Stephen Malkmus might well know the Senator wants in this week’s playlist (on the right hand side under “Dad’s Jukebox”, Pop Pickers) but quite a few Houstonians believe that their leaders need something entirely less enjoyable and ideally new careers, preferably perfecting the phrase, “Do you want fries with that?”
Ahead of the trip to The Hawthorns, Bacary Sagna’s hamstring was tweaked itself into a three-week rest which is nowhere near as damaging as the headlines scream given that the next game after Sunday is in a fortnight’s time. It is a game that Arsenal are favourites to win despite Michael Palin’s desire for an 8-1 home win in his predictions, drawing on the outstanding Ripping Yarns episode on football. That’s what the BBC want you to believe but it could just reflect the loss of his will to live whilst waiting for Lawro’s explanations for West Brom to get a draw.
Injuries are the recurrent theme of the season and whilst those currently out are set for returns in the next month or two, there is a lot of football to be played at club and international level in that time with World Cup qualification to be resolved by November as well as a big indicator of where the Champions League campaign is going, having completed the double-header against Dortmund and the visit of Chelsea juniors to play in the League Cup. With that level of intensity, the side will need to be rotated on a frequent basis; in the midfield that should not be an issue, there are the numbers to accommodate that. Defence likewise but attack remains the concern and will do so particularly with Olivier Giroud one of the those away on international duty. Santi Cazorla ought not to be involved in Spain’s upcoming matches through injury but that depends on whether the RFEF insist he report for duty to assess his injury, as is their right under FIFAs regulations. It is typical that having flown around the world like the footballing equivalent of the Harlem Globetrotters, the defending World and European champions have two home games this month. When Cazorla is fit, they are probably catching a boat to Bolivia, just to knacker him out even more. All that for a 15 minutes substitute appearance.
Which is more than Jack Wilshere will be fit for if he’s puffing on twenty a day as seems to be the media’s interpretation of the photo of the young midfielder have a crafty fag outside of a nightclub. Except it wasn’t that crafty and I am sure the club already knew of his penchant for the odd Marlboro Menthol or two. Where Arsène will probably be more concerned is that the indiscretion was captured on film, reminding him to be a bit more cautious next time. Indeed he was at this morning’s press conference, you sense genuinely on the issue of health but pointedly noting Jack could do what he likes at home but the prudish English media will leap all over indiscretions in public. In between fag breaks, obviously.
The manager spoke of Qatar2022 in tones which will have surprised many, principally because he is concerned with the impact on supporters. Most media coverage focusses on the players but Wenger observed,
Arsenal will do what English football decides. Of course we want to adapt to the behaviour of English football. To me it looks reasonable to play in the winter because the only thing that matters is the safety of the supporters who go there and attend the games.
The players can cope with the heat because they are prepared. They will be in great condition.
He neatly sidestepped the main issue surrounding the bid process. Under the desk, Sepp Blatter was busy scribbling notes and passing them to Arsène as he spoke of the corruption allegations,
If there is nothing irregular which has happened, why should you re-vote? Otherwise you can then ask every time that people are not happy with what comes out to vote again. You have to respect the vote and adapt to the situation. The only thing to me which looks surprising is they have not considered that [summer heat] at the moment of the vote.
Which is basically an irregularity as it is a fundamental issue in the selection process. As David Conn pointed out earlier this week, Blatter may well argue that he is reforming FIFA – although his continued involvement in the organisation leaves much to be desired – but the votes for this World Cup took place under the old regime, were the catalyst for reforms being a stench of corruption too strong to be ignored any longer.
In all likelihood, a re-vote would see the Qatar bid successful once more. Smoke and mirrors surround the contracts for broadcasters, notably those concerned with conflicts with other sports scheduled but some of the comments recently have smacked of desperation with the realisation that the contracts with FIFA are probably loaded in football’s favour. Qatar will win again simply because of political expediency, of Blatter’s desire to ensure the circus travels the globe and welcomes all into the football family. Especially the wealthy.