Per Mertesacker has spoken to the matchday programme about the frustration Arsenal fans feel – over timewasting by opposition players!
West Brom began timewasting on Boxing Day before 20 minutes were even on the clock but it took until the 82nd minute for the referee, Neil Swarbrick, to do anything about it.
“I’ve noticed lots of you becoming frustrated at opposition taking their time with restarts this season,” Per said.
“As a captain, you try to put attention on that case and, if necessary, let the referee know. Sometimes, when you have momentum and want to keep going, time-wasting can really interfere with that.
“But we can’t control that, so you might hint at it to the referee, but what’s more important is to focus on the next play when it eventually comes.
“Maybe it gives teams a chance to regain a bit of energy, but what’s important is not to become too distracted by it. The referee has to control the situation.
There is no doubt that timewasting is a massive problem for clubs at the top end of the table.
Referees, if they do produce a yellow card early enough to matter, never actually do anything to deal with it after that. If Swarbrick had booked the West Brom keeper in the first half for his timewasting, it might have had an impact on his decisions in the second.
That, however, is probably unlikely, as everyone knows that once you have been booked for timewasting you are then free to waste as much time as you want as a referee will never send you off for it.
That being said, when it comes to the list of things that are frustrating for Arsenal fans, West Brom’s timewasting is probably not the most pressing of issues, Per.