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Christmas crackers This year I have decided to give awards up to now in the season – the totally serious Gus Worth awards which are better than Ballon D’or, MOTM, or the Oscars. The Award ceremony will be held in Mar De Lago, Trump’s place in Florida, on New Years Eve. You are all invited. Tell Donald I sent you. Come to Mar De Lago, ASCB, for New Years Eve Worst defender of the season award – Declan Rice for allowing Alexander Arnold to get a shot away. There was only 5 Liverpool attackers, he should have just tackled them, taken the ball off them and sent them home crying. Only five Scousers, Declan? No Problem Biggest arguer of the season award- Mikel Arteta for constantly arguing with officials and getting cards. He will probably get the most cards of the whole squad and have to send himself home crying for not obeying the manager. Best goalkeeper award– Aaron Ramsdale for 27 games he has been there and only let in 9 goals. Worst Gabby of the season award– Martinelli for having the worst defensive record of all first choicers. He should be told to stop scoring goals and creating chances and get back there and… oh sorry, we have Declan Rice, we don’t need anyone else, the rest should be up attacking. Most drunk player award– William Saliba for drinking tequila all through the matches. How is that allowed? Mikel needs to show him who’s boss. The Saliba brand is the best Most useless player regarded by the fans award - Eddie Nketiah despite being our joint top scorer with Saka having 5 goals from 9 appearances, 8 as a substitute. No wonder the poor guy goes home crying every night. Almost a BFG award – Kai Havertz but still a bit smaller than the real one. My suggestion, Kai, is to wear high heels on the pitch, then you really will be the new BFG! Kai - you would look so good in high heels! Kicked up the arse every match award – Bukayo Saka. It is probably why he gets picked every match as his arse is too sore to sit on the bench. Saka - gets kicked so often he thinks he is in a Tom and Jerry cartoon Most successful pass rate award – William Saliba at 77.3 passes per match and 92.7 success rate. Probably because he is so drunk he gets rid of the ball quickly. Only alliterative name award – Takehiro Tomiyasu so perhaps he should be known as TT, but then that also stands for teetotaller and it might be a bit difficult playing alongside Saliba the Tequila. Should be our striker award – Martin Odegaard, at 2.3 he has the most shots per game. Shoot, Marty, shoot! Should be known as LFP award– Fabio Vieira, our smallest player, should be Little F… Portuguese. Fabio - The LFP Ball loser of the season award – surprisingly to me, Gabriel Jesus at 2.1 dispossessions per game and 2.6 bad controls per game. Mikel, you need to hide Saliba’s Tequila from Jesus. He obviously can’t handle his control or his drink. Scoring goals in the smallest number of minutes award – Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah who have the most sub appearances and yet 3 and 5 goals. They must keep away from the Tequila. And finally: The Referee and VAR team of the season award is Arsenal. They see fouls, handballs, no penalties, offsides and cards that no one else can see. It is great to know that we keep them happy. Maybe we ask Saliba to stop giving them presents of Tequila before the matches? They get so drunk they think it’s great fun messing us about. Don’t miss Mar De Lago and the awards ceremony. You can pick up your flights and hotel tickets for free from Georgi Stoyanov, Stan Kroenke himself has sent them on. This guy has all your tickets. Have a wonderful New Year.
Var success is Var away Offside is one area it is pretty good I am going to start off by saying that I am, in general, in favour of Var. Why so? Because it does have the capability to get decisions right and that has to be a good thing. But it is not working as it should for many reasons. I am going to go into these reasons, and, as always, offer my solutions. I feel that a lot of people may agree with me, but maybe not. First off, I am going to start with offside. This is one area it can get right but there is one big downside, sometimes it takes ages to come to a conclusion. My argument is that a time deadline is put on this and if it is not clear after it, the decision goes to the attacker. Nobody wants the game to be held up by Var. It is the biggest drawback to it. So a time limit on all decisions is necessary. If you can’t decide on offside quickly, or indeed any decision, then the referee’s decision is final and we move on. The losers will always be unhappy Now, a big problem with Var is always going to be that the winning side’s fans in a Var argument will be happy and the losing side unhappy. But I can think off one way to ameliorate such arguments. I don’t believe anyone wants to see a lot of time wasted on whether a player is a hair offside, by looking at a thousand angles. They have a 3D system in effect to look into all decisions so ordinary fans never get to see how they come to decisions. They never show all the angles they are looking at. They should have a structure where fans can see the process behind how they made their decisions, perhaps available to fan clubs or the general public on a website. They make a request to see how they arrived at the decision and then watch everything that the Var officials have watched including their thought process. I have to assume that they feel there is good reason. At least then the fans can see why they made their decisions and accusations of bias or whatever can be laid to rest. There is a belief that the big sides get the decisions Another problem is, of course, that some fans see every decision against them by the ref or linesman as wrong. Such fans will never feel Var is good except when the decision goes to their team. I feel we have to live with that. Most fans, though, accept that the ref’s decisions are often right, even if against their team. I know when I see our players clattering into someone I am fearful they will be sent off or give away a penalty. In the grounds, however, fans scream at the ref that the player down is faking, and the chant goes up of “Same old blank, always cheating” I have heard this even when a player has been seriously injured. A good start is to ban players surrounding officials as they do in basketball. Logic dictates that such players or fans should never be capable of influencing decisions so Var, if it gets things right for the fair fan, has done a good job. Hawkeye is good, it makes people happy Penalties, goals and tackles are the next big areas to look at. I would argue, with the first, that again a time limit is set, and if it is not clear, then the ref’s decision is good. The Hawkeye goal line technology is good, and no-one argues with that, but crowded boxes at corners etc. mean that it can be difficult to spot a foul. A time limit would help again but I believe we should ban all shirt pulling in any area of the pitch and a free or penalty given if in the box. This would stop all the unseemly pulling and dragging that goes on in football, but also make it easier and quicker to spot fouls in a crowded area. I have no idea why they started allowing shirt pulling anyway just because it is away from the ball. It should be banned totally on every part of the pitch. I have a feeling some fans may not agree with me on this point. Tackles can be tricky to judge Tackles are extremely difficult to pin down, though. A slight mistime can mean a yellow or red card. But also the ridiculous amount of diving that goes on, with players falling down as if shot, sometimes with no contact whatsoever. What they are trying to do with Var is decide if a players movement suggest that he is going down from the slightest touch and you can try to judge that by the direction they go down, and even when they start to go down. In fairness to Var, I have watched many tackles repeated on TV and still not been sure what happened. Again, all I can offer is a time deadline and then the ref’s decision stands. I think that is one area that we may never get fully right, because of all the cheating that goes on. Var will get better, I hope One has to assume that the Var technology will get better, but some of the problems arise from this culture of cheating, of win at all costs. Some sports like golf and snooker require players to call foul on themselves. I would love to see this introduced in soccer but I truly doubt it ever will. Penalties are also hard to judge So where can we go from here? I absolutely believe that an acceptable time deadline is necessary for all judgments. That shirt pulling is banned, that surrounding the officials is banned, and all Var rulings can be scrutinized by fans. These factors will have a good effect on recruitment of referees as they stand a lesser chance of being abused or given death threats by fans. We need officials who are good, fair and unbiased. But whether they are or not, the game cannot go ahead without officials. Var has the benefit that the anger gets directed more at them than the ref. This could mean that potential fair refs may sign up more if they know that they won’t receive the horrendous abuse they do receive at the moment. Losing fans are never happy So Var, assuming it does get better, could be a great asset to the game. More decisions right, ref’s unafraid to make unpopular decisions but I do feel that we need these changes I have mentioned above. A quicker Var would be a good start. Good, fair and unbiased is the gold standard they should be aiming for.