Witness the clash between Arsenal and Chelsea this weekend. Chelsea fielded five England national team players, while Arsenal fielded none. It was a pulsating match, to be sure, "a battle, from start to finish, that allowed only occasional flashes of good soccer to shine through the aggression." And that's English soccer. Chelsea did well to force Arsenal to their game for long stretches, but what beautiful soccer came, came from Arsenal's foreigners, whose quality was just enough to see them through, in the end.
However, the level of violence permitted on the field by referee Alan Wiley might have suited an English Premiership game, but it "would simply not be tolerated by top international referees," says Gardner. Instead of the match ending with two injured players (John Terry for Chelsea and Emmanuel Eboue for Arsenal) and nine yellow cards, a non-English referee would have kept the violence in check, sending off the two players instead of letting the violence bubble over. This would have saved both coaches costly injuries to two of their biggest stars.