Everyone’s got balls on their minds today, whether it’s Arshavin and Cesc getting shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or, Beckham’s handbags last night, or the beach ball goal heard roud the world, it’s all about balls.
The good news for Arsenal fans this morning is that both Arshavin and Cesc have been shortlisted for the Ballon d’Or. The bad news is that they’ll have some stiff competition in Ronaldo and Messi this year. One thing that should weigh in on the behalf of Arshavin and Cesc is that their National sides are doing comparatively a lot better than Argentina (which is sucking, and probably will keep on sucking) and Portugal who will need 3 seeded goals to overcome uhhh… who are they playing? Cesc, meanwhile, played an important role in Spain’s Euro 2008 win and his stats in the EPL are simply jaw dropping at the moment — leading him to be ACTIM’s highest rated Midfielder in the EPL and the second highest rated overall player. Meanwhile Arshavin is no slouch, leading his Russian team to the World Cup finals and providing pure class for Arsenal. Personally, I’d rather a trophy for Arsenal at the end of the year but I don’t begrudge players individual honors — especially Golden Balls. Who could begrudge a man Golden Balls?
I guess Beckham got into some kind of altercation in a 0-0 draw last night, but really, I don’t care about all that. All I care about is that this young woman in the picture above spent hours lovingly hand crafting that sign, only to misspell her hero’s name. And that, to me, is priceless. But hey, it took balls to stand there and display her misspelled sign for all the world to see.
Speaking of taking balls, the FA has formally charged Sir Alex Ferguson for his rant against Alan Wiley. Which is pretty incredible when you think about it. Not only did he apologize twice, but he gave an actual, honest answer for why he attacked Wiley: he was mad because his team sucked. The first apology was kind of like a back-handed compliment “look, I’m sorry, what I meant to say was that Fatty Wiley is just ONE example of all the fatties who referee the game.” But the second apology was just straight forward and an admission of guilt. I still can’t stand the guy but hey, at least he admitted he was wrong. Now, the ball’s in the FA court, what punishment will they dish?
There was more referee and ball controversy this weekend, as Sunderland scored what most thinking people are calling an illegal goal. It must be illegal if Graham Poll says it’s illegal, right? Talk of replaying the match, and making us all sit through another 90 minutes of Liverpool tedium, was quickly snuffed by the league but they are going to drop Referee Mike Jones. A bit harsh, I suppose, but it’s such an obvious and easy call that he and all the other officials should have gotten it right.
Which leads us back to the Arsenal news and Wenger lauding the balls it took for Mannone to put the mistake against Birmingham behind him and come out in the second half confident. I know this is a ballsy prediction, but I think that Almunia is done. Mannone’s selection on Saturday and seeing Almunia there on the bench, looking despondent, was as clear a signal from the boss that he’d dropped Almunia as I have seen. In fact, Wenger is pretty much the most loyal manager in the EPL and it almost always pays off. Look at how he stood by Eboue while fans and the press shredded him last year. And that has paid off, Eboue is back to being a damn fine role player on this team. So, Almunia being relegated to the bench on Saturday speaks volumes to me about Wenger’s confidence in the Spanish keeper. Maybe he’ll get a chance again, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Interestingly, Mannone is named first in Wednesday’s squad travelling to AZ Alkmaar. He’s our number one for the time being.
And finally, Happy Birthday, I mean if it just so happens to be your birthday today, I hope you have a happy one. That’s it for today, see you tomorrow, for a less ball-filled blog.