Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Wenger, Wilshere and Santos is a dude

Morning all. A few bits and pieces from yesterday’s press conference and beyond to get us going.

We’ll start with Arsene Wenger declaring football to be too conservative when it comes to introducing video technology. The manager reckons it’s high time we sorted this out to provide an aid to referees who, due to the fact they’re not robots, will make mistakes and miss things. Was it Alexander Pope who said, ‘To err is human, but football fans will never forgive you. Ever. They’ve got more chips on their shoulders than the Potato Man’.

It probably wasn’t, but Wenger believes referees should have the ability to ask for incidents to be reviewed during a game. Again, there were those who suggested it would slow the game down, but Arsene made the same point as the Man from East Lower on yesterday’s Arsecast, it wouldn’t slow it down any more than your common Tim Krul taking 45 seconds each time there’s a goal kick. He said:

It would not stop the game — it would sometimes give a bigger flow to the game. Why? Because if I am a linesman and an offside situation is a 50-50, I am tempted to stop the game. If I know I have a video behind me, I am tempted to let the game go if I am convinced it is a real 50-50.

It would improve the flow of the game because you could then check afterwards. Referees talk to players sometimes telling them ‘look, next time, I will have to punish you’. That stops the game. Or goalkeepers who take 30 seconds or a minute to take a goal kick, that stops the game.

However, as we’ve been saying all week, until The FA and FIFA realise that enabling this technology would actually help referees get more decisions right – thus avoiding the consequences of getting things hopelessly wrong – I don’t think very much is going to change at all. If they can’t even find an agreement over something as simple as using it to see if the ball fully crossed the line then we’re a long way from harnessing the full potential of the technology available to us.

Meanwhile, it looks as if the chances of Jack Wilshere making his comeback this season are fading. With less than a month left of this campaign, Arsene says:

He is making slow progress so we still have to monitor the situation a little bit at the moment.  As I told you last week, the next three weeks would be decisive and now we have two weeks in front of us. I cannot tell you more.

I will not take any risks with him.

It seems unlikely to me that he’ll make it back in time, there’s just no way he could build up any kind of match sharpness or fitness, and it really does make his chances of going to the Euros with England very slim indeed. It’s a real shame for him to have missed an entire year of his career but I guess the important thing now is to ensure that he’s fully ready for next season.

If he had made it back for us I wasn’t at all opposed to him going away with England but without at least a couple of games for us, perhaps the wisest thing to do would be to prepare and get a good pre-season under his belt without the distraction and intensity of a top-level tournament at which he’d probably struggle to do himself justice. Let’s hope common sense prevails.

Moving on, and when we signed Andre Santos from Fenerbache, I have to admit I knew very little about him. On first glance I could tell he was clearly a gourmand, enjoying the finest foods and wines, but he’s obviously tailored his diet since he arrived and plays with a Silvinho-esque joy which is always great to see. Yet beneath the smiling exterior is a guy who will stick up for his teammates and isn’t slow about showing it.

When he came on against Man City he picked up a booking for a little shove on Balotelli, but after the Italian had hauled himself up off the ground, Santos gave him the old ‘Shhhhh’ and had a few words. Speaking to ESPN in Brazil, he said:

In the first half Balotelli almost broke Song’s leg, than he harshly tackled Sagna. Someone had to be hard on him, put him in his place. Someone had to say something to him because he was doing what he wanted, and that’s not how things work.

I was watching from the bench. When I was on the pitch I’d have the job to mark him, and that’s what I did. It’s part of the game.

There’s definitely more togetherness about this team now, they seem to have bonded. See the difference between van Persie being left on his own against four or five Bolton players earlier in the season and van Persie and Krul when the skipper was backed up immediately. Look at Song having words with Stearman after his off-the-ball shoulder on van Persie, and now the Cuddly Maverick coming on and sticking up for his mates by getting in Balotelli’s face straight away. I love that gay!

It’s a good sign when players have each others backs like that, it means there’s a real team spirit and we’ve seen the benefit of that in some of the performances and results recently. Long may it continue.

Right, that’s about that. Time for some breakfast, then the FA Cup semi-final then the Grand National later. I usually try to find a horse with some kind of Arsenal connection in its name to lose money on, and had it been earlier in the season perhaps OrganisedConfusion would have done, but I’m sticking a fiver each way on Giles Cross and pretending there’s another L in there.

Grimandi for the National! Till tomorrow.

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