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Found: One Missing Edge

Found: One Missing Edge

You'd think someone named in honour of Arsenal's assistant manager, and former full back legend of the Arsenal double winning side of '71, might be a little more circumspect when protesting as loudly as he has been over the last week.

PatRice Evra has been squealing a little too much - or maybe the press have been making just a little too much of it.

Either way, after he claimed with some, albeit rather smug, justification that the earlier CL encounter was a game of 'men against babies' inevitably the league game a few days later was bound to be a game in which the players felt they had something to prove. Paradoxically Evra`s indignation has maybe highlighted something we need to rediscover.

In the context of some previous encounters at Old Trafford, in which we have been on the receiving end of some pretty malevolent treatment, last weekend`s game was a pretty tame affair though we finished it with 4 players in the book. If only our players, Reyes of note, had received then the same protection in other encounters at Old Trafford that Evra says he was offered by referee Mike Dean in this game. Evra claims that Dean had a word in his ear "I want to say thanks to the referee as he came to me and said 'Pat, I don`t know what`s going on but a lot of the Arsenal players are angry with you."

I suppose that maybe good refereeing though it also carries an undertone of 'homer' about it. Maybe he could have had a word with the Arsenal captain if he was genuinely concerned, after all he has the power to control the game and its players.

Given our respective positions in the fair play league Evra's assertion that the game is about "....helping to win the game - it`s not to kick someone back. It`s not the way to play football" might be considered by some to have an air of pious humbug.

I have no doubt that some players were robust in their play in this game but probably Fabregas' challenge, which was a poor one it should be said, was the only one that warranted a booking by the standards which other teams seem to be judged by. One of United's strengths has been the ability to know when to mix it when the situation demands and their position in this season's fair play league is secondary to their position in the Premier League. Previous Arsenal teams have also had that edge to their game and indeed we had gained some excessive notoriety for it at one time. Feeling that there is a point to be made gives us back, temporarily at least, the edge that we have missed at times. Perhaps we need to be angry a little more frequently.

It's a sad fact that while we have performed better in the fair play league over recent seasons we haven't reached our ambitions in the league that matters. We should always aim to do both of course but maybe the spirit we carried into the game against United is the 'maturity' that Evra identified as missing. If maturity is in knowing how to organise your play so that 'necessary' fouls aren`t made by the same player it is.

When it comes to the Premier League maybe a reputation for an appropriate level of 'nastiness' is no bad thing to have. But referees whispering in our players' ears 'don`t worry - I`ll look after you' would be even better.

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Date:Sunday May 24 2009
Time: 10:41AM


In 100% fairness to Evra I read the interview in French and he said it was "men against children." There again, it was still unnecessary and I do believe I said in the aftermath that that was a stupid thing to say given that our players could easily put him out of the final had they wanted. The article makes an excellent point that me and a friend were discussing at length on Friday. I think Arsenal are very naive when it comes to drawing the foul and learning to take the hit and take a free kick when we're under pressure. My friend maintains he doesn't want to see us do it, even at the cost of winning trophies. I'm not talking about Adebayor style diving, but the last few minutes of the Chelsea semi showed that the likes of Lampard and Ballack know how to leave a foot trailing or how to stick their arse out and draw a foul. One of the greatest players ever at this skill when his team was under pressure was Vieira. As for Evra, well, I would say who's the child now? Run along with your bottle little baby.
Little Dutch
24/05/2009 10:52:00
Gilberto was a master at taking out an opponent when neccesary. In the spurs 4-4 game Jenas would never had scored if It had of been Gilberto chasing him instead of Song because he would have taken a standard issue yellow card. In the Semi Final with Chelsea Silvestre should have just hauled Drogba down, last 5 minutes down to 10 with a free kick 30 yards out instead of 2-1 down, yes please. Its unfortunate but its all part of the game.
24/05/2009 11:00:00
Yeah LD I think its very important for a team, particuarly in the individual battles on the pitch. If in the first couple of minutes a player contests a 50-50 with his direct opponent on the pitch, and recieves a little knock, nothing malicious, then he'll go in for the next one a bit more wary of his own safety, and his commitment to the challenge will drop slightly. Every side can is afraid of our technical quality, so they combat it with their physicality. If we can gain dominance in that department early on in games, too, then we'll take a lot of pressure of our very suspect defence. As for 'drawing the foul', I agree this is a useful skill to learn, but once a player suceeds a few times in doing so it is only natural that he will start anticipating being fouled, and diving. Drawing the line is difficult in a match situation, and I don't like seeing our players cheating. If they hold up the ball, feel a knock and go down; fine, but I don't think its something our players should be trained to do.
24/05/2009 21:03:00
Evra called us children, yet cried like the proverbial bitch whenever any came within a yard of him "awww did the big bad boo scare you?" *****!
26/05/2009 10:32:00
He now wants to have a fight with bloody Fabregas! Prick.
26/05/2009 13:08:00
You'd think after his ban for attacking a member of the Chelsea ground staff last season Evra would be a little more cautious about even implied threats of violent acts. If allegations of spitting warrant looking into then threats of violence should be surely.
27/05/2009 08:48:00
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