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Arsenal | Anorak - Part 2

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Arsenal to recruit Liverpool’s Buvac on the cheap

Is it “bizarre” for Liverpool assistant manager Zeljko Buvac to be linked with the Arsenal manager’s job? The Liverpool Post says it is. Buvac, the Bosnian who has coached alongside Jurgen Klopp for 17 years until a recent schism, would make a decent fist of managing the Gunners; far better than Arsenal Wenger’s current Number 2, the uninspiring Steve Bould.

The source of the story linking Buvac with Arsenal is Pravda BL – the publication that was earlier than most to confirm Klopp’s appointment at Anfield. Pravda BL says Buvac has agreed to replace Wenger. The deal is done. If it is, Arsenal fans should be pleased. The man nicknamed ‘The Brain’ is a talented coach. He’s untainted by failure and high expectation that comes with a bigger name. And he’ll come relatively cheap.

“Zeljko is football expertise incarnate,” Klopp said of his assistant. “I learn every day from him.” Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin described him as “basically Klopp’s twin”.

Arsenal seem to have been making plans to get Buvac for some time. The Londoners recruited Sven Mislintat, as Arsenal’s head of recruitment in December 2017. He and Buvac worked together at Borussia Dortmund during Klopp’s time at the German club. Klopp made Mislinat Dortmund’s chief scout.

Colin Bell, who was reserve-team coach at Mainz under Klopp, told the Times about Buvac:

“Zeljko reads the game very well, he has great footballing ideas and is always looking at finding new ways on how to play and train.

“When Mainz started to play 4-3-3 it was different to the Dutch way, where you have a central striker and two out-and-out wingers. Zeljko wanted the players to keep moving around, interchanging, coming inside.

“Andriy Voronin [who would later join Liverpool] scored 20 goals for Mainz [in 2002-03] and he was all over the pitch, working really hard from central striker or right wing and left wing and it was so difficult for opponents to stop him and others. I can see those sorts of aspects in the Liverpool style now, especially with the quality of the player they have.

“Closing down, surrounding opponents, going hunting for the ball — that all started in Mainz. That was one of Zeljko’s big things and he did specific training forms for that.”

Kuvac for Arsenal is it is, then. The more you consider the idea, the more sensible it looks.

Posted: 2nd, May 2018 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, Sports | Comment


Biased Reporting: Jose’s ‘masterstroke’ helps Manchester United block Arsenal

Manchester United’s “never-say-die streak” saw them beat a much-weakened Arsenal side at Old Trafford – it was the Gunners’ youngest Premier League starting XI. The official Manchester United website says Jose Mourinho “outsmarted” Arsene Wenger by bringing on the very tall Marouane Fellaini late on and lobbing the ball towards his bonce. It was Jose’s “masterstroke” that Fellaini scored with his head against two young Arsenal centre backs who’d never played together before, including one making his debut.

The official Manchester United organ’s blinkered match report makes no mention of the fact that Arsenal’s goalscorer, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, used to play for the club – also not noting that Jose Mourinho shunted him out, just as he got shot of the Kevin De Bruyne and Mo Salah, when he thought neither of this season’s star turns for Man City and Liverpool, respectively, was good enough for his Chelsea.

But there is this on the opening goal:

It didn’t take long for United to make Wenger’s last time as Gunners boss initially uncomfortable when taking a 16th-minute lead. Pogba started and finished the move. The France midfielder stroked a pass to Romelu Lukaku and went driving on into the area. Lukaku’s cross was met with a header from Alexis Sanchez. His hopes of a dream goal against his former employers were dashed as his effort hit Hector Bellerin and came off a post, only for Pogba to volley home.

It hit Bellerin?

The Daily Telegraph saw this:

Unmarked, Sanchez’s diving header was diverted onto the post by Hector Bellerin at full-stretch only for the ball to rebound to Pogba who simply volleyed it into the unguarded net.

As for the official Arsenal website, it went like this:

Alexis looked certain to score with his head at the far post, but Hector Bellerin made a superb diving block to divert his effort onto the post. Unfortunately the ball fell straight to the waiting Pogba to tap home.

What say the papers?

The Islington Gazette adds:

…the goal itself was slightly fortuitous as Hector Bellerin’s block from Alexis Sanchez’s header diverted the ball onto David Ospina’s right hand post.

The Ham & High needs a lesson in human anatomy:

Excellent block from Alexis Sanchez’s header deserved better than for it to hit the post and rebound back for Pogba to head home.

And the Manchester Evening News shoves Bellerin down the memory hole:

Great counter attack by United. Pogba out to Sanchez on his right who floats in a great cross, Sanchez header at the far post comes off the post and Pogba’s there to finish it and put United 1-0 up.

They say “volley”. You say “tap”. They say “hit. You say “superb diving block”.

One thing the Arsenal website fails to mention is the dire fact that Arsenal have now lost six successive away fixtures in the league for the first time since Billy Wright was their manager in 1966. But, yep, Jose’s the master.

Wenger OUT!

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Wenger taught Arsenal the art of losing

Arsene Wenger’s closing days at Arsenal are marked by his admission: “The timing was not really my decision.” That’s the good news for Arsenal fans. It suggests the club’s board has finally risen from its collective torpor and realised that under Wenger’s faded light their investment is devaluing.

What Arsenal had under Wenger vanished years ago, perhaps as far back as a decade. Now they look for hope in an unlikely win over Atletico Madrid in the Europa League next Thursday, and with it a route for the country’s sixth best side to qualify for next season’s Champions League. Arsenal will be back where they belong – also-rans in the top contest. It’ll be like those years when they kept coming fourth and never improved.

Wenger leaves Arsenal fragile and indecisive.

Today Wenger managed Arsenal for the last time at Old Trafford. What a damp squib. United and their fans once feared Wenger and his feisty team. What price Tony Adams, Ian Wright, Sol Campbell, Martin Keown, Ashley Cole, Patrick Vieira, Emmanuel Petit, Nigel Winterburn, David Seaman, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry? When Sylvain Wiltord’s strike won the title at old Trafford, clinching the double for the Gunners, it was magnificent. Ferguson v Wenger was the league’s top fight. But only one of them had to win. Wenger wanted to make art out of football.

When Shkodran Mustafi slipped on his arse, his mouth gaping as Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann outwitted three hapless Arsenal defenders by the cunning ploy of keeping his eye on the ball, I imagined the speech bubble above the German’s head declaring, “Art.”

The fans want better. They won’t get it quickly because unlike when Wenger arrived, Arsenal don’t have a great back four. They have a squad of lightweight journeymen bereft of leaders.

Wenger blazed a revolution all those years ago. Now Arsenal need a new sea-change: a vocal captain unafraid to dish it out and a defender who knows when to smash the ball and man into the stands. Anyone know what George Graham’s up to?

Arsene Wenger’s first home game 19 October 1996: David Seaman, Lee Dixon, Tony Adams, Steve Bould, Martin Keown, Nigel Winterburn, Paul Merson, David Platt, Patrick Vieira, John Hartson, Ian Wright.

When did it all go wrong for Wenger? When he stopped picking and recruiting tough home-grown players who were happy to do the dirty stuff.

Posted: 29th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal offload Wenger to China; Manchester United want 9

With all the shock value of a baby with a full nappy, news is that departing Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will become the highest-paid manager in the world should he move to the Chinese Super League. The BBC says so.

He won’t go, of course. It was only a day or two ago that the tabloids were telling us of Wenger’s “hint” at continuing to coach in European football. China might well own vast chunks of European real estate and capital, but we’re not yet an enclave.

The BBC and Mirror mention not a single club by name to have offered Wenger anything in mangement, only that he has been “inundated” with offers and it is “understood” the deal is worth even more than “Marcello Lippi receives on his £24m-a-year deal as boss of the China national team”. (Lippi’s alive?!)

And then this guff:

But Wenger, who has been earning £8m-a-year, can get even more after being sounded out with a serious offer from China for when he steps down at Arsenal this summer.

Oh, and the Mirror “understands” Wenger would prefer to manager in Europe. The paper “believes” Wenger wants to continue in management. Mirror and BBC readers might well understand that this story has more holes than the Arsenal defence, which is lots.

 

wenger manchester united

Via (The Times)

 

8-2 arsenal

 

As for the actual football, Arsenal travel to Manchester United on Sunday. The game falls between their Europa League clashes with Atletico Madrid. Arsenal fans have no need to wonder what team Wenger will send out at United – it’s not the one that used to fight and scrap and win. It’s the one that follows an 8-2 drubbing; the team of journeymen you get when a palsied board stick with a faded talent in exchange for regular dividend cheques that come with being also-rans.

Arsenal are slipping. Last summer was dominated by the mess over Alexis Sanchez (now at Man United, of course, and playing well) and Mesut Ozil’s contracts. This one will be about a new manager, and Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck when the pair enter the final 12 months of their existing deals in June – when Jack Wilshere will be a free agent. No planning. No vision.

“I always got a great reception at Old Trafford,” says Wenger. “I don’t know what kind of reception I will get but we will be focused on winning the game. We always had some great battles in 22 years.” When was the last one, Arsene?

Manchester United 8, Arsenal 2 (2011). He should have gone years ago.

Posted: 28th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, manchester united, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal and Atletico Madrid fight in an ‘Orphanage’: Google Translate does the Europa League

When Arsenal contrived to toss away a fantastic opportunity to put Atletico Madrid to the sword in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, we went to see what Spanish newspapers made of the 1-1 draw. When fans are feeling blue at their team’s shortcomings – and how did Arsenal playing at home, a goal and an extra man to the good following a 10th minute red card in their favour finish the game 1-1? Answer: comical defending – it’s a fun idea to read the match report via Google Translate.

Spanish newspaper El Pais tells us of a fight in an orphanage and much more besides:

In ten minutes he had seen how Arsenal was going over him and the arbitration decisions that put the game uphill were unleashed. The bad deliveries generated an initial decomposition that caused the first bombing of the Arsenal and also the first yellow to Vrsaljko for tripping Wilshere. With this card the French referee Clèment Turpin set the bar very low. Soon, Oblak put a prodigious hand to deflect a header from Lacazatte, who had already hovered the goal after a center past Welbeck. In the middle of the game cascade produced by Özil, Ramsey and Wilshere, Vrasljko arrived late to a dispute with Lacazette and stepped on the French striker. The referee showed the second yellow to the Croatian side and Simeone was demonized. He began to protest with fuss and vociferate. Perhaps he is accustomed to these protests in Spain, but Turpin did not allow them. Atlético stayed with a player less and orphaned coach.

From that orphanage so early in the morning, he had no choice but to be more of Simeone than ever…

Turned into a split pediment, Arsenal fell into the routine and prompted the Atlético take air to play something. Griezmann had a shy shot from the edge before having the clearest chance of the first half. It originated Thomas, who understood that the context of the shock was for heroic adventures…

The start of the second act revived the local offensive thunders from innumerable centers on the sides. He also seemed to adjust better Wenger set to prevent the Athletic could progress and generate kickbacks. Center to center, the harassment and demolition paid off…

It was the Montenegrin center who put a long ball to Griezmann to persist with Koscielny. He tried to control the ball, but was met by the insistence of Griezmann, who slipped the ball and stood before Ospina. The Colombian goal took the first shot, but the rejection no longer forgave the Frenchman…

They still had another drink in a header from Ramsey, but Oblak with another stretched museum certified the resistance of Atlético to fall.

It’s rivalled by AS, whose reporter goes full tonto:

Arsenal came out to win, without trembling. The Atleti, like a flan, at six minutes already added a stick of Lacazette and the first miracle hand of Oblak. But he was 115 years old at the Emirates and could only do so with a game that matched his history . With suffering, epic and blessed madness . Because there was, a lot. Because very soon Vrsaljko would leave with ten of his own . He saw yellow in the 2 ‘to avoid a counter and in the 9’ he stepped on Lacazette without thinking that he already had a card. The referee, Turpin, did not either. To think that the party had not even reached 10 ‘. Yellow, red and to the tunnel. Soon Simeone would follow .

The referee did not punish with yellow a foul on Lucas and that burned him. I would turn off Turpin’s finger. To the tier. For many minutes the Arsenal would not stop raining . It was Lacazette, storm between the lines, it was that deadly Welbeck headbutt. Al Atleti was only held by a redoubt, the goalkeeper of 13 on his back. Second hand miracle of Oblak…

Adding:

It seemed the sentence but, then, when the clock said 81, Welbeck lost that ball that Giménez sent long to Grizi , for 1-1, and Oblak stopped that last time, Ramsey, to leave to Wenger that smell of defeat in clothes . Because there are games that smell like that, like some nights. It does not matter to tie them, you smell them, the clothes, and there it is. The defeat, although his Arsenal did not lose. The Metropolitan will decide.

Or as the Arsenal website outs it: “We CAN do it.”

Posted: 27th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports, Technology | Comment


Arsenal: Wenger hints at something but not that

What next for Arsene Wenger when he finally closes the door on Arsenal and we can all forget about the nine years without a trophy, signing Marouane Chamakh and watching a side with all aggression of a newborn lamb? Unless, of course, the masterful manager steers Arsenal to the Europa League title and with it Champions League qualification, and we call agree that it’d be right and proper for Wenger to remain at the club for another season. Or longer. Don’t toss way those “Wenger Out’ banners yet, Gooners.

 

arsenal wenger express

 

The Express, though, is a practical organ. Everything it publishes is printed in trusty black and white. Wenger is going. End of. And today the paper delivers the news: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger drops big hint over next job: This is where I want to manage.”

 

arsenal wenger express

 

In case you missed it there, the Express’s sister paper, the Star, also thunders: “Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger drops huge hint over where he’ll manage next.”

Where? Bayern Munich? Spurs? England? Says Wenger: “I hope these are not my last European cup games – my target is to play in Europe again.” The hint is that he cole mange for any club in Europe. In yer face, Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

Posted: 26th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal balls: Elneny vows to walk again

As ever, when a footballer is injured the tabloids shift into full ghoul mode, reaching for the blindfold and shotgun.  It was so when Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny was hurt in his side’s 4- in over West Ham. Peak horror was fanned by the Sun, which told of “tears”, “devastation” and “broken limbs“. Elneny was “broken”. Elneny was not going to play again for Arsenal this season. He was most likely also out of Egypt’s team for the World Cup finals. Two days on and we’re living in the time of miracles. Elneny will will be out of action for three weeks.

The Sun reports:

It’s good news for Arsenal who will hope to have Elneny fit for the Premier League run-in and potentially the Europa League final… many believing his season was over.

No. Only some of those Sun readers believed that – the ones who believe you can offer a diagnosis and prognosis from a screen shot of a turned ankle, presenting a sprain as a “freak injury“.

Update: Elneny will not play for Arsenal again this season.

Posted: 25th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Sports | Comment


Liverpool’s injured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain must learn from Spurs Harry Kane

oxlade-chamberlain injury

 

When Liverpool signed midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal, many wondered how long a player with such a long history of injuries would last before he was crocked again, especially playing for Jurgen Klopp’s pell-mell team. At last night’s throbbing Champions’ League 5-2 victory over Roma, Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off in the 15th minute with the scores tied at 0-0.

After the match, Klopp went on the record to say: “”It’s probably a really bad injury. If you can say that already before the scan then it’s never good news.”

The Ox has made an impressive 41 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool, scoring five goals. But there was an inkling that injury would always come. According to the TransferMarket site, Oxlade-Chamberlain has now injured his knee four times. In 2013-2014, a knee injury caused him to miss half the season:

 

Alex Oxlade-chamberlain injuries

 

 

He’s been unlucky. But to what extend are players invited to suck it up and play though the pain, pushing themselves too far before their body has fully healed?

Top athletes are primed like race horses. They are highly strung, fitter than amateur sportsmen and women. Their bodies are pushed to the limit. Recovery time is vital.

Tennis player Raphael Nadal talks of his own injuries in his autobiography:

“Playing sports is a good thing for ordinary people; sport played at the professional level is not good for your health. It pushes your body to limits that human beings are not naturally equipped to handle. That’s why just about every top professional athlete has been laid low by injury…I’ve had to push and mould my body to adapt it to cope with the repetitive muscular stress that tennis forces on you . . . [We] have to learn to live with pain.”

To what extent does an injury play around with an athlete’s mind? Oxlade-Chamberlain is acutely aware of his medical history and the state of his knees. But it’s a fair bet he’ll be wishing to get well enough fast so that he can play in the World Cup finals, pain or no pain – maybe the rush of playing can mask the niggles and the agony. Drive and adrenalin will pull him through.

But taking it slower is wise. When Spurs’ star striker Harry Kane damaged his ankle on March 11 in their 4-1 win at Bournemouth, he returned just three weeks later for his side’s 3-1 win over Chelsea. “The swelling went down quickly,” said Kane “and whenever I get injured I prepare right and make sure I do everything I can to get the swelling down and get back on the pitch. Hopefully this time it was quicker than last time… The injury was pretty much exactly the same time as last year, funnily enough. I was feeling strong last year and that’s what I’ll try to do this year.”

Since then Kane has been more miss than hit. He’s scored twice since his return but was largely anonymous when Spurs lost to Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-finals. The FA apologised for posting a message asking United defender Chris Smalling “What’s in your pocket?” and including a short clip of him saying, “Harry Kane”.

Kane, England’s best striker, has returned from injury a figure of derision, not all of it underserved.

In Spurs victory over Stoke, Kane claimed a goal initially awarded to team-mate Christian Eriksen. Kane said Eriksen’s free-kick grazed his shoulder on the way in. The Premier League goals accreditation panel awarded him the goal “after taking the player’s testimony into account and reviewing the match footage”. Jokes followed. When Liverpool’s mighty Mohamed Salah was named PFA Player of the Year for 2017-18, his teammate Simon Mignolet told him to “take care” as “someone else might claim it”.

 

 

Kane was desperate to matter again. He wanted to get well fast and score. It’s debatable how much that desire to succeed clouded his judgement, causing him not to consider the long-term implications of playing too soon after injury.

So get well soon, Oxlade-Chamberlain. But don’t rush.

Posted: 25th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Liverpool, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: full transcript of Wenger’s first press conference since quitting

Following Arsenal’s 4-1 victory over West Ham in yesterday’s Premier League encounter at the Emirates, Arsene Wenger appeared before the media in his first press conference since announcing his departure from the club. Is he reluctant to leave the club he’s graced for 22 years? Why is he leaving now? And what next for the Frenchman? The mood at the Emirate was a mix of reserved respect and apathy for a manger who was once the world’s best and a decent team peppered with mediocrity and journeymen.

This is the full transcript of it:

The Fans Were Chanting “One Arsene Wenger”. Some wore shirts bearing his name. 

I’m happy when our fans are happy. I’m even ready to suffer to make them happy. If sometimes, they make me happy as well then I’m happy. I’ll take it. Every single decision I’ve made in my 22 years is for the good and the sake of Arsenal. Even when it was the wrong decision, my one priority was to do well for the club.

I tried to influence the club on the structural side, on the development of the individual players and of course the style of play and results. To combine the three is not always easy and I believe that I will leave a club that is in a very strong position on all fronts. My target was always to do that and I give an opportunity to the guy who comes in after me to do even better in the next 20 years. That’s my wish.

Will He Pick His Successor?

No. It’s not my decision. I always feel that the most important thing in a football club is that everybody does his job. My job is to take care of the team, of the results and of the finances in the transfers. That’s what I did. My job is not to select the next manager.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Not what he said at all

 

Why Is He Leaving Now?

I made a statement. That is basically all in it. Overall, I don’t think it’s the moment to come out on that. I would like to focus, to keep the priorities right until the end of the season and focus on how well I can do until the end. I will speak about that a bit later in my life.

It’s Been Emotional?

No, not really. It’s a mixed feeling. First of all I must say that I’m touched by all the praise I’ve got from all English football and I’m grateful for having that experience in this country. That for me is very special. The football is special, the passion is special and you’ll find that nowhere else. I know that I will not get that anymore in my life.

Of course that is absolutely special and the fact that I could see the development of the Premier League in 20 years is sensational. I hope that will last a very long time. After that I had the feeling a little bit [like this was similar to] my funeral because people speak about you and how you were, so it was little bit interesting on that front. I don’t need to die anymore because I know what it’s like! That is quite interesting but I must say, apart from a little sense of humour, I would like to thank everybody who has been nice to me. It’s our job because I certainly got more praise than I deserved and maybe sometimes more criticism than I deserved. It has been difficult but also fantastic.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Nope – not what he said

 

When Did Wenger Decide To Leave?

It’s not the moment to talk about that.

Why Is Wenger Not seeing out The Final Year of His Current Contract?

I just told you a few minutes ago that I would talk about that one day but it’s not the right moment.

Will He Manage England?

If you’re speaking about emotions, that certainly would be for me emotionally difficult. I don’t know how well I will live without that so at the moment its difficult for me to say never. But at the minute I speak to you, I’m too attached to this club to say I would go anywhere else. It’s too difficult for me.

 

wenger out stupid headlines

Another ‘stupid’ headline

 

Has It Sunk In?

I will never completely leave this club, because my first look will always be for Arsenal and how well the club develops. I will always be attached, but it’s difficult. You do not give 22 years of your life like that. I gave the best years of my life to this club. I arrived at 46 years old and I worked seven days a week – not six or six and a half. Seven for 22 years! You cannot just walk away and say thank you very much and bye bye, it is absolutely normal. You cannot be on one side completely committed and after walk away like nothing happened – it’s impossible. I know I will face that challenge and that it will be difficult for me. But I had other difficulties in my life and I hope that I will get through this one as well.

Has His Leaving Galvanised The Club?

I don’t know. The club needs to prepare for the future and the earlier and more settled it is, the better. You cannot come in on 1 June and say look we separate now and do what you want.

Will He Carry On?

Maybe – I don’t know. It’s new for me. With Sir Alex Ferguson it was different, I agree with you. He’s still at the club though, he stayed at Manchester United.

Will He Hang Up his Big Coat And Stop Coaching?

Honestly, I can’t tell you much because I don’t want you to come back to me in six months and say that you lied to us. I know I did that a few times, but I would like to be definite today. I don’t know how I’ll respond to that situation.

What Arsenal Need From The Next Boss?

Look, you take me and take a guy who’s much stronger in every strong point that I have!

Is He Relived To Be Going?

No, because I was not tired, but I personally feel that this club is respect all over the world, much more than in England. Our fans did not give the image of unity I want at the club all over the world and that was hurtful. I feel the club is respected and overall the image we gave from our club is not what it is and not what I like.

The Europa League?

We will try you know, we play against Atletico Madrid and it is very open. Hopefully we can continue to have positives results until the end and then we will see where we go from there.

Did ‘Wenger Out’ Signs Hurt Him?

I have nothing more to say. I feel this club has a fantastic image and for me that is absolutely vital.

We can speak and speak and speak, sport is about winning and losing and you have to accept that you can lose games but it is about something bigger than winning and losing. For me that was always a worry, how the club is perceived worldwide for kids who play in Africa, in China, in America and the dream it can create for young children who want to play football and all of our clubs have a responsibility in that.

Did Anti-Wenger Fans Hurt The Club?

I’m not resentful and I do not want to make stupid headlines. I’m not resentful with the fans, I just feel if my personality is in the way of what I think our club is, for me that is more important than me. That is what I want to say, it is nothing to do with the fans, the fans were not happy I can understand that, that is my job and I have to live with that, I can accept that. I don’t know if it was damaging but it was not corresponding with what I really feel our club is perceived and has to be perceived all over the world. I travel a lot and this club is respected all over the world and that is down to work and as well to the way we play football, the way we behave and the way we treat people. I want that to go on and to be respected and give the image I think is right. There is a lot of money in the game but above that is more than money, more than results, it is the way a club is perceived and the example a club gives all over the world.

He’ll tell us more about his departure later – you know, when his book comes out.

Posted: 23rd, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Pray for broken Arsenal ‘star’ Mohamed Elneny

So how was Arsenal’s “star” player Mohamed Elneny injured playing against West Ham?

The Express: “Elneny crumpled to the floor after a challenge from Mark Noble, and caused a lengthy delay as he received treatment…. The Egyptian star was visibly devastated by the incident which could have put his World Cup participation under threat.”

Bad foul, then? And he’s out for weeks?

The Sun: “Arsenal ace Mohamed Elneny in tears on stretcher with ankle in brace and fears World Cup hopes could be dashed.” It’s the Egyptian’s “Injury El”. It “appeared to be a freak injury in a challenge for a high ball with Mark Noble”.

A freak injury! Will he walk again? “There was no word whether Elneny had broken any bones. Although he will need to go for scans on his ankle ligaments and an A-Ray to confirm there are not any broken limbs.”

He’s broken his leg? His arm? His arms and legs?

No.

“It’s an ankle problem that is very painful,” said Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger after the game. “Overall I believe that we have to wait until the X-ray to know a little more about it. But Thursday will be too soon for him.”

Why mention broken limbs?

And now for an update on Jack Wilshere, Mesut Ozil and Henrikh Mkhitaryan ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match at the Emirates.

“Jack had a training session today and he looked positive so he has a good chance to be available for Thursday. Ozil was sickness so I cannot tell you much more about that. We will have to see how he recovers tomorrow. But Mkhitaryan won’t be available on Thursday.”

That would be the Mkhitaryan who is now back in training and of whom the papers said two weeks ago: “Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of Arsenal season with knee injury” (Daily Telegraph) and “Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of the season after fears of knee ligament damage” (Daily Mirror).

Anyone else thing Ozil and Wilshere are just being rested for the game with Atletico Madrid, Mkhitaryan is not being rushed back so that he can play in the second leg in Spain and – well, Elneny – pray for him. Sky says he “rolled his ankle”.

They shoot horses…

Posted: 22nd, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal: sacked Wenger gets £11m compensation

Arsenal are paying Arsene Wenger – get this – £11m to leave at the end of the season. Well, so says the Sun. It’s pretty much what he would have earned for the final year of his contract – which implies he was more pushed than we realise.

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov said: “It’s a day of great sadness.” But it isn’t for the club’ s fans how have been watching Wenger’s ‘end of an era’ football for years. His years of changing things and winning the league have long departed. His aura of menace vanished years go. Usmanov’s emotions maybe more to do with his lack of control over hiring and firing at the club that despite his big stake won’t give him a seat on the board.

The decision to let the always classy Wenger go was Stan Kroenke’s, Arsenal’s absentee owner who fears that another season without Champions League cash and all those fat dividends will hurt his huge bank balance – and reduce the club’s value. And then season ticket renewal time is looming. Last season Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s CEO,  handed Wenger another two-year contract, a move possessed of a lazy pragmatism; if not Wenger, then who? Arsenal had no clue. Wenger has gone from mainstay to stop gap. Gazidis blathered about another two years of the same old being a “catalyst for change”. Change came: Arsenal got worse.

So what next? The paper talks is of familiar faces: Juventus boss Max Allegri; ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique; Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers; and gun-for-hire Carlo Ancelotti. None of them excite the fans. They all represent playing it safe – people who have managed at big clubs and done well.

But Arsenal need bravery and courage. They need to get the figure who inspires. Why no Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim, a man who manages a team ever other club wants to recruit from? Be brave, Arsenal. Give the fans something complicated, daring and new to be intrigued and interested by. Give us new forms of keep-fit and training; give us new ways for players to express themselves; give us an end to the culture of playing “a little bit with the handbrake on’; give us a team of skilled tough-nuts and fighters. Give us another Wenger – you know, the one who should have gone in 2008!

Posted: 21st, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal: Wenger gives a ‘heavy hint’ he’ll stay

The Daily Mirror has been guessing about the timing of Arsene Wenger’s departure from Arsenal for so long, the feeling was that eventually the paper would get it right. The “WE told you so!” headlines would mask the myriad times when the paper got it utterly wrong.

 

daily mirror wenger quits sack resigns arsenal

 

So how did the ‘intelligent tabloid” report on Wenger and Arsenal on the very day when he announced his departure at his season’s end?’ Well, like this:

Wenger gave a further heavy hint he will still be at the Emirates next season when he insisted there were no issues with the Arsenal crowd, despite fans staying away in their droves from recent home matches

 

arsene wenger daily mirror

Daily Mirror fails to nail it – again

 

Ah:

 

arsene wenger daily mirror

In the Mirror on the day Wenger announced his Arsenal departure

 

Oh dear. Even a stopped watch is right twice a day…

 

 

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports, Tabloids | Comment


Arsenal: Gazidis outlines his vision for life after Wenger; he hasn’t got one

Ivan Gazidis, the hapless Arsenal CEO, has a few words to say on the identify of the next Arsenal manager. He’s no idea who it’ll be. He’s had few years to be bold, identify a target and get his man. But instead Gazidis has sat on his wallet and lazily rewarded Arsene Wenger’s decline with new contracts and empty talk of sticking with the same old representing a “catalyst for change”. Wenger has a year left on his current deal. Season tickets are to be renewed soon. Arsenal fear apathy and fans not coughing up. Empty seats don’t sell food and drinks on match day.

Says Gazidis on being asked who the next manager will be: “Someone who plays exciting and progressive football. But I think there is also a significant thing at Arsenal in how the candidate represents the club. We need to make sure we don’t lose his qualities and his values.”

Balls, of course. The only thing Arsenal’s hierarchy value is money. The next manger will be expected to secure one thing above all else: income that comes with Champion’s League football and a full ground.

Does any Arsenal fan think Gazidis has the nous to appoint a manager of vision, one for the long-term? “This has been an emotional day for all involved at the club,” Gazidis adds, “his achievements are extraordinary… there’s an affection for him across the whole sphere of football. Arsene changed the game, he set a totally new standard, to make art out of football.”

Art? Has he been watching the last few seasons. Unless Gazidis means that functional, boring art of the type that fails to inspire, the stuff used to hide a stain on the wall? What tosh.

Blessedly, Gazidis and the club’s absentee American owner Stan Kroenke have recruited promisingly. Gazidis adds:

“We have a tremendous amount of experience at the football club. [Head of football relations] Raul Sannlehhi has seen several Barcelona coaching changes and [head of recruitment] Sven Mislintat has been at Borussia Dortmund for changes while on the board we have those who have been around for long enough to see even changes at Arsenal. That said, no one here has been through a coaching change like this.”

The best thing about it all is that now Arsenal fans can say farewell to Wenger in style. The bad news is that the money men who have overseen the decline are still in charge.

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal finally get shot of Arsene Wenger

Rejoice, Gooners! Arsene Wenger will leave Arsenal at the end of this season. He was fantastic for Arsenal, who before his arrival were moribund. But now he too is stalled and out of ideas. It’s been like that for years.

The 68-year-old Frenchman will leave in May after 22 years at the club – 12 months before his latest contract was due to end. His record is impressive: three Premier League titles, seven FA Cups, the Double in 1998 and 2002 – and runners up in the: Champions League, Uefa Cup, FA Cup (all once), the Premier League (6 tim3s) and League Cup (3). And who can forget that entire league season without defeat. Just incredible.

Wenger changed everything. Out went the booze and the late nights. In came diet, data, athleticism and belief.

The hope must be that the flaky team galvanise to give the manger a great send off and win the Europa League, and with it qualify for next season’s champions League. Don’t bet on it. The current Arsenal side is weak, lazy and slipshod.

The fact remains: Wenger should have gone years ago. His tenure has been endured and endorsed by absentee owners and a palsied board grown fat and rich on the back of Wenger’s uncanny ability to make Arsenal into perennial Champions’ League also-rans. When that cash ended with failure to qualify last season, the owner opened an eye and ran his his tongue over it. This is about money and greed.

Arsenal are now slow. Their recruitment policy is deeply flawed – what price now Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi, two big money buys who look short on skill, aggression, ability and desire. they are a club lacking cohesion. And for that the remote and money-mad owners must share a large slice of blame.

What next? Who cares? It can only be more interesting. Arsenal under Wenger have been treading water for years. He’s going. Good. Rejoice!

Posted: 20th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Elneny has red card revoked

The FA does not agree with Mark Hughes, the red-card hungry Southampton manager, nor the referee for Arsenal’s 3-2 Premier League over The Saints last weekend: Mohamed Elneny’s red card has been revoked. The Egyptian was sent off in the game’s dying moments.

Hughes put on the blinkers and opined after defeat to Arsenal: “Elneny has raised a hand to Cedric’s face. That’s a sending off clearly.” Hughes it not alone is being unaware where the face ends and body begins. Referee Andre Marriner also thought a powder puff push on Cedric Soares’ shoulder worthy of a straight red.

The FA statement tells us: “Mohamed Elneny will be available for Arsenal’s next three games after an Independent Regulatory Commission accepted that he was wrongly dismissed for violent conduct against Southampton on Sunday, April 8, 2018.”

 

 

But still Hughes can’t work out where the face is. He moans: “Elneny raised his hands to an opposition player’s face. In the letter of the law he should have gone.” No he did not. That was not his face.

“For them to appeal that and it to be rescinded surprised me to be perfectly honest.” Honest?

“There were other incidents as well where there needs to be continuity and consistency with the referee’s decision making and it seems to be at odds with what you would expect in certain situations.”

It’s hard to be consistent and honest when one of us seems unaware what the face is and isn’t.

Hughes is the proverbial broken record. Having supported the case for Elneny’s red card and called for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere to be sent off for ‘moving his knee‘, this was Hughes when his Stoke City side drew with Southampton in December 2016:

“The ref wasn’t great on the night. He missed a number of decisions and clearly missed an elbow from Shane Long on Bruno Martins Indi. That needs looking at again. If you’re going to make game-changing decisions like that, then all the other key moments and decisions he has to get right too.”

He’s been moaning for years. This was Hughes in 2012, when he was at QPR:

“The key thing from my point of view is you have to be 100% right to give the decisions and at the moment I think people are guessing and hoping that they get decisions correct.

“Listen, it’s difficult. I’m not here to castigate the referee. All we want is referees and officials to get the big decisions right and unfortunately this weekend they haven’t covered themselves in glory… these are massive decisions affecting people’s livelihoods.

“I think the [decisions] this weekend are certainly down to the competence of the referee and his performance level. They don’t mean [to get it wrong] but surely the level needs to be higher than it is at the moment. They are a professional body now and they have the opportunity to review performances. I just think at the moment it’s a numbers game and possibly they haven’t got enough numbers of the right quality.”

And till he gets hired. Why?

Posted: 12th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal cheats inspired by Mark Hughes’ noble Southampton

A pattern has set in with Mark Hughes. The Southampton manager reacted to defeat at Arsenal by arguing that his side had been short-changed by the referee. Southampton’s Jack Stephens was sent off in the 93rd minute for shoving Jack Wilshere, who’d ripped his shirt. Moments later, Arsenal’s Mohamed Elneny was sent off for a mild shove on Cédric Soares. Hughes wanted three red cards – two was not enough.

“I think there should have been another one. I think Wilshere should have been sent off,” opined the manager possessed of a remarkable ability to survive in the Premier League – Southampton is the fifth Premier League club Hughes has managed on the spin. Having produced teams routinely bereft of guile, style and hope, chairmen can press f9 on the emergency keyboard and hire Hughes.  “If you look at it again, Jack Stephens has obviously reacted to being pulled back for about 20 yards, which is understandable,” he went on. “It’s not correct, but it’s understandable to a certain extent. But I felt, well, if you’re going to send Jack off, you have to send Wilshere off for bouncing up. I thought I saw a definite movement with his knee towards Jack, so the referee should have just seen that [and] should have sent them both off.”

A move of the knee is a red card?

He then aded: “Elneny has raised a hand to Cédric’s face, so that’s a sending off, clearly. So maybe there should have been three.”

Hughes likes the opposition to be sent off. He wants more of it. This is what he’s said this season:

“The referee has made a call on Alonso. He could have been sent off” – Mark Hughes following Stoke City’s 4-0 defeat to Chelsea.

“I don’t see why he should be refereeing this weekend” – Mark Hughes wanted Liverpool’s Simon Mignolet to have been sent off in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Stoke. Fair-minded Hughes also wanted ref Martin Atkinson taken off a Premier League game by way of punishment.

It’ll only be right and proper when team facing Hughes’ noble toilers start two men down and have to earn extra players for displays of virtue. The man’s commitment to fairness is an inspiration.

Posted: 9th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Pray 4 Henrikh Mkhitaryan; Arsenal star will play again

In the over-heated,  clickbait-heavy world of online football journalism, any injury is potentially cataclysmic. And so it was when Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan injured his knee in the Gunners’ 4-1 Europa League win over CSKA Moscow. Newspapers’ websites were full of news that the Armenian “could” miss the rest of the season. And that was before he’d even had a scan. Many wondered if Mkhitaryan would ever play again. We thought he’d be back in a couple of weeks. But the narrative was very much on the side of doom:

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of Arsenal season with knee injury – Daily Telegraph

Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of the season after fears of knee ligament damage – Daily Mirror

A few days on and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger tells media: “He’s got knee ligament damage. He will not be available for Thursday and not for Newcastle and certainly not for the week after, when we play West Ham. I think he will miss these games for sure, but he could still play at the end of the season.”

And how did the newspapers broadcast this update? Well, the Mirror and Telegraph said not a word. Bad news is so much more clickable.

But the London Standard notes:

Initial fears had Mkhitaryan out for the remainder of the term after limping out of the Europa League quarter-final first leg on the hour mark, with scans revealing ligament damage to his knee.

However Wenger, who had expressed concern that the Armenian could be sidelined for “several weeks”, now expects Mkhitaryan to only miss Arsenal’s next three games.

That’s quite a change from the paper’s earlier news: “Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could face several weeks on sidelines, confirms Arsene Wenger.”

He confirmed nothing of the sort – how can you confirm something that only could or could not happen?

Anyhow, it;s good news. Mkhitaryan walks! It’s a miracle. #pray4Miki

Posted: 8th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan ‘could’ return in 2 weeks

Injury forced Arsenal’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan to come off early during the Gunners’ 4-1 win over CSKA Moscow. Facing the media after that Europa Cup quarter-final tie, in which Arsenal were sensational in attack and shaky at the back  – better shooting from CSKa would have have hurt them – Arsene Wenger talked of the Armenian international.

This is the full text of that he said about Mkhitaryan:

Micki came off and he will be out for Sunday. He has a scan and the fear is that his medial knee ligament has been touched. We’ll know more about that soon. For how long he will be out, I don’t know.

When pressed if he thought Mkhitaryan could be out for a number of weeks, Wenger told Sky Sports News: “I fear this. I hope I’m wrong.”

Cue the doom-mongers and what “could” happen (none of it’s good):

Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of Arsenal season with knee injury – Daily Telegraph

Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could miss rest of the season after fears of knee ligament damage – Daily Mirror

Arsenal star Henrikh Mkhitaryan could face several weeks on sidelines, confirms Arsene Wenger – Evening Standard

Or else he, you know, could not.

The big fixture for Arsenal is the Europe League semi-final, scheduled to be played on the 26/04/18 and 03/05/18.

And what if it is medial ligament damages, brought about by a clash of knees, as happened to Mkhitaryan? The BBC tells us:

Return?
You can have a minor pull which heals within a few weeks, or a major pull which takes between one and three months.

If it is a medial ligament issue, all could be well in a few weeks.

If it is completely torn you could be out for a year.

It’s not.

Treatment
Most cases do not require operations, but occasionally people run into major trouble.

The medial ligament is linked to the cartilage so further problems can result.

Physiotherapy is used as the medial ligament, being outside the joint, heals more easily than the internal cruciate ligaments.

Not so bad, then.

Cruciate injuries, however, require surgery to repair the damaged ligament and several hundred such operations are carried out on sports stars each year.

By way of comparisons, Manchester City’s damaged his medial collateral ligament on New Year’s Eve. He next played for City’s first team on February 25.

And the NHS tells us: “Most simple MCL sprains will recover in 2-4 weeks”.

So Mkhitaryan could be back in two weeks.

Posted: 6th, April 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, Manchester City, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal told Jack Wilshere he could leave last summer

Jack Wilshere has still not committed his future to Arsenal, the club he joined at age nine. Wilshere, 26, will be out of contract at the end of the current season, in which he has made 31 appearances to date – the most in a season since 2013-14. The Gunners have offered him a new deal on reduced terms – he’ll have to accept a pay cut on his £120,000-a-week salary. He wants a better deal. And he wants to stay.

“I have got three months left on my contract,” he says. “Ideally, yes, I want it sorted as soon as possible. I want to go to the World Cup and enjoy it but we have three months until then and a lot can happen. Ideally from my point of view and the club’s point of view, they will probably want it sorted.”

 

jack wilshere

 

He might have left the club last summer.

“He [Arsene Wenger] gave me the opportunity [to leave] with three or four weeks left in the transfer window,” says Wilshere from the England team base. It will be Wilshere’s first outing for England since that 1-0 defeat to Iceland in Euro 2016.

“I did not find anything that I wanted and at the same time I was not really fit, so I decided that I wanted to stay and build up my fitness. It was an honest conversation. We have known each other long enough where we can have that relationship where we are honest with each other. It was boiling up for a while because everybody knew I had a year left on my deal and I had been out on loan, got injured, and wasn’t really in his plans. He said, ‘I am going to be honest with you and at the moment we are not going to be offering you a contract, so if you can get a contract somewhere else, you can go’. Obviously I was not happy with that, but at the same time I was happy he was being honest.”

Determined and cock-sure, Wilshere is the kind of player Arsenal need more of.

 

Posted: 22nd, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


It’s quiet at Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea because football fans are being controlled

Manchester United’s Old Trafford is a quiet ground. It’s not alone. The quiet at the Emirates is more obvious than a dead nun on a snow-covered hillside. Stamford Bridge is quiet enough for rare newts to breed and raise their young in The Shed end.  But help is afoot. United are looking at ways to bring back the noise. Things under consideration: fans with megaphones; song sheets; the return to standing and a reduction in ticket prices, meaning fans can turn up on a whim and not have to book seats well in advance, pay though the noes and sit among strangers. Only one part of that list was made up. The last part.

 

 

There will be no standing.

Football as we know it changed on 15 April 1989, when 96 blameless Liverpool fans who “neither caused nor contributed to the deaths” lost their lives at Hillsborough in a “failure of police control” and “multiple failures in other organisations”. The police lied and lied and lied. The victims still await justice. But rather than address why fans were caged and police sent for attack dogs when people were losing their lives, Hillsborough was used an excuse to control football supporters – what the Sunday Times called “slum people, who deter decent folk from turning up“.

The mood against football fans was hostile. And then came the 1990 Taylor Report. The fences were torn down. In their the place came all-seater stadia. The ID card scheme never took off – the Tory government wanted football fans to carry compulsory identity cards at matches. But now all fans did get a number, a booking reference and their bank details taken. New forms of control took hold. Spontaneity was out. Chants and language were policed.

So why is there a palpable lack of atmosphere at the football? Because the fans are shackled, treated as problem to manage and control.

Hillsborough: 96 Liverpool Fans Killed By ‘A Slum Sport Watched By Slum People In Slum Stadiums’

 

Posted: 21st, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, Chelsea, manchester united, News, Sports | Comment


Danny Welbeck has now dived for Arsenal and Manchester United – now for England

‘The dive gets a big fat 0. Nothing can excuse it, embarrassing,” wrote the Daily Mirror’s John Cross in his awarding of player scores at the end of Arsenal’s Europa League victory over AC Milan. The Sun gave Welbeck 9/10, not mentioning what Cross called Welbeck’s “blatant dive to win a penalty”. Italy’s Corriere della Sera delivered its match verdict: “Affondati da un tuffo” (“Sunk by a dive”).

Welbeck will discover tomorrow whether he will face any retrospective action for that alleged dive. Uefa hold an option to act if the match referee or delegate raise concerns. But there is no word that anyone has done. The Football Association has the power to review the cheating and ban divers for two games. More power to the FA. But they matter not in this instance.

It’s all rather dispiriting. England players diving is all the rage. Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad features the following forwards: persistant diver Dele Alli, Raheem Sterling (“We know that Raheem Sterling dives well, he does that very well” – Arsene Wenger), Danny Welbeck, slippery-booted Jamie Vardy and Marcus Rashford.

As Daniel Taylor notes: “Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy have made an art form of initiating contact with the defender and then going down in the penalty area. Marcus Rashford’s dive to win a penalty against Swansea last season was one of the reasons why the FA beefed up its rules.”

Here’s Welbeck playing for Manchester United against Wigan in 2012:

 

 

Diving is a horror. But not enough is being done to end it. The players don’t care. The media admires it – Corriere dello Sport actually made Welbeck man of the match. And the clubs just see it as a marketing opportunity:

 

 

Carry on diving, then.

 

Posted: 18th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, Back pages, News, Sports | Comment


Fiery Jack Wilshere has outgrown Wenger’s dull and directionless Arsenal

Let’s not abuse Jack Wilshere for trying to negotiate the best terms at Arsenal. Most fans would agree to an £80,000-a-week deal plus bonuses Arsenal are offering Wilshere to extend his current deal that runs out at this season’s end. But if we thought we could get more, we’d try.

The caveat is, of course, that Wilshere is an Arsenal fan, whose been at the club since age nine. And given theoretic options on offer, most Gunners would take a hungry Wilshere, who fronts up on the pitch, to remain at the club over the moribund and uninspiring Arsene Wenger (wage: £10m a season) and replace the panicky and hapless Granit Xhaka as the team’s fulcrum.

Why does Wilshere need Wenger’s Arsenal? Is Wilshere improving under the Frenchman? Is anyone?

And Jack The Lad has a way out. Everton are ready to pay him a whopping £8 million signing-on fee to join them on a free transfer in June. Will he take that? Surely not. Even a palsied Wenger is better than a pugnacious Sam Allardyce, who’d teach Wilshere what: to better challenge for headers?

Wilshere might have yet to rediscover that burst of pace that took him away from opponents, a skill dented by cruel and lengthy injuries, but he has oodles of perseverance and drive. Arsenal are sensible to temper a new deal given the state of Wilshere’s ankles, but to let go of one of the few players possessed of personality, who connects with fans and looks like he actually cares, would be giving up on much more than one player. It’s be more evidence that Wenger’s regime is ending in abject failure.

Posted: 17th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal in Russia, a rerun of the Polonium derby and World Cup boycotts are for football haters

polonium arsenal

 

The quarter-final of football’s Europa League pits Arsenal against CSKA Moscow.

There has been no media balls about the English club boycotting the two-legged match, as there have been copious words on England not attending this summer’s World Cup in light of Moscow’s involvement in the attempted murders of Russian exiles Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter, Yulia, 33, in a chemical attack in Salisbury.

Any debate about England’s participation in this summer’s tournament invites us to wonder why now and not when the Russians allegedly secured their hosting of the tournament through bribes; annexed Crimea; the time Russian club Spartak Moscow referred to its black players as “chocolates”; or when, having seen the extreme violence after a match between England and Russia in Marseille in 2016, “British government officials” feared the fighting that left two England fans in comas was sanctioned by the Kremlin – a prominent Russian parliamentarian hardly quietened such notions when he  tweeted: “Well done lads, keep it up!”?

Labour politician John Woodcock wants “MPs to push for concerted international action over the World Cup… It should [a boycott] be on the table because of the appalling magnitude of what Russia has done.”

So Harry Kane is sacrificed to prove a politician’s point. All the players who dreamt of playing at a World Cup finals miss out because politicians and wonks who see football less as a fun leisure pursuit than a tool for top-down moral education want it.

But at least Arsenal can play on, and take their chances with the all-powerful, conniving Russians – who have moved on rapidly from bringing down the West through a ‘farm’ of nerds on Facebook and twitter, to unleashing chemical weapons in Wiltshire. And the Gunners might have something to fear. The last time the two clubs met in 2007, traces of polonium (the poison used to kill ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvenenko that very same day) were later found at the Emirates…

 

Posted: 16th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Former Arsenal star sent off as life imitates Wotsits

Referee Dean Hulme asked former Arsenal player Sanchez Watt for his name. Watt, playing for Hemel Hempstead Town in a National League South game against East Thurrock United was going into the ref’s book.

“Watt,” said the 27-year-old. Hulme believed he was saying “what?” and sent him off for dissent. The card was soon rescinded.

“It was a human error,” Hemel Hempstead chairman Dave Boggins told BBC Sport. “The referee was man enough to rectify it. I think everybody found it amusing afterwards – including the referee. He came into the boardroom after the game and explained how he had made the mistake. He was very apologetic and saw the funny side of it. He was a good ref on the night to be fair to him.”

Watt a Wally:

 

Posted: 7th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment


Arsenal shocker: 12% of Gooners want Wenger to stay

Don’t open those eyes yet, Arsenal fans: Arsene Wenger is still there. But the Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) has done its bit to defenestrate the manager and prick a supine, greedy board and absentee owner into action. AST members voted overwhelmingly against the Frenchman remaining as manager beyond the end of this season.

A whopping 88% of fans responded to an AST survey saying that they do not support Wenger continuing in charge for another season – last year it was 78%, and Arsenal still gave him a new two-year deal.

As Arsenal FC go full ostrich, we can marvel that 12% of Gooners want Wenger to stay. The same 12% also consider that dream of being tied naked to Nelson’s Column and forced to watch Gary Linker discuss Spurs matches to be the best they’ve ever had. Masochists, eh, they’ve never suffered enough.

Meanwhile, the Times says Wenger spent the hours after Arsenal’s defeat to the mighty Brighton telling his coaching staff that he is “the best man to take Arsenal forward”. He will not break his contract. So Arsenal will have to sack him.

Over to the hapless Ivan Gazidis, then, the Arsenal chief executive. The AST will hand him the results of its survey at a fans’ forum ahead of the match against Watford on Sunday. The meeting promises to be more interesting than the match.

Posted: 6th, March 2018 | In: Arsenal, News, Sports | Comment