Arsène did say, he did warn us that there wouldn’t be much transfer market activity during the a World Cup and he has kept true to his word. No one else listened as Liverpool and Chelsea joined United and City in strengthening their squad. Diego Costa has confirmed that whilst Jose might be the most boorish of managers, his seductive, “Trust in me, just in me…“, still takes some beating. It can be the only rational explanation why the Spanilian would venture into the strikers graveyard in west London.
Meanwhile, Southampton’s financial acumen shows no bounds or mercy on Premier League rivals. Selling their manager and star left back netted them £40m to which they can now add the £25m Liverpool are giving them for Adam Lallana’s services. It may be this year’s Bale equivalent with the Merseysiders spending money ahead of meeting Barcelona in London today for talks over Suarez. Or perhaps Barcelona are meeting Arsenal for talks over Alexis Sanchez? Maybe they are doing both? Why doesn’t anyone know and if they do, why aren’t they telling me? Eh? EH?!?!?!
There was a time when at this point in the post, I might have joked about Violet Elizabeth and “scweam and scweam and scweam and scweam” but as another central plank of family life from the 1970s faces a jail sentence, perhaps we now understand why there was so much scweaming in the childrens TV series.
Back to Arsenal, I did after all vaguely start there and this is an Arsenal blog. Now, Arsène, you know when you took your jacket to the dry cleaners after Karambeu spilt ice cream over it on the Copacabana? You did remember to empty the pockets, didn’t you Otherwise the napkin that holds Mathieu Debuchy’s agreement to sign for Arsenal won’t be worth a fig. There’s a thought isn’t it. Maybe that’s what Arsène has done, visiting the respective team hotels, pushing carefully folded napkins under player’s faces; “You didn’t know I was an autograph hunter, Alexis? I have a massive collection. Perhaps I will show it to you. No, Medel, I don’t want yours. I already have it, remember? From last season…”
Ah, the joke would be on us. And what a squad we will have.
Arsenal are keen to push the Sanchez deal through at the entirely reasonable €25m quoted in this morning’s English media, saving themselves about £o.5m since the World Cup began as the currency rate moves in their favour. The Spanish press, ever willing and eager to make Barcelona look good, especially with Falcao and Hamez Rodriguez heavily linked with a move to Real, claim that Sanchez’s price has increased on the back of a good World Cup and in no way is that claim related to their claims that Juventus have decided to look elsewhere for a signing this summer. There are so many claims that we will have to launch our own legal team to deal with them.
All this and a World Cup too; football is the gift that keeps on giving. Headaches mainly, if you get too ensnared in transfers’ evil grasp. Headaches if you are mourning a World Cup exit as well; none for the victors yesterday - Yay! Go Victor – as the form book resisted all attempts to throw it out of the window as Argentina and Belgium cruised to the last eight. It was a smoother ride for the South Americans, even if they laboured to victory over the Swiss. They nearly hit the rocks as the ball ricocheted to safety off a boot, the post having denied Dzemaili’s header the late equaliser that had woken the crowd from the comatose state the match had induced. It was awful and on days like that you need someone like Lionel Messi to make the difference. Argentina don’t someone like Lionel Messi, they have LEO-NELL Messi and he made a difference, carving the opportunity for everybody’s favourite highly-rated Argentina player who isn’t Messi, or Angel di Maria as his Mum and Dad know him, to break the deadlock and thousands of bars of Toblerone as they were thrown around various Swiss homes and bars.
Belgium, like Germany the previous night, were entirely comfortable when their match against the USA!USA!USA! was goalless, even more relaxed when Kevin De Bruyne broke deadlock and as Romelu Lukaku sealed the win, somnambulistic. That was the cue for the USA!USA!USA! to fight back, which they duly did, Green pulling one goal back and such was the pressure they exerted, it was hard not to believe that Belgium were not playing USA!USA!USA!USA!. It wasn’t enough and like six of the other quarter-finalists, the Belgians were through in a comfortably unconvincing way. But that’s the art of tournament football; do enough to win, to get through. Now it’s about adding the big performances as the quality of the opposition increases. Not for the Colombians though; they kept their powder dry as they marched through the Uruguayans at will.
Today ends with the circle squared or whatever the hell you want to call it. Ashley Cole left Chelsea yesterday and the club were not slow to recognise his achievements in the dewy-eyed tweets. They missed out a bit of course. For example, pointing out that he left his previous club on the basis that earning £55k per week wasn’t enough – that, in seven days, was more than three times the average annual salary at the time – and that the meeting with Chelsea was so clandestine that it ended up on the front page of the Sunday papers with club, player and agent all found guilty by the FA. Curiously enough, they didn’t mention he took an air rifle into a training ground without knowing how to operate it safely and promptly shot a student. Perhaps the media department at Chelsea ran out of space to include those winning attributes in their eulogies?