Who is to Blame for Foolish Arsenal Goal?

Porto’s second goal against Arsenal in today’s Champion’s League game is destined to live forever on any number of football blooper DVDs.   It was a comedy of errors that resulted in a goal that any 7 year old could score.

In order, these were the errors that occurred:

Sol Campbell sent a backpass to Lukacz Fabianski.  As Campbell was trying to protect the ball and herd it into Fabianski’s arms, he clearly had a touch.  Watching the video, there can be a real case to be made that it was an unintentional touch and the referee would have been in his rights to not call the violation, but anytime you touch the ball as it is rolling into the goal keeper’s arms, you are at risk for a whistle.

Once the whistle blew, Campbell switched off.  Bent over with his hands on his knees, Campbell was either tired or frustrated at his mistake or the referee’s call.  Whichever the case, Campbell is the wily veteran and needed to take control of the situation.  Instead, while the drama was playing out, Campbell was conducting a very thorough examination of the tops of his shoes.

Fabianski, graciously holds the ball and then hands it right to the referee.  As soon as the referee blows the whistle, Fabianski needs to send that ball somewhere very far away.  Kick it into the stands.  Throw it across the field.  Anything other than holding it while waiting for something to happen.  With Porto’s players calling for the ball and the referee signaling that he wants it, take the yellow card and punt it into orbit if you have to, but don’t just hand it to the referee when you are in no way set up to defend the kick.

Once the ball is in the referee’s hands, Campbell or Fabianski needs to stand right in front of the ball.  In fact, stand on it.  Better yet, sit on it.  Let the referee order you back 10 yards and then have him mark off the ten yards to build a wall.  You have to allow your team to get set up for the kick.  To just hand the referee the ball and give Porto room to operate is like handing Porto a loaded gun.

Of course, the referee was harsh to let Porto take the kick so quickly.  It is the referee’s discretion to allow an immediate free kick or not.  Occasionally, if a player asks for permission to take the kick quickly, and if their opponents are slow to organize, the referee will let them go ahead.  However, with the players spread all over the pitch and some confusion about the call, allowing a quick indirect kick within the box is like handing Porto a goal.  To permit that quick kick is not an incorrect decision, but it is a very harsh one, especially since Arsenal were denied a stone-cold penalty from a foul against Tomas Rosicky not one minute before.

On top of it all, the referee blocked Campbell out of the play.  Once the referee allowed the kick to be taken quickly, he also took Campbell out of the play.  It happened so quickly that the referee did not have time to back away, and Campbell was prevented from getting to the goal scorer, Garcia Zarate.   

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger was very critical of the referee in his post-game comments.  However, I have no doubt his team will hear about their faults from Wenger in the days to come.  Whatever the referee’s mistakes, the gifted goal was wrapped by Campbell and Fabianski.

40 thoughts on “Who is to Blame for Foolish Arsenal Goal?”

  1. This article REEKS of English bias. Campbell/Fabianski made a mistake and they got punished for it. The ref has no reason to prevent Porto from taking a quick free kick because it would be “harsh” on Arsenal. If you can take a quick free kick anywhere in your defensive half, then you can take it inside the opponent’s penalty box as well if the other team is too slow/stupid to react. Well done to Porto, catching Arsenal napping.

      1. what do you mean ??

        I am not the gunners fans,, I mean the ref made mistake to allow very quick free kick. You’ve seen on video how porto players use that moment with very quick kick and they seem to have the intention to cheat


  2. What a rush to post this! Why not after the Shawcross goal was disallowed at 90+5 as Stoke surely beat Man City? No one seems to want to talk about that here but Wiley made a horrid decision and no one seems to want to mention that and play it off like a regular old offsides call. Are you kidding me?

    Shawcross stands in place and raises to meet a throw-in that was directly to him and everyone’s favorite goaltender Shay Given reacts late and then runs into Shawcross and has no effect on him as he casually heads into the right corner of the goal as Kolo Toure and the rest of the Man City defenders hang their heads in shame and Alan Wiley decides that Shawcross somehow obstructed Shawcross?

    Where is the outrage? is it only when chelsea gets a free kick in the united end during a dull fixture back in November? I at least expected a post about that stupid shit.

    1. I’llbehonest, I can’t speak for the rest of the bloggers, but I can speak for myself and say that I didn’t get a chance to see the Stoke against Man City game, so it’s not fair for me to comment on the incident when I didn’t see it.

      The Gaffer

      1. no offense Gaffer, i assumed that since everyone was focused on the CL games that the Man City-Stoke result would fly way to far under the radar, which it did.

        I just figure this is reverse justice as Given won’t be in attendance at the World Cup because of a similar awful call. Only since this happened afterwards, I noticed he didn’t rush to the referee and claim it wasn’t a foul and that the goal should score.

        I know this would never happen. But that’s basically what Ireland wanted from Henry months ago.

    2. that disallowed goal looked like the Chamakh goal near halftime of the Marsailles Bordeaux match a week or so back and that goal was allowed even though the keeper had the ball and Chamakh plowed into him and the result knocked the ball in.

  3. Jeff, how can you argue that this article reeks of English bias? The author clearly stated four points that favor Porto, and two that favor Arsenal.

    I believe Fabianski is to blame for both goals, but I do think the ability for a team to take a quick free kick within the penalty box should be reviewed by FIFA.

  4. Every once in a blue moon you see a freaky goal, and tonight was one of those nights. The first goal by Porto was a silly error by Fabianski. The second Porto goal was one of the easiest goals you’ll ever see in your life. Arsenal simply fell asleep.

    Personally I blame Fabianski for both goals. The second one, he should have booted away when Campbell made the back pass.

    Should be interesting to hear what Richard Farley and Kartik Krishnaiyer say about Fabianski’s mistakes during tonight’s EPL Talk Podcast!

    The Gaffer

    1. Guess maybe people should stop railing on Almunia at this moment. If he was in goal, there’s a chance Arsenal get a clean sheet here. Yes, he can make some mistakes, but not of the likes of Fabianski AGAIN!

      Why not Mannone? He showed what he could do earlier this year. Let’s just put this on Wenger once again.

  5. While the referee’s decision seems to have been technically correct, I was also disappointed with it. I watched the video a second time and it was about 9 seconds between the initial whistle and when the referee allowed Porto to take the kick. When have you EVER seen a free kick from in or around the penalty area taken within 9 seconds of the whistle? We’ve all seen referees deny a team the chance to take a free kick early, especially when there is a lot of controversy or confusion in the moment (as was here). It was frustrating to see such an irregular refereeing decision in a big game.

    I could understand the referee’s decision to allow Porto to take the kick if the Arsenal players had been protesting and holding up play for an extended period, but that wasn’t the case at all here.

    The whole thing is ultimately Campbell and Fabianski’s fault, but I think the referee laid down and let Porto pull a fast one. As Wenger pointed out, the decision was even better than a penalty for Porto. I don’t think that is really the spirit of the backpass rule at all.

  6. Totally good ” last gasp goal” by Stoke, I can’t believe Wiley got this wrong!Ref Wiley again got it wrong..
    And what pleasure I felt to see Wenger again cursing at the ref, and moaning like only he does when things go so wrong for his team. Arsenal so often seem afraid or unable to take shots at the opposition goal area, when there is time enough to kick that ball as hard as they can!! I can’t understand why! They always try and do that one extra pass..by the way, long live Chelsea I say!

  7. it was a stupid error (THE BACKPASS) but the ref showed a lot of home bias to let them take it quick,is this what the game has come to?its a joke !
    it was an indirect free kick in the box ,what the ref gave was better than a penalty!Arsenal should have had the chance to defend it .

    1. It was great to see arsenal get their just desserts for all of you gooners crying in your cerial bowls this morning how its so unfair the ref did not let us defend it then arsenal whinger complaining to the ref. im surprised he saw it at all he only sees what he wants to see.
      Well consider this my sad chums when thierry henry done the same thing against chelsea it was oh so funny then was’nt it but not laughing now eh

  8. I have to agree with Joe about our goalkeeping situation.

    Almunia has looked far from steady all season, in fact all of his career, he has never been world class, mid table prem team if he is lucky!

    Fabianski whenever he has come in has always made mistakes, granted it must be hard to come in for a few games but still some of his mistakes, like alumnia are schoolboy errors.

    I actually think Mannone was very unlucky not to get a chance today, he played a good run of 8 or so games early in the season and for someone so young he showed better skills and more of a commanding presence than either of the aforementioned goalkeeper. When will wenger realize we cannot win anything without a worldclass keeper, its not about the age of our outfield players and it never has been, its been down to the lack of a quality first team goalkeeper. Where was $5m when Given was available, his pinkie finger has more skill than almunia, something needs to be done soon or we will once again win nothing. Next season we either need to trust mannone as he has shown so much potential and a great understanding or go an spend $10-$15m which we all know the board would give wenger to go get a world class shot stopper.

    1. Ian-

      You are 100% correct. Wenger’s blunders are few and far between, but missing out on Given when he had the chance was a real mistake. I like Mannone, but not yet. The Arsenal back line looks nervous in front of goal, and they need an older, wiser, more experienced leader who can shout out instructions. The right keeper for Arsenal next season is not on this season’s team.

  9. Yeah, that referee should have blown his whistle and taken his time to get to the situation because in the spirit of the game, it was a stupid mistake by Campbell and Fabia, but it should not have created such a delicious opportunity for Porto. An indirect kick with a whole bunch of players would have been penalty enough. I’ve been on referee crews where the center ref will make it a point that it has to be blatant that a throw in was improperly taken, and now this ref is in the center of the three ring circus.

    But, this demonstrates another flaw with Wenger’s transfer policy, trusting a Champions League game to a young lad in goal… Campbell hasn’t had too many games lately either, right?

    1. if you have done any refereeing you should know before the game the ref and the teams agree on quick free kicks or wait for the whistle. arsenal do not mind playing on when an opposing player is injured but want the ball put out when it one of their own.
      last night they were caught out fair and square if it had been arsenal that scored like that you would think it quick thinking instead of whinging. i take it you do not remember henry doing much the same thing against chelsea when cech was on the post arranging the wall the ref was talking to the wall not even watching henry let alone blowing his whistle.
      typical arsenal whingers always cheating always moaning no wonder you have big empty space on your stand 2005 then blank.

  10. Come on guys…i am also a gooner like you all..but we should accept the fact that Porto were on focus..and we werent…that goal is definitely a goal…
    Now..for fuck sake..enough blaming wenger now….fabianski had a nightmare hell of a math…to Juan…how come is it wenger’s fault when fabianski couldn’t deal with a cross and a backpass….RIDICULOUS!

  11. Really good analysis.

    As a Gooner, both of the goals we conceded were so unnecessary, it makes me sick.

    I think we are right to feel agrieved by the ref’s actions all around, but in the cold light of day, we only have ourselves to blame, as you correctly pointed out.

    I don’t understand why more players don’t stand on the ball when they give up a free kick. There is literally nothing to gain from letting the other team play on. Make the referee move you off the ball.

  12. Big Arsenal fan here so I am biased. The ref was horrible overall. Cesc was hacked mercilessly all game and the cards didn’t start to come out until the second half. Diaby spent the entire game serially fouling anyone in his vicinity and never got carded. Technically he was right on this call, but he also could have pulled the ball back. I don’t think letting Porto kick it that quick was in the spirit of the rule.

    Arsenal played like a bunch of clowns, and that play was the whole game in a microcosm. No shape, no discipline, no clue. Two wasteful goals, but they could have conceded so many more. Honestly how does a team come out and play like that in the away leg of the CL knockout round? Even though the ref was bad, Wenger really has no reason to be worrying about the ref with that pitifull performance.

    Fabianski has to be the only guy that could make Almunia look good.

    1. Cesc bitches about calls more than any player i know, just because he throws his arms up doesn’t mean he was fouled. I’m glad the ref wasn’t influenced.

  13. I am a Gooner am often biased but at the moment our team is a shambles from an organisational standpoint. Too many schoolboy errors and lack of professional attitude to get the job done (e.g. Walcott in the corner at the end of the last game just gifting it back to the keeper). Both goals were Fabianski fault. To argue that Campbell’s touch was accidental might be technically correct but you could see he was trying not to touch it and he did so it must be a back pass. All Fabianski needed to do was kick it away but he picked it up. Why? Then all he had to do was roll it away or run back towards his goal with it (maybe yelloe card maybe not). Sorry but I don ‘t get the arguement that Arsenal should be given a chance to defend the free kick. All our midfielders were playing like strikers as usual and we were caught on the break. If there is a free kick, why should Porto wait for our players to get back to defend, the advantage should be with the attacking team. Very sorry to say this was all our own doing and Arsene should hold his hands up to that for once. We have 3 average keepers. Having said all that I still think we will go through :)

  14. Arsenal will bounce back. Let it be a good lesson for future preparation. With one away goal arsenal is in good situation to win at Emirates. BTW one thing Wenger must care, Porto may play defensive game at Emirate and try to make fast counter attack which always made arsenal trapped so far (happen with mu & chls) cause many of ars players are eager to attack leaving a big space at the back .

  15. I cant believe the article has left out the most blatent error of them all – the fact that Fabianski actually picked the ball up!

  16. So we had both the Henry-Ireland-Handball referee and the Chelsea-Barcelona-Semifinal referee working the same night and they both managed to stir up trouble again. Well done, UEFA.

    Insanity: doing things the same way and expecting different results.

  17. The mistakes by Fabianski and Campbell were unfortunate. The bleatings of Wenger and Campbell after the fact are inexcusable.

    The ref has done nothing wrong. The award of the free-kick was entirely appropriate. The rules mention deliberate backpasses to take deflections or slices out of the equation. But what is running up to the ball under no pressure and playing it with your foot? It’s a bleeding backpass!

    It was also entirely appropriate to let the attacker take the kick quickly. The ref should always allow this option unless there are unusual circumstances (and the position of the pitch isn’t one of them!).

    Campbell had every opportunity to get behind the ball. His last ditch effort – which was blocked by the ref – could only have ended in a foul as all he was trying to do was reach out to the player about to take the kick. A day late and a dollar short, I think the expression goes.

    It’s sad to see managers and players using the ref as a scapegoat.

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