Schalke 04 2 – 2 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

The Gunners went into this game down on confidence after a string of disappointing results and performances. Expectations were low and from that perspective the effort and the result were an improvement. It wasn’t a great game by any stretch of the imagination but the attack showed more bite than it has in the recent past and the defence, while under severe pressure for most of the game, did show greater concentration and dedication.

Wenger went with Vermaelen at left back and Walcott on the right flank. Koscielny came in at the heart of the defence. The rest of the line-up was same as the one that struggled at Old Trafford.

It looked like Arsenal wanted to play a relatively high line in defence, somewhere around the middle of their own half, with the first line of defence near the middle of the pitch. Schalke were also circumspect and started cautiously. But it was the Germans who created the initial threats as they broke forward with purpose whenever the Gunners lost the ball. Their defensive shape enabled quick transitions while denying space to the visitors.

Stevens’ men paid the price for not finding the right quality in the final third as the Gunners took the lead in the 18th minute, somewhat against the run of play. It was a hopeful forward punt from Mertesacker but Neustädter inexplicably headed it towards his own goal from a long way out. Giroud was able to run on to the loose ball behind the Schalke defence but kicked the ground in an attempt to shoot, allowing Höwedes the opportunity to make a last gasp tackle.

Walcott was on hand to collect the ball and did well to chip it to keep it away from the onrushing keeper who got something on the ball but not enough. It broke kindly for Theo, at least partly due to his excellent body position, and he tapped it into an open net.

Some might argue that Giroud was off-side and we’ve certainly seen other such calls go in favour of the defending team, but I thought it was a legitimate call from the assistant as the header from Neustädter seemed deliberate, although I can see why some might consider that debatable.

The Royal Blues remained a constant threat and were dominating possession but again it was the Gunners who scored. This time it was a clever and quick pass from Cazorla to Wilshere on the edge of the Schalke box that set the chance up. Jack tried to lay it off for Giroud but there seemed to be a deflection that took it behind the striker. Nevertheless, the Frenchman showed some tenacity to win the loose ball and spread it out wide. Podolski held the defender off before turning and crossing, virtually instinctively as he never looked up. Giroud was anticipating the ball and nodded it home unchallenged.

The two goals quietened the crowd and seemed to affect the confidence of the hosts. They were still creating some half-chances, particularly on quick transitions, but Mannone’s goal wasn’t under genuine threat.

It looked like Arsenal would take a healthy lead and the momentum into the half-time break when the game took another turn. Cazorla slipped while trying to hold on to the ball as the Gunners were pushing out after defending deep. This caught the visitors in a terrible defensive shape, which Schalke exploited expertly through quick passing. Holtby’s first-time assist and Huntelaar’s clinical finish were commendable. But one has to question the fact that Arsenal’s back line was once again all over the place. Koscielny dropped back the moment he sensed danger whereas Mertesacker was just pushing up and couldn’t turn quickly. There is good reason to believe Wenger’s side would have defended the situation better if both the defenders had been on the same wavelength.

The visitors had one good chance early in the second half when a Podolski cross found Giroud at the back post but the striker’s attempt with his weaker foot was ambitious and wayward. Apart from that it was all Schalke, who’d come out with renewed belief.

Huntelaar missed a golden one-v-one, although some credit should definitely go to Mannone for making the save. The Gunners also blocked a number of shots while others went off target or straight at Vito in goal.

The patterns of play showed strong Schalke domination as the Gunners were hemmed in deep and narrow. They found it hard to hold on to the ball and were forced into desperate clearances or blocks as wave after wave of attacks hit the defensive third.

There was no surprise when the equalizer came in the 67th minute. It was again a cross, this time from wide on the Arsenal right. Vermaelen was sucked into a central position as Holtby was unmarked. This left Farfan in acres of space at the back post.

When the ball is so deep it’s imperative that one of the midfielders drops into the back line. Arsenal paid the price of not doing that. Mertesacker was at the near post, Koscielny and Vermaelen were occupied by Huntelaar and Holtby, and there was no one left to pick Farfan. Ideally, the second midfielder should have tracked Holtby leaving Vermaelen free at the back but Wilshere’s style of play puts that little bit of extra burden on the defence that can prove decisive against good teams.

The intensity of the game dropped a notch or two after the equalizer. Arsenal were now able to see more of the ball and push up. Koscielny moved up the pitch with the ball on a couple of occasions and it could have resulted in a good chance had Walcott, who was in an off-side position, left it for Podolski.

Theo also had a golden chance to seize the win for the Gunners deep in injury time when he pounced on a loose back pass. On one hand, you have to commend him for his energy and alertness so late in the game, on the other, his finish was highly disappointing, especially considering had a clear option in the form of Giroud on his left.

In the end a draw seemed like a decent result, although both sides will feel they could have won the game.

Individual Performances:

Mannone: Another solid game from Don Vito. Confident handling, good positioning and decision making, wasn’t at fault for either goal.

Sagna: Saw a lot of the ball, had the most touches for the Gunners, couldn’t really make an impact in the attacking areas but worked hard at the back to keep the danger away.

Mertesacker: Made a number of vital clearances and blocks. Might have conceded a penalty on another day but usually those close ones aren’t given. Partially at fault for the first goal.

Koscielny: Very similar to Mertesacker except perhaps for the forward runs he made late in the game.

Vermaelen: Didn’t look very comfortable at left back but was bailed out by the fact that Arsenal defended deep and in numbers. Didn’t offer anything in attack. Still a respectable tenacious effort.

According to stats on Whoscored, the Arsenal back four made 39 clearances between them which was nearly twice the total made by the entire Schalke team. That shows the territorial domination of the hosts and the fact that the Gunners got their heads or legs on to a fair number of balls in the box. It was pretty but the defenders were focussed and worked hard for most of the game. They should have done better for the first goal and could have used some help for the second.

Arteta: Put in a very strong and useful defensive performance as he got into the right spaces at the right time on a number of occasions. Was also one of the few players who rarely lost the ball.

Cazorla: Played a vital pass in the build up to the second goal. Was initially doing a good job of holding on to the ball to absorb pressure but slipped at the wrong moment and cost the team a confidence destroying goal. It was also interesting to note that he often played deeper than Wilshere. Could have done better with defensive reading of the game and closing down opponents.

Wilshere: Kept pushing up the pitch, particularly in the opening half hour. Played his part in the build-up of the second goal, although I’d have preferred it if he’d shown the ability to take the ball in his stride and finish it himself. Wasn’t as composed on the ball and gave it away more often than a midfielder should.

It was a tough game for the midfield as there were phases when Schalke did an excellent job of pressing up the pitch. At times, it seemed the midfield lacked a bit of defensive nous and were simply helping the cause by adding up the numbers in the threatening areas.

Walcott: Took his goal well. Showed energy and desire right till the end. Was one player who always looked like a threat. But there were many disappointing moments as well. For instance, there was an early Podolski cross that he could have controlled in the box, but he went with his head and missed it completely. Also got in the way of Podolski from an off-side position when Koscielny’s foray created an opening. He didn’t finish the chance at the end and there were numerous occasions when he gave the ball away due to a wrong choice. All-in-all a mixed bag but he definitely improves Arsenal’s attacking potency.

Giroud: Good anticipation and finish for the goal. Looked a threat in the air and his work rate was commendable but he too had many disappointing moments. Didn’t quite offer an outlet when the side was under pressure, couldn’t shrug off his marker to play lay-offs like Huntelaar did time and again, was caught off-side on a couple of occasions when the ball was played long which lead to immediate loss of possession and no respite for the defence.

Podolski: Stayed wider at times and played some useful balls in from that side. Had more influence on this game than he’s had in the recent past, but he also lost the ball cheaply at least twice. Both those occasions led to threatening counter attacks. Put in a decent defensive shift but didn’t get into scoring positions at the other end as often as we’d like to see.

The front three didn’t get as much time in the attacking third as their counterparts did but created a fair number of chances and scored a couple of vital goals. Podolski and Walcott tracked back diligently but they did  lack some defensive awareness.

Wenger: The structural problems in defence that I associate with the manager’s defensive thought process are returning. The team will not be able to go through the whole season defending the way they did in this game. The more I watch the more I’m convinced Bould and Banfield were not the right choices but that’s a completely different discussion. For now, Arsene still has to work on improving the attack.

33 Responses to Schalke 04 2 – 2 Arsenal: Match Thoughts And Individual Analysis

  1. Dianjuh says:

    Hi Desi,

    Nowadays there isnt much you can say at the end of Arsenal games, really there is nothing new. It takes you to be a deep deep fan to look forward to the next game. The question is, what is our aim this season after the last few games, top four(champions league spot)? Domestic cups? I hate to think that we are out of the title race this early, again. And I can even stomach that Van Persie is on tp of the league….the fact that he’s being proven right, makes me worry that we will never be able to keep star players for long enough to be a formidable force, unless ofcourse Wenger one day wakes up with amnesia and forgets what he stands for….

    Sad really…sad.

    • santori says:

      We are lacking an outlet right up top (Walcott regardless)

      Giroud is a good player but he (like Chamakh) is a slow CF.

      We need a bit of pace right up top. Podolski is to my mind the closest we have at the moment.

      Still, we should be looking in January. Problem is, there aren’t that many in the market available for price that you could say are super quality and can provide us pace.

      Maybe Jovetic (still not quick).Leandro Damiao is closest but both will cost likely more than what wenger will pay (although prob not as much as we may think)

      To watch – If Milan consider Pato surplus to use (and he can shake of his injury issues), he could be an excellent option.

  2. dO2 says:

    9s analysis 1s more… Its was a gud game 4 us, afta doz disappointin results of recent. I strongly believ d return of gibbs, diaby amongst odas wil brng doz qualities we’re knwn 4. I do agree wit u dat more need 2 b done on d attack… ALWAZ A GUNA all tym!

  3. Peter Rhyu says:

    We’re not Barcelona, we can’t play with no defensive-minded midfielder, that’s becoming more evident. Or else the whole team needs to play as a unit.

  4. Aussie Jack says:

    Arsenal don`t play `the beautiful game` anymore, they have lost their style. Win, lose or draw they were always worth watching but not anymore. The restructure of Arsenal will depend on many things, it can`t be done with money alone. The whole of English football needs to be restructured.Money and politics have destroyed the game and it`s hard to see it being turned around.
    Maybe a Euro super League is the answer formed with the top three or four money clubs from each country then England can have it`s game back again.

  5. gbemylove says:

    Still don’t believe that you guys will see the right things but will refuse to talk about it, vermalen is awful let this guy sit down n watch the game again for sum games, cos to me he always makes mistake almost every match, matarsaka will never clear ball inside is own net. Varmalen making is poor out of position. I realize something assuming it was Djourou that make dose mistake every one of you will be making noise. And is high tyme wenger realize that ashavin is still part of this team, cazola was not in that game in second half bring in ashavin in that the same position he would have bring kind of different stuf to the game. Still don’t no how will going to qualify unless shalke can beat olimpiacos for us then will have a chance cos I don’t see us win at Greece.

  6. ignatzuk says:

    OK, that last line about Bould and Banfield was a surprise, I look forward to hearing your views on that.

    My old Mac OSX laptop came packaged with a chess game, and you could choose different rule settings. One of the settings was called Crazyhouse, where the pieces you capture change to your colour and you can place them back on the board. For someone used to normal chess, it’s complete fucking chaos – all the usual strategy goes out of the window, defensive shapes are ripped up and it turns into a blitz of sacrificing pieces and taking others so you can put them back on the board.

    This always pops into my head when I’m looking for a word to describe Arsenal’s defensive strategy: Crazyhouse.

  7. dboy says:

    When quizzed on whether Walcott will get the chance he desires to play as an out and out striker, Wenger has this response: “A winger is a striker,” he suggested. “Giroud has Walcott and Podolski with him in this game. We scored two goals. We had more chances and played with three offensive midfielders as well.”

    A winger is a striker??? Really Mr. Wenger could it be the reason that we do not have out and out wingers in the team, playing players out of position. Even a donkey does not trip over the same rock twice.

    • santori says:

      He is correct.

      Walcott’s best position is wide with option to cut in through the middle. Ditto Podolski.

      If ou look at our attacking line, both Walcott and Poldy are effectively strikers/wingers, tucked in for the fullbacks to overlap or given license to go wide if need be.

      It’s a flexible system as it should well be :


      Currently the system is a little broken down because of the LB situation. But nominally (particularly if we are breaking down deeper lying teams), this is a good system for the players we have.

      What I think we could have experimented with later in the game (particularly to relief pressure if we need to play in the counter)

      is Podolski and Walcott up top :


      In this case, Arteta and Coquelin almost hold the middle with Santi operating further right and AA out left slightly forward. Almost a 4-4-2 but a little skewed left.

      Once again, not sure if Wenger and company are getting the maximum out of our current assets, and the timing on substitutues is again too slow. we looked leggy and should have changed things around earlier.

  8. AP says:

    It is so frustrating to see everyone in defence concentrating on the ball all the time and almost nobody tracking runs, its hilarious and tragic to see the way attackers who can play off the defender’s shoulder are allowed to do so. Opponents aren’t stopped from loitering around in good positions near the box, from there its just a matter of one mistake and they are poised to score

    opposition wingers are almost always given space and time to run and get their crosses in, that procastinates the defending and puts onus on the people in the box to get it right all the time. One cant clear and win 2nd balls all the time.

    at the moment, when arsenal are defending, if u see whats happening away from the ball, its a pretty frustrating experience, worse if u compare with the vice versa

  9. Nick from Portugal says:

    Credit to the players. Schalke are a very very good good.

  10. Mitch says:

    “Some might argue that Giroud was off-side and we’ve certainly seen other such calls go in favour of the defending team, but I thought it was a legitimate call from the assistant as the header from Neustädter seemed deliberate, although I can see why some might consider that debatable.”

    The offside law has nothing to do with whether or not the defender played at the ball. The attacking player has to be in an onside position when the ball is played to him by a team mate. The whole “second phase” issue, that commentators keep getting wrong, is in regards to when a player is initially in an offside position yet then becomes onside because a fellow team mate plays him on side. The confusion surrounding the offside laws amazes me as they are so explicit and are available online for free via the FIFA website

    • Mitch says:

      FIFA even has the offside laws in computer graphics to make sure it is crystal clear yet professional commentators still don;t get it right. Crazy stuff.
      Note slide 31 for the explicit example of how Giroud was offside and the goal shouldn’t of stood.

      • AP says:

        Shouldnt the intent matter here – touching an opponent is different from a deliberate intent like passing or heading. For me, the defender seemed to have deliberately headed the ball backwards, rather than the ball bouncing/deflecting off him.

    • Tee Song says:

      Read the offside law again. If a defender makes a back pass, then even if a player is in an offside position, offsides does not apply. For example, if John Terry has the ball and is the deepest outfield player and Theo is between him and Cech, from an Arsenal point of view, Theo is an offside position. If Terry passes it forward and Jack intercepts and then passes to Theo, Theo is offside. If Terry plays a crappy pass back to Cech and Theo intercepts that back pass, the offside rule does not come into play. The question is whether or not you consider Neustadter’s header as a poor but deliberate attempt at a back pass or just a shitty clearance. Personally, I think it’s a bit generous to consider that header as a deliberate attempt at a pass but for whatever reason, he did seem to try and play it back rather forward which I think is where the argument comes into play. Giroud was definitely in an offside position but that’s not really what the debate is over.

  11. santori says:

    1) Mannone – He did well I thought. Kept us in the game. A bit heavy, could lose a bit of weight.

    2) Vermaelen – Poor form but he got stuck in and for what its worth (with Koscielny supporting) was somewhat better than had we had the Brasilian @LB. He affords a bit more defensive solidity (which should be the primary concern) where we lose a bit more creativity going forward with santos.

    What this says about Santos’s future is anyone’s guess.That said, hope we get Gibbs back shortly.

    3) Metersecker/Koscielny : Considering our midfield was leggy and ceded too much territory, they did well under pressure albeit some hairy moments.

    4) Midfield – We looked leggy. Thought one of Santos or Jack (most preferable) should have come off come 60 minutes. Coquelin to come in to add energy. We were less competitive for the second ball in the second half and very static when going forward.

    5) Podolski- Agree with Desi, showed industry but a couple of cheap balls which could have cost us early in the first half. Having said that, thought we should have switched him into the middle in lieu of Giroud come about 75 minutes and put Arsharvin out wide.

    Schalke had Uchida replaced early on and were playing with Holger. we should have had more pressure on him and particularly Howedes when Holger himself limped off.

    Any sort of pressure on them will help push the play further away from our backline and relief pressure (not to mention create chances for us)

    Podolski and Walcott attacking in the final 15 minutes on the break would have been a good option …which brings me to …

    6)Giroud. Good goal. Good to see us use his asset and in general held up play well first half. But he offered us no outlet second half as Desi mentioned.

    Principally I think, we are deficient in our choices up front at the moment. Chamakh is similar to Giroud in that they are both big CF good in the air but slow. We really need an alternate striker in instances when we have to play a little on the counter. Someone quick that can offer us something on the aprx.

    That player is not Walcott although Walcott is good coming in through the middle with someone in support.

    I feel Podolski may have something different to afford us late in the game supporting Walcott through the middle. It’s not a 4-4-2 but it may be something close where we see the game out tighter at the back and with two strikers that can break quicker. Poldy isn’t the quickest but he is the best we’ve got at the moment wit his directness and finishing. Together with Walcott, it would have been a better outlet.

    Not anywhere near convincing and we were not in control for large spells but a gritty performance and hopefully it will rebuild some confidence going into the game against Fulham.

  12. Mitch says:

    I deliberately referenced a credible source that irrefutably supports my argument yet you have countered that without quoting anything to support what you are saying.

    Either your comprehension is so bad you failed to understand the laws of the game, or you just think you know them because you heard somebody else reference the same nonsense you just have.

    At no point in the Laws of the Game does it state that if a defender plays at the ball, the attacker who was in an offside position is now onside.

    • desigunner says:

      Is this an off-side goal

      • Mitch says:

        This is a fair goal.

        The goal scorer was ON SIDE when his team played the ball (put the cross in). The fact that he in an OFFSIDE position after Given touches it is irrelevant.

        Giroud was in an OFFSIDE position when Mertesacker played the ball and then gained an advantage when the ball fell to him from the header of the defender and should of been flagged offside.

        This is why I provided the link to the Laws of the Game. If you read them properly, there can be no room for misinterpretation.

      • desigunner says:

        The presentation only mentions “rebounds” and the example slide (31) shows what I consider a deflection (can also be loosely called a rebound). There is no mention of a pass from a defender because you cannot be offside from a pass by a defender. The example given by Tee Song is correct.

        If the defending side is in control of the ball then the position of the striker is irrelevant. Otherwise defending would be much easier as the defenders can simply knock the ball to a striker in an off-side position and win a free-kick! The example of Shay Given also illustrates this point. Given releasing the ball on the ground can be interpreted as a pass, even if a very wayward/short one, and at that point Dublin was in an off-side position. But that position meant little because Given was in control of the ball and made that choice deliberately.

        All the examples in that slideshow consider balls played by the attacking team. And it only mentions rebounds/deflections not passes. There are no examples in which the pass is made by a defender. It does not say you can be off-side from a pass made by a defender.

        Now in this specific instance, the key question is whether it was a deliberate pass by neustadter or a deflection/rebound. I can see it argued either way and that’s the point I made in the post.

        If the law had been as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be, even the worst of assistant refs would have called that one off-side easily. But the law isn’t that clear. Or one could say the law is clear enough but certain practical situations are hard to categorize as a pass or a rebound.

      • desigunner says:

        I haven’t seen the replays but I think the Torres goal against Shakhtar yesterday was a good example of an attacker being in a off-side position from a pass by the defender. When the defender played the ball back to the goalkeeper, Torres seemed to be in an off-side position but no one even bothered checking it because it would never be considered off-side.

  13. Mitch says:

    For a start, the word the online laws use is “touches”. Therefore if the ball touches a defender and is then played at by an attacker in an offside position, he is committing an offside offence. This is exactly what slide 31 illustrates and is the perfect demonstration of the Giroud offence.

    “There is no mention of a pass from a defender because you cannot be offside from a pass by a defender.”

    Where in the laws does it say what you have just stated? Give me a page reference. Of course, you can’t, because it doesn’t say it anywhere. The law does not exist. Tee Song is not correct and has no idea what he is talking about.

    “Otherwise defending would be much easier as the defenders can simply knock the ball to a striker in an off-side position and win a free-kick!”

    Why on earth would a defender play the ball backwards and into a striker, just in an attempt to win a free kick when he already has possession? That makes absolutely no sense.

    “The example of Shay Given also illustrates this point. Given releasing the ball on the ground can be interpreted as a pass, even if a very wayward/short one, and at that point Dublin was in an off-side position. But that position meant little because Given was in control of the ball and made that choice deliberately.”

    You have completely failed to understand the offside law. The reason the goal stands is because the goal scorer was ONSIDE when the ball was played by his team mate and as the ball remained in play after Given caught it, when he released it, it is play on.

    “All the examples in that slideshow consider balls played by the attacking team. And it only mentions rebounds/deflections not passes. There are no examples in which the pass is made by a defender. It does not say you can be off-side from a pass made by a defender.”

    We’ve already established that the laws say “touch”. At no point in the laws does it say that “if the defender plays at the ball, or passes it, an offside player is then deemed onside”. Because the laws don’t say this, you can’t suggest the law exists. There is absolutely no basis for that.

    “If the law had been as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be, even the worst of assistant refs would have called that one off-side easily.”

    Referees have made far worse offside decisions where no rebound, deflection/pass or whatever you want to call it, was present. Referee incompetence does not support you misunderstanding of the laws.

    • Tee Song says:

      Try these links. In particular, pay close attention to the points brought up in the second to last paragraph of the first reference and the last paragraph of the second.

      Just because YOU don’t understand what I’m talking about doesn’t mean that I don’t have an understanding of the offsides law. As these references clearly indicate, offsides only applies to the team that has possession of the ball.

      What Desi and I are trying to point out is whether or not Neustadter’s header could be considered gaining possession of the ball and an attempted pass to a teammate. If he had chested the ball down and then turned and passed it I think that would clearly represent control and a change to possession for Schalke. However, the fact that he only had one touch of the ball doesn’t rule out the possibility that a change in possession occurred. We’ve all seen instances where defending players will be in a position to intercept a pass and in a single touch, deliberately play the ball to a teammate whether it be with their head, chest, foot. I think that you would have to agree that that situation is different than a defender deflecting the ball without being able to accurately control where the ball will go.

      So again, the crux of the matter is whether or not Neustadter’s header represented a deflection from Mert’s pass, in which case Giroud should have been called offside, or if Neustadter exhibited enough control as to consider that a change in possession and a back pass. The fact that he seemed to deliberately head the ball backwards, which is the last thing you’d want to do if you were just trying to clear the ball, might have swayed the linesman in this case. I have already opined that I don’t think that represented a clear change in possession.

      Finally, according to your interpretation of the rules, if TV5 as the deepest Arsenal outfield player, turned to play a pass to Mannone and noticed that a forward was behind him but in a position to intercept the ball, he should just go and ahead play the pass because the opposing forward would be offside if he played the ball. Would you really want him to do that?

  14. Mitch says:

    Haha, I quote a source from and you reference something that has absoulutely no credibility “ask the”.

    I might start going to wikianswers to try and find the meaning of life.


    • Tee Song says:

      What’s hilarious is your wilful, petty ignorance of reasonable arguments laid out in logical fashion. If the websites cited, moderated by actual referees who’s job is to interpret the laws of the game, are not creditable for you, then be happy in your continued misunderstanding of the rules. One of us is wrong and I’m sure we’ll both be happy to move on knowing which one is correct.

    • desigunner says:


      I see no reason to doubt the credibility of the sources that Tee Song has quoted.

      Quoting from any source can only be meaningful if one can accurately interpret what is quoted. In my opinion, you’ve clearly misunderstood the law and the situation under discussion. The relevant word in the laws is “rebounds” in the context of ‘Gaining an advantage…’ The word ‘touch’ is only used in the context of a play/touch by a teammate not a defender.

      I don’t see any point in wasting more time on this. You’re more than welcome to your opinion. We can agree to disagree.

  15. Mitch says:

    The word “touches” is used in slide 31 from the Laws of the Game to describe the connection of the ball with the defender. I provided this to you which you still choose to ignore.

    The Schalke defender clearly touched the ball, therefore the offside law applies.

    You and Tee Song have decided to legitimize your opinion on the basis that if the defender plays at the ball, the offside law doesn’t apply. There is no mention of this in the offial law book, yet somehow, you insist this law exists.

    It hasn’t been a waste of time. I find peoples inability to interpret facts and discriminate between sources, very amuzing.

    • desigunner says:

      Look at the exact wording of the law, not an example in the slides.

      Here is the link for the exact law –

      The fundamental wording of the law is – A player in an offside position is penalized only if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by;
      1) interfering with play or
      2) interfering with an opponent or
      3) gaining an advantage by being in that position.

      It is vital that you understand the importance of the words “touches or is played by one of his team”. If the ball is played by an opponent he will not be offside.

      The only reference to opponents touching the ball comes in sub clause 3 – gaining an advantage by being in that position.

      Again the definition is very clear – “playing a ball that rebounds to him off a goalpost or a crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position.”

      The word used here is rebounds. The omission of the word “passed/played” is very important but I’m not sure if you follow that. If the lawmakers wanted to make it offside from a pass they’d not have used a word as limited as ‘rebounds’. The example slide uses the word touches but that again highlights the intent of the law – which is that the ball touches/deflects/rebounds … The animation also illustrates this.

      The limited context of a subsection of the law i.e. gaining advantage by being in an offside position, cannot have the word passed or played because that would violate the fundamental law which states that the ball must be played/touched by his teammate.

      In the case of Giroud, the assistant had to judge whether the ball was a “rebound/touch/deflection” or it was “played/passed” by Neustadter. If it was deemed to be “played/passed” by Neustadter, there can be no offside.

      You interpretation is so flawed it would lead to absurd situations during the game. For instance, if a striker is initially in an offside position, like Giroud was, but instead of a back header, if the defensive side intercepts the pass and then goes on to play 10 passes, the striker would still remain offside because the defenders are simply “touching” the ball. The assistant referee would have to remember, during this entire phase of passing between the defensive team, that the striker was offside from the first pass.

      If your interpretation was valid, defensive teams could exploit it in so many ways. For instance, if the team is under pressure and the defender doesn’t have a safe pass he could simply kick it towards a striker who was in an offside position and win a free-kick to ease the pressure. Defenders could also use this tactic to waste time when their team is leading. There are so many instances imaginable where your interpretation would make a mockery of the game.

      The way I see it, you are simply confused by the words being used and have failed to understand the spirit of the law in its entirety.

      I’m glad you found this amusing and I even envy you because I can never find ignorance or the inability to distinguish between fact and opinion amusing. Then again, it reminds me why they say “Ignorance is bliss!”

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