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How Arsenal's 4-1 Victory Was Diminished by EPL Video Highlights

Arsenal maintained their unbeaten start to the season Saturday with an impressive 4-1 victory against Bolton Wanderers. It was a wonderful match to watch, but you wouldn’t know the complete story of how magical it was by watching the official highlights from the Premier League.

First, go ahead and watch the official highlights (see video above; be sure to expand the view so you can watch the highlights in full-screen) which is 2 minutes and ten seconds of “the best parts” from the game. In it, you’ll see the five goals from the match. Shorter highlights are what you expect. But in this case, sometimes less isn’t more.

Now contrast these with the highlights of the game provided by Match Of The Day (see video below; click the full-screen button on the video too). The highlights from the same game run to 11 minutes and 12 seconds. Obviously there’s more time to watch other incidents from the game.

Arsenal v Bolton Wanderers

Mark | MySpace Video

By watching both highlights, you get to see almost two completely different matches. Such is the contrast between the highlights. Sure both highlights show the goals from the game, but the Match Of The Day highlights provide a much better reflection of what happened during the game. Bolton had a couple of excellent chances to score and showed the skill they possess thanks to Owen Coyle’s leadership to change them from a physical side into a club that plays more fluid football.

But the biggest difference between the highlight packages shows how awful the officlal Premier League video highlights are. What’s criminal is that it completely cuts out the incredible skill by Arsenal which led up to their fourth and final goal of the day. It’s the best goal of the entire Premier League season thus far featuring 24 passes by Arsenal before Carlos Vela slotted the ball into the back of the net. It’s something that could be watched over and over again by Arsenal supporters, fans of the game or coaches wanting to teach their kids how possession football and slick passing will open up spaces. As Ray Hudson would say, the goal was magisterial. Yet, the official highlights relegated to the goal to something very plain and simple.

I realize that the official Premier League highlights are meant to be short on purpose so they can be used as highlights for TV and Internet worldwide. But why? Is there a policy that states that they have to be less than two minutes and thirty seconds long? If so, why can’t this be changed or why can’t two different highlight options be made available, one shorter and one longer?

But the wonderful 24 passes goal from Arsenal is not the only thing that the Match Of The Day highlights exposes. When you watch the Premier League highlights and then the Match Of The Day one, there’s a marked difference between the role that Cesc Fabregas plays in both highlight packages. In the official Premier League one, he’s a bit player who assists with a couple of the goals. But in the Match Of The Day one, you can see what a pure genius he was for Arsenal this Saturday. There was his absolutely sublime turn and pass to Arshavin. One of the moves of the season. But completely missing from the official Premier League highlights version. And the MOTD highlights also shows Fabregas’s delightful pass to Marouane Chamakh but the forward’s shot went wide.

Andrei Arshavin is one person who probably prefers the two minute highlight version. In the 11 minute version, you get to see his inability to score one-on-one after receiving passes from Tomas Rosicky and, later, Fabregas.

Having more than 11 minutes of highlights compared to two is definitely not an apples to apples comparison. But why bother watching the two minute version if the 11 minute version is so much better and gives you a better representation of the match itself? Except that the two minute version is the only authorized one we can watch, while the MOTD one will presumably be taken down within hours or days. Plus, the other thing is that the camera work by the BBC seems to be different than the Premier League version. And the MOTD camera angles seem to give a refreshingly different view of the game with better replays especially from behind the goal.

But my bottom line is that it’s so interesting to see how two different highlight packages of the same game can tell two almost completely different stories.


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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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