25.9.03

And the FA hands the title over to………………

Today the FA charged 6 Arsenal players, 2 Manchester United players, Arsene Wenger and Arsenal as a club with various offences, following the incidents after the match between Arsenal and Man U. on Sunday. The charges are as follows:

Arsenal

1. Arsenal have been charged with misconduct for failing to ensure the proper behaviour of their players.

2. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has been asked to explain comments regarding Ruud van Nistelrooy made after the match

3. Ashley Cole – improper conduct

4. Martin Keown – improper conduct and violent behaviour

5. Lauren – Two counts improper conduct, and two counts of violent behaviour.

6. Jens Lehman – improper conduct

7. Ray Palour - improper conduct and violent behaviour

8. Patrick Viera – improper conduct (in addition to getting sent off)

Manchester United

1. Ryan Giggs – improper conduct

2. Cristano Ronaldo – improper conduct

All parties have 14 days to answer to the charges.

Arsenal may be docked points for their part in the fracas, as was the case in 1990, when a similar, but more severe incident occurred between the same two clubs. Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the PFA, has warned the FA not to think of points deductions in this case, but most people believe that this will not happen. However, there is a feeling that this will happen. Gordon Taylor has said that points should be deducted until repeated warnings have been made, and possibly ignored. However, Arsenal’s disciplinary record has been scrutinized again and again, and they were non-repentant, and did nothing to improve it. Even former Arsenal players have criticized them. I was particularly disappointed in Martin Keown, with 20 years of international experience, acted like a five year old child, taunting Van Nistelrooy after he missed his penalty.

So right now, Man U. plans to fight to have the charges against their players reviewed, while Arsenal is still considering what to do, though Wenger has apologized publicly(why did he wait so long though?). The FA is planning to make the punishments process more efficient, fines don’t work against today’s super rich players, and what Arsenal will probably do is appeal against some charges in order to stagger the bans, and ensure that not all 6 players are suspended at the same time, a situation the FA does not want to happen.

I strongly suspect(and believe) that the FA should deduct points from Arsenal owing to their previous dismal disciplinary record, their arrogance and the fact that they have showed little or no remorse over this and other disciplinary incidents. And with the bans for all these players at the same time, that will mean they will find it difficult for about 3 matches or so. So I think with the competitiveness of teams like Chelsea and Liverpool, the title will be out of their grasp.

Man U did not play well on Sunday. They lacked the world class midfield play of a David Beckham or Paul Scholes. Van Nistelrooy has hit a dry patch, similar to that experienced by Michael Owen last season, evidenced by all his missed high-profile penalties. And with Solksjaer out, they will lack a top-class striker.

All this means only one thing. The premiership will be a two horse race again this season. But it won’t be the usual two teams. It will be Chelsea and Liverpool, my dark horses. Liverpool is just 3 points behind the leaders and with 3 wins in a row are gaining ground fast…………….

I rest my case.

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