First off, I need to say thanks to everyone for the positive comments on yesterday’s blog, you’re the other reason I do this. It’s so great to see so many Gooners from such far flung places around the world united in a single cause: the Arsenal.
Now, on to the news…
Yesterday at Eduardo’s auto de fé the Grand Inquisitor read aloud what was to be Eduardo’s punishment for the heresy of diving and it turned out… that the church of UEFA admitted that they were just plain and simply wrong.
They were wrong to use video evidence ex-post facto, they were wrong about whether there was contact, they were wrong to question the referee, and they were wrong to cave in to pressure from Scotland. And so the witch hunt they pursued against Eduardo was wrong and all charges should be dropped.The heretic known as Eduardo is now a clean soul but unfortunately his body has already been burnt at the stake of public opinion.
Make no mistake here, though. This was not a legalistic decision about whether there was contact or not, as I first thought. This wasn’t some slimy lawyer getting a guilty client off on a technicality as the press want to make out. No, Eduardo’s innocence came about because the referee of the match saw the game live, saw the video, and saw the video slowed down, and stood by his decision. The diving evangelists can’t take it, they have been whipped into a baying, foamy, frenzy by folks in the press, like Sportsmail’s stupid anti-diving campaign, and they simply don’t know what to do. They are currently lashing out at everything around them searching for a foothold, some firm ground to stand on so that their world will make sense and for them I’d like to offer a suggestion: you’re wrong. You don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know what a dive is, and the next time you’re watching a game and you think to yourself, or worse scream out loud like some apoplectic Joe Wilson, “THAT’S A DIVE WHARRRRGARRRBLE111!!1!!” remember that I told you, you don’t know what you’re talking about.
Chances are I’m right because after this ruling I have to admit, I don’t know what a dive is either. It seems to be that if there’s any contact, and the referee doesn’t feel like the player is trying to deceive him, then it’s not a dive. I can accept that I don’t know what a dive is, or at the very least that I might not be the most objective judge of diving on the planet. Can you?
As for the animals in the press, I fully expect retractions and apologies will be issued any moment now. Any… moment… now…
I Can Has Affirmative Action Quotas for Englishmen?
In a stunning moment of clarity and sense-making, the English Football Association has decided that clubs should be forced to have academies and can no longer simply buy a team full of senior players. Personally, I’d rather they stayed out of this whole mess and let things run their course, but if they had to get involved, then this was the only sensible way to go about it. Starting next year every team in the Premier League will be required to name a squad of 25 players, 8 of which must be both under 21 and have been trained for 3 or more years at an English or Welsh club. That sound you just heard was every Chelsea supporter’s butthole puckering simultaneously. Because combined with their transfer ban, this new rule leaves them with exactly 8 eligible trainees and unable to bring anyone else in.
Moreover, this plan, which doesn’t discriminate against a player based on nationality, is a huge slap to the face of Platini and Blatter who desperately wanted a passport based Affirmative Action quota system foisted upon teams. Which they quaintly referred to as “the 6+5 rule.”
One knock on effect of this new rule could be the development of a more serious reserves league. Arsenal’s reserves coach, Neil Banfield talked about his vision for a national reserves league, with relegation and all that, a few weeks ago. If clubs are now going to be forced to have at least 8 trainees per season named to their first team, I can easily see something like what Neil talks about developing.
What’s not clear in all this is how this rule change will mesh with Platiniblatter’s plan to enslave young children in footballing death camps until they are 18. Ok, that’s a slight exaggeration, they actually want to re-create the 18th century system of indentured servitude, and how that might mesh with this FA rule is unclear. If you can’t transfer players under 18 and you have to have 8 players, on the books, between the ages of 18 and 21 who have trained for 3 years in an English or Welsh system, well, then suddenly 18 year olds become super valuable and especially 18 year olds who have trained in England.
It could quickly become a mess. We’ll have to see if Platiniblatter win approval for their indentured servitude system or if they suffer further ignominy.
Show me your money
The FA also passed some meaningless rule about looking into the books of clubs and promptly ignoring some debts while looking sternly at others. I have it under great authority that this rule will be ignored.
The Group of Dearth
Right, so we have some football tomorrow against Standard Liege. The match is being shown on Setanta here in the States and that means a trip over to Doyle’s for us locals. Doyle’s now has High Definition televisions and an HD cable feed, so if any matches are in HD, you will get to watch them in HD there.
As for the match, Arsenal Station has a great little piece which details all of our opponents in the group of dearth, you should check it out.
Player news ahead of the match has Arshavin certainly ruled out for Arsenal, along with long-term injuries to Nasri, Fabianski, and Djourou keeping them sidelined as well. For Liege, they will be missing their captain and supposed Arsenal transfer target, Steven Defour who broke his foot on the weekend.
The one player I am very surprised to see mentioned as a possible team selection for Liege is Alex Witsel. This is a player who just a little over two weeks ago broke the leg of Marcin Wasilewski and was subsequently banned until November by the Belgian FA. Now, when I say “broke the leg” I mean, put in possibly the worst tackle I have ever seen, a tackle so bad that it makes Tiny Taylor’s knee-high, studs up, leg breaking lunge on Eduardo look like an accident. The video of the tackle is so disturbing that I almost don’t want to put it here, but I’m going to anyway because I think we all need to know what Arsenal are up against tomorrow.
WARNING THIS VIDEO IS EXTREMELY GRAPHIC
After watching that video, and knowing that he’s been banned in his home league, you have to wonder how this guy is allowed to play in the Champions League. But supposedly, he’s available and ready to make a “cold start.”
That’s all the news I have for you today (except the “news” that Adebayor has been charged and is facing a three to six match suspension) so, see you tomorrow with a fuller preview of the Liege game, if I can muster one.