Monday, May 20, 2024

Jesus plays the full 90 : Premier League clubs vote in their own interests


The first thing when I sat down at my desk was to check what happened between Brazil and Argentina, primarily to see whether or not Gabriel Jesus played and came through unscathed.

Well, he played 90 minutes, and got booked, as Brazil lost 1-0, in what appears to have been a bad tempered game played amid violent scenes. So much so that even Emi Martinez clashed with police. The Guardian report:

The longstanding sporting rivalry between two of the most successful teams in world football hit fever pitch after the Brazilian police charged Argentinian fans in response to fighting in the stands during the national anthems, who responded by ripping up and throwing seats at the officers. Fans near the trouble panicked and came on to the pitch to escape the fighting. At least one injured fan was taken from the stadium on a stretcher.

The world champions, led by captain Lionel Messi, went over to the terraces to try to calm the situation before leaving the pitch and returning to the dressing room for more than 10 minutes.

It seems Gabriel Martinelli had some chances in the 78 minutes he played before being replaced, while Gabriel Magalhaes was taken off on 72 minutes for Joelinton who then got a straight red card. Which, is kinda funny really. Not if you’re Brazilian, of course, but for the rest of us, I’m sorry, it is. We just need a bit more of that in the Premier League. The qualifying group table tells a sorry tale for them too.

The big question from an Arsenal perspective is whether those 90 minutes are going to be useful for Jesus, or whether or not he’s going to have a reaction to that much playing time and intensity in his first game back after a hamstring injury. My suspicion is that he was never going to start this weekend anyway. With transatlantic travel on top of his return from injury, chances are he would have been earmarked for the bench against Brentford, but I’m sure Mikel Arteta will be anxiously awaiting an update from the player/Brazil medical team all the same.

All we can do is wait and see. Typically the manager won’t say much in his pre-game press conference, beyond the usual stuff about assessing players and then making a decision, so the team selection for Saturday will be most instructive.

Elsewhere, William Saliba played 90 minutes for France in a 2-2 draw with Greece; Kai Havertz was at left-back again as Germany lost 2-0 to Austria (and while I’m not saying it’s his fault, perhaps the fact a player like him is being deployed in that position says a bit about the state of the German side right now); and Jakub Kiwior played the full 90 as Poland beat Latvia 2-0.

So, once they all start filtering back over the next 24 hours or so, Arteta will start to put his plans in place for the weekend. Brentford is a pretty tough place to go, so you’d want to be as close to full strength as possible, but the impact of this Interlull may well play a part in what kind of a team we can put out.

Meanwhile, back in the totally normal world of the Premier League, a motion to prevent loans between between associated clubs was defeated because eight clubs voted against it. There needed to be a minimum of 14 votes to carry the proposal, but it ended up 12 -8 as Newcastle, Sheff Utd, Man City, Chelsea, Everton, Wolves, Nottingham Forest and Burnley all decided this sort of thing would be totally fine.

For the likes of Newcastle, City, and Chelsea it’s obvious why they voted the way they did, and the Saudi Arabian ownership of Sheffield United could explain their vote if the lines of communication are open between the PIF and a man who was, according to Wikipedia, ‘general president of Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority from 2014 to 2017’. It’s hard to understand why they’d be for something like this otherwise.

Forest, of course, are owned by the same man who owns Olympiacos, so he’s protecting his own interests, as the others have. Everton’s vote might have been out of spite for the Premier League after their points deduction, but is clearly influenced by the fact the 777 Partners group are attempting a takeover, and they hold stakes in multiple clubs around the world. Wolves are owned by a Chinese conglomerate who list the club as part of their ‘entertainment’ portfolio, and may have plans to expand that; while Burnley’s owners are an American investment fund/’financial solutions firm’ who likewise may have their eye on some kind of expansion.

So, once again the sporting integrity of the game and the Premier League has been undermined by vested interests. I know there are rules/procedures, but these aren’t turkeys voting for Christmas. Far from it. The multi-club model is, by its very nature, ripe for exploitation, and as we can see from the vote, clubs will act in their own interests first and foremost. When enormous wealth can control the movement of players, there is little doubt we’ll see corruption. Most if it will likely be low-level stuff that doesn’t really impact things too much, but it won’t be too long before one of the clubs who have pushed to see how much they can get away with here, goes all in. And there won’t be a thing anyone can do about it.

Till tomorrow.

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