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


French Farce – Will Arsenal Pay the Price?

June 29, 2010

Written  by dandan

So the World cup has for England, like France, ended in tears. A pathetic emasculated display against Germany has left the country bewildered and angry at the limp-wristed performance that undersold all that we love about the Premiership. No pace, no pressing, no organisation. Eleven misfits who didn’t appear to know their place or purpose and a back four that played in such a way that our local pub team would have fancied there chances against them.

All our grievances with them appear to be football based, unless and until the balloon goes up on their return. The only criticism of the manager appears to be that he liked to keep the team sheet to himself until 2 hrs before the match. It would seem he wishes to stay on for the Europeans. Will that happen? Who knows, but we will soon find out following a meeting with the FA.

Oh that France had so few problems! A mutiny within the squad culminating in our former ‘Le Sulk’ launching a half time foul mouthed tirade at the manager, questioning his character, tactics, capabilities and reason for being. Unsurprisingly, Anelka was dispatched post haste to the airport on the next flight home. The next day, after an on field team meeting, the captain voiced the team’s solidarity with the brooding absentee and refused to train. A statement followed expressing their loyalty to France and the fans. This was read paradoxically by the coach, even though he was their biggest complaint. Consequently, the patched up, out of sorts and demoralised team were taken apart and ditched out of the competition by the hometown boys of South Africa.

They have since summarily returned home economy class in disgrace. The whole debacle has resulted in questions being asked in the French parliament and several players have been summoned for questioning by the enquiry.

Caught up in the middle of this sorry tale are four Arsenal players, Sagna, Clichy, Diaby and the out of contract Gallas. How, I wonder, will they react to this debacle? Surely the most shameful episode ever in French football. What kind of mental state will these guys be in when they return for the new season?

The fact that Gallas, (whose mental state is questionable at the best of times) is probably leaving us is a bonus I think. But will the three young Frenchman so important to our success this year have the mental resolve to handle such catastrophic happenings and the likely backlash from their incensed countryman?

Will the press here constantly compare them to the errant John Terry who himself attempted to muster a mutiny at a Press Conference?

Will we as a club suffer from the loss of form in these young men as they try to come to terms with the enormity of the disappointment and the manner of their World Cup exit?

Will we once again pay the price for something beyond AW’s control that has occurred while his players are away on International duty? Not physical injury this time but mental perhaps.


How Good Is The Premiership Really?

June 26, 2010

Written by peaches

If you were asked who the top ten world class players were in the premiership I’m sure your list would include Rooney, Torres, Cesc, Lampard, Drogba, Anelka, Van Persie to name a few – no spuds of course – yet all these players have failed to live up to their expectations in South Africa this summer.

Season on season they light up the premiership for their clubs and yet none of them, so far, have been able to grab a game by the scruff of its neck and make things happen. Mind you, our Cesc did put though some lovely balls to David Villa last night who strangely didn’t say thankyou for a single one.

The theories for this lack of sparkle are many – playing at altitude, training at altitude and the Jubilana ball are all being given as reasons why the tournament isn’t seeing the best of our stars in addition to the fact that ours is the biggest league and we play more games than anyone else. But maybe when compared to the South Americans the Premiership isn’t as good as we think it is.  I thought England did OK against Slovenia – they couldn’t have played any worse than against Algeria – but I find watching Argentina and Uruguay far more inviting.

How many of the Premierships world class players would get into a Fantasy Argentina Side for example?

Why didn’t Drogba or Anelka do for their countries what they do for Chelsea week in week out?

As an England supporter I want Rooney to do really well (cough, splutter) but as an Arsenal supporter I want Cesc to weave his magic for Spain and Robin to bury a few in the top left-hand corner for Holland to delight the millions that will be watching world-wide. Although its a double-edged sword having Cesc do well as obviously his talents are not really appreciated by Spain.

I want the players that we watch week in week out to be a credit to themselves and to the Premiership that is lauded as the strongest league in the world – its not happening so far. Is that because they’re really not that good by comparison?


Is Hugo Lloris Really The Answer?

June 23, 2010

Yesterday, France exited the World Cup pretty much as they entered it – just a tad embarrassed.

Those whose heads should bow in eternal shame are Sidney Govou, Franck Ribery, Patrice Evra and everyone’s friend Raymond Domenech. It was a complete disgrace and to be honest you’d have to really feel for the French fans who went to South Africa. The tricolour that had “shame” written across it said it all. Hopefully for the sake of French football Blanc can wipe the slate clean and start all over again. If the French public are patient hopefully he can do it – old heads like Henry, Gallas and Anelka will retire while embarrassments like Evra should never don the famous blue again.

Happily, I can report that the Arsenal contingent tried their best unlike 99% of the rest. Sagna and Gallas at least looked interested and ran (while others stayed in a jog), Clichy as always gave it everything while its hard to know when Diaby is trying or not because he always gives off the same vibe so we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

Another one of the French players who survived with his persona in tact is one who has lately been mooted as the next big thing in the goalkeeping world. France’s number one, Hugo Lloris, has been linked with Arsenal so often I’ve lost count. A lot of the blogs seem to really want him too. I wanted him – up until the World Cup started. Once again it seems to be a case of watching a couple of games and basing judgement on those snippets (I include myself in this folly).

Lloris is a top keeper – actually wait, he’s a top SHOTSTOPPER!

As he did for Lyon in the Champions League, he did for France in the World Cup. He proved himself to be a more than ample shotstopper but once those crosses started coming in he would flap at them like a mad man, remind you of anyone?

What is the point in replacing Almunia with someone who isn’t any better at crosses (watch the 1st South African goal from yesterday) but who may be a slightly better shot stopper? The EPL is made up with a lot of teams who will throw a tall player up front and either play route one football or spread it to the wings to try and get crosses on to the head of their target man. Hence, we need someone confident under high balls. Lloris, in my opinion, isn’t that man.

He is young and I’m sure he will improve in the next few seasons but I think we have all agreed we don’t have time to wait. We need a strong, stable keeper now.

Watching Lloris makes me appreciate how hard it must be for Le Boss and the scouts to try and find a top player especially a keeper. But the joys of it is that I can moan and bitch about it while watching those youtube clips and saying we should have signed Lloris already – seeing the shiny parts of his game while ignoring the major flaws. Meanwhile the gaffer and his boys have to face the brunt of it if he spends £10mil on someone and it doesn’t work out. Ah well, that’s what he gets paid £5million a year for – c’mon boss make it happen, get us a superman ‘keeper.


South Africa 2010 Will Not Be The Send Off OUR Thierry Henry Deserves

June 12, 2010

SCREW YOU BARCELONA! SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW YOU!

Ahhhhhhhh I’ve just wanted to say that for some weeks. What a proper pain in the arse they are – first they buy Overmars, Petit, then Henry, then the ice-cream man and now they want Cesc. Stop trying to be us!!

Cesc should know better than want off to Spain – okay you might win a medal or two but your personal career could slump, just ask Hleb or indeed Thierry Henry.

We are all upset that Titi decided to up ship and move to Barcelona in 2007, he should have been Bergkamp MKII, the guy who ended his career in North London. Henry moved on for a meager amount but honestly you know it and I know it, he was never the same Henry.

Rumours abound that Henry failed his medical at Barcelona but they signed him regardless albeit for a far lower price for a player who had been the best in the world (although never recognized) for the previous couple of seasons. Just as when PV04 left, Wenger knew parts of Henry’s body was broken – we had got his best years.

Never at Barcelona have we really seen the Henry that electrified Highbury, the EPL, Europe, the world. The sad thing is, Henry may well not get the send off he deserves either – his career has seemed to just peter out, fading away to be replaced by memories.

Henry’s problem comes in the way he plays the game. Bergkamp, Cantona, Zidane could all go out on a high because their bodies let them. Their game was based on being five seconds ahead of everyone else – Henry’s is based on GETTING THERE five seconds ahead of everyone else. So while Bergkamp could play the game in his head, Henry had to play it with his body and now his body is broken.

Sadly, Henry knows this better than anyone else. Why else would he feel the need to handle the ball twice against Ireland in the World Cup qualifier? The REAL Henry would have stretched out those never ending legs of his, nipped the ball back into his body and stuck it into the net. But not this time, this time he couldn’t – he had to cheat to help his country.

Now, this isn’t a whine. Yes, I’m still upset that the Rep.Ireland lost out but my anger is not aimed at Henry (though it was at the time) my anger is aimed at the idiot that calls himself the French manager and the muppets at FIFA and UEFA who chose to overlook what Henry did saying they couldn’t challenge the referee’s decision – funny how they felt differently when it came to Eduardo’s “dive” against Celtic isn’t it?

What is most upsetting is not what Henry did, or who he did it against, its most upsetting that he had to do it. Besides, while it was a sly handball we all know only one man can handball in a match and I’m going to leave it to my man Kanye West to say it best:

*NOTE

So now its World Cup time and it could be a ignominious end for the great man. Commentators and critics won’t let him forget the handball. The Captain’s armband has gone to the ever unlikable Patrice Evra while Henry has been dropped to the bench in favour of Nicholas Anelka.

France have a good side, a side capable of beating anyone on their day – but they have a dreadful excuse for a manager who I once heard couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag. They might get through their group but despite it being easy on paper I’d not be so sure.

Nasri is already sure of a long summer while Diaby, Sagna, Clichy and Gallas could have an extended one too. Its said that Henry is off to New York after the tournament – his sitting on the bench while Jeffran came on against Inter Milan suggests this is true – the death knell to any hopes of a good send-off.

Henry’s career might end quietly but lets make sure its always remembered. Screw the handball and screw Barcelona – lets remember and make sure the world remembers the goals against Manchester United, Spurs and Real Madrid. Lets make sure the world remembers the Henry stare after he scored a goal. Lets makes sure the world remembers that for three seasons he was the best player to grace a football field because from Arsenal fans, that’s the very least Thierry Henry deserves.

*NOTE: If you don’t get the picture check out “VMA, Kanye West, Taylor Swift” on youtube.