UEFA To Charge Messi Over Headbutt

After reviewing the Lionel Messi and Darijo Srna incident, UEFA have decided to take a second look at the alleged head butting and could punish the Argentine with a 2 match ban. Like the Eduardo incident, UEFA deem this aggression an unacceptable part of the game and will be clamping down on this kind of behaviour for the good of football.

UEFA hope that their tough stance will act as a deterrent to other players looking to lash out unnecessarily and improve the image of football throughout Europe.

A spokesman for UEFA had this to say:

“We will not accept any negative actions in our game, whether it be diving, cheating or unnecessary aggression and will always take the appropriate action.

“In cases like these, the most important thing is to keep our punishments consistent.

“Otherwise we would just look like idiots and be accused of witch-hunts.”

Personally, I would like to congratulate UEFA on their balanced and well thought out approach that will give football and the governing bodies a lot more respect in the future. Clamping down on all the negatives will improve football tenfold.

Update!

UEFA have just produced a video which Steven Gerrard has generously volunteered to be featured in, showing fellow footballers how to dive without being punished.

I’m not sure why they would do this, but that’s UEFA for you.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Abk9JSDBra4[/youtube]

The Eduardo Situation Is A Complete Disgrace

What the hell is going on here?

If Platini had a vendetta against Arsene Wenger then this is surely it.

As well as being a complete disgrace, it is extremely sad. It’s as if this is the first dive ever made in football.

And I hate to bring this up, but if this was an English player – I don’t know, someone like Steven Gerrard maybe, or Wayne Rooney then I don’t think this would even become an issue. Michael Owen is another player who is a saint when it comes to these things. But it’s okay if he’s ‘winning’ a penalty against Argentina…

It’s just a huge amount of hypocrisy from everyone which is just pathetic.

When I think about the punishment Eduardo might face, along with the already high-profile incident then I’m just so riled. And here’s why…

It’s Unfair

The fact is diving has been in football for years now and nothing has been done to stop it. Disgraceful acts of diving from players like Gerrard, Rooney and Owen have happened in England internationals yet these instances were swept under the carpet. I remember one from Gerrard (against Estonia was it?) which was one of the worse dives I had ever seen. But hey, they’re English so it wasn’t a dive, it was being clever.

It’s a shame Theo Walcott wasn’t on the pitch and dived on Wednesday night.

We’d have a peaceful life then.

The Bigger Picture

I’m not condoning diving but let’s look at the bigger picture here. This was a 5-1 aggregate win over Celtic. The penalty didn’t make that much of a difference overall and certainly didn’t effect the result, however hard you want to argue to the contrary.

But how about going back to that faithful night at Old Trafford when Shrek dived over Sol Campbell’s leg to ‘earn’ a penalty and effectively end our unbeaten run in the Premier League. That incident still makes me sick to my stomach, and was a much bigger game then the Champions League qualifier. That one dive essentially ended our title challenge that season.

We could even talk about the valid tackle Gael Clichy made in that Birmingham game where we conceded a last minute penalty and Eduardo broke his leg. That decision f*cked us over as well. In fact, there’s been a lot of big and important games penalty decisions have gone against us, but nothing was done about it.

It’s Eduardo

I have to say that the incident against Celtic was the first time I’ve seen Eduardo do anything like dive before. So why is he being singled out now for it? If diving isn’t acceptable in the game, then the authorities should have done something a hell of a lot sooner. If diving was punished then Eduardo would have thought twice about doing it.

If this whole thing was happening to a serial diver like Cristiano Ronaldo or Steven Gerrard then fair enough, but Eduardo? Come on! What has he done to deserve this treatment? The guy’s come back from a horrific injury and been out of the game for almost a year.

And the guy who did it to him got off scot free.

Nice.

Arsene Wenger’s Stance On Cheating

Arsene has always been an advocate of helping referees.

He says that technology should be used to help officials who can make mistakes. That’s not a criticism, but a fact of human nature. Referees will make mistakes. Surely a guy behind a TV screen who has a benefit of a replay can instantly tell the referee on the pitch if it’s a right or wrong call.

And if this was implemented and players knew that every decision was based on replay evidence then they would stop cheating and diving, because they would know they wouldn’t get away with it.

UEFA and FIFA govern football, the richest and most popular sport in the world. They have a responsibility to ensure the game is played fairly and in the right spirit and they have had the means to enforce this. Other sports like Rugby and Tennis are light years ahead of us in this respect so the governing bodies have absolutely no excuse.

What’s the point of retrospective punishments when ‘the damage has been done’ so to speak?

Surely it’s more important to eradicate the problem rather than punish it?

There is absolutely no point in what UEFA are doing. Because if it’s the Champions League Final and a player goes into a 50:50 with the goalkeeper then he doesn’t give a sh*t if his dive wins the match is he? If it’s the choice between winning Europe’s biggest competition and a 2 game ban then I know what every player would choose.

People only remember the winners.

If you want an example of how UEFA shouldn’t be run and how stupid they actually are, then this is it. Common sense just goes out the window.

Arsenal Made Their Own Luck (w/ Player Ratings)

Celtic (0) – (2) Arsenal
Gallas (43′), Caldwell OG (71′)
Celtic Park, Scotland

Not the free flowing football from Saturday, but an impressive, frustrating and fortunate game tonight. And it’s very rare to have all of those contrasting components in a football match!

The impressive was our defensive unit.

I’ve said for a long time that while we would have a good defence on paper, the fact was we couldn’t defend as a team. Too many times we would be exposed, and we saw what happened – nights like the one we had against Spurs in that 4-4 draw. Too many times we’d get caught out.

But tonight, we were excellent.

Vermaelen is sensational. I can’t speak highly enough of this guy. I’m almost speechless.

Nevermind that he’s only playing his second game with Arsenal, he is a godsend. He was stunningly good tonight and for me, the Man of the Match. He is great in the air, his tackling is breathtaking and the number of interceptions he made was mind-boggling.

F*ck me Wenger has done it again.

He did it with Sagna, and now he’s done it with Vermaelen.

But with him, Gallas, Clichy and Sagna all had excellent games. Gallas looks totally different alongside the Belgian and the fullbacks had very solid games as well.

And very encouragingly, Denilson and Song look to have come on leaps and bounds.

They were fantastic as well. They both played the best I have ever seen them play in an Arsenal shirt.

Their tackling (along with Fabregas’) has improved ten fold. Tonight, Song didn’t put a foot wrong. He was quick, solid and his passing was accurate and not sloppy in the slightest (which it has been over recent seasons). Denilson was almost equally as good, although there were a few stray passes now and then.

And we know Fabregas is quality.

The captain was roughed up quite a bit, but still managed to get hugely involved with the play and he covered the most ground from all the players on the pitch tonight.

Now on to the frustrating.

We had a decent amount of the ball but were very wasteful in front of goal, and in particular in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

We kept swarming forward with the ball but the end product was severely lacking. Bendtner, Van Persie and Arshavin all had decent opportunities to test the keeper but most of the shots were dragged wide. If they had been on top form, we could have really had something similar to the Everton game.

But it was the same problem as the weekend. Eduardo (who was injured tonight) was the only forward who actually scored against Everton and tonight the strikers drew blanks again. Of course it’s a good thing that the midfield and defence are chipping in with goals but sooner or later the strikers need to get the ball into the net. But after winning tonight I suppose I’m just nit-picking.

It’s just that with such a brilliant performance from the defence and midfield, the icing on the cake would have been if the strikers could show that killer instinct in front of goal. We had a lot of shots towards goal but the Celtic goalkeeper only had one save of note to make, and that was from a Fabregas shot in the second half.

And the fortunate?

Well all the Arsenal critics (like the ones from the weekend) will say that Arsenal were lucky again tonight.

The fact is though that you make you own luck in football. Arsenal deserved their goals on the balance of play, and while it’s fair to say Celtic didn’t do much wrong in conceding those goals they rarely tested Almunia in all honesty.

The first goal was deflected freekick off William Gallas. He’s our top scorer at the moment alongside Cesc.

And the second was after good work from Clichy on the left, whose cross was put into his own net by Celtic captain Caldwell. Bendtner was lurking behind anyway so would have scored if the defender missed it.

Overall, a fantastic result and impressive team display without the killer instinct. But they say a sign of a quality team is one that still win without completely playing well, so I’ll take more of these kind of wins alongside the pretty ones.

I do have to mention that it seems like Arsenal have changed their approach and game this season. Along with the ‘new’ formation, it’s clear that they play the ball around with much more purpose and play a smoother one-touch passing game. It is strange (but also refreshing) that players like Song and Denilson are so comfortable with one-touch play, as you are used to them controlling the ball before playing it. The only player that still takes 2, 3 and even 4 touches (in the entire team) is Nicklas Bendtner.

Player Ratings

Manuel Almunia: 7/10
Didn’t have anything to do really.

Bacary Sagna: 8/10
Up and down the right side again and solid at the back.

William Gallas: 9/10
Excellent. Made tackle after tackle and always looked in control. Made a fantastic interception from a cross in the second half when the game was carefully poised at 1-0. A mistake there could have changed the game, and it was a decisive moment. Looks much more comfortable alongside Vermaelen.

Thomas Vermaelen: 10/10
As I’ve already mentioned he was the Man of the Match for me. How many times have we seen Arsenal not quite click up top and then pay for it by conceding sloppy goals? In times gone by that could of happened but this guy is rock solid. I can’t really describe how good he was tonight. He was everywhere, and on top of being a brilliant defender he can pass the ball too. Take a bow son.

Gael Clichy: 8/10
Solid, and like Sagna full of running. There were one or two moments where you questioned his decision-making but overall had a good game and he made the second goal which could prove to be hugely important.

Alex Song: 9/10
I’ve been one of his harshest critics but he was right up there with Vermaelen for me tonight. He did not put a foot wrong, and if performances like this are what he’s capable of this season then we should be very excited. Looks like a different player – quicker, more intelligent and much better with his tackling.

Denilson: 8/10
He looks to have stepped up his game as well. His passing has improved, his positioning has improved and it looks like his fitness and pace have too. Still prone to a sloppy ball now and then (Fabregas and Arshavin won’t be thanking him for a couple of suicide balls) but I’m sure he will improve on that as well.

Cesc Fabregas (Captain): 8/10
The hub of the team yet again, and pretty much dictated the game. Slightly wasteful on occasion but probably fatigue from the weekend.

Andrei Arshavin: 6/10
Not really in the game, and seemed to struggle. I expected him to explode tonight but it never happened, and you wonder if he’s struggling with the new system. Was on the periphery of the game in the first half and disappeared in the second. His passing and shooting just seemed off tonight as well.

Nicklas Bendtner: 7/10
Full of running and held the ball up well at times. You sensed that he’s getting used to his new position on the right, as well as being a regular starter for Arsenal. As the season goes on you know he’ll improve.

Robin Van Persie: 7/10
Always wanted to be involved but just lacked that little bit of quality (which he has in abundance) at the vital time, whether it was a final ball or shooting opportunity. On his day, he would have scored a brace tonight.

Retard United Fans Disgusting Hillsborough Shirt

I realise this has nothing to do with us as Arsenal fans, but I was so stunned once I saw it that I had write about it.

A Manchester United fan (by the name of Colm Jackson) has taken it upon himself to get a shirt printed, with a message on the back which says:

YSB
96
Not Enough

The link to the actual photograph is here (it’s on his Facebook profile).

No doubt that the picture will probably be deleted soon, as I’m sure a lot of people will be reporting it.

Don’t get me wrong, hatred for other teams is okay but this is well over the line. To have a shirt like that is shocking, and I’ve supported Arsenal for almost 20 years and never (and I mean never) come across something as distasteful as that from an Arsenal fan. To make fun at a terrible disaster like that really does beggars belief.

From the comments on the picture, it’s clear that it was actually printed at a Sports Direct store in the Arndale Centre, Manchester.

I can’t believe a Sports store would even allow something like that to be printed. Surely they would be liable for printing this filth.

Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked and maybe this kind of thing is rife among football supporters.

But I’ve never come across it with Arsenal fans.

Source: Empire of the Kop

Is Anyone Else Getting That Sinking Feeling?

You can’t help being optimistic over the summer.

There’s no football being played, and you believe the hype. Wenger will always talk about being title challengers and will never admit we’re just fighting for a Champions League place.

That’s not the way to sell Arsenal the brand.

You can always sell the future because the future never comes.

And before we sold Toure, I was optimistic as the next Arsenal fan.

We brought it Vermaelen which was great because defensively we would be stronger. But the problem is that we forgot that Arsene has a strange policy on first team players who don’t start. Wenger doesn’t like upsetting his stars, so if he can’t guarantee them a starting place week in week out then he’ll sell them, even if they’re still good enough to play for the club.

That’s why we don’t have strength in depth in the squad, and not enough to win the league.

Alex Ferguson, Rafa Benitez and even Jose Mourinho aren’t bothered about this dilemma. In midfield, Manchester United alone have Carrick, Anderson, Scholes, Giggs, Nani, Valencia, Park, Fletcher and Hargreaves to pick from every week. That’s 9 midfield options, and that’s not including youth players like Gibson and Welbeck who make appearances now and then or even new signing Obertan. Ferguson has no problem rotating players and they all seem happy enough.

How often have you heard Wenger say he couldn’t guarantee players first team football anymore?

Players who have left recently and in my opinion would still have been excellent squad members were Gilberto, Diarra, Senderos, Lauren, Freddie, Edu and Pires. Yes, some of them are getting on a bit but what’s wrong with keeping players around to fill in and help the young players along? I don’t want them to play every week, but United have proved with Giggs and Scholes that they still have a positive purpose. Just look at Wenger’s current prodigy. Cesc Fabregas is undoubtedly Arsene’s best achievement in the current squad but who was he training and playing alongside? He played with players quite rightly regarded as Arsenal legends. He grew up alongside Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pires – the invincibles squad in fact.

I realise that players like Toure, Adebayor, Hleb and Diarra wanted to leave but I find it ridiculous when Wenger comes out and said there’s nothing he can do to make them stay. Of course players have more power than ever these days but you rarely see this kind of thing happen at Manchester United. They even managed to keep Ronaldo a couple of more seasons longer than he wanted and even then when he did leave it was for a world record breaking £80 million.

Of course, the fact we have to sell ever year is why this happens every summer.

But this summer, we’ve sold Adebayor and Toure, and Senderos is on his way to Everton. Traore is believe to be wanted by Birmingham and Nasri is injured. In response, we’ve brought in Vermaelen.

Last year, it was the same story. We lost Lehmann, Gilberto, Hleb, Flamini, Diarra, Hoyte and Senderos (again). And in response, we brought in Nasri, Silvestre, Bischoff and Aaron Ramsey.

No wonder why we’re all so excited about Jack Wiltshire.

They boy undoubtedly has fantastic potential, and even I was caught up in the euphoria after watching The Emirates Cup at the weekend. Arsenal fans have been going crazy about him, although Arsene has come out and warned us we shouldn’t put too much pressure on him or expect too much.

But ironically, Wenger’s the reason why there is so much pressure.

Partly it’s because of his obvious talent, but it’s also because we want him to play now. We look at the current Arsenal squad, and think his boy should be starting. Yes, it’s a testament to his ability but it is also down to strength of the current squad.

We also want him to start because we believe we need him.