Over the last few years we have seen quite a few new tricks evolved by the exponents of anti-football. Rotational fouling and rotational time-wasting are two of the most commonly seen ones. After watching the last game against Stoke I have a feeling we are going to see another trick join the list – ‘World’s most successful anti-football tactics’.
I would like to call this ‘Calculated Violence’ or ‘Measured Assault’
Let me illustrate this by analyzing the attack on Djourou by John Carew.
As we can see from that image, when the Swiss defender plays the ball the Norwegian is more than two yards away. It wasn’t a 50-50 tackle it was a 100-0 by anyone’s honest reckoning.
No surprise then that the ball is over five yards away when Carew clatters into Arsenal’s centre-back.
There are two aspects to this attack – what Carew could have done if he actually wanted to play football? And What Carew actually did.
If the Stoke striker had any intention of playing the ball he could have easily done so.
In the above close up we can see that Djourou has already played the ball as Carew is charging at him. Not only has the defender played the ball he has also pulled his leg out for fear of receiving an ugly stomp from the big man.
If Carew wanted to, he could have landed on his right leg, dropped his left shoulder and changed direction towards the ball. If you look back to the other images above, there is a big gap between Djourou and Clichy and the defender didn’t get enough power on the ball as he was looking to pull his foot out. Carew could actually have won the ball and charged into the box.
I have played a lot of sports at amateur/college levels and can say with confidence that changing direction is not that big a deal, certainly shouldn’t be for professional footballers. If he had any positive intentions he would also have been anticipating such a touch by Djourou and actively seeking to exploit it.
We have seen enough examples of quality football from the striker prior to his Stoke days to know that he can do it if he wants to. That leads me to believe that he had no intention of playing the ball.
This brings me to the second part. What was John Carew trying to do?
I was a sports nut while growing up and one of the sports (although now I don’t consider it a sport) that I followed was WWE (WWF as it was known in those days). Carew’s charge reminded me of the term Clothesline that was quite common in that. I just Googled it and found this description of how to perform a clothesline attack.
- Face your opponent, about five feet away from them. A good clothesline has a lot of power so get some momentum going.
- Bend your knees and be ready for action. Charge at your opponent as quickly as you can. The faster you go, the more force there will be in your clothesline.
- Put your dominant arm out to the side of your body. If you are right handed, then stay about a foot to the left of your opponent. Swing your arm and try to hit your opponent in the chest with your forearm. Jump to get more power and knock them over.
The purpose of this was two-fold. Early on in the second half it tested the resolve of the ref. Once it was clear the ref is allowing such an assault to go unpunished Stoke were motivated to go at the Gunners in every manner possible.
The second point to this is to rattle the individual. No matter how strong Djourou is, such a blow to the diaphragm would leave him winded. He would continue to feel the effects of the hit for the next few minutes and there is a chance that he could lose concentration. Another advantage for Stoke would be that the defender would be hurt and wary of going into another such challenge knowing fully well that he won’t be protected by the ref.
Spread this around i.e. different players assaulting different opponents, and you’d undoubtedly make an impact on the other team’s ability to play football.
Make no mistake about it, Arsenal are going to face more and more of this ‘Calculated Violence’ till the end of the season.
On a related side note I also wanted to discuss some of the lies spewed by Tony Pulis.
Let’s not worry about his attempts of trivializing the discussion by talking about the card counts of the two teams. This game itself was a good example of how Stoke get away with shocking challenges that renders any discussion based on the number of cards received meaningless. It’s a shame that no one in the media has the guts to question Pulis about this.
But this is something we have heard often enough and isn’t worth dwelling on. More interesting was the Stoke manager’s comment about his team’s honesty.
We are a very honest team. Jermaine Pennant showed that second half when he was tackled and he got straight up. We do that at this football club. We don’t like people rolling around or seeing people trying to get players booked or sent off. It’s traditional but it’s the way we like to do things at this club.
In the first half Bendtner attempted a sliding tackle that was deemed to be a foul by the ref. I thought the Dane got the ball but since it was a little bit from behind it could have been considered a foul.
If we look at the details it’s a very decent attempt. Bendtner ensures his laces were facing the opponent and not his studs. He also had his other leg tucked in below him to cut out any chances of a scissor action. Even his leg movement was going across him and not in the direction of his body weight/momentum. Unfortunately, these are the kind of technical details that no one in the media seems to focus on when discussing good or bad tackles.
Pennant, for his part, went to ground far too easily, rolled on the pitch twice, and was holding his shin as if it had been hacked off.
Even in the second half, Clichy actually won the ball and Pennant went down far too easily, that is if we apply the same standards that people impose on Arsenal.
An honest and traditional club indeed. They seem to have a tradition of violence and cheating and seem to follow it honestly, nay, religiously.
Well, at least they can consider themselves the world’s best at something. I don’t know who pioneered this art of ‘Calculated Violence’ but Stoke have perfected it.