; what’s more, his middle-finger came after he had been accused of racially abusing Patrice Evra in October 2011, for which he would be suspended eight games after the one-game suspension for the event at Fulham. In other words, his fine may have been influenced by the preceding allegation of and investigation into racial abuse. That’s not something that applies to Wilshere.

More useful, then, is Zaha’s gesture. Like Suarez, his was a slower, more-drawn-out motion. Wilshere’s was quick and brief. Like Wilshere, Zaha’s disciplinary record is a bit less spotty than Suarez’s. The one-match ban, though, seems like standard fare, and it seems again like the only real variable will be how much lighter Wilshere’s wallet will end up. We’ll have to wait to see how the FA responds to referee Atkinson’s report. Given the botched calls that went against us—Zabaleta’s hand-ball in the box, two goals incorrectly disallowed by an offsides call, to name a few—it might be nice to see something conciliatory handed down, such as a fine but no ban. I wouldn’t count on it, though.

I mentioned in my post-match post-mortem that I was more worried about Wilshere and Koscielny’s availability going forward than I was about the actual result. We should learn more about each of them in coming days…