Dean applied the rules correctly
The big talking point of the weekend undoubtedly came in the final game when Vincent Kompany was controversially sent off by Mike Dean in Manchester City's 2-0 win at Arsenal, who had earlier had Laurent Koscielny dismissed.
Now, for those of you already seething after reading the headline of this blog, let me state that I'm a defender myself and would love it if tackles like Kompany's were not outlawed.
If you time a slide tackle right as Kompany did, winning the ball and taking none of the player, then common sense says it can't possibly be a foul, never mind a sending-off.
However, what you or I think about the tackle is irrelevant. I have judged the tackle not on my beliefs, but on what I believe the law to be. And frankly I'd be staggered if Kompany's red card was rescinded.
As I said after his sending-off for a similar tackle against Manchester United last season, tackles that were once seen as absolutely fine are now deemed to be dangerous because of faster pitches, faster players and lighter boots.
Whatever you think of the laws on tackling - and I certainly get frustrated at the amount of free-kicks in the modern game - they are there to protect the players.
According to FIFA's laws, only players 'using excessive force' in a tackle should be shown a red card, but 'excessive force' is defined as such: 'Using excessive force means that the player has far exceeded the necessary
use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent.'
Rightly or wrongly, I believe the game's rule-makers rule head-on slide tackles such as Kompany's are always in danger of injuring an opponent, even if successful.
When tackling from the front, it is impossible for a player not to show his studs if sliding in, and there is no doubt that studs sliding into a straightened leg can cause a lot of damage. It's also very difficult for a player to be in full control of where his trailing leg ends up, and for those reasons I believe tackles like Kompany's will always be deemed to be putting an opponent in danger of injury.
Before anyone thinks it, there is nothing in the rule book that says only two-footed tackles are punishable by a red card. A one-footed slide tackle can still be deemed a red-card offence.
There is an issue with consistency, as Kompany himself was unpunished for a similar, arguably harder, tackle against Norwich earlier this season, but two wrongs don't make a right and, like it or not, I believe slide tackling from the front is now outlawed from the game.
Tough to feel sympathy for Kompany
As much as I may wish tackles like Kompany's were still allowed when executed correctly, I can't say I have any sympathy for him regarding this particular incident.
His sending-off - and subsequent failed appeal - against United last season should have taught him that slide tackling from the front is not allowed, and in Sunday's case I don't even believe he needed to do it.
Jack Wilshere was running at him with the ball at his feet but slightly overran it, which suddenly made Kompany favourite to win it from him. As a defender myself, I am certain Kompany could have won the ball by remaining upright and using his foot and body weight to overpower Wilshere, in the exact same way that Pablo Zabaleta won the ball from Kieran Gibbs in the build-up to City's second goal.
As far as I'm concerned, there was no need for Kompany to slide in, and for that reason I have to say he has only himself to blame for giving the referee a decision to make.
Time for action on ticket prices
I expressed my annoyance at the disparity in ticket prices in my 'Seven deadly sins of 2012' blog on New Year's Eve, but the subject has come to the fore again this week after it emerged Manchester City failed to sell out their allocation for their trip to Arsenal, with tickets priced at an eye-watering £62.
I have plenty of sympathy for those City fans who decided against going to the game having made the same decision myself regarding certain games over the past few seasons. Many people, of course, are priced out of attending football matches at all.
I don't believe there is a massive issue regarding ticket prices for home supporters as it is up to each individual football club to get their pricing correct to ensure their stadiums are as full as possible every other weekend.
Looking at it from a business perspective, Arsenal's ticket prices are right as their stadium is always a sell-out. I also fully understand why a ticket at Arsenal costs more than one at Stoke, for example, as the product is not the same.
However, I do believe there should be a maximum price imposed in each league as it isn't fair on fans of the biggest clubs who are asked to pay extortionate prices because there is so much demand for tickets. Arsene Wenger said Arsenal had to charge such high prices to pay their players, but ticket revenue accounts for a tiny percentage of a football club's overall turnover. A £50 cap on ticket prices in the Premier League would surely be fair.
The bigger issue, though, is the prices of tickets for away fans. While home ends may be full in the Premier League every weekend, only a handful of clubs sell their maximum away allocation on a regular basis.
That does not bother the home club - Arsenal, for example, simply sold the tickets City returned to their own fans - but it would be better for the game if more away fans could afford to follow their team on the road more regularly.
Thankfully, Premier League clubs are in discussions regarding away ticket prices, and one suggestion made by Stoke is for away tickets to cost no more than the cheapest available home ticket.
Implementing that and a cap on home ticket prices would be a welcome boost for all of us.
My final word on diving
Since I began my Monday Moan last season I have undoubtedly written about diving more than any other subject. Every time there is a new dive, I feel I have to give my thoughts, if only to avoid accusations of bias.
I think by now, however, that you all know my thoughts on the subject so, unless there is a new development, I will avoid commenting on further dives this season.
For old times' sake, I have to say I found Nigel Adkins' defence of Jay Rodriguez's clear dive laughable, and in the interests of fairness I also have to say I thought Matthew Etherington dived for the penalty Stoke won but were then denied of against Chelsea.
From now on, though, you can just assume I am shaking my head every time a player falls too easily in the penalty area.
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