Sutton vs Arsenal: There shouldn’t be double standards just because of a fairy tale.
Spot-fixing, dangerous tackles and diving should all be let go, provided you’ve got a good story to go with it.
That seems to be the opinion of many of the country’s top journalists, pundits and fans over the 36 hours or so since Arsenal’s win over Sutton United.
Flip any of the incidents to the other team and we’d have Mark Ogden and Henry Winter writing 3000 words on why Arsenal should be kicked out of the competition.
Wayne Shaw’s “Piegate” incident may seem trivial, but he blatantly broke gambling regulations and almost bragged about it afterwards.
I’m sure there are more, but the only person I’ve really seen come out and slam Shaw for the incident is Stan Collymore. Yes, Stan Collymore is the one has got this right.
Everyone else seems to be pushing this “political correctness gone mad” nonsense and just ignoring that this isn’t just some joke about a backup goalkeeper eating a pie.
Of course, the Sun are equally, if not more to blame for pushing the whole incident with the bet being offered. But to just excuse the Sutton player is insane.
When asked if his mates had bet on the pie eating, Shaw said:
“Obviously we are not allowed to bet. I think a few of the lads laid on so hopefully there’ll be a pie and a pint in the local when I get back.
“It was just a bit of banter for them. It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back.”
Sky Sports asked manager Paul Doswell if any of his players had placed a bet on the incident.
He said: “I cannot say hand on heart that I know, but I can just say I hope I know”
This was the fifth round of the FA Cup, not just some charity knock about. These incidents are serious and they need to be taken seriously.
Michael Oliver was the referee for the game and he seemed intent on letting Sutton get away with anything. The team actually ended the game without a single booking. Captain Jamie Collins had three incidents that could have seen him receive a red card alone.
Collins put in a horrendous tackle on Alex Iwobi in the first half and escaped punishment entirely. It’s the sort of tackle that can end a career. High, out of control and with excessive force. When discussing it at half time Alan Shearer and Martin Keown laughed and joked about it as well as a few other poor tackles.
“Look at this, bang. Just a little taster. You’re the foreign player who’s come over here to take my place and I’m going to let you know.”
That was Keown’s reaction to one of the tackles that was replayed during the break. Is it any wonder that English football is falling further and further behind other countries?
Collins also threw his head towards Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the midfielder skipped past him on the wing. Again, no punishment. Then, after a Sutton foul, Collins shoved Alexis Sanchez over as he was getting up. Both would be seen as soft red cards, but when you compare that to the incident that saw Granit Xhaka booked, it was crazy to see the Sutton defender go unpunished.
I know this could easily be written off as a fan of a big team whining about lower league teams and the way they play. It’s the sort of thing that Sam Allardyce has prided himself on when he’s come up against Arsenal. But just because the Sutton story is a bit of a fairytale, does not mean that the rules go out the window for them but it happens time and time again in these sort of games.
Should the bigger side get more protection? Of course now. Should they be the victim of overzealous, dangerous tackles because they are the bigger team? Definitely not.
Then you have Craig Eastmond’s blatant dive. It wasn’t even a good dive. He basically ran past Nacho Monreal and fell over in a heap despite not even a hint of contact. He then proceeded to shout and complain at the ref. I don’t believe it was even mentioned again.
Just imagine that was one of the foreign players that Keown seemed to think it was ok to clatter. There would be calls for them to be banned for about six months and deported.
I’m not asking for Arsenal to get an advantage over these teams, just to be treated fairly. I don’t know how anybody could really argue with that.