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  1. Update to the Table of Doom Table of Doom Fixtures Current Max Arsenal Man City (a) Villa (h) Spurs (a) 64 94 Liverpool Spurs (h) Villa (a) 64 94 Man City Arsenal (h) Villa (h) Spurs (a) 63 93 Villa Man City (a) Arsenal (a) Liverpool (a) 55 85 Spurs Man City(a) Arsenal (h) Liverpool (a) 53 86 The final ten games approaches This week big changes to the table of doom. Villa have now dropped out as they cannot make the magic 86 posited at the first Table of Doom. I left them in this week for demonstration purposes. Spurs, with one extra game, stay just about alive. If anything changes such as the top teams dropping a lot of points and I need to reinstate any lower teams I will do so. The big change for us Gooners is that a perfect record almost certainly guarantees the league unless goal difference changes with Liverpool. The truth is, though, that a perfect record for any of the top three will win them the title, for sure. Bye bye Villa? We are now at the most critical period for Mikel Arteta, the final ten games. It is here he has shown weakness every year since he started. I wrote about it here and his best ever has been 20 points in 2021. Last years total of 15 points would surely not be enough, although 20 points could be at 84 points, but I doubt it. What is certain is that he needs his best ever final ten games to grab the title. I would love Wenger’s total in 2002 of 30 points. Then we can celebrate like crazy. A yoyo end to the season? All teams have tough games, and I feel they will drop points, but the one with the strongest determination will win. The biggest battlers at the moment look like Liverpool, at times looking second best in matches but finding a way to win. Arsenal need to find that grim determination, to battle out when playing badly, to scrape home even if not deservedly. Of course we may garner enough points by playing beautiful football as we have done in many matches recently, but the world rarely seems to work that way. This would do nicely Sky are hoping for a three way last day finale. Us against Everton at home, City with West Ham at home, and Liverpool at home to Wolves. All look winnable although Everton may possibly be in a relegation scrap and they have a tendency to survive such deprivations. We may also get Chelsea thrown in late in the mix for the cancelled match and that may have a bearing. I hope we are there at the end I have a strong feeling that no one will win too early this season although it could be over before the final series of games. It would be nice to parade the trophy at the Emirates against Everton. If they all get drunk on Saliba’s tequila then they might even give Everton the three points if they need them. I do wish that Arteta would talk to Arsene Wenger about achieving strong finishes as he often did. Listen to the Irishman, Mikel! Let’s talk about cheating… again I want to return to a topic I broached last week about Liverpool vs Forest. Let’s say Kelleher took the ball from Paul Tierney and immediately passed it to Forest. Nobody would have batted an eyelid because it is what you are expected to do. Teams do it all the time. Probably, earlier in the match he would have. They wanted to win so the rules didn’t matter. Is that acceptable? They knew they were cheating and they knew afterwards they had cheated. They have not held up their hands and acknowledged it. They are wrong. If they win the league by 2 points they might say it was worth it. I would never, even if it was Arsenal. Yes it could have been a penalty Klopp, at the weekend berated the ref and VAR for not giving a penalty against Doku for clearing the ball in the penalty area but catching McAllister on the follow through. Now that could easily have been given but as the referee didn’t give it it is hard to say it is a clear and obvious error. These type of things happen in every match but they are not cheating, just fouls that can be difficult to spot. Klopp -cheating is only done against us not by us Diving is cheating, but again there is a difficulty in saying whether it was actually a dive or not, as camera angles may miss slight contacts which pull players down. Short of players admitting it it can be hard to truly say. I am sure players have got penalties aplenty by diving and I am also sure that plenty of players have got cards when they didn’t dive. I am not sure if this area can ever be fully resolved as it is truly difficult to say what happened. The point being that it is the player that cheats, not the whole team as was the case when Liverpool refused to hand over the ball. Handling the ball should be sorted out Let’s talk about handling the ball, this area has become one where accidentally handling the ball can yield a penalty because the rules changed with VAR. Now they can see in most cases if a player handled the ball so the only thing to decide is if there was anything they could do about it. But let’s say the culture was sporting and a player was obliged to call foul on themselves as in golf or snooker, for example, then the process becomes much simpler. The player calls foul and the VAR review. And if the player refuses to call foul no matter where on the pitch it happens, and irrespective of what the decision is from the VAR review, then the team loses a point after the match. His teammates would be livid and such cheating would disappear. Does his foot actually catch him? Backing into players then falling down yourself to get a foul is also cheating but again it is hard to say as a viewer what actually happened. The player has cheated but not the team. I regularly return to the topic of cheating but I am a lone voice. I almost never get a comment in my blog to say that someone agrees with me. But I will never stop talking about it because we are celebrating cheating. Don't celebrate cheating I say again, cheating to win is not winning. There is nothing to celebrate. But there is another point regarding Klopp and that is that you lose any moral right to complain about any decision when you have blatantly cheated yourselves. And if the same thing happened to Klopp he would be screaming about cheating. He has lost the right to complain. The rule is simple in this case, the ball goes back to whoever had it. There is no blind spot, there is no interpretation, there are no cases, such as in diving, where we really don’t know. And it cannot matter that there is almost no time left in a match, so it is ok to break the rules. This is a good rule, one that should be cherished. Liverpool should, even at this late stage, say so. Definite cheating by Toney and I don't want him And yes, I feel all teams cheat. Is there any team that even wins one match cleanly at the moment? The dark arts are even applauded. Why so? There are few areas of life where we applaud cheating but football is one of them. Sport should be about sporting ideals otherwise why call it sport?
  2. The best always win? Ah, cheating. Winning is all that matters. The ideal of sport that is whoever is better at the skill would win does not apply to football. And yet it is hard to say which sports that applies to, nowadays. Golf, darts and snooker spring to mind. What else? Let’s take athletics. At least you have to be over the line by yourself to win. It is clear who has won. But drugs are a serious problem in so many sports where at least the winner is clear. Cristiano Ronaldo - always cheating Soccer is no longer a sport where the winner is clear nor probably has it ever been. There have been many apologies since VAR has appeared where teams have lost or drawn matches they should have won. And prior to VAR a referee could cost you the game. But you never get it back. Last season Arsenal had a few VAR decisions go against them, Man Utd, Brighton and Brentford spring to mind. We were a short few points off Man City and getting the correct decisions could have won us the league. What is cheating? That is the starting point of this discussion. Football is not about sportspeople playing better than the other team but rather those who use every trick in the book and are writing new ones up to gain an advantage that wins the match. What are those advantages? I probably can’t list them all, but let’s give it a go, in the order they come into my head: Calling for everything Surrounding the ref Verbals – abusing players to try and put them off their game Diving and tricking refs by screaming Going down with little contact A new one, since the introduction of almost universal handball, is hammering the ball into a crowded box in the hope that it hits an arm when there is no sight of goal. Is the use of excess money cheating? Most of these things did not happen in English football when I started watching. Dirty Leeds in the Sixties, with a truly top squad of players, started a lot of gamesmanship and fouls. The most notorious being Jack Charlton standing on top of the keeper at corners. But all the other things mentioned above were starting to appear. Of course, football was never clean Now, it has to be said that football was never really clean. There have been many instances of the dark arts since soccer appeared in its present form around 150 years ago. The problem is, if it is not clean, is it truly a sport? I say no. The definition of a sport has to be that the best at the discipline wins. And only golf, darts and snooker comes to mind where that applies. This is the sign that football is clean In this modern era, you would have to be a genius to figure out the blurry lines between what is acceptable and what is not. Money? The big teams spend egregious amounts to gain advantage so that they have at least two top players for every position. They have also campaigned strongly to allow more and more subs giving them another big advantage over poorer clubs. In the old days you had one sub which was normally only used late in the game, if at all. And yet I rarely remember teams being down to ten because of injury. But subs were originally supposed to be only for injury, not for tactics. I say 5 subs are cheating as the advantage is to the big clubs. Will anything be done? Yes, when you see a member of the porcine species use its wings to fly past your window. Just give me one million of that and I will delete this piece, Sheik Money allows you to buy players that other teams want just to stop them having them. Chelsea and Man City are possibly the worst at this but all big teams are guilty. Is it cheating? I can’t see any reason to say it is not. Analysing ways to cheat What about analysts? Is that cheating? There are teams of guys with laptops spread around the grounds relaying information to the bench and the manager is stood on the pitch bellowing instructions. Why are they allowed do that? We would laugh if at an athletics event if there was 20 managers screaming at the runners. In the past, the manager sat on the bench and I see no reason for anyone on the bench to be allowed give instructions. It should be the best sportsmen win. They should be talented enough to use their own ability, brain and reason to be able to play. A guy is free on the edge of the box at the corner? Get out and cover him, how do you need to be told to do that? Educating young people to cheat is good, is it? Will we see the days of hidden earpieces on the captains or all players? Is it already happening? I suspect the technology is already there so it could well be. Is it cheating? I say yes. I covered drugs already here and you will see that my belief is that drugs are endemic in football. We do, most of us, see drugs as clearly cheating but the world of pharmacy is very clever. They are like Hydra, you cut off one head and 2 more grow in its place. A putrid sport ready to collapse? The problem is, that if one big team cheats, then they all will, to try to stop them having an advantage. We have gone so far down this rabbithole that we can’t see any possibility of anything getting better, we keep accepting the new ways to cheat and the new charlatans, the Chelseas, the Man Citys, the PSG’s, etc., will continue to use their money to whitewash the cheating and the old big clubs will scramble to catch up on their cheating and surpass them if they can. And so here we are. A rotten sport without much semblance of fairness. Where anything at all, no matter how outrageous, is acceptable. Cristiano Ronaldo is perhaps the biggest single example, always diving, harassing the ref, waving for cards and so on, yet he was still one of the most popular players of his time and not castigated and banned for being a lowly cheat. In golf, also a huge money sport, he would have been cast into the darkness long ago. Tiger Woods would have been with a tiny amount of cheating. For all golfers, being a true sport is what matters, especially Tiger Woods You must call foul on yourself and a sport has to be about the better person or team winning. Soccer has left that ideal far behind. Is it the right road that it has taken or will there be a sudden, dramatic, realization that cheating and sport are incompatible? The most dramatic event of my lifetime, the collapse of the Soviet Union, was inconceivable to me until it happened. But people then realized how rotten it was and didn’t want to go back. Could it happen in football? I will say a definite maybe.
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