The wife says I’m not always impartial on these matters, but sometimes I really do believe the collective world of football (note, the game played by kicking the ball with the feet, not throwing it with the hands while dressed in layers of body armour) have it in for Arsenal. Take Saturday’s game against the South East’s favourite team, Manchester United – ManUre committed 21 fouls but had just 3 players booked. Arsenal committed 15 fouls but had 6 players booked. ManUre were awarded a penalty, while Arsenal’s penalty claim (just as clear-cut) was waved away. And the perpetrator of the foul got away with that one and two other bookable offences, so should have been off the field.
Yes, Arsenal did concede a penalty and an own goal, and therefore lost fair and square, but many were in agreement that Arsenal were the better side. An injury-time goal was disallowed for offside, and yes it was the correct decision… but don’t you wonder what would have happened if the situation was reversed, if ManUre were 2-1 down and scored a dodgy last-minute goal at home?
Now consider the fate of Eduardo. In February 2008 he suffered a broken leg during a match against Birmingham, an injury so horrific that a surgeon’s first reaction was that amputation was a possibility. Of course that didn’t happen and he was playing again within 14 months. Last week Eduardo ‘dived’ during a game against Celtic, winning a penalty in the process. Whether he did dive intentionally to win a penalty, or whether he was making an evasive move to get his legs well out of the goalie’s way, only he will know. The question is, why would UEFA choose this incident to start a witch-hunt against the art of diving? I’ve seen far more blatant examples of diving and play-acting that have received nothing more than a booking. If UEFA have condemned Eduardo to a 2-match ban, are they going to go back over all of the other alleged diving incidents over the past few years? If so, a certain Mr C Ronaldo had better get his defence case ready… perhaps the ManUre fans, when they shouted “cheat” at Eduardo, had forgotten that that the greasy winger often went down like a sniper victim if someone coughed within 3 yards of him.