Liverpool and City produce a great game, as Sky’s coverage irritates

Morning all.

So, Arsenal remain top of the table after a 1-1 draw between Liverpool and Man City at Anfield yesterday. It was quite the game, and I really have no idea how it ended all square. City started brilliantly and could have been further ahead, but after equalising from the spot, Liverpool had so many second half chances but couldn’t find the finish.

Then, right at the end, City hit the post only for the ball to bounce back into the keeper’s arms, before Liverpool were denied what I thought was a stonewall penalty when Jeremy Doku booted Alexis Mac Allister in the ribs. I’d be fuming if that wasn’t given to us, I can tell you that for free.

I really think a draw was the best result for us. I understand why people think a Liverpool might have been better, but just look at how they’re playing right now. With fitness issues that leave key players absent or not fully ready for 90 minutes, they still play so positively, and really should have won that game yesterday. On paper the idea that they are more likely than City to drop points between now and the season makes some sense, but on the pitch, that’s not what I’m seeing.

You could flip that too. Is this City more side more vulnerable than some of the other title winning teams? You could end up with egg on your face if you make that assertion and they go on to do what they often go on to do, but watching that yesterday – on top of what we’ve already seen from them this season – and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest they’re not quite at their very best. So, all in all, I’m pleased with the stalemate, and I hope that Pep and Kevin de Bruyne never make up and become sworn enemies by the end of April.

It was a brilliant game of football though, a classic of the ‘Great advert for the Premier League’ genre. Unless you were watching on Sky Sports. It’s really something when Gary Neville isn’t, by some distance, the most irritating thing on their coverage, but hats off – they’ve found someone worse. The addition of former referee Mike Dean to their coverage is horrendous.

First, who cares what Mike Dean says? This is a man who openly admitted not giving an obvious decision when he was on VAR to protect his mate who was reffing the game. On that basis alone, he shouldn’t be listened to as any kind of voice of authority on officiating, but why is he needed anyway? The commentator and co-commentator (who has played the game at the highest level) are more than sufficient to, you know, comment on what the referee does and what decisions he makes.

The thing is, if someone like Mike Dean was bringing real insight and smart analysis, then maybe – just maybe – you could make a case for having him in the commentary booth. But that’s not what we get. Neville has obviously been told ‘Bring Mike in here’ by the director, so he asks him what he thinks of an incident, and most of the time he simply tells us what we’ve all seen.

‘What did you think of that, Mike?’, squirts Neville.

‘He’s gone sliding in and he’s caught him but there’s not much contact,’ drones Dean.

Yeah, thanks for that. We’ve just had 6 replays of it. If you hadn’t said what had happened, I’d never have understood. It’s worse than that though. It feels like he is a PGMOL stooge, there to back up the officials no matter what. Let’s remember, Sky is where Howard Webb has his pathetic TV show that nobody asked for, so is it beyond the realms of possibility that in the discussions for that, he was able to leverage one his longest standing former refs to bat for his side during live games?

The Doku/Mac Allister penalty incident sums up Dean’s uselessness completely. He obviously got a little excited and a little ahead of himself, because when he saw the first replay he talked about the ref being sent to the screen, in order to award a penalty. Then when the VAR check was complete he basically just backed the decision, albeit with a little mention of how Doku was fortunate. So what is the point? Was Doku fortunate or did the VAR get it wrong? It can obviously be both, but the focus really should be far more on the latter than the former. It’s a big mistake, but Dean just dismisses it and centres his comments around the player and not the officials.

In this part of the world, we pay a lot of money for a Sky subscription, and it annoys me that some of that money is going into the production of PGMOL propaganda, live on air. Whatever issues we have with the technology and its implementation, the single worst thing about VAR is how it has made referees – current and former – absolutely central to coverage of the game. As I said, if this brought something new and interesting to how the games are covered, fine. It doesn’t. We just have a massive wanker like Dean, who should be relic of the past now that he’s retired, inflicted on us during the biggest games of the season.

Whoever came up with this idea should be fired. Into the sun. And while I’m sure Sky and TNT and the rest will probably feel justified because it gets people ‘engaged’ in discussion online about their product, dumbing-down and plumbing the depths rather than trying to improve what they do will come back to bite them at some point. Genuinely, I’d rather watch via a dodgy stream in a language I don’t understand, dealing with pop-ups, pop-unders and all the rest, than ever listen to Mike Dean again.

Right, let’s leave it there for now. We are recording an Arsecast Extra for you this morning, so keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.

Podcast should be out around noon. Until then.

Source link

Scroll to Top