In Praise of the World Cup

July 11, 2010

Has the WC really been that bad? Germany have been a revelation. A young side playing skilful, organised football and scoring lots of goals along the way.

Argentina burned brightly and, like a supernova, collapsed in on themselves.

The tiny nation of Uruguay (population half of London) got to their first semi final in 50 years through a mixture of skill and cheating.

Others have done well. The finalists of course have risen to the occasion once in a while, though hopefully will do better tomorrow. New Zealand, bizarrely but heroically, managed to leave underrated and above Italy. Ghana flew the flag for Africa, though the others from the host continent were disappointing.

Even the failures have contributed to the drama, coming as they did from the over proud ranks of traditionally strong nations: Italy of course, England having to face the realities of their limitations and most spectacularly and absurdly, France. Never has a tournament shown the value of team play, of the collective over the individual. To me, that’s a good thing.

There have been refereeing errors but fewer than usual. The Lampard “goal” was even good as a means to show once and for all that change is needed.

As for the hosts, I’ve loved the vuvuzelas – South Africans love football, and they’ve shown their passion even after their side (the poorest South African side for years, unfortunately) was eliminated. From the outside, it’s very easy to think sport there is about rugby and cricket, but football is the true passion of the masses. There’s not much I agree with Sepp Blatter on, but the vuvuzela is a distinctly local feature, and I’m pleased of it.

The WC 2010 hasn’t been as good as some (1998, 1986, 2006 etc) but it’s been better than others (1994, 2002). But it is fair to say it’s not been great for Arsenal – those there haven’t performed especially well, several others weren’t even there. And then there’s been the farce of tapping up Cesc.

But overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the WC.

Written by 26may1989


Wouldn’t you prefer to watch the Arsenal?

June 16, 2010

Written by dandan

Having watched just about all the world cup so far, I find myself reduced almost to a state of depression at the dreadful garbage being consistently served up in the name of football, although to be fair last tuesday’s North Korea V Brazil was an improvement. That game aside, match after match have been timid affairs devoid of any risk taking. Unless, as in the case of poor Rob Green a mistake gets made.

Where is the skill, the excitement, and the ambition even to make a telling pass? All the things we were led to expect from supposedly the cream of world football are missing.  Unfortunately dross is dross no matter what banner it is played under.

It then occurred to me that there are clubs in our own premier league who serve up fare like that every week. Long balls, constantly soaring over the heads of an almost redundant midfield, aimed for the big guys in the penalty area in the hope that a knockdown will fall kindly and be bundled into the net. On the rare occasion an attacker does get a ball to feet he immediately goes to ground feigning a foul, seeking a free kick in the hope that their match winner the dead ball specialist can carve something out of nothing.

At the other end busses are parked across the goal as Chelsea’s special one famously put it. Negativity rules it seems, we shall not lose, winning is all.

Well not from where I am it isn’t, football is supposed to be an entertainment, the fare we are being served from South Africa is most definitely not that and deserves the continual giant raspberry being blown by the never-ending cacophony of the vuvuzelas.

Why do I feel like this? Because I have been spoilt in the past decade watching the wonderful Wengerball. Real entertainment this, risks included. Breathtaking movement, sublime goals, annoying mistakes and skilful individuals, whose artistry leaves the watcher mesmerised and amazed at the sheer magnificent’s of this the truly beautiful game. So stark a contrast is this, to that we have watched over the past week as to be almost unrecognisable as the same game.

Our detractors tell me we have won nothing for five years.

Really? I believe we have won over thousands of new fans around the world who would much rather watch us than this daily dose of a non-event that is the world cup. Call me what you will, stick to your negative safety-first style if you must, be bored witless in the cause of not losing.

But we are the Arsenal and win or lose. I cannot wait for the new season and some real entertainment at the home of football.