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COLUMNIST PAUL TRAILL

Linesman - What are you playing at?

By Paul Traill   ::  22/03/2012
 8 Comments (»Last)
Only me still got a bitter bug from the events at Anfield last Tuesday? I?m certainly struggling to get over it and it was only as I approached finishing time at work did I begin to feel a bit excited about the match. Unfortunately I was a little held up in leaving work and then further held up as we approached the East Lancs Road. Regardless, I was dropped off by the Park End and in the pub with a pint with plenty of time to spare for kick off.

I also had time to catch up with a mate from my uni days (a long seven days ago as he sadly reminded me). He?s an Arsenal fan now living in Widnes and it was great to catch up with him. We approached kick-off and shuffled into the ground and through the turnstyles well in time for kick-off. Such little optimism did I have on Everton to win, I even put a cheeky bet on Arsenal to win 2-1 with Van Persie last goal? it would be nice to be wrong as usual.

We began with what appears our best team, certainly from what we had available. OK, Neville or Hibbert is debatable... but otherwise I think most people would have picked something like the team we put out. Arsenal looked strong. Van Persie in attack. Ramsey, Arteta, Rosicky and Walcott all in midfield and the defense having quite a solid look about it. We had our work cut out.

The one thing we probably needed was a solid start but that we didn?t get. Arsenal began the game at an incredible tempo and Everton just had no answer. Distin and Heitinga did their best to stem the tide but Arsenal pressed very aggressively. You felt Arsenal had done it when Van Persie nodded down intelligently for Ramsey who tried to be too clever and sliced wide with practically an open net. Everton didn?t head the warning and it was only the seventh minute when Vermaelen headed in practically unmarked despite several players around him. It was all too easy for Arsenal and it felt a case of ?how many??.

Everton did battle their way back into it though were thwarted by the linesman on several occasions?five in fact according to David Moyes in his post-mach interview. The linesman had apparently wrongly ? I haven?t seen it yet ? adjudged Roysten Drenthe of being offside when he netted what would have been an undeserved first-half leveler. Who knows what would have happened in this game had the goal have stood.

At the break I discussed with Steve and Sean the performance of the linesman and said I would be interested to see how he performs when down on our side of the ground when I am able to judge the assistant better. Having now ran the rule over him I can safely say he was turgid. Admittedly I wasn?t in line with any of his decisions throughout the game but am hard pressed to think of a match where so many flags have gone up against one single team. It was incredible and I?m glad Moyes has singled this out in his comments. Can you imagine the uproar had this have been one of the ?Sky Teams?? Though it?ll doubtless just be swept under the carpet against ?little old Everton?.

With attacking then practically an impossibility, it was difficult for Everton to approach Arsenal?s penalty area. I even felt a little sorry for the referee at times as I felt he was at least trying to let the game run and trying not to be fussy. Fellaini headed one at goal which was straight at Szczesny; Baines played an incredible ball into the box which somehow evaded everyone and Drenthe fizzed an effort just over the bar before he was subbed (I don?t know why he was subbed) but that was the fruit of our labors.

It weren?t for want of trying, however, from Everton. The first 20 minutes aside, Everton really gave it a good go but seemed undone by some crazy linesman's decisions throughout the game. On we trudge then to Swansea. In this one, resting players ahead of next Tuesday's big match up in the North East is essential (in THIS game, Moyes ? not the Merseyside derby). The play isn?t bad; the effort is there... but you do struggle to identify exactly where Everton?s next goal is going to come from?

Hopefully one big push next Tuesday can remedy that.

Player Ratings:



Howard: Made some smart saves to keep us in the game in both halves. Played well. 7
Baines: Battled hard. Must be getting frustrated with lack of quality / players gambling and believing inside the penalty box. 7
Distin: My man of the match. Absolutely brilliant defensively and useful with the ball. I?m glad it looks as though he?s staying on for next season. 8
Heitinga: Had quite a decent game. Not quite as commanding as he has been but OK. Probably worth resting him for the weekends game with Sunderland next Tuesday. 7
Hibbert: Did his best. Seems to be going backwards with his, ahem, ability on the ball but did work hard at right back. 6
Fellaini: Had a useful game. Particularly in the second half. He was about ready to throttle the linesman by the end of the game and I don?t think he was the only one! 7
Osman: Second poor game on the spin unfortunately. It didn?t really help him being captain I don?t think. I don?t think he needs that responsibility. Heitinga would have embraced it better. Could probably do with playing at the weekend to help get his confidence back a bit. 5
Cahill: Looked a bit warn out. I presume he?ll be rested at the weekend now with next Tuesday in mind. Kept on going though. 5
Pienaar: One of our livelier players but just couldn?t quite find that end product. 6
Drenthe: Had an apparently perfectly good goal disallowed and was busy all game. Worked hard, was a threat, tracked back a fair bit?basically did everything we?ve been wanting him to?and then got subbed. Incredible. 7
Jelavic: Generally quite busy but needs to be given a bit more time. Still getting used to things I think. 6

Substitutes:
Gueye (for Osman): Didn?t quite get involved enough. I?m not quite convinced by him unfortunately, though he?s started precious few games in his defense. 5
Anichebe (for Drenthe): Got involved, won a few headers and tried to force something from the game. Can probably expect a run out on Saturday. 6
Straqualursi (for Cahill): Not on long. Difficult to judge. Can also expect a run out on Saturday.

Reader Comments

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Dick Fearon
735   Posted 22/03/2012 at 05:15:46

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Thanks for the report Paul. I agree with all you say except about Cahill. In the first 15 mins it looked like we would cop a multiple goal hiding. Unusual for Moyes he made a crucial tactical change by moving Timmy into a defensive role and pushing Fellaini forward in support of Jelavic.
Arteta and Rossiki ceased to be the kind of threat they had been up to that point
Osman did not disappoint because I expected no better from him.
The same applies to Maguaye, I don't expect much from him and that is what we get.
Peter Bourke
736   Posted 22/03/2012 at 06:19:24

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I thought the performance overall was pretty good. I also agree with Dick that Cahill had a good game. He was our best player in the first half making some crucial tackles and trying to be creative. Bit harsh on him Paul, I would have given him a 7.
Steve O'Malley
738   Posted 22/03/2012 at 06:21:38

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Agree with Dick and Peter re Cahill. Difficult playing Arsenal at the best of times with 11 players, until Osman was subbed we were playing with 10. The reward for being a passenger in the Sunderland game was to be made captain.
Distin was excellent as was Heitinga who limited Van Persies opportunities.
The reality is that the game could have been all over in the first 15 mins, after that we held our own without ever giving the keeper too much to do.
You know it's time to get ready for work when Anichebe and Gueye come on, nothing is going to happen after that.
Jelavic is slowly going to come to the realization that HE is the forward line. Things can get a bit lonely up there
Strange thing to say but I think I am becoming immune to the losses and I never thought in my lifetime I would ever say that. 50 years on !!
Lee Smith
759   Posted 22/03/2012 at 10:32:41

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http://www.101greatgoals.com/gvideos/royston-drenthe-offside-goal-everton-v-arsenal/

Wellllllllll onside. Would have been a great goal.
Chris Fisher
764   Posted 22/03/2012 at 10:55:43

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I understand the close calls that linesman have to make sometimes where it is 50/50 and you can't really tell either way but when a player is so clearly onside that you can see it on a blurry internet link before even seeing the replay, then questions really need to be asked. That linesman was a prick, plain and simple.
Tom Owen
783   Posted 22/03/2012 at 12:26:18

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Apart from the offside, did we create that much else? Don't think we did...

Referees and liners are always going to get one or two wrong in a game (maybe one too many last night) but they're not to blame for not winning. It's becoming a familiar theme managers and players blaming referees for losing.

We may've deserved a point after our second-half display, but that was about it. Arsenal were comfortable throughout the game. They battered us first 20 minutes. Van Persie again hit the post in the second half, maybe should've scored.

Moyes still plays the same game as when he first came. We were in a relegation battle then, now were in a fight for 8th, maybe 7th place. Maybe he doesn't realise it. He doesn't know how to change a game, and the mentality is shocking. A point is good enough for him.

Arsenal's movement on and off the ball was fantastic. Everton's was slow and static. Our only main attacking threat is going down the left. What happens if Baines gets injured? Jelavic was crying out for a partner.. he got one with 10 minutes left, in the shape of Denis.

Also, why bring on Victor, who is a striker (right?), and put him on the right side, when we're 1-0 down, on top, at home?

What is the point of having McFadden on the bench, when he's not going to use him. Where was Vellios? Surely he's more likely to make more of an impact than Jimmy?
Tony J Williams
785   Posted 22/03/2012 at 12:43:12

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"Referees and liners are always going to get one or two wrong in a game " - I agree but these major decision they get wrong, shape the game. Who knows what would have happened if the Drenthe goal was allowed. maybe Arsenal would raise their game and we get slaughtered 4-1, maybe the goal would cause us to stop hoofing the ball and try and pass it a little bit more and have a go at them.

We'll never know but we do know that the game would have been different if the lino could have just done his job correctly
Lee Preston
810   Posted 22/03/2012 at 15:12:07

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Linesmen are always going to get one or two wrong, but wasn't the rule, if there's doubt, advantage goes to the attacking side?? Certainly wasn't evident last night!

Now I haven't seen every offside decision on TV (only at the game), but I refuse to believe that every offside given against us, was indeed offside. It seemed that every meaningful ball through was immediately flagged offside. It's hard to create a chance when you're not allowed into your opponents box!!

Throroughly appalled with the level of officiating, these clowns are apparently 'professionals', and I refuse to bow down to the bullshit notion of 'they're only human'! Rant over!

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