Department of “What Were You Thinking?”

Update: Cesc Fabregas, in a great display of leadership, stands up for Fabianski. It’s Cesc. Just “Cesc.” With all the talk of Rooney being a a number 1 type player, is there any doubt that Cesc is top five…he’s clearly top 10. Digressing…

Luis Fabianski’s brain cramp today at Dragon Stadium, helping FC Porto to a 2-1 win. The sad thing is statistically Fabianski has been better than Almunia over the past year.

Fabianski putting his mitts on the back pass created the free kick, but as TSG commenter Matt Mathai and I discussed in the comments section, the defenders need to step in and force the ref to step-off the requisite yards and thus slow the play down.

More from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on what the ref should have done.

All this being said, not the best game for the, gulp TSG heritage on the line here, pride of Poland goalkeep.

31 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/17 at 3:28 PM

    How is that the GK’s brain cramp? He couldn’t do anything about it.

    What about his moron defenders not standing between the spot of the foul and the goal? How about them not covering the shooter?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/17 at 3:30 PM

      I think handling the ball on a back pass is pretty much worthy of brain cramp status…that’s what created the free kick situation.

      Agree though…blame should be shouldered as…much like I complained about Neville a few weeks back, the defenders need to saunter up to the ball and ask the ref for the step-off.


  2. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/17 at 3:45 PM

    Yeah, definitely agree on handling the backpass.

    Still, I can see that happening in a game where you’re under pressure. I think the defense really let him down after that, though.

    Almunia is the most unimpressive big-team keeper I’ve seen in a long time.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/17 at 3:49 PM

      Agree on the d letting him down.

      I would say if there is any doubt on a defender touch then just boot the marble away.


  3. wow just wow, that whole sequence was an arsenal brain crap starting with the keeper and continuing on to the defense


  4. Posted by sidereal on 2010/02/17 at 3:56 PM

    Cramp #2 was handing the ball back to the ref even though his defenders weren’t coming in fast enough. Stall yourself, or just boot the ball away and take the caution.

    Amazingly, even if you believe Wenger, this was still only the second worst officiated Champions League match today. Go look at what went down in the Fiorentina match. Ridiculous.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/17 at 4:05 PM

      For somebody who doesn’t usually see incidents, AW certainly had 20/20 today!

      At first, I didn’t think that Campbell touched the ball, so how the ref saw is beyond me. After that, it was a comedy of errors, defensively. Fabianski should have held onto the ball. A defender should have stood over the ball to prevent the quick free kick, enabling Arsenal to reset, and make Porto play to the whistle…


  5. Posted by Chris R on 2010/02/17 at 4:26 PM

    I wondered what Porto goal you would show here – Fabianski palming the ball into his own goal for the opener or the picking up the back pass, ‘oh crap I can’t do that can I’ goal. Both were comical.

    For me, the real brain cramp comes from Mr. Wenger himself. Fabianski was sh*t in the FA Cup Semi-final loss to Chelsea last year, he let in a shocking 5th minute goal vs. Stoke in the FA Cup a couple weeks ago and now this.

    How do you have a squad that is seemingly competing for trophies with two of the more mental keepers around (Almunia, Fabianski)? Arsene should have signed a keeper in the summer and if not then, he surely should have signed one in January.


  6. Posted by kaya on 2010/02/17 at 5:27 PM

    Well, I certainly hope Fabianski was compensated for his efforts… I certainly can’t see how he’s going to be making money from the team he’s playing *for* given that display!


  7. Posted by Berg on 2010/02/17 at 5:28 PM

    What’s up with the weird 80’s space sound effect? I half expected a David Bowie song to start.


  8. Posted by Swa on 2010/02/17 at 7:24 PM

    Around halftime when I first heard about the initial goal, this article was at the top of the espn soccernet headlines…


  9. Karma’s a bitch. Thierry Henry scored a couple on these quickly taken restarts, including one into an undefended net against Chelsea a few years back. In his typically blinkered fashion, Arsene saw not a jot wrong with that one, of course, but this is a complete travesty of a disgrace.


  10. Posted by Peter on 2010/02/18 at 9:15 AM

    What I don’t get is, why doesn’t the fact that Fabianski stopped the ball with his foot before he picked it up make everything all right? I don’t know how the rule is interpreted usually, but I did look up the laws of the game, and they don’t mention anything about having to kick it away or a time limit between touching it with your foot and when you can pick it up.

    Fabianski clearly stops the ball with his foot before picking it up. Shouldn’t that be sufficient? Obviously not, I guess. But it seems to me that it should. But then I’ve never played goalkeeper or reffed people born before 2004.

    In any event, Arsenal’s keeper situation is miserable.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/18 at 11:21 AM

      The issue is that Fabianski handled the ball after Campbell used his foot to intentionally pass him the ball. The fact that Fabianski stopped the ball with his foot is irrelevant (as all the keeper would have to do is flip a back pass up to their hands with their feet, circumventing the original purpose of introducing the back pass rule – to avoid time wasting). Hope that helps.

      Did anybody feel that the referee impeded Campbell from standing over the ball?

      Wenger needs to actually spend some money on a top keeper. He has only bought one decent keeper in his time at Arsenal and there have been too many that haven’t been good enough for a side that wants to challenge for the title. IMO, Shay Given and Mark Schartzer are solid keepers that were at smaller clubs than Arsenal, and would have been realistic acquisitions. I’d be looking at Joe Hart, Scott Loach (Watford), Joe Lewis (Peterborough) for the future – but AW will probably go the foreign route and get someone in whose no better than the English lads…

      Tuesday: it is Karma and I have little sympathy, but at least Henry used to ask the ref if he could take a quick free kick (with the understanding that if it didn’t work out then the ref wouldn’t call it back to be re-taken).


      • You’re right of course that Henry used to ask the ref but I always thought that was more a ploy to suggest he wasn’t planning to take it quickly since he was engaged in conversation with the referee. With this slight of hand, the wall began to retreat instead of standing over the ball giving him the space he needed to take the kick. At least that’s how it went down against Chelsea.

        In Porto’s case, they had the space so they had a crack and scored. Had Falcao dragged the shot wide, I doubt the ref would have pulled it back and given them a second crack at it.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/18 at 12:17 PM

          I think a lot of the ‘outrage’ is the difference in cultures. We English talk about our fair play vs European / Latin dirty tricks etc, but we’re the one’s who are trophyless since 1966…


        • The English have dirty tricks, they just aren’t as good at the art – that’s what really gets the goat… Stevie Gerrard may be able to con most Premier League refs but the continental refs just laugh it off, being accustomed to better scores for artistic impression.


  11. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/18 at 12:40 PM

    Here Here! On Steven Gerrard’s utterly pathetic attempts at dives as they become more and more frequent unfortunately…


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/18 at 1:10 PM

      Tuesday: I admit you’re right, Gerrard goes down far too easily for a big guy. But you have to admit, the Latin-based countries have been doing dirty sorts of things for decades, especially provocation.

      Matthew: You only say that because you’re from the other side of Stanley Park!


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/18 at 1:15 PM

        Actually, I’m saying that because I think Gerrard for how wonderfully complete his skill set is, is an underachiever who somehow manages to not be additive to his team, but zero sum.

        What I mean by that is, if you add Gerrard back into the side, other players do less and the end result–in my opinion–is the same.

        Further, Gerrard is the inverse this year…he doesn’t rumble through players, almost like he’s “over it” and instead just relies on getting the call.

        Torres, in my opinion, does so much more for that team.

        Ok rant done.

        …and yes Central American leagues are perhaps worse here…


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/18 at 1:48 PM

          I would say that I agree with you, but I think the reason manifests in Houllier’s and now Benitez’s shite transfers. Look at how much they have spent and the quality of players that they have in the squad…


      • I totally agree George. In gamesmanship terms, the Latin cultures innovate while the Anglo-Saxon cultures imitate… well, minus the bloody Germans and their penalty kick voodoo. So much agreement here… Kumbaya!

        It must be asked: How good is Gerrard really now that he’s no longer being flattered by Xabi Alonso? I think you’re absolutely right Matthew… Stevie G has world-class tools but seems unable to put them to use in a tactically coherent way. He’s actually quite an inconsistent player who requires that a team be constructed around his tactical limitations, making for an inconsistent team overall. Does that sounds about right?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/18 at 1:42 PM

          Of course, in agreement with you, Tuesday.

          Ask yourself these questions in my book:

          Swap Gerrard with Cesc and which team is better for it? Liverpool. Swap Gerrard with Lampard and which team is better for it? Liverpool.

          In my opinion…and I’ll pick on my own Lampard comment because he will be playing half-Alonso, half-Gerrard and allow for Kuyt, Benayoun (underrated in my book) and others to flourish ahead of him.


      • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/18 at 2:02 PM

        Now, now, George, English players have been quite capable of dirty tricks for quite some time. They’re not the knights in shining armor the supporters claim they are.


  12. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/18 at 1:58 PM

    Not so sure about the Gerrard vs Lampard. I personally think that Gerrard is the better box-to-box midfielder, but Lampard is in a better team. Look at Chelsea with Anelka and Drogba making those criss cross runs taking defenders with them creating space for Lampard to exploit. But I guess football is more about the collective than the individual.


    • If you’re going to compare Gerrard to a Chelsea player, I think Malouda would actually be a better fit. Lampard is really a different kind of player, and doesn’t thrive further up the pitch like Gerrard does. He generally stays closer to home to provide an option and keep things flowing until the ball gets into an advanced position and “arriving late in the box” (TM). While showing to the ball early, Gerrard makes advanced runs much sooner in attacking movements. Lampard is much more likely to turn when he receives the ball, whereas Gerrard is more likely to play it back and run. That’s why Alonso was so bloody important for Gerrard and Liverpool. These at least are my non-scientific impressions.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/18 at 4:37 PM

        Tuesday, you have a valid point. I was talking about their preferred positions rather than their actual positions that they play for their club presently.


  13. […] ChrisR on Arsenal: “How do you have a squad that is seemingly competing for trophies with two of the more […]


  14. Posted by Joe on 2010/02/19 at 9:46 AM

    Goal #1 was an OWN GOAL in my book. BRAIN CRAMP

    Goal #2 was stupid play by the goalie. Dont you learn that rule in little kids soccer at age 9? How can you pick up a back pass and then give the ball up to the ref. BRAIN CRAMP #2. also the defenders fault for not standing in front of the ball.

    As an Arsenal fan I am embarrassed when they show the lineup and see the KEEPERS. awful awful.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/19 at 9:56 AM

      How can a professional goalkeeper get his positioning and angles so wrong? It would be horrible horrible goalkeeping mistake for Crystal Palace USA, let alone Arsenal in the UCL…

      I can see AW going for Hugo Lloris but might be priced out if he has a good WC.


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