Archive for September, 2008

30
Sep
08

Kolo Toure’s Existential Crisis

It’s been an odd couple of days over here in America (land of the free, home of the brave, keep your hands off of my stack, Jack) and I suspect that it’s going to be an odd couple of, erm, well, things are going to be weird for some time. Every day that the stock market contracts I lose more and more of my retirement and the day where I can give up and go raise sheep with Wenger in the Alsace moves further into some hazy future. I don’t even look at my retirement plan any more, what’s the point?

Add in that the house I bought isn’t worth the hill of beans that I paid for it — and its viability as the main means for putting my daughter through college has evaporated — and the future isn’t looking so good. Yet somehow, I’m sanguine about all of this. I think it has to do with the fact that in the face of stark adversity in the past I have always succeeded. That no matter how bad it gets I have the resources within me to overcome and provide for my family. In the words of FDR, in the face of a similar economic crisis, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

All this begs the question, what the hell happened to Kolo Toure? And, maybe more importantly, what the hell is going on at Arsenal that we have now lost three very solid defenders (Campbell, Senderos, and Toure) to three similar existential crises?

As you know by now, Kolo has admitted that he was afraid to play Hull saying just outright “I was scared to play the game.” He’s tried to recontextualize his fear today saying that what he meant to say was that the fear was generated by his knowledge that people have a high expectation from the team when facing an opponent such as Hull. No shit, Sherlock. What happened, did he just start paying attention to the world around him? Fans, managers, and players alike have had the expectation that Arsenal will get at least a draw and sometimes expect wins for, well, since 1886. For Christ’s sake Toure was part of the Invincibles! I can’t imagine that the expectations players feel today are anywhere near the expectations that that squad felt. So, why now, and why such a complete breakdown? I don’t know and we probably never will know, just like we were never told why Sol Campbell bogged off to Holland after shipping three goals, or what happened to Senderos after his gaffe let in the Liverpool goal that saw us out of the Champions League last year. It’s just something that’s happened and if history repeats itself, it’s the end of the line for Toure.  Which is really, really sad.

All this means that I have to admit that I had it wrong yesterday. I thought it was Gallas who had the fear, but it turns out that it was Toure. Once again, I’m left apologizing to William Gallas because now we all know that it wasn’t him who was afraid to mark Daniel Cousins, it was Toure.

And of course, in that context it makes sense that Arsene Wenger would say that he’s not punishing anyone (Kolo) with today’s substitutions, or that he feels we are “too short” all over the pitch. Clearly with Kolo’s fragile emotional state, the boss cannot play him, but neither does he feel he can call him crap. Thus, he says “I’m not punishing you, I’m just bringing in a taller player for this match because with Alex Song injured we need some height.” And then, as if to shore Toure up even further, Wenger reminds everyone of the Invincibles (which Toure was a part of) and says that this team could become invincibles too.

So, today I fully expect to see Arsenal field a back four of Sagna, Djourou, Gallas, and Clichy with the outside chance that Clichy will be dropped in favor of Silvestre; in the midfield then I expect Eboue, Fabregas, Denilson, Nasri, with Theo coming off the bench in the 70th minute; and up front, it will be Adebayor and Bendtner, with the boss dropping van Persie because he isn’t punishing him for being lazy and woefully profligate against Hull but instead because he’s shorter than Bendtner.

Sigh.

The worst part of all this is that this crisis is giving our opponents hope that they get three points even though they lost their best player in Ricardo Quaresma in the off season. I expect an open and attacking game, with Porto playing a 4-3-3 and giving Arsenal plenty of room to create opportunities. I also expect Arsenal to show why they are a top four club in one of the hardest leagues in the world: because unlike Kolo, I fear no club, not even the Portugeuse champs.

Until Tomorrow.

29
Sep
08

Let me axe you something

Arsene Wenger has promised to wield the axe ahead of tomorrow’s match with Porto and though I agree with the sentiment completely, I believe his hands are tied and he won’t be able to do anything significant.

Pretty much every Arsenal fan knows that Gallas is the one player who most needs a “rest:” his performances have been shockingly poor both individually and as captain. You need look no further than the defensive scramble that let Hull score their second goal to see what I’m talking about. I know, it’s popular to say that Gallas is “short” (he’s 5’11”, a mere 3 inches shorter than Daniel Cousin) and that’s why he concedes goals from corners but that’s a load of crap. Mr. Shortymcshorterson wins headers on the offensive end all the time and he wins headers in defense all the time, in fact (and I know I’ll get stick for this) he’s a better aerial player than Kolo Toure by leaps and bounds.

No, Gallas’ problem isn’t the fact that he’s an inch shy of the 6′ mark. Gallas’ problem is that he’s a reactor and not a planner. Watch the replay of Hull’s second goal, it looks to me like Gallas doesn’t want to mark Cousin — so, he’s trying to get someone else to do it when the ball’s played in and “oops” he’s out of position and Cousin scores while Gallas is leaping helplessly behind the ball. Leaders who are reactors can be very valuable because they are capable of rapid change when needed but if they start panicking then that’s when they lose the plot. Unfortunately, Gallas has started panicking, he started the trend last year at the end of the Birmingham game and it’s continuing into this year as has happened now three times this season.

Gallas has to be dropped for the Porto match tomorrow and I would go a step further and strip him of the captaincy — make him earn it back, like I did in boot camp. Stripping Gallas of his captaincy would cause a massive disruption on the team but I think that’s exactly what’s needed right now; people fighting to be leader and let the guy with the biggest balls win it. It remains to be seen if Wenger is willing to risk the facade of harmony he’s built this season, after all, Arsene Wenger is not a reactor, he’s a planner.

More than just Gallas, there are a lot of players who looked pretty ordinary on Saturday; van Persie, Denilson and Cesc could all use a “rest” as well. So too Theo has to be running out of steam and could use a day or two off, but let’s face facts, who will the boss bring on if all 5 players are dropped? Jack Wilshere? Song? Silvestre? Nope. Nope. Nope.

Wilshere is hungry but there’s no way the boss is putting a 16 year old in the cauldron that is the Champions League, so Cesc will start there. Song is injured, as the link above shows, so that means Denilson will start there because the only other option is the 17 year old Welsh wunderkind Ramsey. Nasri is back (yay) and so we might see Theo come off the bench not because he did poorly but rather because he’s played, like, every day for the last month.

That leaves just van Persie and one of the two central defenders as viable options. Replacing van Persie with Bendtner or even Vela isn’t that hard a decision but I wonder does Arsene have the balls to replace Gallas? I don’t think he does. If anyone in the central defense gets a rest it will probably be Toure.

We’ll see.

So, tomorrow is a bit hectic but I am going to have some time to catch the game. It’s live on Setanta at 11:30am local time which, as always, means a trip down to Doyle’s. Maybe I’ll see you down there? Until tomorrow.

28
Sep
08

Arsenal 1-2 Hull, the Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good

Props have to go to Hull, I’m sorry but they outplayed Arsenal yesterday. I could try to psychoanalyze the Arsenal players and wonder aloud whether the pre-match chatter about them kicking us off the pitch played a part in why the Arsenal players looked timid at the start, but that’s just plain unfair to the Hull players and their manager. They came out with a game plan, with the desire to win 3 points, and with the certain knowledge of how to get them, and they did.

Sure Hull came out and gave a few lumps to start, and maybe my reaction in the live-blog was the same as the players, a sort of sense that injustice was being done. But after those initial few lumps, the game smoothed out and it looked to me like both teams played fairly, Hull was just seemed to want it more.

After the 0-0 first half, it turns out that Phil Brown took off the headgear and spoke directly to his players, reminding them that they had worked all week on set pieces and that if they just kept up the hard work, it would all pay off. Arsenal scored first and I really thought that we were going to open them up at that point, but then we just sort of looked like we took our foot off the gas and suddenly Giovanni found himself in loads of space and fired in a beautiful goal; side net, unstoppable. Again, the good has to go here to Hull, they showed the character to fight back after going down 1-0 to the vaunted Arsenal.

Finally, when they were lining up the corner that won the match, I don’t know if I could sense something or not, but I had a bad feeling about Arsenal’s defense on that corner. I couldn’t see it until the slow motion replay but the squad was in utter disarray. Hull capitalized on that, plus their foreknowledge that Arsenal couldn’t defend a corner against a bunch of third graders right now, and they scored the winning goal. The point here is that Hull stayed committed to their gameplan throughout and when the time came, they simply executed what they had practiced.

After the match Phil Brown said this of his team

The character and commitment and desire is a joy to work with.

Character, commitment and desire; in the end, that’s all we need to know about why Hull beat Arsenal.

The Bad

Arsenal simply fell apart. Maybe they read too many of their own press clippings and started to believe what people were saying about them, I don’t know, I’m not the team shrink. I do know that the team fell apart and that you have to look no further than the disastrous defending on the second Hull goal to see that. Who was marking who and why wasn’t that clearly articulated? It’s easy to blame individuals (where was Toure, why was Gallas late, why didn’t anyone close down on Giovanni?) for individual breakdowns but I actually blame the whole team and more specifically the team’s leadership.

I learned a phrase in one of those work life seminar/retreat things that I think is completely appropriate here: the fish rots from the head. On the pitch, and in the moment of the corner, it’s William Gallas who does the organizing, Bill Gallas who sets out the marking, and Bill Gallas who leads the team. It was good ole Bill who is directly and indirectly to blame for Hull’s first and second goal.

First, he’s the guy who’s supposed to sense that his team have taken their foot off the gas and get them back on task. He failed to do that. Second, if he can’t sense that his teammates are getting lax, at the very least he could scream at someone to close down on their opponents. He failed to do that. And finally, after they scored the first goal, Gallas should have rallied the troops, that’s what leaders do, and instead he faded into the wallpaper, failed to organize the team, and they simply let Hull score.

Arsene Wenger doesn’t want to put any blame on any individuals but I will, I blame William Gallas, and since it’s ultimately his decision to retain Gallas as captain, I blame Arsene. When the chips are down, William Gallas is a poor leader. More than anyone else on the pitch, the captain needs to be the one showing strength, maturity, and desire. Arsenal lost that when we lost Flamini, who was the only person I saw last year with those qualities.

The Ugly

Prepare yourself for a non-stop barrage of stories about how the mighty have fallen. I should have seen it coming. The reaction from the press over the 6-0 Carling Cup win was just too effusive. As a fan, I wanted to believe that press (it made me feel good) but now I see it for what it really was: build them up so that when they fall (which all great things do) you can write 1000 stories about how they fell. Now, we’re going to get in-depth analysis of the team, their boss, the garbage, the tea lady, the ball boy, everything. Get ready for it.

The season isn’t over guys: we’re just two points off the leaders. Sure, Arsenal haven’t played any of the top 5 teams like West Ham or Aston Villa, but there are 32 games left and a possible 96 points. We, the team and the fans, need to regroup, refocus and get out there and beat some people like we know we can, starting on Tuesday.

Until tomorrow, up the Arse.

27
Sep
08

Live-blogging Arsenal v. Hull — part 2

9:00am Taylor Twellman’s Kick medic it’s “TAYLOR MADE” HAR HAR. I can’s wait to see what these two geniuses have to say about the Arsenal match. Let me guess: “Arsenal don’t like physical play?”

9:05am Did you know that the number one search term that people use to find my blog is “Arshavin?” WTF? Oh well, Arshavin Arshavin Arshavin Arshavin Arshavin – he’s overpriced and talentless, he should play for Spuds! Arshavin Arshavin Arshavin Arshavin Arshavin !
9:10am gross, I’m watching the “highlights” and Christiano Ronaldo gets a penalty — I’m sorry but that was probably the only good tackle that Bolton put in the whole match. Too bad they’re going to get relegated.
9:20am “blah blah blah tackle blah blah blah Arsenal don’t like to get kicked blah blah blah.”

9:25am the lineups are announced and Fox Soccer channel is putting Eboue as the central midfielder — eye roll.

9:27am That guy’s name is “Warren Barton” and he was born in Islington but he played for Kelvin Koogan at Newcastile. Yay.

9:30 — that’s better, Eboue on the wing, DUH. God, Fox Soccer Channel sucks. They should hire me, at least I know where everyone plays on the pitch.

9:35 — kickoff, wheee, hey look Phil Brown has the same stupid headset that his evil mentor Sam Allardyce wore. And of course the announcer is already mentioning that Arsenal haven’t been scored on at the Emirates — that’s what we Americans call a jinx.

9:40 — hey look, three obvious fouls and no whistle.  Ok, so that’s how this game is going to be called. As long as it’s going to be called the same way on both sides.
9:42 — great pursuit by Denilson to save some blushes. COME ON YOU REDS!!!
9:44 — Jeebus, Denilson is everywhere.
9:47 — Jeebus Denilson earns a free kick on the edge of the box and Robin’s free kick is easily claimed by the keeper. Wasted chance.
9:48 — good call Matt — he looks tired or something and missed a wide open opportunity just now.
9:52 — bodies are flying all over the place and the ref has finally seen enough — stopping play when we have a clear advantage. Are you Tottenham in disguise?
9:56 — ok, so Hull can tackle rough but Arsenal can’t tackle at all, it’s going to be one of those games, got to play through it, ignore the ref.
10:02 — a real live injury to Eboue with blood and everything.
10:08 — that’s it, move the ball, make them run, Hull can’t keep up this pace all game.
10:13 — yawn… two consecutive offsides and Hull is sucking the life out of this game — exactly what they want to do.
10:20 — lots of chances in this first half but I’m going to give credit to Hull, they have executed their game plan to perfection.  They are closing space, roughing players, they’re well organized in defense and Arsenal is clearly frustrated. Let’s see how the Boss responds in the second half.
10:40 — oh good it’s back on. I’ve brushed my teeth and changed into my Fabregas jersey, clearly Denis Bergkamp wasn’t working.
10:43 — Theo with a mazy run and he pulls the ball back for Cesc who puts the ball in. The Jersey clearly worked.
10:45 — ONE NIL TO THE ARSENAL ONE NIL.. Come on boys get another! Christ, Eboue and Ade should have scored 4 goals on that last possession. PROFLIGATE!
10:50 — Jeebus, Theo has the speed of a thousand.. speeders, play every ball to Theo from now on, he can only get better. DANG! another missed opportunity, stop trying to set others up Ade you’re a striker, strikers SHOOT.
10:55 — fucking hell… no one closes down on Giovanni and he picks out the side netting on a great goal. There goes the Arsenal “clean sheet at home” that the announcer jinxed us on earlier. I was just about to comment that Arsenal looked like they had taken their foot off the gas for a bit.
11:00 — I had a bad feeling about that corner. 2-1 to Hull…
11:02 — off comes Eboue and on comes Bendtner. All hands to the pump. Eboue was probably most directly responsible for the extra passes and the first goal.
11:05 — what is this the 100th Arsenal corner???  How about a goal?
11:08 — Vela’s getting ready to come on and Arsenal’s going to switch to a 4-1-5.
11:11 — the 101st Arsenal corner, Hull look really jaded, Arsenal need to put this fucker away now. But instead, Marlon King latches on to a ball and has a good shot
11:15 — van Persie on the end of a beautiful Fabregas move and puts his left footed shot just wide. This is really frustrating.
11:17 — Arsenal waste their 108th corner — how does Gallas miss?
11:20 — 4 minutes, I want to believe.
11:24 — 4 minutes of added time too, I take back everything I said about your mother.
11:25 — YOU’VE GOT TO BE FUCKING KIDDING ME.

11:28 — Incredible result, nothing to complain about as far as Hull’s tactics, they won doing what they wanted to do and no matter how much they tried Arsenal just couldn’t put the ball in the net.  More about all this tomorrow, I have stuff to do around the house now. Fuck.

27
Sep
08

Live-blogging Arsenal v. Hull — part 1, enter the Stoke.

I did some “liveblogging” last season as a test but I didn’t have anywhere near the audience then as I do now, so I thought I’d give it a whirl again and see what the response is. I’ll be honest and say that the real impetus behind these is that since I write the blog in a half a day away different time zone the news stories generally dry up by Saturday morning and I’m left with just a few dregs.

So… without further ado.

7:50am the Stoke v. Chelsea game is at a break and none too soon, Chelsea is up 1-0 off an own goal. This is like watching a root canal.

7:55am ha ha, my daughter is crying, probably because she just realized that Arsenal don’t play for an hour and a half. Or maybe she just learned that Thomas Rosicky’s magical mystery illness is causing all Arsenal fans great consternation.

8:03am Fox Soccer Channel is so low rent… they never tell who the commentators are (I wanted to look up this English guy’s name so I could see why he was chosen to represent anything much less Football in America) and just now as they went to break they were announcing their sponsors and couldn’t even get the sound right so the American dude was drowned out by their closing music.  Plus, the commercials are funny. Thomas Kinkade paintings of NASCAR? Who do they think is watching this, the Beverly Hillbillies?

8:09am Chelsea are hurting people, again.

8:10am mmmm… Raspberry pancakes, thanks babe, you rock!

8:15am these pancakes are awesome, and hey look at Chelsea fouling and cheating and wasting time: they’re so classy.

8:20am Stoke’s 8’11” stiker is giving Chelsea all kinds of problems. I’d be so stoked if they equalized.

8:25am It’s called “NASCAR THUNDER!!!” and I give it 4 whore diamonds.

Thomas Kinkade Gallery of Horrors

Thomas Kinkade Gallery of Horrors

8:35am Stoke is making a game of this, but you just know that Lampard or Dogbag are going to get a second goal.

8:37am Disgusting, Anelka lashes in a goal after a shockingly poor clearance by Faye.

8:43am disgusting, the announcer just said “John Terry… sheer brawn.”

8:50am sorry, this game is deader than corduroy so I was just geeking out on stats. Did you know that Frank Lampard had 60 shots in the EPL last year and only scored 10 goals? HA HA PROFLIGATE! Come on ref, blow the whistle…

8:55am I agree Matt, but Lady Liberty is currently living with her abusive boyfriend in a trailer park in Tennesee, and she’s all corpulent from downing a fifth of Jack and a handful of pills every day.

Thank god, that game ended.  Ok, I’ll be back in a second with the actual Arsenal thread.

What are you guys still doing over here? Go to the Arsenal thread already!

26
Sep
08

Same as the Old Boss

Already the whining has started.

Arsenal are often painted as a whining club, our manager complains about officials, we all complain about the overly physical play of teams like Bolton, the fans complain when our team doesn’t beat clubs that we’re “supposed” to beat, in general we get a lot of stick for being a bunch of whiners.

What’s funny, though, is that Arsenal aren’t really that bad: if we make a mistake, we generally apologize for it (which is what adults like Pogatetz do when they make a mistake) and generally the Boss will have a word or two after the match and that will be it. What the boss never does (as far as I know) is whine about the refereeing before the match.

But that’s what Bolton, I mean Hull City boss Sam all… wait, his name’s Phil Brown? Oh. Well, whine before the match in order to get the officials to call this game their way is exactly what Hull City boss Phil Brown has decided to do. It comes as no surprise to learn that this guy, who thinks Kevin Davies’ tackle was a good tackle, is a former Bolton sub-commander under Sam Allardyce. It should also come as no surprise that Hull employ the exact same tactics as Bolton, and will go into tomorrow’s 9:30am pst kickoff looking to literally kick things off: off the pitch, out of the stadium, “up Wenger’s nose,” the tea lady, whomever and whatever gets in their way they will kick. Unashamedly.

For me, the Kevin Davies tackle, there was nothing wrong with that. If you take that out of the game Hull City might as well not play at the Emirates. If you allow Arsenal to dictate that that tackle goes out of the game, then we are finished.

We have got that tackle on our side – they have got the technical side of the game on their side. (emp. added)

If they are allowed to express that technical side without tackling, without physical contact, we might as well not turn up.

This is, honestly, the most cowardly, childish, churlish thing a manager has said all year. It is the adult equivalent of saying “if you don’t play by my rules, I’m taking my ball and going home.” What’s worse though is this insistence that if players aren’t allowed to tackle STUDS UP AND SHIN HIGH that there will be “no contact” in the game. There’s some kind of logic wormhole in effect here if people can seriously make the jump from “if illegal tackles aren’t allowed, then there won’t be any contact left in the game.”

But possibly the worst crime in this statement is the idea that all his team has is poor tackling: Arsenal play beautiful football; Hull City, they tackle poorly.

Hull City: we tackle poorly.

Arsene responded to Phil Brown with this simple statement:

A defender has to be tough and committed, for me if tough is committed I don’t have a problem with it. If tough is the desire to hurt your opponent it’s not acceptable because that’s not the game.

The beauty of sport is to win in respect of the rules. If us as managers start to say we don’t have to respect the rules then it can’t be accepted. That’s in boxing, in football, in every sport. You have to respect the rules.

Aye, and two-footed, studs up, shin high, aggressive lunges aren’t in the rules, Phil.

Since Phil Brown doesn’t understand what a proper tackle is I have designed a chart for him to show his players:

Good Tackle

Please note that while the player (Kevin Davies) is a bit behind his opponent, he’s trying to win the ball first and is not playing the man’s (Cesc) ankles or shins with a studs up lunge.

Bad Tackle

Note that Pogetetz had just won the ball in this challenge but he is very high, he leaves his left leg in, and he’s challenging studs up.

If Phil Brown would like I will give him a personal demonstration of both techniques. I’m sure he knows them though since that’s all his team has.

Enough of that, the two teams will have to play a match tomorrow and Arsenal know that they will have to play with a lot of grit, be wary of the long diagonal ball, and defend off set pieces. So far, the last item has been their weakest suit this season; while they haven’t conceded a goal off open play in 9 matches they have conceded off set pieces three times. Almunia will have a lot of work to do to command the box and the whole squad will have to pay extra attention on set pieces to make sure they clear the lines. If they don’t do that, it could turn into one of those games where Arsenal have 70% of the possession and Hull hit on a counter or a corner and steal a point.

Silvestre and Clichy are both fit for tomorrow’s match and we may see Gallas get a rest this week. I’m kind of excited to see what Silvestre can do for this team, we get a lot of criticism for being young and not doing well in the air, will Silvestre bring experience and aerial defense?

Nasri is still out, his knee is still bugging him, and Song was doubtful with some kind of hip injury but according to that link he’s available. That leaves just Nasri, Rosicky, Eduardo and Diaby in the infirmary. Not bad for this part of the season and considering that Eduardo had his leg broken. The one odd bit of news is that the article linked above says that Diaby is on the “long term injury list.” I’m not sure what to make of that as the team has been closed lipped about the whole affair.

Ok, that’s that. Like I said, the game kicks off at 9:30am local time and is on Fox Soccer Channel. I know a bunch of the locals are going down to Doyle’s to catch the Liverpool derby but I’m staying home because Doyle’s won’t be playing the Arsenal match until 11am and by then someone will have told me the score. Plus, there’s only one thing better than watching the match at home in your underwear while eating some fresh breakfast: seeing the game live at the Emirates.

Tomorrow.

25
Sep
08

Liam Wilshere Dominates the News

The press, the fans, the boss, pretty much everyone is totally stoked on Jack Wilshere. I’m so excited that I have already created a new masthead featuring Jack and had his left boot tattooed on the small of my back — right above my Arsenal tattoo.

Seriously, the kid looks good and I’m as excited as anyone about the prospect of having another full England starter on the squad (as it will keep the foaming dog Nationalists at bay for a little bit) but before we go off and crown him the next Liam Brady, let’s let the kid grow a bit, shall we? I mean, I realize that he’s a midfielder, he’s got a left foot, he’s silky smooth with the ball and at $150 a week he’s paid the same as a footballer from the 1970s but that’s where the comparisons end. Frankly I think the boss is talking with tongue firmly in cheek when he says

People tell me he is a bit like Liam Brady, because he has good balance and change of direction.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done with Liam, I mean Jack, and everyone just take a step back and let the kid have some room to breathe. Besides, the team is what utterly destroyed Sheffield United and I’d rather have this team than the team that Liam Brady played for in the 70s. Again, Wenger puts it in perspective

When you are a manager of a boy like that who has the talent, you are always cautious to put too much pressure on him and too high a level of expectation.”I believe it is all in there, but also that I have a responsibility to nurture him and get him in the right development over the next two or three years, that will be vital. From 16 to 19 is a very important age for the development of a football player – and Jack has skipped a few classes.

Aye, so run out quick and buy your England shirt with Wilshere-Brady on the back, it’s the only sensible thing.

What’s amazing here is that the real Liam Brady as the Head of Youth Development and the Academy Director is the person who is most directly responsible for this class of super talent that Arsenal have amassed and yet nary a word is spoken about the man’s contributions.  Just look at all the players in that article linked above and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Certainly, the scouting system is important, the team’s philosophy is important, the boss’ program of bringing players up through the Carling Cup and his general footballing philosophy are all important but Liam is the dude who runs the show for these kids. I just want to give kudos to him, by all accounts he’s doing a terrific job.

The one “youth” player that the boss seems most effusive about is Carlos Vela with Wenger saying that “Carlos has everything in his locker.” Maybe his locker is like a door to Narnia and Carlos can reach in and pull out literally anything. If so, I’d like $50,000 to make up for the value I’ve lost on my house this year — and could you move the Emirates Stadium to Tacoma?

Carlos is another guy that I’ll be waiting to see how he turns out. I do think it’s funny that when he came into the EPL, Tottenham signed Dos Santos and everyone (even Thierry Henry) was high on Dos Santos and Vela was sort of seen as an afterthought. What a difference a hat trick for a first place team can make eh?

And finally in the Carlos Vela Children’s Bag of Endless Treasures, Lyon has stuck a $160m price tag on “Arsenal target” Karim Benzema which prices the 20 year old right out of the Arsenal market. Hell, they might as well have put a $700b price tag on him given the fact that Arsenal are in “development” mode and probably wont pay more than $20m for any player ever again. It does make me wonder, though, what Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott are worth if Karim Benzema is rated at $160m. First, they’re English, which doubles their price tag because talented Englishmen are like hen’s teeth and second, well, Benzema is rated at $160m. So, I’m rating both players at $200m each.

Take THAT Lyon!

Croatian Racists

FIFA paused for a moment from their feeding at the trough of South Africa to assess a $27,700 fine on Croatia for their fan’s racist taunts during the Theo Walcott match at Zagreb on September 10th.

A whole $28,000!  Oops, I forgot, FIFA also doled out a stern warning! If that doesn’t work, I’m thinking that FIFA will just have to get tough, you know, have a whist drive, a “car wash against racism” and maybe even organize a bake sale.

Come on. This is the same national side that was just fined $17,000 by FIFA in June for their fan’s racism at Euro 2008 against the Turks. If FIFA seriously wants to crack down on these people they are going to have to do something a little harsher than a piddly little fine and another warning. How about holding their national games behind closed doors or just baring Croatia fans from coming to the matches? And if that doesn’t work… suspend their license? This stuff has no place in modern football and should be stamped out, with extreme prejudice.




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September 2008
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