It was poker night last night down at Mugsmasher’s place. I lost everything in one hand some time around 2.30am to a bearded cardshark. Which probably wasn’t a bad thing considering I’m now of an age where I take a Vampiric approach to nighttime – I’m ok once it’s dark but I’m fucked if I’m going to let daylight hit me. I left them, and a rapidly emptying bottle of Canadian Club and headed oot the door for home.
I guess we could talk about tomorrow’s game a bit, considering it must be weighing heavy on the minds of everyone. Not least Arsene Wenger who, despite not scoffing at the prospect of Europa League, knows what Champions League football will mean for the club. He said:
When you play Thursday night and Sunday it’s exactly the same as Wednesday night and Saturday. But if you ask me if we prefer the Europa League or Champions League then you are completely right, we want to be in the Champions League, we don’t want to be in the Europa League.
Yes, the timing is the same but the quality of the matches and the calibre of opponents certainly is not. There were some very good Europa League matches this season. Apparently. So they say. I think I saw a bit of one where Athletic Bilbao made mincemeat of Man Utd but the only thing it’s got in common with the Champions League is that it’s a tournament in which you play football against some European teams.
Not that the Champions League is the be all and end all either. It can often be as dull as dishwater but it comes with the top sponsorship, the money, the TV coverage, the corporate attractiveness and every so often you find yourself involved in a glamour tie against one of the elite clubs. I know people have suggested that a seasons out of the Champions League might not be the worst thing in the world but I genuinely don’t see how it would be of any benefit at all.
There’s also the fact that it will probably have an effect on the players we can sign (or be linked with an not sign) and the futures of those who are heading into the final year of their contract. Like, for example, Robin van Persie. Arsene was asked if he thought it would play a part in convincing him to stay, and said:
On my side I am inclined to think ‘yes’, but you should ask him. I don’t know whether it will have an influence on him.
And he gave another hint that the skipper would be staying, regardless of happens tomorrow. We’re making noises to suggest that we’d hold him to his contract:
People speak like our position is not important. Our position is very important. Anyway, Robin is not at the end of his contract.
Ideally though, we won’t have to be worrying about these things come the final whistle tomorrow. We’ll have taken sufficient points to finish in third and we can let everyone else worry about what they’re going to do. We’ll look in more detail at the game itself tomorrow.
In other news, the boss spoke about his belief that the transfer market would be quiet, and doled out some of those quotes that nobody particularly enjoys when speaking about our business. He said:
We have already bought Podolski and we have bought five players during the season when it had already started. Our job will be focused on inside now we have Podolski.
That means to get Jack Wilshere and Abou Diaby back in a healthy situation and then I believe we have quite a big squad. It will be to trim a little bit and if possible add one or two players.
Interesting he says to ‘trim a little bit’ when he speaks about having 34 players and only being able to name a 25 man squad. Only 17 of that squad can be non-homegrown and with likely departures this summer likely to include a fair number of that 17, I think there’ll be more than enough room to add that one or two he speaks of. And while I’m not going to go down the road of analysing everything Arsene says about transfers, I do get the sense that the club are keen to put a lid on as much of the transfer chatter as possible in order not to go through another Mata situation, for example.
Clearly there’s work to be done to make this squad properly competitive again. Yes, it includes getting Wilshere back, while I have my doubts as to whether or not the work required to get Diaby back is worth the time (or if it’s even possible, for that matter), but part of that work is getting the cheque-book out and I think the manager knows that. Still, the summer is long, let’s see where it takes us.
In other news the dubious goals panel have taken Thierry Henry’s late goal against Blackburn off him, and it now goes down as a Scott Dann own goal. It happened so long ago I had forgotten there was any dubiosity about it and to do so now seems more than a little petty. Especially when you consider it would have gone down as his last ever Arsenal goal at home and that the shot itself was on target. That means his last ever goal was the one at Sunderland, the last minute winner, so that’s not a bad way to go out.
And that’s really about it for this morning. The sky is blue here, there’s this odd warm yellow thing in it too, so I might just go out and see what it feels like not have hailstones falling on me in May.
Have a good one.