Eduardo, kids, money and Liege

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First off, I need to say thanks to everyone for the positive comments on yesterday’s blog, you’re the other reason I do this. It’s so great to see so many Gooners from such far flung places around the world united in a single cause: the Arsenal.

Now, on to the news…


Yesterday at Eduardo’s auto de fé the Grand Inquisitor read aloud what was to be  Eduardo’s punishment for the heresy of diving and it turned out… that the church of UEFA admitted that they were just plain and simply wrong.

They were wrong to use video evidence ex-post facto, they were wrong about whether there was contact, they were wrong to question the referee, and they were wrong to cave in to pressure from Scotland. And so the witch hunt they pursued against Eduardo was wrong and all charges should be dropped.The heretic known as Eduardo is now a clean soul but unfortunately his body has already been burnt at the stake of public opinion.

Make no mistake here, though. This was not a legalistic decision about whether there was contact or not, as I first thought. This wasn’t some slimy lawyer getting a guilty client off on a technicality as the press want to make out. No, Eduardo’s innocence came about because the referee of the match saw the game live, saw the video, and saw the video slowed down, and stood by his decision. The diving evangelists can’t take it, they have been whipped into a baying, foamy, frenzy by folks in the press, like Sportsmail’s stupid anti-diving campaign, and they simply don’t know what to do. They are currently lashing out at everything around them searching for a foothold, some firm ground to stand on so that their world will make sense and for them I’d like to offer a suggestion: you’re wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know what a dive is, and the next time you’re watching a game and you think to yourself, or worse scream out loud like some apoplectic Joe Wilson, “THAT’S A DIVE WHARRRRGARRRBLE111!!1!!” remember that I told you, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Chances are I’m right because after this ruling I have to admit, I don’t know what a dive is either. It seems to be that if there’s any contact, and the referee doesn’t feel like the player is trying to deceive him, then it’s not a dive. I can accept that I don’t know what a dive is, or at the very least that I might not be the most objective judge of diving on the planet. Can you?

As for the animals in the press, I fully expect retractions and apologies will be issued any moment now. Any… moment… now…

I Can Has Affirmative Action Quotas for Englishmen?


In a stunning moment of clarity and sense-making, the English Football Association has decided that clubs should be forced to have academies and can no longer simply buy a team full of senior players. Personally, I’d rather they stayed out of this whole mess and let things run their course, but if they had to get involved, then this was the only sensible way to go about it. Starting next year every team in the Premier League will be required to name a squad of 25 players, 8 of which must be both under 21 and have been trained for 3 or more years at an English or Welsh club. That sound you just heard was every Chelsea supporter’s butthole puckering simultaneously. Because combined with their transfer ban, this new rule leaves them with exactly 8 eligible trainees and unable to bring anyone else in.

Moreover, this plan, which doesn’t discriminate against a player based on nationality, is a huge slap to the face of Platini and Blatter who desperately wanted a passport based Affirmative Action quota system foisted upon teams. Which they quaintly referred to as “the 6+5 rule.”

One knock on effect of this new rule could be the development of a more serious reserves league. Arsenal’s reserves coach, Neil Banfield talked about his vision for a national reserves league, with relegation and all that, a few weeks ago. If clubs are now going to be forced to have at least 8 trainees per season named to their first team, I can easily see something like what Neil talks about developing.

What’s not clear in all this is how this rule change will mesh with Platiniblatter’s plan to enslave young children in footballing death camps until they are 18. Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, they actually want to re-create the 18th century system of indentured servitude, and how that might mesh with this FA rule is unclear. If you can’t transfer players under 18 and you have to have 8 players, on the books, between the ages of 18 and 21 who have trained for 3 years in an English or Welsh system, well, then suddenly 18 year olds become super valuable and especially 18 year olds who have trained in England.

It could quickly become a mess. We’ll have to see if Platiniblatter win approval for their indentured servitude system or if they suffer further ignominy.

Show me your money

The FA also passed some meaningless rule about looking into the books of clubs and promptly ignoring some debts while looking sternly at others. I have it under great authority that this rule will be ignored.

The Group of Dearth

Right, so we have some football tomorrow against Standard Liege. The match is being shown on Setanta here in the States and that means a trip over to Doyle’s for us locals. Doyle’s now has High Definition televisions and an HD cable feed, so if any matches are in HD, you will get to watch them in HD there.

As for the match, Arsenal Station has a great little piece which details all of our opponents in the group of dearth, you should check it out.

Player news ahead of the match has Arshavin certainly ruled out for Arsenal, along with long-term injuries to Nasri, Fabianski, and Djourou keeping them sidelined as well. For Liege, they will be missing their captain and supposed Arsenal transfer target, Steven Defour who broke his foot on the weekend.

The one player I am very surprised to see mentioned as a possible team selection for Liege is Alex Witsel. This is a player who just a little over two weeks ago broke the leg of Marcin Wasilewski and was subsequently banned until November by the Belgian FA. Now, when I say “broke the leg” I mean, put in possibly the worst tackle I have ever seen, a tackle so bad that it makes Tiny Taylor’s knee-high, studs up, leg breaking lunge on Eduardo look like an accident. The video of the tackle is so disturbing that I almost don’t want to put it here, but I’m going to anyway because I think we all need to know what Arsenal are up against tomorrow.


After watching that video, and knowing that he’s been banned in his home league, you have to wonder how this guy is allowed to play in the Champions League. But supposedly, he’s available and ready to make a “cold start.”

That’s all the news I have for you today (except the “news” that Adebayor has been charged and is facing a three to six match suspension)  so, see you tomorrow with a fuller preview of the Liege game, if I can muster one.


  1. Tim, as usual, nice summary.

    The Ade uproar needs to quickly disappear. It could be a unnecessary distraction for
    Arsenal, for it to linger. For our match with Standard Liege, we need a win with no elements of the game to fuel the media atmosphere, except clean play.

  2. Funny i heard he was out tomorrow. Despite his reputation now,he is a very highly rated player. Good news defour is out,class act. Down to the bare bones ourselves but still expect us to do it. Its barnet andys tomorrow for beer and the game,great having the champs league back!

    1. @Gareth26GOONER, Oh hey Gareth, you asked yesterday when I was planning on making the trip over and the truth is that I don’t know yet. My motorcycle needed some repairs and I didn’t make out on the tee-shirts like I had hoped so, I’m kind of in a spot cash-wise.

      Still, I’ll find a way!

  3. Injuries galore. Looking forward to it though. Good to see Ade get what he deserves, a huge ban. Let’s hope he appeals and they, double, nay triple it. Muhahah.

  4. You serious – amaan, I mean, about our injuries? Jesus, Vito Mannone.

    Liege fans sound terrific. There are several fan groups who specially defining themselves as antifascists and antiracists – though, come to think of it, it doesn’t say much for Belgian football in general, if such definitions are needed!

  5. Oh-my-god, yes, it’s on arsenalnews. Sanchez Watt has travelled. Must be sitting in the plane right at this moment. Now I like the look of Sanchez Watt, but he hasn’t even made the Carling team yet. Nor of course have our two keepers.

  6. The ref’s Spanish according to a Liege site. Excellent. Penalty for Eduardo. Good thing something is in our favour.

    Given the bare-bones situation, I can’t imagine who’ll play. Ramsey for Denilson, Eboue on the right, Diaby on the left, Cesc and – briefly – Rosicky in the middle? Maybe Wilshere on the left or has he left already for the under-20s thing?

    1. @Mia, arsenal dot com says he is in the list of players flying out.

      I could see it being:

      Sagna Gallas TV5 Clichy
      Eboue Fabregas Diaby/Ramsey
      Eduardo Bentdnar Rosicky/Diaby

  7. Wilshere has travelled. Platiniblatt should be happy: our squad is very English and Welsh. I really hope Eduardo starts up front but have a sinking feeling it will be Bendtner. Eduardo with Bentner playing wide wouldn’t be bad, though – they made a good pairing a couple of seasons ago.

  8. I would love a full strength team but i feel comfortable about some of the fringe players getting great experience. Mannone looked ok during pre-season. Wish we had Fabianski though.

    i think a front line of rosicky eduardo and bendtner could play well. And i have a sneaking susp that Eduardo will play out of his skin now that he got vindicated!


    So now we know that UEFA and their ‘crack’ prosecuting team turned out to be more ‘Hamilton Burger’ to our ‘Perry Mason’. Will someone ring Tony Cascarino to make sure he hasn’t suffered a stroke w/ after hearing this news.

    When you have a powerful head position as UEFA General Secretary and you are then suddenly put into a made up marketing position, you know you’ve been demoted David Taylor. Who is the scapegoat now?

    Toure, being the good captain, stands by his man on the goal celebration but is curiously silent about the the RVP assault. Not so the FA as they have issued 2 charges against Adebayor. Adebayor will have to put his powder blue kit in mothballs for a while I hope.

    “Chest infection”? What are we talking about here? H1N1?, Pneumonia? Bronchitis? Is Almunia on antibiotics or is he just taking liquids and running a humidifier? Unless he is dead or dying, I fail to see why he can’t play. Or can he 😉

    Arshavin says his groin is fine but his knee needs 3 wks to recover. Wenger seems to indicate a shorter time frame on his recovery.

    It disturbs me when Platini says clubs are asking for financial rules because they cannot police themselves to spend within their means.

    The FA “home grown rule” announcement has just reaffirmed the genius of Wenger. We are already in compliance w/ the rule before it even comes out. Every EPL club of note will now have to play catch up with their team, their transfer policy (except Chelsea who now don’t have to worry their silly little heads about this), and their youth academies.

    1. Lot of people here do have sort of lurgs – just coughs and colds, not swine flu, as far as I know – and it’s pissing with rain and generally deeply depressing. I suspect Almunia was getting ill at the weekend, hence his worse-than-normal performance. Still, even an Almunia with pneumonia might be preferable to Vito Mannone (preferable to us, I mean, probably not to Almunia).

      Down with Chelsea tonight, though Porto are pretty dislikable too.

  10. Have to say I’d be excited about a more fleshed out Reserves League, I love watching our youngsters and more Arsenal is always a good thing.

    Excellent blog as usual Tim.

  11. I think FA’s new wonder law infringes European Union employment rules. Anyone over 18 is an adult, and cannot be restricted from taking or applying for employment in any EU country provided they are an EU national or have a right of abode in the EU. Any attempt to alter, restrict or infringe this is contrary to the Treaty of Rome.

    The fact that a player has to be part of an academy or ‘on the books’ in England or Wales, for a period of time to be eligible for employment at a certain level or to be named in a squad, effectively restricts the free-flow of labour.

    If you substitute EU for England and Wales, then OK, but that most likely defeats the object of the exercise.

    Anyone got a take on this?


    1. @Viva: You are absolutely right! However, they would have examined it properly before promulgation, after all they had a meeting with all Premier League Clubs before the announcement.

    2. @viva los gooners, Hmmm. Not sure that’s the case. Since a) it is an exact copy of the UEFA Champion’s League rules and b) it makes mention of 3 years of training in the UK rather than a player’s nationality.

        1. @viva los gooners, My UEFA Champion’s League point still stands though. If they don’t have an issue with the Champion’s League squad rules why would they take issue with the FA’s exact copy.

  12. As if the Sportsmail’s campaign against diving wasn’t idiotic enough, they now want supporters to sign some kind of behavior contract. I can’t believe Martin Samuel actually writes for that rag, that is until I saw his article calling Arsenal fans hypocrites.

    Great work!!!

  13. The British media may be asleep at the switch. One Arsenal blog posed the question could Almunia have been dropped. Hence my questions above. But the question has been nagging at me prior to this CL match. This is the GK who was there for us in Rome. I’ve been reading through the various reports of Wenger’s press conference today and spotted a ‘glaring’ discrepancy. One reports quotes Wenger referring to Almunia having an “injury”. Cue double take. What injury? A “chest infection” says something other than injury. Taken out of context? Lost in translation? Misinterpretation?

    Remember Wenger can be very ruthless w/ players who are not performing well (Senderos) or are showing a poor attitude (Henry). Arsenal have played 6 ‘real’ matches so far and they’ve had 9 goals against. I don’t think Almunia has made a difficult save in those 6 games. Stay tuned.

    1. @ctpa, I agree with your speculation about Almunia. Every time he takes the pitch, David Bentley’s goal is replayed.

      Whomever is in goal tomorrow, hoping they get a clean sheet, have a few good reaction saves, some great clearances, and consistent distribution.

      1. Yes, but for Vito Mannone? He scared the life out of me in the few games I’ve seen – and they were ones where I didn’t much care if we lost!

  14. This will be off topic but I wrote to Adidas and pointing out that their F10 line was used as a weapon by a thug that they sponsor. I hope he gets stripped of his deal with Adidas and play barefoot against the Joey Bartons and Martin Taylors of the EPL

  15. That was a horrific tackle by Witsel. An 8 game ban is a joke. There should be a special clause for tackles like these, that the offender stays out as long as the victim is injured. Wasilewski’s 29, and you’ve got to wonder if he’ll ever play again.

    Still, wasn’t Witsel one of the players we wanted to sign? Him and Defour.

      1. @Tim: Yes they were RUMOURED to be Arsenal Targets but we do not need the likes of Witsel here. UEFA should have insisted on de-registering him until his domestic ban is served as a support for the Belgian league and to send a message to the like of him in the various leagues.

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