Risky Business as Wenger fields youth, plus ESPN and other news

Tom Cruise plays for Arsenal

Arsenal have angered Belgium and delighted Greece with Arsene Wenger’s selection of 10 teenagers to travel to Olympiakos for tonight’s Champions League match.

One of those teenagers, Thomas Cruise, has been the subject of many a “Top Gun” headline pun and you will notice that this site has instead opted for class and decency over cheap laughs.

For his part, Arsene Wenger sees this group of Young Guns as distinct Outsiders but as having the class to compete at the top level. In Aaron Ramsey, Wenger is already pegging him for great things, he’s played in 40 first team matches for a top four club, plays for his national team, and he’s only 18. Not quite Legend, but getting there quickly. He will start tonight.

Jack Wilshere is another player who’s Days of Thunder are just on the horizon. There’s some talk of Arsenal loaning him out but Arsene Wenger’s not going to do that with Eyes Wide Shut and let him languish on some other team’s bench. No, he wants Wilshere to actually play if he gets loaned out saying that he’d rather the youngster practice with the Arsenal first team than sit on the bench at some place like Hull.

Surrounding this core of British talent are A Few Good Men looking to get into the first team, or just plain ending their careers: Mikael Silvestre pace may be Losin’ It, but he will provide experience and will captain this side. Up front, the Minority Report sees Carlos Vela getting a much needed run in the Center Forward spot paired with possibly Theo Walcott and the aforementioned Wilshere. Fingers crossed that Walcott doesn’t pick up any Collateral injuries today.

In the back we could see Kyle Bartley, who has more stripes in his eyebrows than first team appearances, and Kerrea Gilbert at right back. Anyway, it’ll be far from Lions for Lambs as this young Arsenal team have a lot to play for and Olympiakos will be needing at least a point to ensure qualification. Arsenal have only one way of playing, all out attack, and combined with Olympiakos’ need for a point it should be a cracking game. Not Mission Impossible, mind you, but a good game to watch over a Cocktail.

No pun intended.

Sol Campbell to play for Man U?

It would be strange to see him in a United shirt, but hey, whatever. I’m actually intrigued to see if Ferguson can get any blood out of that 35 year old turnip.

Soccer Ball (In the Face) Requires Knee Surgery?

Arsenal supporters sometimes moan about our injuries but you really need to check out this incredible story about Tottenham’s Ledley King. Apparently he was playing in a friendly in order to regain fitness from his last knee problem when a Soccer Ball to the face caused him to fall awkwardly and pick up a fresh knee problem!

Which reminds me of this video:

Man City Gets Swine Plague

What is that old proverb “If you are greedy like a pig don’t be surprised if you get swine flu.

Something like that.

ESPN Wins FA Cup and Super League Rights

As far as I can tell, the deal only covers the British broadcast rights to about 25 FA Cup matches but the fact that ESPN is aggressively getting into the market for rights to any and all FA matches is a good sign.

Their broadcasts in the States have been nothing short of magnificent: High Definition is second only to seeing a match live and beats the pants off of Fox Soccer Channel’s broadcast. My only complaint so far has been that they canned the lovely Georgie Bingham and brought in Human Caricature Tommy Smyth. That was a sad morning, getting up at 5am, flicking on ESPN2 and seeing Tommy Smyth’s face on the television when I was expecting another low cut number from Georgie.

Plus, Tommy Smyth is a moron.

Right, the match is live at 11:30 (PST) and is available to Direct TV subscribers which means that I will be headed off to Doyle’s after a very important meeting. Join me if you like, nothing less than the future of Arsenal will be on display. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

Wenger’s Beatitudes

Arsene Wenger delivers his Sermon on the Mount

Blessed are the small spenders,
for theirs is 10 straight years of Champions League Football.

Blessed are those who moan,
for they will be comforted with the ability to go on Arsenal blogs and say “I told you so” every time something goes wrong at the club.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the Champions League, while the proud will miss penalty kicks in the final.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will not have to play football for Man City or cheer for anti-football like Notlob.

Blessed are the merciful referees,
for they will be shown mercy on the blogs.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see London Colney training ground and won’t have to sleep with one of Jermaine Defoe’s numerous conquests.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called “3 points in the bag.”

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the winning of The Treble and being able to proclaim our rightousness across every football site for eternity saying “we did it the RIGHT way!”

And Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you like “he is a poor loser,” and “he never shakes hands,” or “Cesc Fabregas spat in the general direction of one of my managers.”

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward on the pitch and on the internet, for you will be treated in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you, but you will be better for it.

Size Matters, Especially for Cesc

Didier Drogba counts his IQ

If you’re wondering who I am
Well I’m a girl who can handle a man
I don’t have time for little boys
I want a man with man size toys
– Betty Blowtorch, “Size Queen”

Arsenal admitted that they fielded the world’s smallest team on Saturday against Stoke City and immediately Arsene Wenger used the 2-0 win to say Size Doesn’t Matter.

Sorry Wenger, but size matters, especially for Cesc.

In what is pretty much a direct quote of my November 30th article, Cesc has called for Arsene to buy Arsenal a Drogba. He’s right, Arshavin’s said the same thing a few days ago and now both of Arsenal’s leadership players are saying that Arsenal need a big target man up front:

An average team that has the best striker in the world can always do something and Didier Drogba makes all the difference to them. Without him, their team would not be the same. Perhaps we had the same kind of problem against Chelsea as the boys had at Manchester City, not really having someone whose game is to go beyond defenders, and we were a little small to fight against them on crosses, too.

They are right, but it’s one thing to say that we need a Drogba, though hopefully less of a foul prick, and a whole different thing to go out and find one. We had our very own Drogba just a few years ago and he turned out to be a major head-case who demanded pay rises, sulked, strayed offside constantly, and flirted with every other team on the planet.

So, what we need is a Drogba in size, who isn’t cup-tied for the Champions League*, who is a decent fellow, who wants to come in and play with this Arsenal team, and who has the touch, vision, and scoring knack that Arsenal’s supporters all demand.

As Arsene Wenger says “good luck finding him.”

Personally? I’d just take a couple of big fellas who are decent with the ball, work hard, and want to play for Arsenal. Someone to create spaces for Arsenal’s Lilliputians to run around and tippy-tappy their way to a title. Someone who will tower over the EPL’s attackers on set pieces and someone who offers another option in our attack.

Basically, I’ll take another Bendtner!

Also, if this perfect striker could not be injury prone for once that would be a revelation.

*Wenger’s requirement