Sunday 29 November 2009

Chelsea's moneymen too strong

As I arrive home tired and slightly bedraggled I have had a fair amount of time to cogitate over today's defeat to our rather unsophisticated brothers from West London. Firstly Chelsea's side was full of experienced multimillion pound players who have played together for several years. Secondly I don't like them but they are probably the hardest side to beat in the world at the moment, there simply isn't a club side around that is so packed with talent that can also defend so solidly.

Drogba is almost their club emblem and epitomised just what a shallow bunch of hypocrites they are as a collective, on one hand he is one of the greatest strikers of his generation, but on the other he is also one of the worst sportsmen of his generation and behaves like a small child with an ASBO on regular occasions. That is Chelsea, they are not a pleasant group of human beings and their success has been purchased by a Russian criminal with blood on his hands, but they are a bloody good football team.

There were many reasons for our defeat today. The main one in my eyes was that Chelsea were better in the two keys areas of the pitch, they were more potent in attack and more resolute in defence. It does not help that two of our best strikers were out injured and that as a result we lacked a focal point, Eduardo looks low on confidence and really could do with a goal at the moment. Drogba is a physical beast and scores some simply incredible goals, his first was a fantastic finish and the second an unstoppable free kick.

The big concern for me was that he seemed to know that Gallas was the weak link, he kept away from Vermaelen and targetted Gallas from early on, this battle he comprehensively won and this turned the game in Chelsea's favour. Anelka is also a very dangerous player, his pace and instinct were always a threat on the counter. I thought Traore and Vermaelen did well today, but Gallas and Sagna did not. Sagna was at fault for both of the first two goals, he left Cole in far too much space on both occasions, sloppy defending, while Gallas was poorly positioned for both. In stark contrast to our defense Chelsea mopped up numerous shots and crosses by just playing with discipline and staying tight.

Overall it was not a 3-0 game to watch, we controlled the game for long periods, we had some decent chances in both halves which we failed to take, our midfield looked neat and tidy for the first seventy minutes. The problem was that we didn't take our half chances, Eduardo demonstrated this best by taking an extra touch when in a great position through on goal in the early second half. We didn't test Cech enough, there were too many slightly heavy passes and touches in the crucial areas. And when we did score at a time when Chelsea looked nervy, the referee bizarrely ruled it out for 'dangerous play' when Eduardo did nothing of the sort. Then when we had a good penalty shout that the referee ignored Vela being barged to the ground. It was not to be our day.

The performance of Andre Marriner does deserve a mention, and if he was not bribed the it was truly one of the poorest refereeing performances I have seen for a while. He let numerous fouls from Chelsea go unpunished, particularly from Mikel and especially in the second half. Mikel had committed at least two, maybe three, yellow card tackles before the ref bothered booking him. Having been booked he then committed a blatant act of dissent by picking up the ball and walking away with it when we tried to take the free kick, the limp and inconsistent Marriner did nothing and undermined his won authority once more. There was zero consistency with his decision making, he allowed Ivanovic to play rugby on several occasions, while every time an Arsenal player was hauled down it was invariably just a little chat and a license to foul from the impotent ref.

Overall our weaknesses were exposed once again, despite being the better side for long periods we failed to make it count and were left cursing some slack defending. It is no surprise that we came up slightly short because Chelsea are a very good side full of experienced 30 million pound players. Chelsea are side that have been built with money in an unsustainable manner, it is a miracle that Arsene even has us competing with them, I would rather see us win nothing but do things the right way than become the amoral money machine that Chelsea have become.

Listening to Arsene's comments in the press conference I cannot disagree with much he says, the decision to disallow our goal certainly made a big difference and the scoreline certainly flattered Chelsea. However we have conceded 18 goals this season, that is more than either Villa, Man City, Stoke or Birmingham, and that is not good enough. The balance is not right in attack either, without RVP and Bendtner we lack the players to suit a three man forward line. Above all we must remember that we have a fantastic bunch of talented players and that we are not far off having what it takes, the understanding and solidity that Chelsea have cannot be created overnight, it takes patience and time to build a successful team.

Saturday 28 November 2009

Injuries - oh f*ck and dodgy foreign surgeons

That's exactly what I thought when I heard the news about RVP needing surgery on his ankle injury which will keep him out for possibly the rest of the season. Watching the above video also makes me angry, to me Chiellini has gone in dangerously on RVP, this was a 'friendly match', he slides in with studs up and with a straight leg and nails RVP's standing leg, it was a bad tackle and it has cost us big time.

The same was true for Kieran Gibbs' fractured metatarsal, the game was over, we were cruising two nil and the Liege player slid in out of control with his studs up, clobbering Gibbs after the ball had gone. Both tackles were reckless, it matters not whether the ball was won or not, sliding in with your studs up should not be tolerated in the modern game, the problem is that refs are too stupid to pick up this kind of malignant play, they prefer to send people off for pushing someone in the chest or other kinds of harmless handbags. Until dangerous play is punished consistently in proportion with the threat it poses these kind of needless injuries will continue to happen far too frequently.

RVP has been advised to have surgery by a Dutch foot and ankle surgeon. Obviously it is hard to speculate as to whether RVP needs an operation, but it is rather obvious that there are a lot of rather cunning surgeons out there who are only too happy to milk the footballing gravy train for their own wallets. If RVP has a lateral ligament rupture which I suspect he does, then our Dutch man has produced evidence to say that reconstruction gives better long term results.

Nothing is sure in science and medicine, no matter what some people would have you believe, one can always find evidence to back up one's opinion, it is invariably the interpretation of the evidence that is key. If RVP has a lateral ligament rupture that to me is seems that having early surgery is not the sensible option. There is a lot of evidence to back this view up (1, 2).

"There are other reasons to consider functional treatment as a method of choice. First, as has been reported by many authors , secondary operative reconstruction or delayed repair of the ruptured ligaments of the ankle can be performed years after the injury if necessary, with good results that are fully comparable with those of primary repair. Therefore, even competitive athletes may be treated functionally at first, with the realization that 10 to 20 per cent may need elective secondary repair. Second, functional treatment saves the patient from additional trauma to the tissues and complications that are caused by operation."

The above quote comes from one of the most authoritative texts in the scientific literature on managing lateral ligament ruptures. If one assumes that RVP has a lateral ligament rupture then not only if he was managed without surgery would he only have around a 10% chance of needing surgical repair later, he would avoid all the potential complications of surgery and be back playing quicker than following surgery. With surgery he is practically certain to miss the rest of the season.

Obviously this is all speculation, but it would not be the first time that an 'eminent' surgeon has advised early surgery against the best interests of the patient. Privatised surgery means that surgeons will be much keener to operate on patients when the benefits of surgery are minimal at best, this is the way of the world.

There is a well known German surgeon who performs 'hernia repairs' on lots of footballers with a remarkable technique that has them back playing within two weeks. Some surgical experts would say that this surgeons' technique is nothing but complete bullsh*t quackery and that the surgery involves around just making a cut, then doing bugger all to repair the hernia because most footballers have groin strains, not hernias in the first place. Michael Owen had his hernia 'repaired' in Germany by this quack, I suspect Nicky Bendtner may have also gone for the same expensive placebo treatment. Interestingly this strange hernia repair technique has absolutely no evidence behind it, there is nothing written on it in the scientific literature, I am just surprised that more people have not smelt the rat.

I am indeed a cynical bastard but we do live in a rather cynical world, the moral of the story is that it is always worth considering what people have to gain from the particular advice that they give.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Ten, metatarsals and dodgy refs at all levels

So it's ten years in a row in the CL, a comprehensive enough win over Liege means qualification is now guaranteed. The big negative for me was the injury to Kieran Gibbs. Not only does it mean we are short of our best two left backs for several weeks, but it was a great opportunity for the young Englishman to cement himself in the side as our first choice left back, it is really bad luck for him. Gallas and Andrei Arshavin should both recover for the chavs' visit on Sunday, but the gap at left back is a big problem, hopefully Traore can step in and do a job, big question marks remain over his defensive positioning though.

Am in the middle of watching the reserves tonight, they are playing against a strong Villa side that includes the injury prone Stuart Downing. The game started off in a pretty competitive manner, one very poor tackle on Wilshere went unpunished while several other cynical Villa lunges were also ignored by the bald cretinous ref. The bald tosser than proceeded to book Bartley for a tackle that was rather innocuous, he then sent off Merida who looked to have been kicked off the ball by Fabian Delph, somehow Delph got just a yellow. The ref and his assistant looked to be well away from the action before deciding upon this rather harsh red card that ultimately looks to hand the game to the Villa reserves.

Wilshere then got a yellow for bugger all. In between this frenzy of crap refereeing Watt had given us the lead with a handy glancing header from a Merida set piece, then after the ref card Villa made the extra man count with a couple of rather average goals. Bloody frustrating stuff, it goes to show that at least the lads can get used to being on the end of poor refereeing decisions from a young age, preparing them well for the equally useless officiating in the Premiership. The ref lost control of the game early on, failing to punish some awful early tackles, he then compounded this by throwing the cards around like candy and wrecked the game with an out of place red card, promote him the the Premiership I say, muppet. The Arsenal reserves ended up fighting hard in the second half but unfortunately failed to get a second goal.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Back down to earth

There were many contributory factors to this defeat. The fact that virtually our entire squad had played quite a few international minutes over the previous week combined with a lot of air miles would undoubtedly had an effect. The number of injuries we have been subjected to of late also made a difference, the recent injuries include RVP, Diaby, Clichy, Gibbs and Bendtner. Sunderland are no mugs and have a very decent home record. All this combined with a bit of bad luck meant that we lost a game one nil which we really need to be winning if we are to challenge for the title.

The injuries and fatigue will have meant that Arsene didn't have a great deal of choice when it came to the starting eleven. I suspect Arshavin was not fresh enough to be starting, Theo was also only just back from injury and not ready for a full ninety. I think that this meant that our starting eleven didn't quite have the pace and directness in the front three that you need to break down a well organised opposition defence. Having said that we controlled the game, overall a stunning 65% possession was ours over the ninety, we just couldn't turn this domination into piercing the onion bag.

We weren't far off though. The first half saw some very decent chances come and go. Rosicky tested Fuller early on with a stinging low drive that was expertly kept out by the Sunderland keeper. The best chance of the half fell to Eduardo who, after some great build up work with Alex Song, got the ball stuck between his feet, his mis-hit effort went agonisingly wide as Song followed up and was only inches away from sticking it into the empty net.

The Sunderland goal was an utter fluke and anyone pretending otherwise is being a tad dishonest. Bent won the initial header but it wasn't threatening the Arsenal goal until a remarkable Sunderland miscontrol at the back stick saw the ball fall perfectly for Darren Bent to slot home, if the ball had fallen anywhere else it would have been safe enough, it really was a piece of great fortune for the average Bent. It must be admitted that we did freeze somewhat after the first ball was won, Rosicky could have reacted a tad quicker, but then again we would not be saying that if the miscontrol had gone straight at him for an easy Arsenal clearance, it really was a massive slice of luck for a Sunderland side that didn't look like scoring.

Despite going close through Arshavin late on and being denied a good penalty shout after what looked a clear foul in Vela in the box, we didn't create as much as we should have given our domination of the possession. You have to put the ball in the net if you are going to win games like this and we didn't do that. Even the nil-nil that we deserved would have been a bit of a frustrating result, less frustrating that losing to that scabby Bent goal though. The directness and pace of Walcott and Vela seemed to make a bit of a difference, arguably Rosicky and Nasri are a bit too similar to each other and we needed a bit more pace and directness to support Eduardo up front. The media's version of events are fantastical to say the least though, Sunderland did not win the midfield battle, they had 35% of the ball and rarely threatened, in reality this was more of a self inflicted result, we had the opportunity to win this game and we simply didn't take it.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Injuries and tabloid misinformation

So the meaningless international week has left us with at least one significant problem, if not two. Firstly RVP has sprained his ankle and will be out for a few weeks, despite hacks at the Sun speculating wildly when they didn't even know the true nature of the injury, he will NOT be out for the season, and it is not possible to predict exactly how long it will take him to recover.

I am amazed that tabloid hacks with no medical knowledge feel capable of speculating on injuries and try to predict exactly how long players will be out for, they are idiots. Recovery from injury is an unpredictable process and even the experts can only give rough estimates, sometimes even these are wrong. RVP will be out for a few weeks, it's impossible to predict with much more accuracy than that really. Even with extremely detailed scans it is still impossible to predict accurately how long injuries will keep people out for, you just can't tell I'm afraid. Honesty doesn't sell papers though.

Kieran Gibbs has also picked up an injury playing a very 'meaningful' game for the U-21s, despite the tabloids claiming it is a fractured metatarsal, the club have not yet released the details of his injury but I am sure they will let us know shortly. This could leave us in trouble at left back, Traore may be the man to come in, hopefully it will not be Silvestre.

This weekend's trip to Sunderland will be tricky. Steve Bruce has recruited some handy players and has organised them into a fairly solid unit. Lee Cattermole is a long term victim to injury but Cana is expected to be fit for the weekend, would this be a good game to try the Ramsey-Song-Cesc midfield trio? I think it would. Certainly Emmanuel Eboue will be on the mic, apparently he wants to be the new Eddie Murphy, expect him to be cruising down a street near you looking for some loving, but seriously, I don't think Emmanuel quite has the intellect of the legendary Murphy despite his great intentions of making people happy.

ps Good news on Gibbsy, he has no fracture and will probably be back to face the chavs in just over a week, it shows that some tabloid hacks should save their breath until they have the full information

Saturday 14 November 2009

International football is toss

Just a brief post to say the above. International football is frothy warm urine compared to the clear red cabernet sauvignon of the champions league. Bring on the end of the inter-lull.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

The Unwritten Rules of Penalties

I tread lightly as I am intending to bring up one of everyone's favourite subjects, namely diving, referees and what we do about it.

I only saw the replays of David Ngog's acrobatics against Liverpool and he has been roundly criticised for his disgraceful and theatrical dive that earned the Scousers an ill-deserved point. At least that is what the papers said this morning. By the afternoon, some of the papers' internet sites are carrying articles asking why video technology still hasn't been brought into play. Apparently a video replay will clarify all incidents and the referee will never make a mistake again - see this in the Telegraph.

As usual, I am not so sure its all that simple. So lets start from the top and see where we get.

1. A penalty is given for a foul in the box. So thats pretty easy so far.

2. A player will sometimes commit a foul that does not actually make contact with the opposition player. For example, the use of dangerous play such as a high foot in the tackle, is a foul even if no contact is made. However, its rarely the case that defenders get punished if the incident happens inside the box.

3. Many fouls do involve contact with the opposition player, but are not enough to bring the player down. What is unclear in the majority of those incidents is whether the foul actually affects the player with the ball. For instance, there is an unwritten rule that so long as the striker gets his shot away, then the subsequent leg-breaker from John Terry is not a foul. The same is not true outside the box - it would be a free kick awarded and a card for Terry.

4. Strikers get pissed off that constant fouling from defenders goes unpunished. The unwritten rule is that so long as the defender makes contact with the striker, then the striker is allowed to throw themselves to the ground, turn forlornly to the ref and say "I had no choice, he touched me softly just behind the ear, its a penalty"

5. Outside the box, players regularly and routinely anticipate bad tackles, hurdle the challenge, collapse in a heap and get a free kick from the ref. There are two unwritten rules for this situation. The first one is that if David Beckham can do it, then so can I. The second unwritten rule, is that if a player expects to be fouled, then why wait for contact which might cause injury, when he can miss all contact altogether and still get a free kick?

6. Inside the box, as David Ngog shows, the hurdle and collapse routine is disgraceful cheating. Unless Steven Gerrard does it.

7. Occassionally, depending on the moods of the season, other factors have to be taken into account, such as whether the player was heading towards goal or away from it, whether a goal scoring opportunity had been lost, whether the player had lost control of the ball or not. This unwritten rule is all about not giving a penalty when you don't think the striker deserved one.

Ok, so everyone still with me? There is so much subjectivity in the subtleties of the rules of fouling that its basically impossible for a ref to get in right. Trying to remember that a collapse outside the box is a free kick to the striker, whereas a collapse inside the box is a free kick to the defender is never going to lead to consistent decisions.

You can also show video replays to me and 1979 all day. Although we are both Arsenal fans, I would bet we disagree on most decisions on whether a foul should be given, let alone whether it deserves a penalty. We're as bad as Rednapp and Souness on Sky:

Jamie Rednapp:- "Definite penalty. Stonewall decision for me. Thats a quality ball from Lampard, pure quality. Gallas just touches Drogba with his finger-tips, just there, you can see it on the replay, and the big man goes down and starts twitching like he is a decapitated chicken."

Graeme Sounness:- "Fucking shut it Rednapp, you lame arsed cunt. Drogba should be sent off for being a ponce. Have that it your face pretty boy. And that..."

Apart from calling 1979 a pretty boy, thats pretty much how it is. And given that we are footballing experts that this world has rarely seen the likes of, then what chance has a video ref got? Thats right. None at all.

Maybe we could have Souness and Rednapp miked up and watching a live screen for every game of football in the world at all times - every ref in the country can then press the panic button and it goes through on a random selector either to Graeme "Fuck me in the arse if thats a pen" Souness, or otherwise the striker goes wild as soon as Jamie "Stonewall quality gay penalty" Rednapp points to the spot. It would be at least as effective, and probably more entertaining, than the current lottery.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Tame Wolves pose little threat

Morning all, and a happy Sunday it seems this morning in trying to evaluate Arsenal's excellent 4-1 win at Molineux yesterday evening. With ManUre traveling to fortress Stamford Bridge this afternoon, we have a position for a few hours where all the teams at the top of the table have played 11 games. And Arsenal's 25 points looks very comfortable alongside ManUre, also on 25, and just behind Chelsea on 27. This Arsenal team is a goal scoring machine, although still a bit leaky at the back on occasion, but with 36 goals from 11 Premiership games, we are scoring for fun at the moment.

This Wolves team should not be underestimated. They are a good and organised side who play decent football and will cause some upsets this year. Their 10 points from 11 games shows they are no whipping boys, and this fixture 12 months ago would probably have been the usual soft Arsenal performance, out-muscled and out-fought, defensively frail and prone to errors.

And make no mistake, Wolves threw everything at us for the first 20 minutes. Gallas diving in horribly against Evans-Blake (I think) miles up the field, leading to a corner to be conceded and a booking for Billy. Arsenal's split zonal and man-marking system was exposed from a well delivered the corner and Wolves almost scored.

The omens were poor, but luck was somewhat on our side, especially in the shape of the hapless Zubar. The big French defender managed to concede an entirely unnecessary free kick against Eduardo, which Vermaelen met and forced a corner, which was then well delivered into the six yard box for Zubar to shin into his own net under pressure from Eduardo.

And from that moment onwards, there only seemed one way the game would go. Because rather than sit back and try and force an equaliser over the remaining 70 minutes of the game, Wolves decided to push forwards and take us on head-to-head. Which is exactly what we wanted, as acres of space opened up in midfield for Fabregas, Arshavin and the impressive Rambo to exploit. However, our second goal was outrageously lucky, as Eduardo's chip back to Rambo was deflected cruelly into the top right hand corner.

However, Arsenal's third goal was a thing of genuine beauty. Fabregas, RVP and Sagna combined down the right in a move built by the composure and accuracy of the passing, plus the willingness of all three players to make intelligent and direct runs. RVP's softening of the ball into Cesc's route to score was something that the great Dennis Bergjamp would be proud of, and a lummox like Adebayor would be incapable of. And it was great to see all three players applaud each other's efforts as they celebrated the goal afterwards.

In contrast, the second half was a bit more drab, as Arsenal added a fourth through Arshavin, the ball coming through a crowd of players from a corner and not being spotted by the keeper. That said, for all our injury problems (and I don't know what the news is on Diaby), it was incredible that Wenger could withdraw Eduardo and Arshavin, both of whom had put in a solid shift, to be replaced by Rosicky and Nasri, both of whom themselves returning to match fitness after injury.

It also speaks volumes of Rambo, who also was solid if not brilliant, that Wenger chose to give the youngster a full 90 mins with that talent on the bench. If Rambo can get another few games under his belt in the next few months, then with Denilson also coming back into contention, there is a feeling that we will have some cover in midfield when Song goes off to the ACN in January. Because make no mistake, along with Vermaelen, Alex Song has been brilliant this season for Arsenal. A real workhorse in midfield, endlessly closing down the opposition and covering back when Gallas needs some help. Song is also excellent in possession, and whilst Cesc is having a stormer again this season, I put a lot of Cesc's success down to the quality of the platform that Song is giving him.

At the moment, Arsenal are making football look a simple game. We are simply better in every department that the opposition. The fact that we utterly dominated Spurs last weekend in a game that should have resulted in a bigger scoreline that 3-0 is extremely encouraging, since it suggests that we are not simply flat track bullies.

If we dispatch Sunderland on the 21 November, which will not be an easy game, then we get our next shot at one of the big boys when Chelsea come to the Emirates on 29 November. And say it quietly, but I think we now have the tools to give the Chelsea grandads a beating.

Friday 6 November 2009

Mancs don't dive

This was a blatant dive. The clip above makes it look like a dive and it is the most forgiving angle. From the side one can clearly see Fletcher throwing himself down before any contact is made and the contact that is made is microscopic to say the least. The ref got it spot on and booked Fletcher for his gamesmanship.

The media reaction has been an utter shambles. Both Andy Gray on Sky and the ITV commentator are bigots living in denial as they both called it a cast iron penalty, refusing to even acknowledge that there might have been a bit of gamesmanship at work.

Alex Ferguson has gone ballistic as always, refusing to even consider that one of his honest players would ever con a referee, remember that this is the man who let Ronaldo get away with the worst cheating of any player around for year upon year:

"I can't believe it. I watched the camera by the side of the dugout and it is the worst I have ever seen in my lifetime – unbelievable."

It was one of the worst dives you've ever seen 'Sir'(*). Just remember what Sir Alex said about the Eduardo situation, as if we needed to know what he thought:

"It was a high-profile game and something has to be done, it creates an incredible reaction from the media and public in these instances. Something should be done and we hope the message gets across."

Either Ferguson is a moron in denial or his is cunningly trying to detract attention from the dive by pretending it wasn't one, either way he's a clear hypocrite. Strange how it's fine for Fergie to have his say when one of our players exaggerates a challenge, but if Arsene had his say on Fletcher I bet he wouldn't be too happy. The media's refusal to even acknowledge that certain players from certain special clubs ever dive is frankly pathetic and reveals their complete lack of objectivity. The media's partisan coverage of Arsene's and 'Sir'(*) Alex's respective behaviour also gives their game away, one is labelled a whinging moaner whatever he says while the other is routinely given a free ride to justify the unjustifiable.

(*)-denotes the fact that the title 'Sir' means nothing more than Alex Ferguson being rewarded by the Labour party for backing them both financially and non-financially, it has been purchased with money just as if you or I went to the supermarket to buy an apple, it most certainly does not signify that he is a man of good repute or of good honour.

Thursday 5 November 2009

Rampaging russian catalyses dutch demolition

It is easy to take for granted, after all it is now almost ten seasons in a row of qualification for the knock out phase of the Champions League, what a fantastic record, it's just the cherry on top that Arsene is after now. No one really expected Alkmaar to pose much of a threat and this proved to be the case.

Clichy was out with what I suspect is a stress fracture of a pars interarticularis in his spine, it is common for this to be present on both sides of the vertebra and this is the case for Gael as his previous stress fracture was on the other side at the same level. Sagna was rested, Manuel remained in goal, while Samir Nasri started his first game following his return from injury as part of the front three.

The football was slick and cut Alkmaar to ribbons, Andrei Arshavin seemed to be at the heart of everything, the movement and pace was simply too much for the dutch champions to cope with. The first goal from Cesc saw some pretty dodgy keeping but it was still a fairly decent effort from the skipper. The second goal was Nasri at his best, recieving the ball and turning neatly in one movement, he created space for himself and buried the finish low into the bottom corner, top class stuff. The slick passing and interplay for the third and fourth was awesome, two lovely finishes as well from Cesc and Diaby. Manuel was done by an excellent bit of trickery with the eyes for the Alkmaar goal, predicting the centre Manuel was completely undone as the ball was fired past him at his near post.

Overall job done again, it would be nice to tie things up with a win against Liege in the next game. It is heartening to see the team clicking together so nicely, we are defending far better than we have for a while, Vermaelen is not only an excellent aggressive defender but he is also a great leader on the pitch. Gibbs now has a great chance to cement himself into the starting eleven. The young midfield are growing together, Song is looking a force to be reckoned with, Cesc has been finding top form again over the last month, while the unfairly maligned Diaby does appear to be improving and improving his decision making, Up front the abundance of talent is frankly incredible, last night we had Bendtner, Walcott and Vela not even involved for various reasons, but we still had so many options to choose from. If we can keep things going through the grim winter months I will seriously fancy our chances come May.

Monday 2 November 2009

Amusement from some idiots

Terry Venables was always an extremely overrated manager, and it appears that he is about as gifted as Harry Redknapp at being an oracle of the future. I chanced upon his Sun column from the weekend, in retrospect it makes absolutely brilliant reading but not for the reason that he intended:
"Watch you back Arsene! Arsene Wenger today comes face to face with the man who provides possibly the biggest threat to his glittering 13-year career as Arsenal boss... Harry Redknapp. "

What a comedy opening line, I really think Arsene would have been quaking in his boots, if Harry Redknapp is his biggest threat I genuinely think that Arsene's corpse will be able to manage Arsenal adequately when Arsene dies of old age in approximately 2045. Read the rest of Venables' comedy piece for your own amusement, it really is side splitting at times. The Sun really does bring its readers some absolute chestnuts of wisdom, the greatest footballing brains such as Redknapp and Venables are never too far from a cracking column, you are more likely to find a pearl of wisdom fishing in a public toilet.

Speaking of idiots, one well know Arsenal commentator felt the need to big up Craig Eastmond to such an extent that he claimed he was already better than Song, Eboue and Denilson. I've nothing against Craig Eastmond but the lad is only 18 and we should be careful before hyping him up too much, we should also be careful about slagging off our own players who are already looking absolutely top notch such as Alex Song. There was a veiled accusation of racism against Arsene that I found unpleasant as well as out of order:
"Will this 18-year old from Wandsworth be given the same opportunities as a Frenchman or an African? Will Wenger support Eastmond and give him a real chance to make a career at Arsenal? Or will he loan him out and flog him off to QPR or Birmingham?"

I wonder if this author would name any single ex-Arsenal player that has gone on to greater things having left the club, has a single one of these players looked like someone who would have been an asset to our first team? Exactly, there is no evidence to back up this lazy and stupid argument. I will not link up to who wrote this story as he deserves no further coverage of his shoddy work, is is enough to say that the man is a music writer by trade and understands football about as well as Jamie Redknapp. This author is scum of the lowest form, he sensationalises merely to attract readers as he knows that without it no one will read his average run of the mill dross.

Finally you've just got to love this quote from RVP after the spuds humiliation, absolutely priceless words that need to further comment:
"It always feels good to beat Spurs. It even feels good when we don't play them and they get beaten, so it's especially good when we've played them."

Sunday 1 November 2009

Partisan media and Redknapp out of his depth

It is strange that Arsenal Champions League matches always play second fiddle to those of Chelsea/Manu/Liverpool when it comes to getting on tv, especially given how few supporters Chelsea have. It is strange how rarely an Arsenal game is featured early on in Match of the Day, invariably tedious games involving Manu/Chelsea and Liverpool feature earlier on. It is strange how Sky's advertising campaign earlier in the season involved Manu, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City, they assumed Arsenal would not be part of the top four. This is all rather strange and cannot be explained solely by chance.

The media reaction to Eduardo being toppled against Celtic was also rather strange. He was public enemy no 1, he was written off as a cheat despite an unblemished career record, the tag lives on despite him actually being a rather honest player. In recent weeks we have seen numerous blatant acts of cheating routinely ignored by the media, something strange is afoot. Arsene has hit the nail on the head with comments in the screws:

"Last week, Scott Parker dived. No one spoke about it. You start to think the media make the rules. If they made a big thing of Eduardo then why did they not do that against Parker?"

Why indeed? The silence following Parker's blatant dive was deafening, the lack of comment regarding Cole's compliance with gravity was also notable. Yesterday Didier Drogba was back to his best, he was put clean through against Bolton, Jay Lloyd Samuel pursued him, Drogba took too heavy a touch and the chance appeared to have gone, Samuel made a slight attempt at a tackle, Drogba slowed himself down and took the most minimal of contact, he then went down as if shot, writhing around in fake agony as only he knows how, the game was changed, a penalty to Chelsea and Bolton down to ten men. Drogba's cheating has again been rewarded. The media have been silent on this, so what hope is there that cheating will be stamped out when it is so routinely ignored by the media?

Harry Redknapp has again revealed himself to be the most sore of losers. Redknapp tried to put down the defeat to just suicidal defending, he failed to admit that his inferior side were comprehensively outplayed for the duration. He even tried to claim that the spuds controlled the game in the first half, it's a bit strange to control a game without creating any chances while seeing the opposition have more possession and chances. He gave no credit to RVP for his excellent finish for the first goal, Redknapp tried to put this goal down to the third person as if the ball 'had squirmed in somehow'. In fact our excellent striker was too quick for your crocked centre back and he managed to control the ball into the bottom corner, that is not 'squirmed in somehow'. Redknapp pretended the spuds were comfortable until the 42nd minute, in fact it was more of a case of the spuds riding their luck, only one team looked like scoring. The fact that at 2-0 down they never looked as if they had the ability or belief to get back into the game was also ignored by Redknapp.

To put Cesc's goal to just bad defending is bizarre as well as disgraceful, it was a majestic piece of play, not many players could do what Cesc did yesterday, the fact that we have players who can do this is what makes us a class or ten above the spuds, something Redknapp would do well to acknowledge rather than pretending it was a self inflicted defeat. It is strange that the media give this average manager such a free run to say what he chooses, it is strange that he is never labelled a sore loser when he is always so very ungracious in defeat.

This is all very strange. At least at the end of the interview Redknapp effectively admitted that he expects to lose at Arsenal, he denied the result was a 'blip', to me this is an inadvertent admission that he didn't hold out much hope of a victory at the Emirates. At least bitter 'Arry got one thing right, it was indeed 'sunday morning football' and this came from his sunday morning players that have been assembled at double the cost of Arsene's squad, well done 'Arry, what a lovely cheeky chap you are.