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The Perils of Keeping Contact

The Perils of Keeping Contact

In the 1968 League Cup final between Arsenal and Leeds Jackie Charlton stood just off the goal line at a corner and as the ball came in jumped into the Arsenal keeper Jim Furnell and physically prevented him from getting the ball without seeking to play the ball himself. Leeds full back Terry Cooper scored from the resulting loose ball. There was a fair amount of controversy about it at the time though in truth it was such a dour game that any neutral still watching might have been relieved with anything that brought about a conclusion. It doesn`t pass uncommented in many of the autobiographies of the players of the time with most accepting that it was a foul. Charlton was pulled up on it pretty much any time he attempted the same tactic afterwards.

Now over 40 years later the distinction between creating a physical presence to inhibit the keepers ability to defend his goal and physically preventing a keeper from defending his goal seems equally blurred. It`s an issue highlighted in the Stoke v Spurs game last weekend with one or two incidences in which physical contact was substituted for the legally permissible physical presence. Wenger has drawn attention to this probably with the upcoming Blackburn game in mind and the troubles that Fabianski had there last season. In reality that game owed as much to Fabianski`s failings as it did to any over robust application of Allardyce`s skill set. Still it`s also true that Blackburn were encouraged to test the boundaries every bit as much as Stoke were last weekend.

In a typically confused piece in todays Mail Graham Poll first directs an assertion at Arsene that there is nothing wrong with the use of physical presence before concluding that Arsene has a point. Referees should be free to determine the legality of a physical challenge says Poll after first telling us that Chris Foy wasn`t apparently able to do so correctly.

Likening the tactic to Rugby more than football as Wenger did was bound to create the usual storm of pious protest about the virtues of the English game and the inability of non-English to play a proper man`s game. But sometimes the game has to be reminded that boundaries are always there to be tested and the further you allow them to be pushed back the further you move away from the principles of the sport. That Wenger chose to highlight the issue at this time is understandable and eminently sensible but whatever cynical motives might be attributed to him shouldn`t detract from the validity. Bad practice can creep in anywhere it fails to be identified and referees need to be refocused regularly as part of any process of ensuring best practice.

Above all though likening Stoke to a Rugby team no matter how obliquely has the benefit of being able to picture Tony Pulis in indignant, tight lipped rage adorned with baseball cap desperately defending his right to make as much physical contact with the opposition as he can get away with on the basis that none of his players have a bad bone in their body, are loved by their mothers and are kind to children and small animals. It`s proper football innit!

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Date:Friday August 27 2010
Time: 10:36AM


Arsene loves to winge... he should just get on with it!
Vanilla Ice
27/08/2010 10:38:00
And people just love to whinge about Arsene .... they should just get on with it too.
27/08/2010 10:56:00
I never winge about him. He's a great manager but enough is enough. Blackburn kick everyone off the pitch but arsene is the only one who comes out and has a moan about it. maybe he's managing in the wrong league... And lets not forget when his old boys (Vieira, Petit, etc.) use to kick people!
Vanilla Ice
27/08/2010 11:00:00
If Blackburn kick everyone off the pitch then maybe they're the ones in the wrong league. If you are free to moan about Wenger moaning then he is also free to moan about whatever he wishes.
27/08/2010 11:03:00
Great..Wenger never ever mention Blackburn in the interview..yet people with the smallest brain dare to say he moan, whinge and etc2.. See this..another ultimate lazy and unethical journalism at its best:
27/08/2010 11:15:00
He loves to moan about others but wouldn't say a bad word about his own and turns a blind eye to everything they do! Typical arsenal fans to try defend him when he is in the wrong. The PL is a tough physical league and if Arsene can't deal with that then it's his problem yet he tries to make it everyone elses. The only reason people moan about him is because he moans about everyone else! If he just got on with his job then people would respect him!
Vanilla Ice
27/08/2010 11:18:00
Malaysian_GunnerZ - Your an idiot! All he does is moan and if your denying that then you know nothing about football or Wenger!
Vanilla Ice
27/08/2010 11:24:00
Football is a contact sport but there has to be limits at to what is allowed otherwise the game become ugly, unfair and not entertaing to watch. AW is entitled to his opinion and I'm interested in hearing his opinion as he is intelligent and very knowledgable about the game. If you don't agree with his opinion, that's fine but don't say that he shouldn't be allowed to speak.
27/08/2010 11:26:00
Last year we conceded 2 goals at Ewood. 1 was a foul, 1 was our players not 'manning up'(and by that I don't marking I mean having bo**ox). Seeing B'burn so far this year doesn't boad too well for us tomorrow as they seem to be out Stoking Stoke! Hopefully football will prevail. If it doesn't and the GK is at fault, then Wenger has only got himself to blame for not addressing the situation earlier.
27/08/2010 11:28:00
I never said he shouldn't be allowed speak and I do agree that there should be limits as to what is allowed but it just seems like everytime someone is complaining it's him! Complaining never got anyone anywhere. He should spend that time doing something more productive.
Vanilla Ice
27/08/2010 11:28:00
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