Ahoy, kickers. Before we get started today I’m going to just take a moment to quietly remember the 8th anniversary of 9/11.
Ok, kicking on, Arsene gave two interviews yesterday and today, one to the press hounds and one exclusive to the dot com, and so we have got a lot to cover. He talked about Arshavin, Eduardo, academy players, oh yeah and the threat of City, which I guess we play tomorrow. Is that true? Is there football tomorrow? Oh hey, look at that there is!
Now, my regular reader knows that I never brag. In fact, I have never said “I told you so.” This is not because I am the most gracious person on the planet, but rather because I’m never right. It’s true! Go back and look, I’ve been blogging for almost 2 years and I am NEVER right… except now. Suddenly I’m right about everything and by gods I’m going to let you know about it.
It’s actually kind of uncanny how many talking points Wenger hit between the two press conferences that I have talked about in pretty much the exact same way on this blog. So, for once “I told you so!”
Man that felt good.
Anyway, as we all already know Andrei Arshavin is out for 3 games, at least, with a groin injury which he aggravated playing 90 minutes for Russia against Wales. The press like to stir things up and are saying that Wenger is pissed with Guus Hiddink, but if you watch the presser it’s pretty clear that he lays the blame at Arshavin’s feet. The fact that Arshavin chose to play, knowing that he was injured, ahead of the City game, pisses me off to no end because I’m sure he knew that we needed him. He also knew that Russia needed him and he chose Russia over Arsenal and that’s what makes me mad. Now, with the absence of Vela, Nasri, and with Rosicky having played but certainly not match fit, Arshavin’s injury leaves a bit of a creative hole on the left of the 4-3-3. The only saving grace is that Arsenal have Eduardo and he can slot in there. Which means that we should see a starting front three of Eduardo, van Persie, and Bendtner, who all scored during Nationalism Week. Ever the optimist, I’m hoping that those three have broke their ducks and get a hat trick, each.
If they are healthy! I’ve been holding off as long as possible in order to make sure I have the latest injury news but none is yet forthcoming. So far, Arshavin is the only casualty of Nationalism Week, fingers crossed it stays that way.
One bright spot in Arsenal’s Infirmary is that Theo Walcott has “shaken off the back injury” and is now just lacking match fitness. Wenger will get him into some training sessions this week and expects to have him available for next week. That would be Wigan at Emirates, expect Theo to get a run out then if everything goes as planned.
Djourou on the other hand is pretty much done for the year. Initial estimates had him out 6 months and now Wenger puts him at 6-8 months, which means he’ll be out 12 months. Funnily enough, Wenger finally admitted that Arsenal were not looking to sign anyone despite the fact that they knew about Djourou’s injury. I say “funnily” but I’m sure a lot of my readers will be irate at that news. Wenger thinks that Senderos can do the work and even me, the optimist, wonders if that’s him just blowing smoke or if he truly believes that. As far as I can tell Senderos hasn’t played in a competitive match since AC Milan’s loss at Udinese on May 16th. Four months is a long time to be out and I have to wonder where Wenger’s going to get him games.
As for Eduardo, the boss is adamant that there are real problems with the way that UEFA are charging Eduardo. Wenger maintains, as I have done since Hleb raped Murty’s face, that there is a fine line between outright diving, where there’s no contact and the player goes down as Rooney did against Blackburn and then against Arsenal last week, and the sort of simulation we see every week, where there’s light contact and the player “makes a meal” of the challenge, like when Mascherano got Aliadiere sent off with his antics after Ali touched his face. Wenger is admitting that Eduardo “made a meal” of the contact between he and Boruc, but is insisting that there was contact, which is going to be their defense when they go in front of the magistrate:
We all want to fight against diving. This case, though, is not a clean case. Did he make a meal of it? Yes. But we have proof that he has been touched and that he made more of it. But do you not find every week players who make more of it?
There’s a fine line between being shrewd and everybody supports you and diving and everyone says you’re cheating. That’s why in this case, if you want to use it to instruct, that’s fine, but I’ll find you 5-10 cases every week.
Wenger, though, doesn’t see a one off hypocritical two match ban as the biggest worry. The biggest worry is that Eduardo might not get a fair shake from here on out:
The situation has been created by the media impact of his case but that [booing] is not the worst. Now he is not given penalties when there are penalties. Like against England last night.
I think everyone needs a break from this diving issue, so lets leave it at that and take whatever punishment the fucknuts at UEFA dole out.
Speaking of fucknuts, Wenger spoke at length on the issue of players under the age of 18 moving from club to club and Platini/Bleater’s plan to enslave kids to whichever club picks them up before they are 18. A clearly passionate Wenger had the following to say:
I have fought for a long, long time against people who have regressive ideas. To expose your local players to top, world class players, does not harm your players. It improves your players: the best, to become better, have to play with the best. And if you [England] have a good national team today, it just proves that.
If you ban players from moving before the age of 18, you know what will happen? The players will be sold anyway. To whom? Agents. At what age? 13, 14. Where will they go? Not to top clubs with top level education, they will go to clubs who have been bought by business people at a very low level and will stand by there waiting to be sold.
If you have a child, who is very gifted in music, what is your first reflex? You will try to put it in a good music school, not in an average one. So why should that not happen in football?
I penned an article about this issue last year when Platini made his ridiculous statement about Arsenal engaging in “child trafficking” and hit everything that Wenger said above. Moreover, like I said earlier in the week, Platini is not siding with the kids on this, he couldn’t give a rats ass about the kids. This is about empowering little clubs over players and creating what I see as indentured servitude.
Right, enough of that, we’ve got a match tomorrow and the return of real football has me completely stoked. The ESPN2 High Definition match here in the states is Liverpool v. Burnley and unfortunately that conflicts with the 7am kickoff of the City v. Arsenal match. Our match is being shown on Setanta here in the States and, as usual, that means that I will be traveling down to Doyle’s for the viewing. Come down and have a sausage and some coffee.
Arsene is looking at this match not as a revenge match but rather as an opportunity to show how much the team has grown since what he felt was a harsh loss against City last November. Along with showing how much stronger we are, getting a good result tomorrow along with the way Arsenal played during Saturday’s unfortunate loss to Manchester United will show that this club can beat anybody. I feel that way as well. I thought Arsenal far outclassed United last week and that it took an intentional and cynical dive on the part of Wayne Rooney (who has a proclivity to dive when United are behind) and several other horrible calls from the referee to get them back into the game. I have such a high belief in this team that I don’t even think it’s fair to say “on their day they can beat anybody” because I think they can beat anybody any day. Hopefully, I can say “told you so” again tomorrow.
City for their part will be missing Tevez but Adebayor will be fit and obviously he’ll be itching to score. Plus they have, I think , £100m in strikers sitting on their bench. Wenger is wary of the threat there as well, saying that Adebayor is “on fire” and that we will need to put out his fire, by pissing on him. Ok, I made that last bit about pissing on him up, Wenger didn’t say that. I think I dreamed it.
If Adebayor does score the odds are 100:1 that he will kiss the Manchester City badge and 10:1 that he and Eboue (confused by what’s going on) will reprise their chicken dance.
All eyes right now are on Adebayor and Toure but for me the real match up to watch tomorrow is Denilson/Song against Ireland/ Barry. That’s where this game will be won or lost and that’s where we’ll see how much Arsenal have progressed. Denilson and Song made Man U look like shite and now they need to do the same to their City counterparts.
Tomorrow I won’t do an early blog but rather will do the Good, Bad, and Ugly after the match. That means a 10-11am (PST) post tomorrow. Until then, UP THE ARSE!