08.45 – Well, as I’m sure you all know by now, Robert Pires played his first 90 minutes since rupturing his cruciate ligament in March. He scored one and set up one in a 5-1 win over a QPR side at Arsenal’s training ground. I expect he’ll need another couple of games before he’s ready for first team action, but he could be fit enough to make the squad for the Champions League game against Auxerre.
Francis Jeffers did as much as he could to catch the eye of Arsene Wenger by scoring a hat-trick for England’s U21s last night. When fit his scoring record is superb. 12 goals in 12 games for the U21s, 21 in 40-odd starts for Everton, and people seem to forget he’s scored in every Arsenal game he’s started…although he has only started 2 games.
So with Bob on the way back, Jeffers fit and scoring, Gio to come back shortly as well, it’s going to make AW’s life a little bit difficult … in a good way. Once fit Pires has to start, and that means disappointment for either Freddie or Sylvain. Still, I’d rather we had that sort of problem than the kind that meant we had to play the likes of LBM or Chris Wreh.
Our old friend Royston Keane got found guilty on both charges of bringing the game into disrepute yesterday. A £150,000 fine and a 5 game ban means he’ll be back just in time to face Arsenal at Old Trafford. Quel surprise. It’s nice to see the FA have got their priorities right. Remember Patrick Vieira being banned for 6 games for gobbing at, but not on, the very gobbable-on Neil Ruddock? Well, according to the FA, a deliberate, pre-meditated foul with the intent to seriously hurt the opposing player, then writing about it in your autobiography and making money from it is not as bad as spitting on the ground in front of someone.
Now before you start accusing me of being biased, I couldn’t really care less how long Roy Keane was banned for. But, if you want to hold up those two incidents, and they were both pretty unsavoury, and compare them, you’d have to think Keane’s behaviour was worse. Vieira reacted badly in the heat of the moment and deserved a punishment. Keane by his own admission waited 3 years for Alfie, took his chance, hobbled him with tackle that still makes you wince when you see it and got away with a lesser ban than Vieira.
It’s all well and good the FA getting on their high-horse about Slovakian racists and bully-boy police tactics, but when they get a chance to demonstrate that poor behaviour on and off the field will not be tolerated, they bottle it big time. The media friendly sound bites that are now the trademark of the FA, thanks to ex-BBC man David Davies of course, are wearing thin now. Still, they can probably use that £150,000 to add to the £750m they’re wasting on a new Wembley while football clubs up and down the country go bust.