We Don’t Know / What We’re Singing

A Post of Two Parts

Nasri

I very nearly posted this piece straight after the game yesterday, such were the strength of my feelings. But I felt a bit of time to reflect, some clarity of thought and – hopefully – a bit more official news might aid in clearing my sentiments. I’m talking about the Nasri ‘situation’, and while I’ve had the benefit of reflection and a bit of clarity, nothing official has been said. Oh well, on with it.

Here’s a question: Does a man with an imminent move to another club tend to play for his current club? Not really. The chance of injury, and that injury scuppering a deal, isn’t worth the risk if the selling club is intent on claiming the agreed fee. A fee reported to be around £23m is not to be sniffed at, and so why would the selling club’s manager, Arséne Wenger, risk losing that money by naming Nasri in the stating XI yesterday?

Wénger said:

“The fans will want Arsenal to play well and win the game. They do not make an individual case of each player in each position. They want good players and to win the football game.

And while that was met with head-shaking in some quarters, I can’t help but think that Arséne and Nasri both knew far more about the situation heading into the game than both the supporters who called the player a c*nt at Newcastle, and the minority of fans idiots who booed him at the Emirates yesterday as his name was announced.

Indeed I don’t think there was one fan booing Nasri at the end of the game, and that could well point to the fact that Le Boss knows the club fanbase better than the individual fans, and that some of the people in the ground are perhaps fickle. We want our team to do well, yes, but we don’t really know what’s going on with deals or non-deals, and we should mainly react to what we see on the pitch.

Yesterday what I saw was a player trying to do his bit for the team, angered when he played a poor pass and missed a rasping effort (apologies for the ad). You can see the drive, and you can see the reaction of Nasri, and though that might be a reaction of purely personal frustration and not one of failing to put his team ahead, that he tries to make something happen in an Arsenal shirt should be taken at face value. He obviously cares about the club, about the team, and about making a difference when he’s on a football pitch. That has added weight this morning, with this fine piece in The Independent, but also because of this quote from Wénger:

“I have already said I try to keep Nasri and I have never changed my mind. He loves the club and he wants to stay here. If we decided to sell him, we would have to live with that.”

Now we all know that Arsenal is pretty much as financially sound as any top-flight club could realistically be, and so if the decision to sell the player isn’t AW’s – i.e, it is the board’s – that would hint that it is not Nasri that wants to go (not this season anyway, as he’s failed to sign a new contract which would signal his commitment), nor is it Wénger who wants to sell him. Does this allow us to look at Nasri’s tweet about fans being disrespectful in a new light? Perhaps, but it should also make it clear to us that even as fans we don’t know everything that’s going on, and should deal more in facts when support is required.

For example: It is a fact that if Nasri plays on Wednesday then he won’t be eligible to go to another CL qualified club, and it is pretty likely that he’ll play more football at Arsenal this season than he would at Man City.

“Spend Some F*cking Money”

This was a chant that arrived in fits and starts  yesterday (and was quickly/mercifully drowned out in reply by “Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal”), but only once the ten men we had left on the pitch went down by two goals did it rear it’s ugly head. Apparently those who are so frustrated as to call our boss a “wanker” and sing that particular line, were quite happy up until about the 78th minute when Miguel cleared onto Rambo’s chest and the ball looped over Szczesny.

Of course I agree that the squad needs strengthening. I’ve said it, like every other Arsenal fan has, since the end of last season. If Nasri does say we need to buy less, but it’s curious that some apparently think that spending money could prevent an own goal or a red card. Perhaps the latter would not have been given to a player of more experience than Frimpong, but who before his second yellow could say that he wasn’t superb on the day, and deserved his place in the starting XI as an understudy for Song – a player of markedly more experience who knowingly aided in getting himself sent off against Newcastle.

It’s no exaggeration to say that up until the disadvantage of a lost man we were at least the equal of Liverpool, and that had Koscielny not had to go off, and – the quietly adept – Ignasi Miguel (no sign of Squillaci) been thrown somewhat in at the deep end, our defensive stability might have brought another clean sheet. Spending money is what Twitter rumours suggest the boss is trying to do, but the lads on the pitch did well up until the point the numbers game came into effect and Dalglish brought on fresh legs.

In theory we lack similar depth, but it could be argued that the money needs to be spent primarily because we seem to be the most injury-prone club there is in the Premier League. Djourou would most certainly have replaced Koscielny had he been available, Gibbs or Traore would have played LB and Sagna RB had both of Gibb’s and Traore’s injuries not thrown Sagna to the left and placed Carl Jenkinson on the right, and Wishere, Rosícky and Song would no doubt have been involved were it not for injuries or suspension.

I could add Abou Diaby to that, but I think he might actually have been abducted.

Anyway, I’m not claiming that we have a wealth of options for a big club, but I can at least sympathise with Wénger enough not to sing a chant that in my opinion is both disrespectful and lacking in understanding at the complexities we’re obviously not privy to. Call me gullible, or call me ignorant, but call me a Gooner, and one who tries to think before he speaks.

Oh christ, I think my boiled eggs just exploded!

…they did. 

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“It’s Good To Be The King”

That might be what the big-headed alter-ego of Kenny Dalglish would have said upon waking this morning. And who could disagree with him? What a fantastic result a 3-1 win at home to the league leaders is for him and his squad. True, a back line of Rafael, Smalling, Brown and Evra looked more hopelessly at sea than firmly United, but a win is a win, and a win is also a loss that bodes well for Arsenal.

I’ll come to that in a second though because my opinion, like that pouring off of the blogs of any right-minded authors today, is that there should have been two red cards at Anfield and one later on at Molineux. Now I’ll admit that when Nani was teary-eyed I was of the opinion that the boy who cried wolf had pulled out his finest performance yet. But it should be obvious that Carragher’s made a reckless ill-intentioned tackle in a place where he’s no need to go to ground, with the clear goal of – as Ray Wilkins said on Sky – “sorting him out”. It was horrific, and the gash that it left could quite easily have been joined by some broken bone.

Rafael’s tackle shortly after was just as terrible, and though he was kicked out at by Maxi just before he lunged into it (with Lucas?) is no excuse for a tackle which was luckily avoided along with potential injury. You can always defend the ref and say:

“Oh , at full speed it’s hard to judge.”

But the ref is there to make those decisions. And if he can’t give him the means (video technology) to do so at a convenient juncture. And if not, the FA should be overturning this bloody ridiculous ‘it was dealt with’ gubbins that is seriously impacting the game we love.

On a lighter note, full credit to Dirk Kuyt for a solid hat-trick, and Luis Suarez looks a very special player indeed. He’s still an idiot/evil genius in my books for the handball against Ghana at the WC, but what a fantastically skillful player he is. Both Liverpool and the Premiership as a whole are more entertaining with him on our island, and it seems Chelsea got the bum-deal with a Torres who doesn’t yet fit in at Chelsea.

Of course, it means that United have again (like against Wolves) proven that this title race is still wide open. You can call it being let back in or being let off the hook if you like, but in football every team has to get results to progress, and at the end of the season if Arsenal have accumulated more points they’ll be champs. If not they won’t be.

On a tangent, personal highlights for me of this weekend’s footy were the Anfield faithful singing “Happy Birthday to you” to Kenny Dalglish, Wolves having a right go at Spurs and getting a well-deserved point, and West Ham’s continued resurgence (good for them). Birmingham? Well they might be Carling Cup champs, but they’re not even the current champs of the W.Midlands after losing to the Baggies, and should they be relegated then I should think Carling’s Cup will matter a fair bit less. Not completely, and fair play to them once again. But it only feels truly good to be crowned while your subject are happy.

Just ask Kenny.

In the face!

Well that was an interesting weekend’s footy. There I was, having come on in the last 15 mins of my Sunday League team’s match. I was doing my customary non-winning of headers despite my Crouch-esque height and then -BEHOLD! – a pass through the middle for me to chase. Exactly the kind of pass that I’ll rattle after like an elongated antelope and have a crack at goal with. Shoot? I can do that.

Chasing a ball on the bounce I lobbed the keep with enough pace and insta-calculation of erratic incalculable wind-power to sneak it over the line and trundle  it just inside the post, beyond the chasing defender. I spun around for a bit of a “cheeky ‘what’d I do?” shrugging celebration, followed by an expletive-fuelled fist-pump and all was rosey.

3 – 2. Ten mins on the clock. We’d gone 1 – 0 down, one man down, to 1 – 1, to 2 – 1 down, 2 – 2  and then…I come on and wow, might have scored the winner. Except:

My own fault. If I’d jump for headers I’d be a good foot an a half away from anyone’s elbow, but that’d be too easy. Thwack in the face, I felt a slight crunch and then there was a hell of a lot of blood. I stayed/dazed on and then we drew 3 – 3.

“Hang on, this reminds me of some metaphorical face smashing  just yesterday”,

I thought to myself as the red scattered upon the grass like Gunner confidence, and my goal was cancelled out by a late shot.

On Saturday in Tyneside, Arsenal collapsed under the weight of a combination of Diaby’s pyschologically understandable reaction and subsequent sending off, Djourou’s knee knock, Barton and Nolan’s cretinous behaviours, and the winner of this week’s Best Hash of Officiating, Phil “BUT HOW?” Dowd.

Actually I blame the guy at the Emirate’s screening who chirped at half time:

“Well, normally at screening’s it’s either a draw or a loss!”

….Cheers mate.

Well the Arse drew, but United inexplicably came up against an Uberinformazoided Wolves and bizarrely Arsenal closed the gap. Huh, didn’t see that coming. And “but it could have been less of a gap” sayers can shh. It isn’t, stop whining. A point closer to the leaders than many would have expected Arsenal to be off the back of odd-on Arsenal and United wins.

Sunday proved that Torres is just a human and not some kind of money-fuelled goal machine, having had the least touches of any outfield player in the Chelsea vs King Kenny’s Liverpool™ game (cheers Opta).

Also the football Gods clearly currently favour the magic of underdogs and the nostalgia of legends, and meanwhile Sky continued to prove that it can devalue any quality franchise or show with a tenuous link to some football goings on. Boardwalk Empire became (Fulham) Broadway Empire and Steve Buscemi morphed into Fernando Torres. Sky, that’s shit. Not not as bad as the time you made Wenger a cyborg though.

Birmingham’s Zigic proved that us tall blokes can play terribly and still score (represent), and some other teams won, drew and loss. I could do more about those but then I’m writing this late on a Sunday evening so there’s not really that much point. But, as I was saying, an interesting weekend’s footy.

Tomorrow I’ve got to face the colleague whom I assured Arsenal would maintain a clean sheet this weekend and that he should put money on it. Thing is you can’t legislate for sendings off. I think I’ll say:

“Well, you can’t legislate for sendings off.”

And you can’t. Nor indeed can you legislate for an elbow to the face. By a twat.

ATS.