So Arsene Wenger got sent off at the weekend (or asked to leave the touchline, why do referee’s no longer show manager’s the red card?) and I for one was delighted. It showed there is still life in the old dog yet.
From the 1st minute, Sean Dyche and his assistant were harassing the 4th official Anthony Taylor. I do not think there was a moment in the match where one of them was in Taylor’s ear. Screaming at him, trying to influence him. A lot of the time the Burnley coaching staff were double teaming him.
Wenger, full of class, barely moved whilst this was going on. Some will say it showed a lack of passion, but it is more that Wenger has often been able to rise above this sort of behaviour. The behaviour Jose Mourinho has shown over the years, the behaviour Dyche showed at the weekend. You could easily argue that Wenger, at times, makes it easy for referees to side against Arsenal as he gives them such an easy time.
Everyone has their snapping point, however, and Wenger snapped in those closing minutes.
He had sat there watching Dyche and his assistant moaning at every single decision that went against Burnley. Meanwhile, referee Jon Moss was giving the Northerners everything, ignoring their thuggish behaviour whilst punishing Arsenal at every opportunity.
In the opening 2 minutes, Olivier Giroud had been thrown to the ground twice by Burnley defenders. It seems there is an unwritten rule in English football that defenders are allowed to pull and push Giroud around how they deem fit without punishment, but as soon as he lays a finger on them, it is a foul.
So Moss was ignoring the thuggish behaviour on Giroud, and then in the 2nd minute blew up for the 1st free kick. A challenge by Nacho Monreal which saw the Spaniard win the ball was incorrectly called as a foul.
As soon as the tackle went in, Dyche and his assistant were in Taylor’s ear, shouting, screaming, clearly demanding a booking. It was not even a foul, let alone a booking.
The press used to love saying Arsenal do not like it up them – labelling the side as soft. I believe this actually led referees incorrectly officiating games against Arsenal. It caused them to not give blatant fouls against Arsenal players because, in their mind, Arsenal were just being soft. This was highlighted most in a game I remember against Stoke City a good 7 or 8 years ago.
Arsenal lost 2-1 and the same rhetoric went up, Arsenal are easily bullied. But the press ignored the fact that Stoke went above a beyond simply playing hard.
Arsenal ended the game with 10 men as first Bacary Sagna and then Emmanuel Adebayor were taken out in crude fashion. The Adebayor one particularly sticks in the mind. The ball was out of play, Adebayor was off the pitch, and a Stoke thug came in taking him out. The ref did not reach for a card.
The game ended up with Theo Walcott being stretchered off the field with a shoulder injury. Like Adebayor, he was caught late and hard. It was a foul. Nothing given. But of course, it was not Stoke’s fouls that was highlighted, but Arsenal being weak. The referee should have stopped the behaviour in the first minute, but allowed it to continue. The ref was as much to blame for injuries as the Stoke players.
We had not seen this kind of behaviour against Arsenal for a while, but Burnley clearly went into Sunday’s game with the mantra that Arsenal are soft as they tried to kick us off the park. Luckily no Arsenal player was badly injured, despite a lack of protection and fairness from the referee.
Arsenal players were pushed and pulled, they were elbowed, they were stamped on, but Jon Moss turned a blind eye to it all. Stephen Defour stamped on Granit Xhaka twice. Alexis Sanchez pushed out of the way as he headed within the area. A blatant penalty . And still Dyche and his assistant were screaming at the Taylor. Trying to influence him and Moss. And it clearly worked.
Why at no point did Taylor tell Dyche to sit down and shut up, or threaten to send him off, is beyond me. He was probably intimidated by a thuggish Northerner. Scared to tell him to be quiet for the fear of a verbal volley and getting covered in spit and bile.
Then we had the penalty incident. The fact that Jon Moss waved this away showed just how biased he was throughout the match. It was a blatant foul on Mustafi. Of course, Dyche was straight up, in Taylor’s ear, probably demanding that Mustafi be booked for diving.
We then had Granit Xhaka’s red card. Was it a foul? Yes. Was it a red card? borderline.
I have seen players get away with a lot worse this season, and am sure the reaction of the Burnley bench, lead by Dyche, and the Burnley players surrounding the referee, influenced the decision.
Not too long later, Mesut Ozil was bought down by a crude challenge.
Dean Marney went in on Ozil, from behind, studs up, thigh high, and ended up scissoring him. It was a disgusting challenge, much more dangerous and filled with intent than Xhaka’s. The ref reached to his pocket and pulled out a card. It was yellow rather than red.
Maybe had the Arsenal fans made it a hostile atmosphere for the ref, maybe had Wenger whinged, bitched a moaned to Anthony Taylor for the duration of the game, Marney would have got the marching orders he deserved, but Wenger has more class than that.
Marney actually injured himself in the challenge. Hopefully he will be out for a long time. The game does not need thugs like him in it.
Arsenal tried to take time out of the game, slowing it down at every opportunity. When sides come to Arsenal and do this, referees ignore it. They act like it is not happening. As soon as Arsenal started to do it, Jon Moss was on the players back. Telling them to hurry up. Pointing to his watch. Dyche still in Taylor’s ear, ensuring more and more time was to be added on. It eventually ended up as 7 minutes.
Wenger eventually blew his top in the 93rd minute when Francis Coquelin gave away the penalty which led to Andre Gray’s equaliser. Gray made a meal of it. It was less of a penalty than the challenge on Mustafi. After 93 minutes of being on the end of poor referee decisions, Wenger lost it.
He questioned Jon Moss for the 1st time in the game to Anthony Taylor and was promptly told to leave the dug out area. He went and stood in the tunnel area before being chased by Taylor like a school boy playing kiss chase. He then lashed out at Taylor, demanding to know why he was being asked to leave the stadium he built.
Whilst all this was going on, Sean Dyche was sitting there smugly, laughing to himself. He had got away with it all game. Abusing the officials, complaining at every decision, and here were Burnley, about to take a point away at the Emirates, it would be the greatest day in Burnley’s history. Dyche had got Wenger sent off, he had gotten Xhaka sent off. He was the master of Arsenal’s downfall.
Jon Moss still had one more error to make. In the closing minutes Laurent Koscielny was kicked in the head by another Burnley thug. Moss did not even think it was a foul, where as it should have been a red card. Studs up to the face? Not a foul in Moss’s eyes.
Luckily the linesman made the right call, Arsenal got the penalty, and Alexis Sanchez slotted it away cooly. 2-1 to The Arsenal. Cheaters never prosper.
At the final whistle, Burnley players surrounded the referee, clearly questioning why he had given the penalty. They were probably confused that after 97 minutes of favourable decisions, Moss had given one the other way. Probably asking why, after Burnley’s equaliser, Moss did not reduce the time added on from 7 minutes to 4. Moss looked distraught at Arsenal’s winner.
Wenger kept his dignity throughout and paid the price. Maybe next time we play a side of Northern thugs, he should rant and rave on the sideline from the first minute. Then we might actually get a favourable decision.
Burnley, Dyche, Moss and Taylor, we overcame you all to get the deserved 3 points.