So the World Cup is over and it’s congratulations to Cesc and commiserations to Robin. Spain won 1-0, as they did their previous three games in the tournament – “one nil to the Es-pan-ya” – and have added the world crown to the European one they won two years ago.
I suppose you have to say they were worthy champions. They played some lovely football but I don’t think they’ve been as impressive as many like to make out. There’s a distinct lack of goals for a team that dominates possession the way they do but it seems it’s not the done thing to point that out.
You see Spain’s tiki-taka is beyond reproach simply because they are Spain. Now, I’m not taking anything away from them but the pretty triangles and constant passing without, perhaps, enough to show for it is a criticism leveled at Arsenal. And rightly enough at times. Yet it’s amusing – and when I say amusing I mean amusing in a way that makes you want to kick your TV in – how the standards of various TV pundits differ when viewing the international game.
Now, I’m well aware of the main difference between Spain and Arsenal – that being major trophies in recent years – but look at the way they spoke about Holland last night. To a man, led by Count Hansen, they slammed the Dutch for their approach to the game. Brutal. Violent. Sickening. Anti-football. Words I heard last night. And when referring to van Bommel and de Jong they’re right. The former got away with a horrible potential leg-breaker on Iniesta which should have been a red card and de Jong’s flying karate kick into the chest of Xabi Alonso was more assault than tackle. He should have been off as well.
So Hansen and his pals roundly condemn challenges like that. Which is the right thing to do for the game of football. Yet why is it that there’s a tolerance of that kind of football when they analyse Arsenal games? We hear them say stuff like ‘If you let Arsenal play they’ll kill you with their passing. You have to get stuck in. Let them know you’re there. It’s a physical game. It’s the only way you can play them’, whenever we’re facing a Bolton or Blackburn or a Stoke.
Where’s their interest in protecting the aesthetics of the game then? They are, to a man, the greatest pack of hypocrites in football. If it’s not ok to kick Spain then it’s not ok to kick Arsenal … or anyone else. They’ll call van Bommel a thug, which he is, but it’s easy to do that when it’s not an Englishman or fellow Brit doing the clogging (no pun intended) or leg snapping.
When professional footballers speak before a game about how you have to kick Arsenal, literally, to compete in a game they have a little titter, complain about Arsene Wenger moaning and accuse us of being weak, needing to man-up. Yet they couldn’t condemn the Dutch fast enough. And leaving aside van Bommel and de Jong there wasn’t another dirty player on the pitch. Bookings are part and parcel of the game, Spain picked up a few too. There’s another thing – why do they ignore the cynical side of the Spaniards? If you’re going to have a go at dirty/foul play why not criticise the Spanish for the way they constantly crowded the referee waving imaginary cards?
Anyway, I could go on and on about these arseholes but what’s the point? We know they’re hypocrites, sadly they get paid a lot of money to go on TV and show themselves up. The first time a team manages a result against us playing ‘Dutch’ they’ll be chuckling about how Arsenal don’t like it up ‘em. Honestly, they are just appalling people and rotten football pundits.
As for the game itself Cesc set up Iniesta’s winner late in injury time. The Dutch can feel somewhat aggrieved at Howard Webb’s failure to give an obvious free kick on the edge of the Spanish area but you can always trust that testicle headed twat to get big decisions wrong. Cesc had a real impact when he came on and while I’m delighted for him seeing Puyol touching him and talking to him at the end made me feel a bit ill.
Robin struggled to see much of the ball. Sneijder was on the pitch in name only and Arjen Robben wanted to win the World Cup for Arjen Robben. He fluffed a glorious one on one chance in the second half and then, when Puyol was hanging off him as he was going clear again, chose exactly the wrong moment to stay on his feet for the first time in his career. Go down and Puyol’s off. He stayed up (Iniesta showed him how it should be done in extra time when he tumbled under a slight caress from Heitinga) and made a bollix of the chance. At one point Robben had the chance to play in RVP but chose glory, prompting much exasperated handwaving from our man.
I thought considering nobody wanted to pass to him and he got no service all night he did pretty well, holding things up and bringing others into play. He’ll obviously be gutted and I hope he goes off, has himself a nice relaxing holiday and comes back to put things right by scoring a bucketload of goals for us next season.
The two Arsenal players shared a moment after the final whistle and then went their separate ways. It remains to be seen if they’ll be re-united on the pitch in August but the way Arsenal are dealing, or not dealing, with Barcelona suggests they will. There are various reports about this so-called meeting between Wenger and Rosell. Speaking during the final last night Arsene apparently refused any meeting, simply told Barcelona that Cesc is not for sale and we’ve declined to even enter negotiations.
I think Barcelona are paying the price for the way they’ve gone about this. The public, and at times illegal, tapping up of our captain is hardly the basis for any kind of friendly negotiation. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about making what anybody can see is a very difficult transfer. Barcelona, under Joan Laporta and with his mouthy henchmen and underlings, could not have got it more wrong.
At some point though we need Barcelona to get the message. We were quite insistent before when we released our only public statement on the matter but that didn’t stop them. We simply can’t have this kind of distraction affecting our pre-season preparations, regardless of the fact that Cesc himself is going to be away on holidays. If it’s a categorical no then they have to be told that in no uncertain terms and made to look elsewhere if they really need a midfielder this summer (and I don’t really think they do).
And now that the World Cup is over we can get back to the real stuff. I’ve enjoyed the fact that there’s been football all the time – even if it was the worst World Cup I can remember watching – but it’s football without real passion or excitement. I’m watching and hoping for a decent game but I don’t really care who wins, one way or the other. Arsenal, now that’s a different matter altogether.
Everyone: “Now that’s a different matter”.
Dodgy Airplane jokes aside we’re just a few days away from the traditional pre-season opener against Barnet. New kits will be on view, hopefully some more new players too. Arsene returns from South Africa straight to the training ground and to sign a few cheques.
There are rumours that both Schwarzer and Joe Cole could be done this week with Manuel Almunia making his way back to Spain. Let’s wait and see but the immediate football future is red and white.
The way it should be.