18 December 2013

FA hands down two-game ban to Wilshere; appeal in the cards

Contrary to precedents set through one-game bans to Luis Suarez and Wilfried Zaha, the FA's new three-member panel agreed unanimously that Wilshere's gesture was a sending-off offense and handed down the two-game ban. It's abundantly clear that Wilshere made the gesture, but the difference between his ban and those given to Suarez or Zaha is apparently attributable to the newly formed FA panel set up to review cases such as this when the offense went unnoticed by the referee. An appeal is apparently in the works with a final decision scheduled for Thursday. If it stands, Wilshere would miss Monday's clash with Chelsea and the following fixture at West Ham the 26th of December.

Maybe the FA panel could check this offsides ruling?
I'm not sure what makes Wilshere's finger twice as offensive as Suarez's or Zaha, who were also fined £20,000 and £3,000, respectively, but it feels arbitrary and excessive. I don't say so as a Gooner; I say so as an objective observer. Will the FA start using its three-member panel to assess actual fouls that may have gone unnoticed or that the referee waved off or that the linesmen got wrong? If so, I can think of three, perhaps four goals that we're owed from our trip to the Etihad on Saturday. I imagine Olivier Giroud's leg would also like to be depositioned after Yaya Toure's cleats went straight in, just under his knee.

I know that Gunners get away with more than few favorable calls and non-calls, and I'm not arguing that we've been treated any worse than any other club. However, it does feel like it—then again, I'd wager that more fans than not share the same feeling. Call it the Rashomon effect—each of us sees an event from our own point of view and through our own biases.

So be it. In the case of Wilshere, there's little to dispute; the evidence is clear. However, it's just as clear, if not more blatant in the cases of Suarez and Zaha. So why the discrepancy? I'm not suggesting that the FA is bound by those precedents, but the departure seems, as I said before, arbitrary. The FA says that "Under the new process, if an incident has not been seen by the match officials, a three-man panel will be asked by The FA to review it and advise what, if any action, they believe the match referee should have taken had it been witnessed at the time."

Fair enough, but why two games? Is it because he should have been sent off and suspended from the next match? If that's the logic, it would beggar belief. Because the referee and linesmen missed something that happened in the 68th minute, Wilshere has to serve two full matches? I'm not sure that's what's at work here because the FA didn't explain the reasoning behind the ban. I'm not suggesting that Wilshere get a 22-minute "ban" to make up for the time he should have missed from the Man City match, but it does feel as if a more-complete explanation, or a one-match ban in line with previous ones, is in order. Perhaps an appeal can bring it down to one match. We'll find out Thursday, I suppose.

Meh. Considering the way that Wilshere played, it's probably a good thing that he's not available for the Chelsea fixture. We have options, such is our depth in midfield. Walcott's back, and Podolski could also be available. Enjoy your rest, Jack, and I look forward to seeing you against West Ham!