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Tuesday, 17 September 2013

10 things we've learned over the past seven days


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The past seven days have seen Arsenal give a debut to their club-record signing Mesut Ozil, the issue of diving return, referees getting pelters and England edging ever closer to the World Cup in 2014.

But what have we actually learned from watching the beautiful game over the past seven days?

Here is Squarefootball's deputy editor Colin Illingworth with his take.

1. The law is an ass

Martin Atkinson has been receiving pelters for his decision during the Sunderland v Arsenal game not to give Jozy Altidore the advantage. The big American shrugged off Bacary Sagna, got off his shot and watched the ball trickle over the line. Cue wild celebrations at the Stadium of Light, but they were short-lived as the ref had already blown for a free-kick. The home fans were furious. Not only did he bring the play back, but he failed to send off Sagna, who clearly denied Altidore a goal-scoring opportunity. If the goal had stood and Arsenal were reduced to 10 men then Sunderland could have well gone on and won the game. Atkinson should have played the advantage.

Ashley young dive2. Nobody, except Ashley Young, likes diving

The Manchester United winger was up to his old tricks again and nobody likes to see it. Young's ability to kick an opponent, throw his legs back in the air and plead for a penalty is an artform . . . one that needs to be eradicated ASAP. David Moyes, quite rightly, has come out and said he will not tolerate it. But, considering the following day Reading's Pavel Pogrebnyak earned himself a second yellow card for a blatant dive, how can we clampdown on divers? Ban them? Dock the team points? Or, the most radical suggestion I've heard on the subject, give the opposition a penalty. Something needs to be done, though, as the fans are being cheated out of watching a fair game of football.

3. Never ask to be sent off

Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio was enraged by the decisions going against him at the Stadium of Light on Saturday and asked Martin Atkinson to cap off the day by sending him off. So he did! 

4. England are in the driving seat for Brazil

It may not have been pretty to watch, but England got the point that ensures qualification for next year's World Cup remains in their own hands. Two home games remain for Roy Hodgson's side, but given their results so far in this qualifying campaign, does anyone really expect them to do anything if they get to Brazil?

5. Spurs have a new hero

Gareth who? Sure the Welshman may have had a huge say in Tottenham's fifth place finish last season, but Christian Eriksen could be the man to take them to the next level. The Great Dane only cost AVB £11.5 million but his debut on Saturday proved that they have picked up a steal. Eriksen ran the show at White Hart Lane, setting up Sigurdson for the opener and having a huge hand in the second. This boy could unlock the meanest of defences.

Ozil debut6. And so do Arsenal . . .

Mesut Ozil may have cost Arsenal £42.5 million but he looks like an absolute bargain. His first touch and ability to play the ball in behind defenders is immense. The German genius set up Giroud for the opener and should have had two further assists, but Theo Walcott didn't have his shooting boots on. Ozil is set to have a lot of fun in the Premier League.

7. Mourinho has lost the fear factor

In Jose Mourinho's first spell as Chelsea manager the Blues were a team to be feared. They were impossible to break down and lethal in attack. Not now. Everton consigned the Special One to his first defeat of the new campaign thanks to a goal right on half-time by Steven Naismith. Chelsea had their chances to score, but Eto'o and co fluffed their lines. Defensively though they looked suspect. Sending out their best striker, Lukaku, on loan may come back to haunt them.

8. Steve Lomas should have stayed at St Johnstone

Fair play to the former West Ham captain for entering the Lions' Den - pardon the pun - and taking charge of Millwall, but it was never going to have a happy ending. The rivalry between Millwall and West Ham is legendary and they were never going to take to their new boss. The Lions currently prop up the Championship, are yet to win a game in the league and Saturday's 5-1 drubbing at home sent the fans wild. He should have stayed at St Johnstone.

9. Jonjo Shelvey has balls

The former Liverpool midfielder made the perfect start against the Reds on Monday night, opening the scoring with a show of real determination, but then he forgot about his summer switch and gifted Liverpool two goals. First Daniel Sturridge punished his slack back pass and then Victor Moses took advantage of a misplaced pass to put the league leaders ahead. Shelvey, who was clearly distraught by his actions though refused to shy away from the situation, got his rewards by nodding the ball on to Michu who levelled proceedings. Shelvey will be a much stronger character for this 90 minutes of mayhem.

10. Always take your shorts to football!

On a personal note, when you're late for work and scrambling around in the dark for your footy kit, always remember to pick up a pair of shorts. There is simply nothing worse than that feeling of despair once you've pulled on your top and taken off your trousers only to find you have forgot to pack your shorts. What's worse is then having to drive to your nearest sports retailer to buy a new pair. £13! Jeez. 

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