Quiz Time

March 30, 2010

Arsenal are back in action in Europe this week. So here’s a topical quiz.

Watch these two clips carefully.

Using your skill and judgement, decide which of these two goals demonstrated ‘quick thinking’ and which caused Arsene to react by saying: ‘the guy puts the ball down and plays quickly. [The ref] has to make sure the opponent is at nine metres distance. I believe he is incompetent or dishonest, so I prefer to believe he is not competent.’

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A pall of gloom fell over the footballing world over the weekend as Arsenal only managed a draw away at Birmingham City. But Arsene knows that the important thing is to understand the nature of every setback. His conclusions after a typically brutal game were: 

While Birmingham were allowed to play on a surface that was like a bowling green, Arsenal were forced to play on a completely different pitch (above). This is obviously not fair and both teams should be obliged to play on the same pitch in future.

Craig Gardner should not have been allowed to tackle Cesc Fabregas, who was so badly injured in the tackle that he was only able to complete the entire match.

It was inappropriate for Birmingham manager Alex McLeish to be pleased about the equaliser. He should have shared Wenger’s fury that the right team (ie Arsenal) were denied victory.  

Some Arsenal players were booked.

The goal was offside.

The goal wasn’t beautiful enough. It should only have been worth a half a goal.

One of the heartening aspects of the recent Arsenal league revival has been the return of Sol Campbell. Recent games have shown that he has lost none of the old class.

Although the foul was invented as long ago as 1996 (see Part 14) it was to be another 12 years before a player was actually injured when Arsenal striker Eduardo broke his leg following a challenge by somebody from Birmingham City who only knew one way to play. Until recently, only two other players had been injured in a game of football, both of them from Arsenal. Arsene Wenger understood that this was no coincidence and submitted a dossier to the FA to raise the issue, prompting the resignation of FA Chief Executive Ian Watmore. Watmore had only been in the job for a year but his decision to leave his post was inevitable when it became clear that Arsenal were the only team to suffer injuries to players.

Nevertheless, Wenger’s dossier included the claim that in future a player from another club might suffer an injury. His stance was vindicated when it was revealed that Neville Davitt of Barnstoneworth United had become the fourth player (and the first non-Arsenal player)  to sustain an injury in a Yorkshire Premier League game over the weekend.

A mixed day for Arsenal as they went top of the table with a 2-0 win over London cloggers West Ham, but which saw Thomas Vermaelen become the first Arsenal player to be sent off in a League game since Cliff Bastin inadvertently fouled Stanley Matthews in 1935. 

Other positives from the game included the improving performances of Sol Campbell who followed up last week’s totally innocuous curtailing of Kamil Zayatte’s season and professional foul on Vennegoor of Hesselink with a completely accidental late hack at Junior Stanislas which saw the Gunners’ man receive a ridiculously harsh yellow card (above).

Quiz Time

March 19, 2010

Which manager in 2002, made the following statement after his team picked up their 11th red card in just 37 games:

‘You have to admire the passion and commitment of the English game. You have to ask yourself if you want to take that out of the game here. When I watch a Serie A game, I’m bored after 5 minutes. If you want totally clean football, you’ll get bored.’

A ‘Harry’ Bassett (pictured)

B Sam Allardyce

C Arsene Wenger?

There was a predictable furore at the weekend after Sol Campbell prematurely ended Kamil Zayatte’s season in a 50-50 challenge after earlier conceding a penalty by bringing down Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink when through on goal. Some claimed that Campbell shouldn’t have been on the pitch to cripple Zayatte in the first place. Other made insidious comparisons with Ryan Shawcross’s so-called 50-50 challenge which resulted in Aaron Ramsey’s near-death experience a couple of weeks ago. Yes, Graham Poll, we mean you.

Obviously these sorts of daft comparisons happen in the immediate aftermath of games when emotions are running high and people haven’t had the chance to think things through. A couple of days later we can make more sober assessments and draw more realistic conclusions. In this case, it is that people have to remember that the Shawcross incident involved something happening TO an Arsenal player, whereas in Campbell’s case it involved something committed BY an Arsenal player. Let’s hear no more about it.

Arsene does not agree with teams who attack refs. He believes that players need to work with refs to bring to their attention things they might be unable to see, such as trips. Eduardo is building a reputation as the referee’s friend but has work to do before he reaches the popularity levels enjoyed by Robert Pires.

The intellectual Arsene Wenger has the poem If by Rudyard Kipling tattooed on his backside. It includes the following lines.
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;

Short intermission

March 9, 2010

There will be no normal blog entry today out of respect for Arsene Wenger who went beyond parody today in this newspaper interview.