With Luton’s game against Burnley rearranged, there have been 19 Premier League matches in the opening two gameweeks involving 14 yellow cards for time-wasting, averaging at 0.7 per game; Mikel Arteta says a ‘stopwatch’ will soon be required
Mikel Arteta may have “loved” Arsenal’s narrow win at Crystal Palace but believes a stopwatch may be needed to iron out inconsistencies in time-wasting after Takehiro Tomiyasu fell foul of the rules.
The Gunners won 1-0 in south London as Martin Odegaard’s second-half penalty proved the difference.
Japan defender Tomiyasu was sent off at Selhurst Park, picking up a soft yellow card for a foul on Jordan Ayew just seven minutes after being cautioned for perceived time-wasting at a throw-in.
The new remit for officiating this season has called, among other changes, for a clampdown on time-wasting but Arteta believes the timing did not add up on Tomiyasu’s booking.
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Odegaard: We have to adapt to new rules
Arsenal captain Martin Odegaard admits there needs to be a period of adaption to new Premier League rules.
“I don’t know if it’s difficult but it’s new rules so we have to adapt,” he said.
“The first yellow card was harsh, I don’t think he [Tomiyasu] was trying to take a lot of time, he just didn’t have anyone to play to. It’s a bit tricky but we have to adapt. That’s the reality, we can’t do anything else.
“It’s easier to get yellow cards now so you have to be careful and that goes for me as well. It’s something to have in mind but I don’t think we should think too much about the rules. We should stay focused on the game.”
Asked about the rule changes, Arteta replied: “For me it is not an issue. The referee makes that call.
“And we are consistent with that. They explained it. The only thing we are asking for is consistency. If not we need to play with a stopwatch to understand what is and what is not.”
Arteta did not agree when told Tomiyasu had waited 23 seconds to take the throw-in before being cautioned – replying: “It wasn’t. I think it was eight seconds. We might have to play with a stopwatch.
“This is the standards.”
Managers can have short memories when it comes to viewing incidents through the prism of their own allegiances.
At the start of the year, a Sky Sports investigation revealed that nearly half of Premier League action is inactive, lost to time-wasting, VAR deliberations and other pauses in the game – and the issue is getting worse.
On average, ‘in-play action’ only comprised 55.9 per cent of matches last season – the lowest in 11 years since records began – and has been on an incremental slide in eight of those campaigns.
Indeed, back in January, Arteta showed himself to be a strong advocate of the new strict implementation of the rules when accusing Newcastle of time-wasting after their 0-0 draw at the Emirates. The game itself had 52 per cent of active play.
Time-wasting: 14 yellow cards in 19 games
Referees are adopting new regulations to avoid time-wasting by adding the exact time lost in goal celebrations, substitutions or injuries.
The new rules aiming to increase the time the ball is in play, as seen at the men’s and women’s World Cups, have already led to 14 yellow cards being brandished in the opening 19 Premier League games of the new campaign. At a rate of 0.7 a game, that would equate to 280 bookings for time-wasting across the season.
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What has PGMOL said about time-wasting?
“In the forthcoming campaign, the exact time lost when certain game events occur will now be added: goals and subsequent celebrations, substitutions, injuries and treatment time [if required],” the PGMOL said in a statement.
Time for penalties or red cards will also be counted from the moment of the offence until the player leaves the field or the whistle is blown for the penalty.
The referees’ body noted that in previous seasons the policy was to aggregate a nominal period of time.
Match referees will now take a more vigorous approach to dealing with deliberate actions which delay the restart of play such as failing to respect the required distance for free-kicks or refusing to receive treatment off the pitch.
The multi-ball system, which allows a match to resume with another ball when the original goes out of play and has been shown to increase playing time, will also be adopted.
The Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) has been very clear with its guidelines, in the hope that players heed the warning.
Of the 14 cases so far, the majority have come at throw-ins – which have previously been viewed as a common way of eating up time to slow down a game to suit a team’s interests.
In the Tomiyasu case, the Japan international was penalised for holding onto the ball for eight seconds but Arsenal were collectively in possession of the restart for 23 seconds as two team-mates passed on the responsibility.
Speaking on Monday Night Football, Gary Neville believes Tomiyasu’s red card will have a bigger impact on time-wasting for players than adding 15 minutes on at the end of games.
“What I would say of the first yellow is I went to see Howard Webb a couple of weeks ago and we said the existing laws within the game cater to be able to stop time-wasting and that’s called a yellow card and would lead to a red card.
“I think if players are starting to get sent off, this one [Tomiyasu’s second yellow] is always going to be a yellow card.
“But if you’ve got defenders or other players on the pitch that are wasting time – you’re going to get booked.
“This will have a bigger impact, this sending off, on time-wasting for players than it will be adding 15 minutes on at the end.”
The Palace supporters were quick to put referee David Coote under pressure to caution Arsenal for their approach to slow down the game once in front, with Thomas Partey warned moments before the incident.
Kai Havertz had then initially picked up the ball to take the throw-in before passing it on to the full-back.
“The rule is there, we know what it is,” Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports.
“I said I felt a little bit unfortunate for Tomiyasu because he took one for the team. It was almost Partey then Havertz, it was almost a yellow card for the team’s time-wasting, and they had to give it to someone.
“He got it. You almost feel it’s an injustice when you’ve had a man sent off [referring to Arteta], a little bit of a siege mentality. But it was the right decision to send him off.
“He took one initially, the pull back when you’re on a yellow card. Yeah, he had to go for that. It seemed a bit soft, because it wasn’t the biggest pull but once you’re on a yellow card, he has to go off for that. I don’t think you can look at the referee and say that he got it wrong.”
Arteta may look to the other examples seen in the opening fortnight of the Premier League season and feel there have been discrepancies over the length of time that warrants a booking for time-wasting. Some referees would appear to have been more lenient than others.
Do we really want to go down the route of introducing a stop-clock like rugby, with shorter halves and where the clock stops whenever ball is out of play so everyone knows where they stand?
While the idea of a stopwatch – seen to a degree in tennis with a countdown clock before the taking of a serve – may seem a little tongue-in-cheek and fanciful, managers and players alike have been left under no illusions that referees are taking the new directive very seriously in a bid to clamp down on the amount of time the ball is out of play.
How long did each offender take in time-wasting?
Ben White – Arsenal vs Nottingham Forest – Throw-in | Minute: 91:14 | Time-wasting: 13 secs
In Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest, Ben White was cautioned by referee Michael Oliver for delaying the taking of a throw-in during stoppage time. White took 13 seconds standing over the throw-in before Oliver halted play to book the defender.
Kenny Tete – Everton vs Fulham – Free-kick | Minute: 86:15 | Time-wasting: 11 secs
In Fulham’s 1-0 win over Everton, Kenny Tete was cautioned by referee Stuart Attwell for delaying the taking of a free-kick. Tete took 11 seconds standing over the set-piece before Attwell halted play to book the defender.
Sandro Tonali – Newcastle vs Aston Villa – Delaying restart | Minute: 91:11 | Time-wasting: 17 secs
In Newcastle’s 5-1 win over Aston Villa, Sandro Tonali was cautioned by referee Andy Madley for delaying the restart following Newcastle’s fifth goal.
Eddie Howe had already called for the player to come off as part of a late substitution but he took 17 seconds to leave the field of play.
William Osula – Sheffield United vs Crystal Palace – Delaying restart | Minute: 15:49 | Time-wasting: 11 secs
In Sheffield United’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, William Osula was cautioned by referee John Brooks for delaying the restart. Osula blatantly kicked the ball away after being penalised for being offside. It took 11 seconds for the ball to be retrieved and for Palace to take the free-kick.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – Chelsea vs Liverpool – Throw-in | Minute 67:15 | Time-wasting: 21 secs
In Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea, Trent Alexander-Arnold was cautioned by referee Anthony Taylor for delaying the taking of a throw-in. Alexander-Arnold spent a full 21 seconds retrieving the ball and standing over the throw-in before Taylor lost his patience.
Rayan Ait-Nouri – Manchester United vs Wolves – Throw-in | Minute: 34:31 | Time-wasting: 19 secs
In Wolves’ 1-0 defeat to Manchester United, Rayan Ait-Nouri was cautioned by referee Simon Hooper for delaying the taking of a throw-in. Again timed from the moment the player had possession of the ball, Ait-Nouri took 19 seconds before Hooper blew his whistle to book the Wolves man.
Ben Osborn – Nottingham Forest vs Sheffield United – Throw-in | Minute: 85:19 | Time-wasting: 16 secs
Ben Osborn could have few complaints, either. During Sheffield United’s eventual 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest, Osborn appeared to initially think a ball boy was going to retrieve the ball only to amble towards it himself.
Sixteen seconds later and with the ball still not on the field, referee Peter Bankes brandished a yellow card. Three minutes after that, Chris Wood scored the winner for Forest.
Rico Henry – Fulham vs Brentford – Throw-in | Minute: 60:25 | Time-wasting: 18 secs
Brentford’s Rico Henry took 18 seconds to take a throw-in which did not impress referee Darren Bond. No collective time-wasting, no throwing it to another taker. Just Henry taking 18 seconds.
Pascal Gross – Wolves vs Brighton – Delaying restart | Minute: 07:33 | Time-wasting: 4 secs
Gross collected the first of three yellow cards for pure gamesmanship during this contest. The Brighton midfielder prevented Wolves from taking a quick throw-in so that he could allow his team-mates to get back into shape.
Referee Andy Madley – fresh from booking Tonali the week before – was having none of it.
Julio Enciso – Wolves vs Brighton – Delaying restart | Minute: 18:57 | Time-wasting: 4 secs
Enciso clearly was not paying much attention to Gross’ misconduct and duly received the same punishment of a yellow card for throwing the ball further back to where Wolves had been awarded a free-kick.
Matheus Nunes – Wolves vs Brighton – Delaying restart | Minute: 75:58 | Time-wasting: 4 secs
Andy Madley – having booked Gross and Enciso for the exact same reason earlier in the match – had to book Nunes for the same offence on the grounds of consistency. On all three occasions, the ball was back in play four seconds later in any case.
Jordan Pickford – Aston Villa vs Everton – Delaying penalty | Minute: 23:33 | Time-wasting: 4 secs
Referee Anthony Taylor, fresh from booking Alexander-Arnold, was wary of Jordan Pickford’s antics before Douglas Luiz took his penalty for Aston Villa. As Taylor cleared the box, Pickford readied himself behind the Villa goal – perhaps checking his water bottle for a quick reminder of the penalty-taker’s preference.
Nothing wrong with that. But Pickford then decided to walk off his line at the very moment Taylor asked him to stay on it. The Everton goalkeeper was booked. Luiz scored.
Takehiro Tomiyasu – Crystal Palace vs Arsenal – Throw-in | Minute: 59:04 | Time-wasting: 8 secs
Perhaps the most contentious of the lot. Arteta certainly believes there needs to be clarity on how long is allowed for a team – or individual – to take a throw-in.
The Japan international was penalised for holding onto the ball for eight seconds but Arsenal were collectively in possession of the restart for 23 seconds as two team-mates passed on the responsibility.
David Coote penalised Tomiyasu, but he would have warned Arsenal as a team to cut out the time-wasting which had already begun after Odegaard had scored.
Kai Havertz – Crystal Palace vs Arsenal – Delaying restart | Minute: 93:12 | Time-wasting: 5 secs
David Coote rightly cautioned Havertz for kicking the ball away in stoppage time to delay the taking of a free-kick for Crystal Palace. The Germany international had no complaints and the ball was back in play five seconds later.
Is the new stoppage time working?
Everyone has a view on it.
Last season’s treble-winning manager Pep Guardiola has said it is treating his players as numbers.
The players themselves have complained that it would increase their workload and subsequently affect their mental health.
Some pundits agree with it, and some do not. The PFA chief has said that we are sleepwalking into a disaster.
So what is this new rule that is causing so much debate?
Read the feature in full here