Stuart Attwell - for the love of God, get this bloke out of football
A fine win for Arsenal yesterday against a nastily physical Bolton. I'll deal with the Bolton bad-boys further down when I pass comment on the incompetent clown who was refereeing yesterday. Goals from Koscielny, Chamakh, Song and Vela, as well as numerous missed chances (Arshavin missed three one-on-one's) added up to a good performance and a 4-1 victory against ten-men.
The star of the show yesterday was Cesc Fabregas. I was quick to criticise Fabregas for his insipid contribution at Blackburn but yesterday he was imperious. Bolton had no answer to the maestro (given that maestro is a word associated with genius it's rather ironic that Austin used the word to name a pretty awful car) of Arsenal's midfield and he played some sublime passes, most notably the turn and through-ball for Arshavin's third opportunity. Seeing Fabregas turn on the style and, more importantly, the effort was a huge boost for me. My little boy was equally pleased, not only to see his hero in the flesh, but to see him turning in a man-of-the-match performance. We are probably watching our last season of Cesc at Arsenal, so let's hope this form can continue, unchecked by injury for once.
Bolton's goal came from typically shoddy Arsenal defending. I was incredulous to see that some of the pricks that follow our Club saw fit to blame Manuel Almunia on the forums. For God's sake, just because Arsenal concede it doesn't make it Almunia's fault. Even the bloke sitting two seats from me, who slagged Almunia every time he went near the ball (as I said, we have some pricks following Arsenal) was able to acknowledge that Manuel was put in a hopeless situation by Koscielny. I am worried that Koscielny has a touch of the Senderos/Cygan/Stepanovs about him - he seems to lose concentration and make a bad mistake at least once per game. His header back towards goal yesterday was a case in point. Far from being to blame Almunia did his bit by forcing Bolton's fine Korean player, Lee, wide to the byline, but Koscielny and Gibbs failed to pick up Elmander who nodded in to an empty goal. Get off Almunia's back and watch the game, then you might see who has been at fault for the concession of a goal. No doubt Almunia will be at fault at some point, but yesterday certainly wasn't it.
Now for the ugly part of the game. Kevin Davies is a thug, let's not water it down. He nailed Rosicky (should have been a booking) and the referee played advantage, only for Davies to launch himself at Jack Wilshere. I was worried Wilshere had been done serious damage - it was a clear red-card, even before you consider the foul we were playing on from already. That he only received yellow gave us an early indication as to the incompetence of referee Stuart Attwell. Davies was free then to fly at the head of Laurent Koscielny in the second-half - there was no attempt to play the ball whatsoever, but there was no foul given either - Emmanuel Eboue was booked for having too much to say about it! More incompetence. Then the red-card. When Attwell missed the most obvious trip by Alex Song - incompetence - Arsenal broke away. Chamakh set Arshavin clear on goal only for the whistle to go. I have to admit that, at the time, I didn't think Cahill's tackle was a bad one on Chamakh and I couldn't believe the muppet hadn't played advantage (he should have done so regardless of wanting to send-off Cahill.) Having seen the replay it is a stone-wall red-card - both feet off the floor, from behind, with no attempt at the ball. It was a highly dangerous tackle that could have done serious damage to Chamakh. Lee Dixon tried to say, on Match of the Day, that it shouldn't have been a sending off as Collocini had only been booked for an equally terrible foul in Newcastle's game - perhaps he should have been sent off too Lee? Something to think about. Attwell wasn't finished though, not by a long way. Paul Robinson is another dirty cretin - remember him kicking Fabregas in the head at Bolton earlier this year? His tackle on Abou Diaby was right down in front of me, as was the linesman looking straight at it. That the officials chose not to see the nastiness of the challenge shows yet more incompetence, chiefly from Attwell. Robinson pretending to be injured himself, no doubt fearing the red-card he knew he should have got, was embarrassing and laughable. Abou Diaby seems to have a bad injury thanks to the thuggish Robinson. Disgraceful. If anyone tries to tell you that Bolton play a different game under Coyle (as I might have done until yesterday) then tell them they talk complete nonsense.
I've used the word incompetent a lot in that passage, and I've done so deliberately. I don't believe Stuart Attwell is a cheat. Graham Poll, Mike Riley, Jeff Winter, Steve Dunn (who cost us the Cup Final in 2001, and had a pathological hatred of Dennis Bergkamp) were all cheats in my opinion - not incompetent, just dishonest. This man Attwell is just a clueless clown of a referee. He simply does not know what he's doing. The whole ground chorused "you're not fit to referee" late in the second-half, and he surely isn't. I can not recall a game where Attwell has been in charge, but has not been at the centre of the controversy - remember Watford and the phantom goal last year? A mark of his level of uselessness is the effect he can have on a game in which he is not even refereeing. Two weeks ago he allowed Wolves to assault Joey Barton at every turn, with the chief aggressor being Karl Henry (remember him - the bloke who tried to break Rosicky's leg last Spring?) Henry was let off without a red-card by Attwell (only booked in the closing minutes) and so was free to play again yesterday. And what happened? He put in a bad tackle from behind on Bobby Zamora and broke the Fulham forward's leg. Well done Attwell, you're a muppet. He simply MUST be removed from football. It's no good demoting him, he is simply unable to referee football matches. Not dishonest, just incapable. After all, it takes a pretty amazing individual to annoy both sets of fans at a football match.
And so to 6-0-6. I do not pay my licence fee in order for the BBC to employ people like Robbie Savage. I challenge anyone to listen to 6-0-6 on a Saturday night and not get seriously frustrated at listening to this talentless loser arguing with the callers. He chooses to belittle the point made by every caller because "I play football every week." You're a cretin Savage. A less than average player who somehow struck it rich. The constant name-dropping of Ryan Giggs, David Beckham etc (remember he was the one who Ferguson kicked out in that golden generation that dominated English football) is embarrassing. Savage uses a slot on national radio to endorse cynical foul-play and bad tackles as part and parcel of the game. Last night he told of how, if Fabregas went past him, he would just have to trip him of kick him and stop Arsenal - "that's what you have to do" was his exact quote. Wanker. Remember him trying to, unsuccessfully, kick Arsenal out of the FA Cup semi-final in 2005, and being allowed to get away with it? Having said that, I remember two incidents of him trying to kick Arsenal players and failing miserably as he watched the ball sail in to the net - Robin Van Persie at Highbury in late 2005, and Fabregas (in the build-up to a Flamini goal) in December 2006. I would love for someone to get on air and then just tell Savage what a prick he really is. That would make my day.
Arsenal's next game is in the European Cup against SC Braga. The build up begins tomorrow.