If nothing else, the international break offers some respite from the misery of the Premier League season with a proliferation of silly stories. Alexandre Lacazette, for example, is going to ask his bestie Antoine Griezmann to join Arsenal.
After I finish typing this, I’m chatting to my bestie Doris Stokes to see if she can persuade Johan Cruyff that it isn’t too late for a comeback. If Ferenc Puskas comes as well, we’ve got the Alexis and Özil situation covered.
The pair ‘feature’ in the loopy stories of the day. Arsenal are, it says here, “eyeing a swap deal” where Alexis goes to PSG and Yoolian comes the other way. PSG’s strained FFP troubles are sure to be soothed by paying the Chilean £300k per week.
There is a tacit acceptance that Alexis is going to City. The war waged against sanity with the criticism of him last season by the faithful didn’t gain anything like the traction they hoped. Sanity prevailed and the realisation that we’ve made a complete clusterf*ck of the situation is sinking in.
AC Milan set aside £75m from their piggy bank to sign him. It’s a drastic intervention to flush out the £20m bid due from City. I expect Alexis to be here in May to maximise his earnings from signing for a new club.
But it’s typical of Arsenal’s luck that Alexis may yet get the summer of 2018 as a holiday. Chile may think beating Ecuador gives them a strong chance of reaching Russia. Their final group game in Brazil begs to differ. Someone else benefits from our misfortune of summers which patterned World Cup/Copa America/Copa America/Confederations Cup. He signs for a new club fully rested.
There’s a Dream I Keep Having
Which is more than can be said for Mesut Özil in these strangest of times. The story is that he isn’t injured, he’s being forced out of Arsenal in a display of ruthlessness from Arsène notseen since Paddy Vieira was told to ‘do one’ and go to Juventus.
Özil will join Internazionale in January, so the headlines tell us. It’s anyone guess if he knows he’s moving to Italy and not Manchester.
Alexandre Lacazette unleashed his inner-Pires when he commented on his introduction to English football. English football bemused Bobby as he watched Arsenal from the bench at the Stadium of Light. The physicality of the challenges made him question the wisdom of his move to the club.
The same questions floated in Lacazette’s mind. Speaking to the French media, he observed that the “refereeing decisions [still surprise me]. Sometimes I think it is a bit dangerous.”
Such views won’t garner much sympathy for the striker. The media continues to portray the Premier League as the best in the world despite plenty of proof to the contrary. More excitement? Yes but thud and blunder is mistaken for ‘best’.
It is visually but the repeated failure of English teams in the Champions League underline how far behind we are on the benches and pitch.
Defenders receive favourable treatment in the English game. I know you’re thinking that’s not true but the perceived fussiness of officials in Europe underlines that. We’ve always been out of step with continental football. Even English officials referee the game differently in the Champions League. They are much more in line with their continental peers than the weekly fare they serve in the Premier League.
And Says a Prayer for Me
Why would that be? Surely the judgements passed by PGMO assessors are the same as…oh. Therein is the problem. English officials are their own paymasters. UEFA promotes ineptitude to get it off the pitch – yes, Herr Bussaca, I’m looking at you – we end up with Mike Riley.
A win on Thursday night confirms England’s qualification for Russia 2018. Beyond that, my expectations are low. The decades of failure wore down my defences; cynicism raged through as easily as Iceland in the still-painful Euro 2016 defeat. England were ‘out-Englanded’; we’re not even best at Pulis-ball.
While England will qualify with three more points, Wales future is less assured. They face the Republic of Ireland in a ‘winner takes all’ clash on the 9th unless the Irish cock it up beforehand. Even if Wales do finish second, their prospects of reaching the play-offs are thin. They currently rank 9th out of the 9 second-placed nations in the UEFA groups. Only the top eight qualify. Things aren’t looking good for young Ramsey.
Finally, a new playlist on Dad’s Jukebox. The journey to the present day reaches 2008 in Times of our Lives.