Good morning rabble rousers, the FA Cup 3rd Round is under way with a glut of goals and racist abuse at Anfield. What loveable little rogues those Scousers are. I bet they will all be wearing t-shirts in support of themselves soon. If proven, there is a case for the club to brought to book and substantial punishment handed down to them, something that forces Fifa and Uefa to take the matter more seriously than they current do where fines of €10k are commonplace for transgressions of a considerably worse nature taking place in European Championship and World Cup qualifiers.
Elsewhere today, it strikes me that the draw has been kinder to the underdog with the opportunity for more lower division teams to progress and in that respect, best of luck to the players and supporters of Dagenham & Redbridge, Swindon, Crawley, Barnsley, Macclesfield, Gillingham, Fleetwood, MK Dons, Bristol Rovers and Tamworth. Yes, I know the latter are away but the form of Everton in recent matches is not imperious. Of course there is the chance of an upset at St Andrews but let’s be honest, Birmingham and Wolves? That’s like asking someone to choose between Jack the Ripper and Dr Crippen.
The potential for the traditional third round upset is increased through the larger clubs using the full extent of their squad. Wenger will do so against Leeds on Monday with Robin van Persie already resting in sunnier climes. Ken Bates returned to his soapbox as you would expect from a prominent former member of the Challenge Cup Organising Committee, reigniting the debate over the squad systems,
You should field your first team in the FA Cup. The dilemma the FA Cup has fallen into is that you now have a 25-man squad to chose from but, if you go to the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, they have a rule where a percentage of the players have to play in the next or previous first-team game.
It is a fair point, certainly more realistic than his ludicrous talk of points deductions and refusing to nominate teams for the Champions or Europa Leagues. The FA Cup is the most prestigious Cup competition in the the English game yet like the Football League’s junior equivalent, it is subservient to the Premier and Champions League for the bigger clubs. There is continual talk of reforming the competition and some may well be needed. If that is the desire of the Premier League clubs to accommodate their moneyspinning activities elsewhere, it must surely come at a price, namely that no team entering the competition at the third round stage can be drawn at home.
For all of Bates talk of sanctions, the biggest is the loss of revenue for clubs that have an insatiable desire for any legal tender, that an early exit from the competition would bring. Some reforms are necessary though and removing replays from the equation would help to relieve pressure on the footballing calendar but that is something I will touch on in more depth some time soon.
And so to Arsenal. As is apparently the norm, Thierry Henry’s loan deal went on longer than a Dickensian novel with seemingly no rational explanation. Of course, there is one yet the insistence that it was down to insurance seems improbable and entirely plausible at the same time. Who knows perhaps the fax machine at FA HQ was not working properly. Yes, they do still register transfers by fax which I suppose prevents the possibility of the paperwork for a £30m transfer getting lost in the mix of special offers from Hello! and various enlargements that clog up spam folders around the world.
Henry is excited by it all and making the right noises to manage expectations,
I hope people are not going to compare what I did here before. I’m going to be here most of the time on the bench, we all know it and I’m not stupid to think I’m going to start. It’s a helping process.
Well, young Terrence, far be it for me to dampen your hopes but expectations are raised to the extent that Theo Walcott has been advised in certain quarters to relinquish his hold over the Number 14 shirt and hand it over. Quite why there should be such subservience is beyond me since that would only serve to raise expectations even higher. Don’t get me wrong over this, the return of Henry is the stuff of nostalgia and any increase in his goals tally for Arsenal is most welcome but this is a short-term solution to an altogether more concerning problem. Ian Wright suggests this morning that the deal should be made permanent. We won’t even go there.
Henry is straight into Monday’s squad but to me it makes more sense in both short and long term for Chamakh to start with Henry short of match fitness. I wonder how much pressure Sky will put on Arsène in the build up to the Swansea game for Henry to be guaranteed some minutes on the Liberty Stadium pitch next weekend? Talking of the squad, Arsenal’s goalkeeping situation is worse than has been suspected with the provisional squad only including Almunia for Monday’s game. Either that or Wenger is supremely confident of winning. Or more likely, The Mirror don’t know their Arsenal from their elbow.
It is likely that the solution is not going to happen until the Summer though. Wenger has given enough hints about this already to the extent that we should only expect a temporary signing for left back to happen despite the appearance of Rob Segal at London Colney. Thankfully he is not Steven’s younger brother as that might have led to a martial arts carve up when Chuck Norris’ sibling Roger, found out. Segal is apparently a “Super Agent“. You learn something new every day.
That business will probably happen when Vermaelen and Gibbs are both fit. It won’t be Kieran Richardson, as according to Sunderland manager Jim MacDonald, Arsenal haven’t contacted him about the player’s availability. It could be Wayne Bridge but it won’t be Taiwo. According to the press, Arsenal are looking for a deal over the former, rightly baulking at the £90k per week he currently commands. It seems that Ivan is putting his foot down and seeking someone else to pay for all of the zeros whilst Arsenal pick up the £9 tab remaining.