Davo - the first of many Arsenal victims
Back in 1988 Paul Davis received a nine match ban for breaking Glenn Cockerill’s jaw with a punch. To this day it is a mystery as to the real reason why the normally placid Davo should choose to take out the Southampton player like he did. All of this occurred while David Rocastle was lying injured and none of the officials saw the incident. Unluckily for Davis the incident was captured by an ITV camera (probably the only camera in the ground in those days). That evening Davis’ punch was featured on the ITN news. The media storm that ensued saw the FA take action on the strength of the video. Such action was unheard of. Since that time numerous players have been sanctioned on the strength of video replays. Or have they? Certainly a number of Arsenal players have suffered, with Tony Adams done for giving the QPR fans a v-sign after a day of abuse, Ian Wright being “caught” flicking the v-sign at Oldham Athletic in the face of what he believed was racial abuse, Patrick Vieira getting extra matches for spitting at Neil Ruddock and Jack Wilshere just a month ago for giving the finger at Man City. These are just the ones that immediately come to mind where Arsenal players have been suspended on the strength of video evidence.
Obviously I haven’t studied (or even researched) other instances where players from different clubs were suspended by the FA having been caught misbehaving in some way by TV cameras. But I can honestly say that not a lot comes to mind in any case. Off the top of my head I can think of John Fashanu’s elbow on Gary Mabbutt, Ben Thathcher’s forearm smash when playing for Man City and Luis Suarez biting Ivanovic last season. Each of those incidents was followed by a major media campaign highlighting what happened and calling for action.
I can recall numerous occasions where the FA have shied away from taking action on the grounds that the match officials claimed to have seen an incident which, quite frankly, has always been a weak argument. I know I’m biased, but it seems that Arsenal have had a bit of a raw deal when it comes to TV replays and players being punished. This is largely due to the fact that the media so obviously hate us. So where am I going with this?
In the last two games, against Spurs and Aston Villa, there have been incidents that surely were worthy of further investigation by the powers that be. The difference between these two incidents, and the ones I listed above concerning our players, is that there has not been a large media campaign to highlight what has gone on. I suspect that some of you reading this are even wondering what I’m referring to.
The first incident came late on in the FA Cup win over Tottenham. Nacho Monreal had just won a challenge down in the corner against Bentaleb and was still on the ground. Bentaleb stepped over Nacho and aimed a stamp towards the hand of our left-back. He missed Monreal (whether deliberately or not) and, because of that, he has been allowed to get away with it. I seem to remember Patrick Vieira being sent-off for something similar many years ago. The fact is that Bentaleb could very easily have done damage to Monreal. Let’s imagine, for a moment, what the media reaction might have been had it been Mathieu Flamini doing the same thing to Kyle Walker. Of course, Walker would have actually have had to be in position to make the tackle in the first place, but I’m sure you take my point.
The second incident, from the Villa game, was far worse. Tomas Rosicky has had to have surgery to repair two fractures in his nose after the blatant elbow by Gabriel Agbonlahor. I really don’t know what the idiot referee was up to (he had booked a Villa player in the first couple of minutes for a similar challenge on Wilshere – the card should have been red). He even then allowed play to go on despite taking a close look at Rosicky’s heavily bloodied face. The FA have ignored the elbow by Agbonlahor. The main reason for this, I am sure, is that Sky and the newspapers have also chosen to ignore it. This simply can’t be right. Why is it that the FA only ever reacts to a media storm? Why can’t they run discipline on the pitch in a consistent manner? It really isn’t on.
I don’t know if I’ll be in a position to preview the Fulham game at all. If not then I will be definitely writing a piece some time after the game, either Saturday evening when I get home from the match or on Sunday morning.