Fitness issues and UEFA’s stupidity

Hello there and welcome to eight days before the transfer window closes.

The focus now is on tomorrow night and the Champions League qualifying game with Udinese. The team will fly out today, the question is who’s fit and who’s not. Although nothing’s confirmed I’m not sure we’re going to see any of the returns we’d hoped for. Players who weren’t fit for Saturday aren’t going to be fit for tomorrow night, although given the state of the squad I wouldn’t be surprised if the medical team were frantically buying up as much cortisone as possible to inject into the wounded to get them out there.

The news I heard regarding injuries led me to believe that Arsene would play Samir Nasri. In the absence of anyone more senior being fit, Alex Song is likely to play at centre-half alongside Thomas Vermaelen. The idea of going into a game of this important with a midfield triumvirate of Ramsey, Frimpong and Lansbury is more than a bit scary to be honest. Not that I think any of them would be found wanting in terms of effort but Udinese are a clever team and what these lads have in heart they also lack in experience.

However, the Guardian is reporting this morning that Nasri will not travel to Italy. If he plays for us and we qualify he’s then cup-tied for the Champions League which would obviously have an impact on his move to Man City. If he played and we lost he’d still be available for them and whilst I’m not going to make aspersions about his professionalism I do wonder if that has played on the manager’s mind at all. If it affects the player, even subconsciously, is it too big a risk to take?

If what the Guardian report is true then that’s pretty much that for Nasri’s Arsenal career. We should get the deal done with City as soon as possible so we can not spend the money as effectively as we can. In seriousness though, there is no point hanging on to him in these circumstances and the more time we give ourselves to at least try and find a replacement, the better. And yes, it’s a little bit ludicrous talking about giving ourselves time when this thing has dragged on most of the summer and we’re just over a week away from the close of the transfer window.

The delay, apparently over agents fees, is kind of amusing though. I suspect Nasri is as keen as anyone to get this done and dusted but is discovering that when you surround yourself with avaricious vultures of the worst kind then life can get more complicated than you would like. Not that I feel any particular sympathy for him but you can’t lie down with dogs and then wonder why you’ve got fleas. The fleas come from the dogs. Because the dogs are mangy curs who don’t wash and who eat their own sick. And are also vultures. Vuldogs. Labratures. *shudder*

The other issue ahead of tomorrow’s game is that UEFA have handed Arsene Wenger a two game touchline ban for ‘not abiding by the decision of the Control and Disciplinary Body during the English club’s UEFA Champions League play-off game against Udinese Calcio last Tuesday, 16 August’.

The whole thing is farcical. As others have pointed out Arsene’s ban, if it goes ahead, would be three games because he was unhappy Robin van Persie was sent off for a taking a shot a second after a whistle he didn’t hear in a 100,000 full stadium 6 months ago. When so many other things are wrong with football, and UEFA seem unwilling or unable to deal with them as harshly as they are this, it’s easy to be frustrated.

All the same, Arsenal intend to appeal and are confident the appeal will be successful. As outlined in this Arseblog News piece, the club acted under advisement from UEFA at all times, there are witnesses to what the delegate on the night told club officials and that will be the basis of Arsenal’s appeal. Also a factor is that this was the delegate’s first ever match and he appeared to be unsure of what exactly the rules were, having to phone home at one stage for clarification himself.

There was some initial talk that the appeal would be held on Thursday but even by UEFA’s pitiful standards that would be abysmal, so I think we might get a decision today or early tomorrow. It’s another complication ahead of what promises to be a complicated night anyway. One would hope there’s someone, somewhere, in UEFA who has got a bit of common sense about them. If not, Arsenal’s legal team are all over this and if there’s no common sense maybe the law-talking guys can flex their bazillion pounds an hour muscles and get the boss off.

If only UEFA’s zest and eagerness to discipline Arsene Wenger was applied to some of the more unsavoury aspects of the game. Ridiculous sponsorship deals that make a mockery of Financial Fair Play, for example, or racism which is punished by fines the equivalent of taking pennies from clubs who turn over millions of pounds each year, or tapping up, or trafficking of young players from poor countries or the continued existence of John Terry. In all these areas UEFA are found wanting time and time again but come down like a ton of bricks on one man talking to another man who then talks to another man. Amazing, really.

Beyond that not a great deal going on. I’m assuming that there’s a press conference today but I think it’ll be in Italy later this evening. Before that we should get a squad list and we’ll know who has traveled and who hasn’t, so keep an eye on the news site throughout the day – updates posted to the Arseblog News Twitter account too.

Finally, just a reminder about the Arsenal Video page, which contains, well, Arsenal Videos and if you’re tired of working, it’s also carrying coverage of the homeless world cup, which is like Trampfight, but with footballs!

And that’s that, till tomorrow.

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