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We're top of the Fair Play League too!

Football supporters by their nature are partisan so, if we are all honest, objectivity in all things relating to our own team is difficult for any of us to ever truly accomplish. Some do give it a try though. Others like Dick over at VitalBolton don`t bother to make any attempt at all, but at least his hysterically one-sided uninformed rants have been so easy to mock that it has provided a few days entertainment for those that have bothered to offer opinions over there. The bottom line is that football supporters are going to stick up for their side more often than not - that`s what supporters do.

Journalists take a different stance. While some might find it difficult to completely hide their allegiances most struggle with the task of creating a story whether one exists or not. It`s on that basis that the professional journalist maxim that 'dog bites man' isn`t a story but 'man bites dog' is, directs the approach many will apply to make an event newsworthy. They know when they are bending a story.

Arsene Wenger found it hard to conceal his weariness at the pious hypocrisy of some in football over the Gallas challenge which the referee with a clear uninterrupted view saw only as a 50-50 challenge. The problem with 50-50 challenges is that unless both players arrive at precisely the same time there is an equal chance that one will come off worse than the other. This time it was the unfortunate Mark Davies who fortunately doesn`t appear to have sustained significant damage. Robin van Persie's generous offer of some surplus horse placenta he had in his freezer wasn't needed. Coyle at least had the decency to admit he over reacted to the tackle yesterday agreeing that it was simply mistimed.

The story only existed at all because an Arsenal player, top of the current fair play league, fouled a Bolton player, 2nd bottom in the fair play league - and there lies our 'man bites dog' story. Bolton, by definition one of the leagues dirtiest sides, kicking as they did repeatedly over the 2 games Arsenal, currently the leagues fairest, is a 'dog bites man' tale. There`s no story there - it`s what dogs are expected to do.

In a season which has had more than its fair share of hysterical excess Wenger tried to introduce some rationalisation when commenting on the event in his press conference today:

"I do not want to develop any paranoia," the Arsenal manager said. "But there was too much made about this incident.

"It was a mistimed challenge but without any intention to harm the player.

"What is more funny is that, when we get kicked, some people say before the game 'we know how to play Arsenal, we have to kick them' and nobody in the whole country is upset by that.

"I am always absolutely amazed that people get away with it. When we get kicked and lose the game, the question I get from the press is 'oh, you did not fancy that'. But nobody is upset or shocked by it. When we are kicked they find that it is absolutely all right.

"I said after the Bolton game if Gallas has injured the player, we are sorry. We will have a look at the tackle and if it is malicious we will come out and make a statement. We looked at it carefully and we saw that it was just a mistimed tackle. That is why we didn't see why such a story should flare up and make a national issue if the intention of the player was completely right.

"If you ask anywhere in the world, do Arsenal play fair football? You will get the same answer in every single country. That is what we try to achieve. Look at the Fair Play League - Arsenal are top. That is the best answer you can give."

We'll never remove tribal passions from football, we'd lose something important if we could, but some sense of proportion at times wouldn`t do any harm.

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The Journalist

Writer: Amos Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Friday January 22 2010

Time: 5:55PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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Well done Owen Coyle for your much needed amended statement, it's easy to get wound up and go overboard especially directly after walking off the pitch into a press conference. Wenger was the same and later retracted his hasty angry viewpoint. Now if dick at vital bolton can show the same backbone and admit he wrote his pathetic assault on Gallas through weepy eyed rage at being 2-0 up then watching as Arsenal ORChestrate a 4 goal mullering, yeah right we won't hold our breath n that one! Nice article Amos :)
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22/01/2010 18:14:00

He only gets let out of the basement once a week so i doubt he will be able to!
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22/01/2010 18:17:00

Great article. Where can I find details of the Fair Play League? I'm particually interested in the standings? Thanks Barry
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 18:20:00

So the pious hypocrite finds it hard to conceal his weariness at pious hypocricy. Priceless!
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 18:38:00

Hodfoundadisabledmanandkickedhim, was it Eileen Drewery that cured Mark Davies from this Vicious Gallas challenge? Nice to see Coyle has calmed down, we should send him a Wilshere paninni sticker as a peace offering.
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 18:45:00

iceman 10, do you have a hard on for Eileen because she ended Ray Parlour's England career?
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22/01/2010 18:50:00

My cynical side says that Coyle only retracted his comment because he's till keen on Jacky boy ..... but I'd like to think that the guy is the same likable and sensible chap he was at Burnley and that I'm not letting my distain for Bolton cloud my judgement. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt .... not that it's worth anything.
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 18:51:00

No im more of a Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith man myself.
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22/01/2010 18:55:00

hodfoundaspuduphisass being piously hypocritical about pious hypocrisy. Priceless (and predictable).
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 18:58:00

Look what our spud visitor gets up to in his spare time.....
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22/01/2010 18:59:00

Credit to Coyle, but this is absolutely spot on from Arsene. Sometimes the man can frustrate you with his words, but most of the time he speaks out and out sense and gives his opinion without fear of reprisal. On this occasion, every single word is true and a reflection of what Gooners the world over have been trying to explain for the last few days. Arsene, I am in your debt sir.
Little Dutch
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22/01/2010 19:01:00

lol iceman, now we've received coyles retraction I think we can strech to an autographed photo of Jacky. Hodcouldn'tfindeitherelbowwithhisbigfatass why don'tyou come back when you've narowed the points gap to something approaching a single figure?
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 19:02:00

Thats some dazzling wit you got there hodcantgetitup.
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22/01/2010 19:25:00

Just got finished listening to Alan Davies' hysterically funny Arsenal podcast (a must-stop on your weekly Arsenal schedule) and saw that this article had been added to today's VA. Good to see. And there's this from last season:,,12306~138608,00.pdf In fact, in the last 4-5 seasons, we've been at the top or close to the top of the fair play league. The same period when we haven't won trophies. Doesn't seem to matter, tho, since we're still attacked for being evil thugs....when we're not being called wimps and pansies who can't take the rough better to be not so nice because we win when we're nasty and we don't get the credit for being nice anyway. // And this mr. hodweirdo has the dummest ID name I've yet seen on this site. Why can't we ever get a spud who can at least provide some clever, original banter? Insult us, fine, but geez, send someone with an IQ above the negative integers.
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22/01/2010 19:52:00

I caught Arsene's press conference, he was terrific with the questions re the Gallas tackle. I loved how he questioned the objectivity of the media who fixate on certain incidents.
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22/01/2010 19:54:00

The ever reliable Daily Telegraph are now running a story on "Arsene Wenger going on the offensive and defending William Gallas.." The Daily Wail and Telegraph will pretend to never get Wenger's message.
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 20:03:00

Stop it hodcantpasswind...that comeback was so funny. Not.
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 20:06:00

Jaelle, if you had 1 more brain cell yould be a plant.
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 20:09:00

A spud is a plant form too. Just the lowest form of its species. So when d'ya reckon St. Totteringhams Day will fall this season hodfoundhisteamisafarce?
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22/01/2010 20:33:00

Yeh its great Owen Coyle has calmed down I wonder is it because he wants Wilshere in the Jan window or did he just realise that we are just a good clean football team
Report Abuse
22/01/2010 23:15:00

I honestly don't think it's anything to do with Wilshere. They've signed Weiss on loan from Citeh, which would end any interest Coyle had in Wilshere.
Little Dutch
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23/01/2010 03:55:00

Can this total ******** nonsensical whinging from Bolton stop now then? Can they gracefuly accept defeat to a better and cleaner playing side? I hope so because all this fall out just from sore losing is really getting old. Can we talk about how we're top of the league now?
Report Abuse
23/01/2010 05:24:00

The Guardian is reporting that Arsenal and Everton have come to an agreement about us loaning Senderos to them till the end of the season. All the best Big Phil.
Report Abuse
23/01/2010 07:43:00

For god's sake, is it just me or is Hull totally not interested in putting up a fight against the mancs? any spirited team would have done a lot better, Manchester looked for the taking, and Rio better not play against us, clear elbow in the neck for no reason and not seen by the ref. Wonder if the FA is gonna be fair, review it and decide it had to be a red card.
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23/01/2010 16:47:00

but Fabby there is something to cheer about today, the spuds cocking it up as usual. i hope leeds go on to win the replay now and play us in the next round (hopefully we'll do the job tomm)
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23/01/2010 20:28:00


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