It’s a brand new year – 2018

2018 and we’re unbeaten! Happy New Year everybody. It was very close last night to starting off the new year with a home loss, but say what you will, there is definitely a ‘never say die’ attitude about this Arsenal team and Bellerin’s injury time equalizer has maintained an unbeaten run over this festive period. Admittedly, three draws and a lone win at Selhurst Park is not the greatest unbeaten run and in real terms is as good as two wins and two losses, but hey, we haven’t lost since that MFU debacle at the beginning of December. There have been some dubious decisions too in our last two games which could have meant ten points and a healthier looking three wins and a draw, but remember, we are The Arsenal and we always get the bad decisions.

That’s a bit tongue in cheek, but the fact that we had two rough decisions with regards to penalties in our last two matches just puts the spotlight on the referee and their influence over results. One would have thought that with the amount of money there is in the game and the ever increasing opportunities offered it by the advancement in available technology, that the authorities would have by now come up with a solution that would make the influence of a referee limited to just how hard he blew on the whistle at the beginning and end of each half. One can understand the concern of making things too mechanical to the detriment of a free flowing and ‘beautiful’ game but when one has to contend with dropping points, four in total in our case, based on the personal attributes of the referee allocated for the game, then decisions need to be made by the FA. Technology though is not always able to provide the solution although it can go a long way in supporting a decision that is made.

Goal-line technology was introduced in the 2014 World Cup. This was a long time in the coming however now it is here, we can all see the benefit and it’s hard to believe that anyone would want to get rid of it. Apart from the technology involved, this is quite a simple rule to address – is the whole of the ball over the line. It can also be used for corner/goal kick and throw-in decisions and maybe also whether an infringement took place within the penalty area or not. Technology can also be introduced for the simple offsides decision – based on the clear rule when a ball is kicked and the position of a player. However, unlike cricket and baseball, there are a couple of key areas that rely on a certain amount of subjectivity within the decision. The offsides decision is not always based on the clear rule previously specified as other factors come into play where players are in an offside position but not interfering with play. How is it determined that a player is not interfering with play? Likewise, with fouls or infringements, you get ‘stonewall’ decisions and you get Mike Dean and Anthony Taylor decisions. That is to say, subjective decisions to determine whether an infringement has been committed or not. Technology can only support such decisions and a lot of thinking needs to be done in how to best use this without affecting the free flowing game. So much has to be considered starting from whether the referee has or has not seen the infringement to how to ensure the correct decision is made. So, as much as we complain that we are continuously being hard done by, there is a lot of thinking to be done to determine how to go about rectifying this. Rugby seems to be going in the right direction and maybe Football and the FA can follow it’s lead?

Our next match brings us our defense of the FA Cup. We last lost an FA Cup match against Watford in the quarter finals two years ago and previous to that against Blackburn in the fifth round of the 2012-13 season. It is one of the success areas that Arsenal can truly be proud of. Basically, we have won 21 of the last 22 draws, bringing the cup to the Emirates three times in four years. Not too shabby. Interestingly enough, our last two losses have both been at home and so if the statistics hold true, we should have a good result this Sunday. Forest have recently sacked their manager and if there’s one thing we’ve learnt in all our years of watching football it’s that a team seems to raise it’s game once an old manager has gone. Whether they have an interim manager of a newly appointed manager, it’s unsure but this Championship side, that currently sit in 14th place will surely raise their game. Daryl Murphy is their main striker who has made 27 appearances for the Republic of Ireland and joined Forest this season. Kieran Dowell is their other danger man who also joined Forest this season on loan from Everton. He has scored eight times this season, one more than Murphy.

If you think we’ve seen the end of Chelsea this season, then think again! We have two Carabao semi final games this month starting with an away game on Wednesday 10th followed a fortnight later with the return home tie on the 24th. The Carabao Cup has not been televised this season and I don’t believe this will change albeit with such a high profile game.

The Europa League recommences on 15th February. We have been drawn against Swedish giant killers Ostersunds FK who are managed by Englishman Graham Potter. I’m not too sure how their qualification works as their season ended on 5th November, where they ended fifth in the league, yet they played their first Europa League match on 14th September. All very Nordic to me!!

Our next Premier League match is away against Bournemouth on Sunday 14th January and is the early kick off at 3:30pm

Finally our two fantasy leagues and a lot has taken place since I last gave any feedback. It’s familiar faces in the Superbru league and a bit of a mix up in the FPL. With just the Spurs v West Ham game to take place tonight the Superbru top three are as follows:

tphato                                  182.50
MAC10                                181.66
Joffie B                                180.00

In the FPL, the top three are as follows:

Cannon Hill FC (Earle Brown)                                     1287
JELLYS NPO (Eugene Cardoso)                                    1230
LALLANAS IN PYJAMAS (Nicholas Da Silva)            1221

So, welcome back everyone, if indeed you are back. As for our meetings at the Brazenhead, the club will resume it’s presence for the Bournemouth game on Sunday 14th. The Brazenhead will continue this weekend as it has over the festive period with the showing of the FA Cup game on Sunday at 6pm.

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