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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 15:04 GMT
The James Beattie column
James Beattie


It was inevitable that the big talking point of our win over Arsenal was the penalty and Sol Campell's subsequent sending-off.

The debate will rage long and hard as to the rights or wrongs of Paul Durkin's decision, but as a striker, I've got my own views.

A striker using skill, pace or anticipation to get goal side of a defender has earned the right to have a strike at goal.


Cynical or unintentional, the outcome is still the same. The striker has been denied a scoring opportunity

If he is unfairly denied that opportunity then it is only right that the defender should be punished.

People will argue there is a difference between a defender cynically hacking a striker down from behind, and a genuine attempt to play the ball.

There is, but even that genuine attempt will invariably be made from the wrong angle because the defender is trying to correct or retrieve a situation where the striker has got the wrong side of him.

James Beattie slots home a penalty against Arsenal
James Beattie exacts a high price as he strokes home a penalty

Cynical or unintentional, the outcome is still the same. The striker has been denied a scoring opportunity.

Supporters pay their money to see goals scored, and Fifa brought in these rule changes a couple of years ago to assist that.

It places the emphasis on defenders to be cuter in covering and marking, and means they have to be more selective in where and how they make their challenges.

Having seen the replays of Sol's challenge on Agustin, I don't think anyone can say it wasn't a foul.

If it's a foul and he is the last defender, the rules say he has to go off. The referee has no choice.


Managers have to stick with the players they have got and find ways of getting the best out of them until the window opens

In the heat of the moment the referee has to make a decision.

The decision he made was that it was a foul and it follows from there that Sol had to go. The referee has got no leeway.

We're determined not to let the controversy surrounding that incident take the gloss off a great win.

We get used to not getting credit when we take a big scalp. It's nearly always seen that the big club had an off day.

But it was nice to see that a lot of the media gave us due credit and said we deserved to beat Arsenal.

Arsenal's Sol Campbell is dismissed at Southampton
Sol Campbell pays a high price as he takes the long walk

Of course the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United are going to be in the shake-up at the end of the season.

But it's also heartening to look at the table and see the likes of Everton, Blackburn and ourselves in positions that most people would not have expected us to be in.

David Moyes has done a great job at Everton. He's shown what can be achieved by hard work and by building a great team spirit.

A great spirit is something we have in common with Everton and that counts for a lot for those teams who don't have the financial resources of the mega clubs.

It also shows that the transfer window doesn't have to be a disaster for clubs.

It's providing an interesting test for managers and coaches who have to stick with the players they have got and find ways of getting the best out of them until the window opens.

Southampton striker James Beattie writes for BBC Sport Online


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