In trying to undermine the mundanity of a very routine last Sunday of the season, the media has decided that Middlesbrough might win 2 – 0 at Anfield and Everton might nick a 1 – 1 draw at the Emirates. Which will be fairly impressive, given that they will be busy shaking the sand out of their boots having been on the beach all week. Perhaps they are thinking of playing in their speedos and flip-flops?
Manchester City could be dragged into the play-off picture if managerless Watford beat them 4 – 0 at Vicarage Road and Arsenal win 1 – 0. Got a headache yet? God knows why; none of it will happen. As much as I’d like to see Calum Chambers grab a hat-trick at Anfield or whatever it takes to beat Liverpool, Boro’s only away win this season came at Sunderland; ‘nuff said.
The Europa League it is then and rightly so. The sane treat it as a big adventure which is a positive spin to put on the current state of Arsenal.
Everything is up in the air; Wenger’s renewal, we’re told, is no longer a formality with Stan and Deliver, sorry, Stan and Ivan, both leveraging the failure to qualify for the Champions League for personnel changes.
Arsène isn’t much minded to be a catalyst for change and is telling them to ‘do one’, in an admittedly far more urbane manner. Unless of course, you think Luis Enrique, Thomas Tuchel or Max Allegri will be announced after the end of their respective seasons or the FA Cup final, whichever is later.
Hong Kong Phooey
There’s more chance of Penry, the mild-mannered janitor taking over than either of those three. That’s Hong Kong Phooey for the younger reader. Who? What?
Hong Kong Phooey – the original cartoon – was typical of the Hanna-Barbera shows of the era. Scatman Crothers voiced Penry/Hong Kong Phooey, was also Meadowlark Lemon of the Harlem Globetrotters in their cartoon series which featured in Banana Splits. Joe E. Ross, aside from his Car 54 work, provided the voice for Botch in the Hair Bear Bunch as well as Sergeant Flint. Don Messick was Spot in Hong Kong Phooey and the voice of Scooby Doo. I digress.
Anyway, Europa League it is and the chance of a belated redemption. Not for Arsène but for Arsenal. A confluence of events as contrived as needed for a Premier League play-off, could seem us face Winterslag next season.
Winter-what? Oh yea of such callow youth. Winterslag; Belgian part-timers, despite a fifth place finish in their first division, beat Arsenal in 1981/82 UEFA Cup, on the away goals rule. It was our European Wrexham.
Of course, Winterslag don’t exist anymore. Realising that beating Arsenal was the pinnacle of the club’s dreams, they folded and merged with Waterschei in 1988. Water-who? Good grief, you are young.
They are infamous in Belgian football. Basically, Standard Liege won the title in 1981/82 and 1982/83. The former came as a result of bribing Waterschei players so that they didn’t suffer any hardship or injury in winning the final game of the season.
Power, Corruption and Lies
Liege faced Barcelona in the 1982 Cup Winners Cup final a few days later and didn’t want to miss out on their fifteen minutes of fame. They lost for the record, 2 – 1. Yes, that’s the same Barcelona you love to hate winning the same Cup Winners Cup as Arsenal a decade or so later; it’s the competition you love to mock.
It really did mean something back in the day; ask Arsène he took Monaco to the final where they lost to Werder Bremen in 1991 or 92, I think.
It all came out ahead of the 1984 European Championships and basically scuppered what little hope of doing well the Belgians had.
You can read more about the corruption story here.
Anyway, 1988 saw Winterslag and Waterschei merge and form KRC Genk, who are in the semi-finals of the Belgian league’s Europa League play-offs. Which is almost as convoluted a system as it’s taken to get to the point where you’ve already realised that if Genk get through the Europa League play-offs domestically this season and in the Europa League itself, they could find themselves facing Arsenal.
As I say, revenge may be on the cards. In quite a convoluted way.
Away from that, Mesut Özil is
dropped rested from the German Confederations Cup squad but Shkodran Mustafi isn’t. I doubt Alexis will get the same courtesy from Chile but as he’s leaving this summer, it’s someone else’s problem.