UEFA Insane Proclaimation #1 Welcomes us to International Week

Big Platini is Watching You

For those of you who follow my Google Reader shares (link there on the left to my page and an RSS Feed on the right of the blog) you’ll already know that we’ve got a lot of stupidity to get through today. But before we get to the stupidity, I just want to say that if you want to follow my shares on Google Reader you can either subscribe to the RSS feed or if you’re already a Google Reader and want to be friends (so we can comment together) you’ll need to send me an email (bostelle | gmail) and then we’ll need to chat. Stupid I know, but once we’re sharing together it’s actually a lot of fun and for my money more relevant than getting “I’M POOOPIN” updates off twitter.

Ok, where did I put the stupidity???

Oh yeah here it is: one of the main things I despise about the international break(s) is the sheer number of times Arsenal players are shipped off to play against some micro-country and come back in pieces. These weeks ahead hold great promise for us to suffer horrible, season ending injuries to players who are currently being held together with duct tape. No player exemplifies this worry more than Emmanuel Adebayor.

Today, the Togo manager is promising to use Ade, despite the fact that he hasn’t played since he suffered a hammy tear in February. Now, I know a lot of you will straight dismiss this story because you feel like “we don’t need Ade” but you’d be 100% wrong. We need every player on this Arsenal team in order to win a trophy and we especially need Adebayor in the Champions League where his size and speed pose problems for European squads and he always seems to step up his game (3 goals and 2 assists in just 3 CL appearances this season). Like it or not, we need Adebayor 100% healthy and not pulling a hammy for Togo.

Similarly, Eduardo’s Croatian manager is saying the Dudu is “perfect” and “showing no sign of injury” which indicates to me that he’s going to play the living crap out of him over this next week and a half.

Yeah, he’s perfectly healthy if you don’t count the fact that he’s been in and out of the Arsenal lineup with niggling little injuries picked up every time he plays because he was sidelined for a year. While I share his enthusiasm for having Dudu back, I’d rather see Eduardo used sparingly over this international break so that he could be available to win something for the club which pays his salary.

And then, of course, there’s Andrei Arshavin. Who’s agent described him as “60% fit” which I would also describe him as.. erm… fit as. Given that level of fitness, every Arsenal supporter is holding their breath hoping that Chelsea/Russia coach Guus Hiddink uses Arshavin in a responsible manner and that he is returned to us safe and healthy for the run in.

Of course, not everyone is off on international doodie and that makes them very sad. Sad enough to contemplate getting a passport for a country they weren’t born in and praying for a call up. You know, I think Alumina should get the English passport. Not so that he can get an England call up (which he might, given that he’s probably the best “English” keeper in the world right now) but so that he could count in Arsenal’s 6+5 scheme. Just in case that xenophobic, protectionist, and racist idea is passed. Think about it, we’d get to say “Hey now, Arsenal have TWO English players in their first team, the same number as Uber English Liverpool.” That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

But the big story, the one we’ve all been waiting for, is “what insane ideas will come out of UEFA/FIFA during the international break?” And, of course, they don’t let us down do they?

This month we have “Let’s do an American style salary cap based on, of all things, BASEBALL, despite the fact that it would be impossible to manage and ignoring the fact that baseball’s salary cap is the laughing stock of world sport.” Luxury tax… yeah, that hasn’t stopped New York and Boston from having payrolls that are the shame of the world.

But let’s think about this for a second. Either a club would have to adhere to the salary cap (LOL) OR a club’s supporters would be attending games at great personal expense and at least a portion of that expense would be going to some club like, say, Blackburn.

This idea is so mind-numbingly stupid and untenable that the only conceivable reason why they would announce it is because they need to make it look like they are doing something. So, they travel to America, talk to a few people, pick a plan that could never possibly work, come back, and wait until international week to announce that they are looking into implementing it.

Frankly, this plan has as much chance of happening as the 6+5 rule, or me giving a shiat if Amaury Bischoff leaves for one of the, literally, hundreds of clubs who want to buy him. Which is to say, 0%.

Hey, at least with this proclamation out of the way we can officially say that the International Break has well and truly started. Because it’s not an international break without a retarded idea coming out of FIFA/UEFA.

AC Milan in Clichy Swoop and Other Nonsense

During the international break, these blogs are a true test of a blogger’s endurance: I have to like, literally, just crank something out. So, if you’re looking for something special, that undiscovered bottle of Gigondas in the back of the pantry, chances are it’s not going to happen. Take yesterday’s column. That wasn’t fit for me to wipe my own ass with! But I had to publish something and once I got like an hour into it I just went forward. Reminds me of when I was in grad school and I turned in a 10 page paper that I had written in like 3 hours and I got a 3.6 in the class despite the fact that the professor put “not your best work, 3.6″ on my final. Not my best work gets a 3.6??? Wow.

In a sense it’s good because part of the process of writing, any art,  is to just keep doing something: keep shooting photos, keep writing, keep painting whatever just keep doing.

That’s what you get today, some of my “do.”

Hm… So, is Steven Gerrard the best player in the world and how exactly would you fellate him if you had a chance? The Times wants to know.

If you go all the way back to the beginning of the season, I picked Liverpool to win the league because, I reasoned, they had the best defense in the EPL and they had added a good goal scorer to the mix in Robbie Keane. Typically, I was wrong about the reason (Robbie Keane didn’t help them in that area) but correct about the diagnosis (they needed more goals) and now that they are scoring more goals, they look a legit title contender again despite the fact that they sold Keane.

Also, I was a bit biased because frankly I don’t care how good a team that Man Unit put out, I’d rather anyone but them win the league. Ok, anyone but them and one of Sam Allardyce’s current/former pack of cunts.

That said, I’m pretty tired of all the news stories fellating Gerrard. Yes, he’s a good player. Yes, he’s won loads of trophies. Yes, he’s crucial to Liverpool’s success. But the best player in the world has been decided and it is Ronaldo (skinny Ronaldo, not fat Ronaldo.)

I can’t stand Ronaldo and I think he disappears in big games, Eboue shuts him down for f*ck’s sake, but he is a huge talent who’s trophy cabinet is already filled with more medals than Gerrard (6 to 5) and he is 5 years younger. There’s a reason Ronaldo won so many individual accolades this year, he’s that good.

Gerrard is objectively not as good, but he does have the one thing that Ronaldo doesn’t, an English passport, and for the British press at the height of International week, that’s all that matters.

What else is going on? Oh yeah, as promised, here’s a story about Gael Clichy going to AC Milan. It’s in French so let me translate:

Blah blah blah 2o million euros blah blah blah escargot blah blah blah Phillipe Senderos and Mathieu Flamini (ouch) blah blah blah “I am not aware,” says Clichy. “I’m very well at Arsenal.” Blah blah blah “But it is true that AC Milan is a great big club and it is gratifying to know that you are followed by such a team.”

Hey, for £20m+ I would totally take the money and run. Finding another wing-back who can’t put in a decent cross can’t be that hard, can it?

Well, there’s your do, enjoy, I’ll be back tomorrow with even more do, do tune in.

Is anyone on this team the new (fill in the blank)?

Prompted by Wenger’s statement prodding Abou Diaby to make himself in to the “New Vieira” I thought I might take a look at some of our current squad and see if any of them are the new anything. Hey, what else are we going to do during the international break? Sit around wondering if van Persie is leaving? I’d rather not.

The New Vieira

A couple of things here: first, we have to remember that Wenger’s system was different when Patrick Vieira terrorized opposition midfields. Vieira was paired with a more traditional defensive midfielder during his tenure at Arsenal (Petit, Gilberto, Edu, etc) which freed him to play the box-to-box role. If you look at how this season has gone so far, I think we’ve seen Arsene change his lineup to this more “traditional” Wenger lineup with Diaby in the box-to-box role and Song and Denilson in the defensive role.

Other than a sort of formational similarity, though, Diaby doesn’t really play like Vieira. Vieira was a hard tackling midfield tough guy. Yes, he distributed the ball well, but really, when it came down to it, Vieira was on the team to give lumps to shit kickers like Blackburn and Newcastle.  Diaby on the other hand has the dribbling ability of Alex Hleb and, unfortunately, Hleb’s tackling ability as well.

Wenger has encouraged the big fella to model his game after Vieira and for me that means getting stuck in a bit more. Hey, if I said Arsenal could have a player that dribbles like Hleb and tackles like Vieira would you turn that down?

So, maybe he’s not the New Vieira and is more like the new Vieirahleb. Once he learns how to tackle properly, that is.

The New Henry

There isn’t one and never will be.

Adebayor’s goal scoring record last year was impressive and threatened to reach the heights of Henry but this year has been a bit of a let off. Henry never had a let off (except his last season which doesn’t count!).

Not only did Henry score year in and year out but his numbers were eye popping. In 2005/06 Henry scored 33 goals in 45 games (including subs) on 172 shots, 87 of which were on goal. 51% of his shots were on goal, 38% of those shots resulted in goals, and he had a massive return of .73 goals per game.

In comparison, the return from our current three strikers is appallingly low: Robin van Persie is .46, Adebayor is .42, and Bendtner is .31.

But Thierry Henry was a once in a lifetime player, it’s not fair to put Bendtner in the same category when he so clearly is not a once in a lifetime player. He’s a fine lad with tons of confidence who scores good goals and works very hard and I like him, but he’s no Henry.

No one is.

The New Lehmann

Do we want a new Lehmann? I mean, there was a certain charm in his insanity but in the end I think he cost Arsenal a bit. Getting sent off in the opening minutes of the Champions League final will always go down as a black mark in my book and erased whatever good will his antics raised.

No, after Lehmann it feels good to have a steady hand at the till. If we could just get Almunia to be more, erm, assertive in his area then we’d really have something.

I do see a bit of The Madness of Jens in Fabianski but right now it just manifests itself as being very aggressive in the sweeper-keeper roll and not in the fally downy bizzaro antics that Jens perpetrated.

So, there isn’t a new Lehmann, thank the Gods!

The New Adams

Wenger simply does not create this type of player. He mints technically gifted midfielders faster than the US prints money but he’s never gotten his head around making a huge, hard as nails, defender who can not only withstand the pressure of playing in Arsenal’s back 4 but captain the team to boot.

Mind you he’s tried. Senderos was going to be the New Adams, before he had a mental breakdown and needed a vacation in Italy. Sol Campbell was going to be the New Adams until he had a mental breakdown and needed a vacation on the South Coast.

Djourou? No, he’s a good player and all but he’s already 22 years old, which by that time, Adams was Arsenal captain. Again, it’s a bit unfair, Adams was a once in a lifetime player and no matter how good Djourou is or turns out to be he can never fit in Tony Adams’ shoes.

Conclusion

I was looking at the team roster and I thought, well, maybe Diaby can be Vieira-esque but really what I’d rather have is Diaby be the New Diaby and Arshavin be the new Arshavin and Cesc the new Fabregas on down the line. I really do like a lot of the players on the team and I like them for who they are, not who they aren’t.

Sure, we’d all like to see Adebayor and Bendtner increase their conversion rates, or Djourou step up in a leadership role, or more hard tackling in the midfield but those are qualities that can be taught and with time I think all those players will gain some of those qualities.

But ultimately, that chapter of Arsenal’s history is written, those players are legends, and these are the players we have right here and now. These guys need to write their own legends. Imagine if this team wins the Champions League, every player on that Arsenal team will be remembered not as the new (fill in the blank) but as Diaby, Bendtner, Cesc, Almunia and Djourou: the guys who won Arsenal’s first Champions League trophy.

That’s what I’m hoping for.