EPL: Day 4, Part 2

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Football
August 31st, 2003 • 9:36 pm

This day has lived up to the billing, if not in sheer football value, at least in excitement and drama.

Southampton did a really good job of containing Manchester United, who only had a couple of chances in 90 minutes, and were rewarded for it with a last-gasp winner by — who else? — James Beattie.

Arsenal had a really awful first half, with a puzzling own goal by Lauren and terrible passing all around — but then they recovered towards the end of the half, and deserved to equalize and then go ahead in the second half, which they clearly dominated, even though the passing was still not as crisp as it should have been. Manchester City almost got the benefit of a second freak own goal by Vieira/Keown, but the ball hit the bar and bounced away, and the goal would have been ruled out for a prior offside position anyway (!).

It certainly was a far cry from last year’s trouncing, and some of the credit should go to Manchester City, who were better this time — but it really wasn’t a very good performance by Arsenal.

So both Manchester United and Arsenal have a bad day, but Arsenal still manages to snatch the three points while Manchester loses out. A sign of good things to come?

I must say, however, that this day has, once again, left me puzzled regarding refereeing in general and yellow cards in particular. I cannot, for the life of me, understand why Phil Nelville and Roy Keane were not booked in the game at Southampton for their ugly challenges — and how we ended up with seven yellow cards in the Manchester City vs. Arsenal game. The Ljunberg card for inappropriate goal celebrations was certainly completely inappropriate itself.

You can always argue that these things tend to even themselves out over the course of an entire season — but it certainly looks like some referees are not on the same wavelength as their colleagues at all. I imagine that, as a player, it’s becoming increasingly hard to know what you might get penalized for.

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