Arsenal were completely right not to give the ball back to Watford on Sunday.
“Oh but you’re an Arsenal fan so yo uare always going to say that”. And you are right. But then it is also not just me saying it.
Ashley Williams on MOTD2 gave a brilliant analysis of the situation.
The Watford player lost the ball in the middle of the park, went down and stayed down. It is a tactic players often use in the hope that the referee will stop play, and therefore stop the attack.
The ref, rightly, did not stop the play and Arsenal played on. We had no duty to kick the ball out as the Watford player was clearly not injured.
Watford won the ball back and Danny Rose, under pressure near his own corner flag, rolled the ball out of play.
This was not an action to allow his team mate to get treatment. It was an action to try and relieve pressure.
Rose’s hope would have been that by putting the ball back, the ball would be returned to the Watford keeper and pressure would be relieved.
But as Rose put the ball out of play, the “injured” Watford player was already up on his knees and getting up.
Rose realised he made a mistake and started shouting at his team mate to “stay down” so that the physio would come on and give him treatment. Had he done so Arsenal would have given the ball back to Watford.
But instead the “injured” Watford player stood up and started jogging.
At this point it was clear and obvious to everyone that Rose had not put the ball out to allow his team mate to receive tratement but to try and halt an Arsenal attack.
Arsenal new what was happening, did not give the ball back, and a few phases later scored the only goal of the match.
The question for Danny Rose is simple.
If he had the ball near Arsenal’s corner flag and a team mate was down near the halfway line, would he put the ball out of play or continue with the attack?
I think we all know that he would ignore his stricken team mate and would do his best to put the ball into the box.
Players only seem desperate to put the ball out of an injured team mate when they are defending, not attacking.
What Arsenal probably should have done is put the ball straight back out of play, near the corner flag, for a Watford throw in then boxed them in. That would have been the fairest scenario.
But as soon as that Watford player is up and clearly not in need of treatment, then it is “game on” as Ashley Williams stated.
Mikel Arteta was spot on that in years gone past Arsenal were a little naive.
Under Arsene Wenger, I used to get frustrated about how quick we would put the ball out of play, even in attacking positions, as soon as an opponent was slow getting up.
Countless times I have screamed “play on” at Arsenal players. Because it always ended the same way – the opponent getting some fake treatment and the ball back with our goal keeper.
I am all for players putting the ball out when a player is actually injured and in need of treatment. But we know 95% of the time a player stays down in the hope of getting play stopped.
Hopefully Arsenal have set a standard that the rest of the league will follow.
Stop giving the ball back when an opponent puts it out of play as a defensive tactic.
Enjoy your Monday.