Alexis’ Suicidal Tendencies & The Auld Enemy

In one photo, it all became clear. Donald Trump, sitting hands pointed downwards, was caught in a moment of quiet reflection: “Hell, I didn’t think I was going to win this and I am wa-a-a-a-ay out of my depth.”

His train of thought is mirrored by the FIFA fixture schedulers. The World Cup qualifiers, in Europe at least, take place tonight through to Tuesday rather than beginning on Thursday through to Monday. Too much to hope for. As is an outbreak of sanity from Alexis Sanchez.

Arsène Wenger’s comments on beIN Sport have made the headlines. Suicide isn’t painless, it’s now playing footballers when they are in the red zone. Insert your own observations about Le Boss being an expert in that field. He is which is why his words carry some weight:

“I got a text last night [to say] that he has a hamstring injury. The team from Chile has travelled without him and they kept him to try and get him fit to play Uruguay for the second game on Tuesday night.

“I believe that with a hamstring injury we have to get access for our medical staff to the MRI scan to see what grade it is, how bad it is and make absolutely sure they don’t make any suicidal decision that could harm his future for two or three months.

Hold on a minute, I thought it was a calf muscle problem. I’m not doctor but there’s a bit of a difference between that and a hamstring, isn’t there?

He went on:

“It’s a grey area between the national team and the club team and of course they look at their own results which I can understand but we have to preserve the health of Alexis Sánchez.

“He always wants to play and that’s where it is a more sensitive case because he’s always ready to play even when injured.”

I beg to differ because it seems black and white with no hint of grey. If the Chilean FA wants to keep him with the squad, that’s it. FIFA, whose members are the national FAs, is not inclined to let clubs have any power and with good reason, believes footballers can’t be trusted with big decisions relating to their fitness.  Even Arsène doesn’t trust Alexis on that score.

Which is part of the problem. I love that he is so enthusiastic about football that he wants to play every game. That desire is fantastic but he has a responsibility to the club and to his teammates, to ensure that he is fit for as much of the season as possible.

Knowing he has a muscle tear, he should have withdrawn from the squad. Judging by Wenger’s words, the Chileans aren’t sharing information quickly, possibly knowing that morale might suffer if Alexis flies home. Keep him with the squad and the prospect of being fit keeps spirits up. They might be planning to play him irrespective of his fitness with the short-termism of international football taking precedence over their duty of care to clubs.

And there’s always the possibility that Arsenal are setting the Chilean FA up as the bad guys in case Alexis comes back and breaks down before or at Old Trafford. ‘We’d have won if Alexis hadn’t been mistreated on international duty’ is a nice line to have ready if Mourinho continues to use his ‘Moudoo’ over Wenger.

It’s a grey area with none of the parties being trustworthy through their vested interests. It’s also impossible to police unless, as in Hector Bellerin’s case, it’s a straightforward decision that the player won’t be fit. It’s this conflict of interests which cause the problems with the international calendar. The club season has been interrupted three times already and we’re not even halfway through November.

It’s a ludicrous state of affairs that is not helped by UEFA’s decision to make friendlies ‘competitive’ with their ‘League of Nations & in no way a cheap marketing ploy to revive a dying category of matches Cup’.

I enjoy competitive international football but very few friendlies interest me. England playing an African or South American nation we haven’t met for some time is interesting; England v Spain is just a poor man’s Champions League match although with ticket prices no poor man is attending next week’s match.

England playing Scotland tonight brings back many memories from my youth through to my early 20s when the annual fixture ceased. Gerry Francis cutting a swathe through the Scottish defence in a 5 – 1 rout – Alan Ball captained England that day; Kenny Dalglish’s shot through Clemence’s legs at Hampden; Wembley goalposts wrecked with more grass heading north of the border than any drugs smuggler could manage in a year.

There is an endless list. There’s also a huge amount of boredom involved. Two friends, the day after that night at Anfield, travelled to Glasgow to witness Steve Bull score twice to give England victory. Well, one of them did, the other fell asleep on the Hampden Park terraces and missed the whole match. I can vaguely picture the match in my mind’s eye and as good as Steve Bull was in the domestic game – he turned down a move to Arsenal in 1990 – he wasn’t an international centre forward.

The tube journey to Wembley a year earlier for the Rous Cup fixture was, ahem, interesting and one of the reasons why the annual fixture ceased to be. It was mayhem and carnage on the way to and from Wembley that day. At least Peter Beardsley – Arsenal tried to sign him as well – had the good grace to score the winner.

The spate of competitive matches in the 90s was followed by two recent friendlies – 2013 & 14 are recent in international football – amid the prospect of an annual resumption of enmity. It didn’t happen when the draw for this World Cup qualifiers pitted the two nations together and it will be interesting to see if it does post-Russia 2018. From memory, the FA weren’t too keen but probably didn’t want their shiny new home wrecked.

Tonight? As bad as England are, it’s hard to see them getting anything other than a win. Gordon Strachan recently lamented the standard of Scottish football at all levels, questioning where the young ‘stars’ were. The current crop beat Gibraltar and Malta and drew with Poland in the past eighteen months but their record is far from impressive.

England, despite poor displays, have only come a cropper against Iceland. They do have the quality just not the ability to meld into a cohesive unit, caught between playing to their strengths and trying to play football properly. If they did one or the other, they could be quite good. As it is, they simply remain crushed by the weight of low expectations.

’til Tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

66 thoughts on “Alexis’ Suicidal Tendencies & The Auld Enemy

  1. Henry, from earlier this morning, China Jumbo Restaurant? A fitting place, in more ways than one, for you dear boy.

  2. Odd you should say that, Orse, but one of my favourite dives in Hong Kong is also called the The Jumbo Restaurant, and is on a boat moored out in the harbour — and I took exception to the stiffled sniggers of the waiters when I got on – all of them, as one, grabbed on to something as if the bloody thing was going to capsize. Choreographed by Nicky, no doubt.

    As The Jumbo is about the size of a Mississippi steam boat that was a real cheek.
    I reckon a lot of guys on here may well have been there — the food is crap OK-ish, but the experience and the beer was good, and the waiters were little shits — yeah that’s it, they were little. 😀

    There is another Jumbo – non-floating one – in Leeds, that I can recommend too! 😀

  3. Henry, I’ve only spent three days in Hong Kong, a stop over on flight home from New Zealand. Really didn’t want any Chinese food, the previous year we had been in China and had enough to last a lifetime, but we did stumble across a very good Italian restaurant and the following evening a great steak house.

    It’s always good to get home to some proper English grub, fish and chips or a good Ruby Murray.

  4. It looks likely we are back to Giroud leading the line, and 2nd or 3rd choice at right back or a centre half playing there for the next few weeks at least. Was Sanchez about to break regardless of international duties? IMO we overplay him. Why is Perez recovering back at his old club is there a healing period required before any real recovery takes place surely our facilities and medical staff are ahead of what’s on offer at DePortivo

  5. @consolsbob,
    With respect, I think you need more than ale in order to be sustained during tonight’s rubbish. 😉

  6. You are obviously a pixie at heart, Nicky, and quite capable of causing mischief – and tho I did not know you at the time the waiters had their little jape, (which was really funny in fact ?) on reflection, if I had to name the culprit it would have to be you!! 😀

  7. With all due respect to my European brethren, the South American internationals are a completely different beast and animal. Those groups literally grow up together with a full understanding of how much those countries dislike each other. You won’t see any boring 0-0 draws where neither team seems overly excited about being there, no every match is filled with passion and competitive drive because its for the people too. So Sanchez pulling out, yup, its about morale for the country as much as for their national team.

  8. @Henry B,
    You have a totally undeserved ally in my dear wife. “It’s just the sort of thing you’d do” she said (Exiting stage left with a smile). 😉

  9. buckagh,

    I’d rather we played Gabriel or Holding at CB next to Kos with Mustafi playing RB. Jenks and Debuchy, nope don’t trust either defensively.

  10. Afternoon,

    A bit worrying that we could be without our best CF and our RB at OT. Maureen is a shrewd old bugger and will attack ceaselessly down our right side if anyone but Bellerin is playing in that role. If Jenks is going to slot in he will need someone ahead of him who will help out by keeping their LB pinned back. It’s definitely not the match to play Ramsey on the right again.

    The Perez injury seems to be dragging out a bit as well and it shows just how short we really are at CF, with Giroud being our only option if Alexis is out. I’m already discounting both Sanogo and Akpom as neither is up to PL level at present and neither is showing that they are worth a gamble. Hopefully Mustafi and Kos can keep Rashford in check as he destroyed us by himself last season.

  11. A ruby and some Hoegaardens for me later, then the game and I’ll spice it up a bit by doing a pile of ironing at the same time..

  12. disappointed to learn the actual right pronunciation of hoegaarden is actually hoo-gar den. so its a couple of hoo’s not a couple of hoe’s.

  13. Haha Coleman always makes me gave a chuckle when he speaks about Ramsey. I honestly wonder if he baths Ramsey ans gives him the pharoah treatment in the lockerroom.

  14. Coleman said in his unbias opinion, Ramsey could walk into any team in the world at his best. Sorry, Coleman, Ramsey is a really good player at his best but he’s not walking un Barca, Madrid, PSG or Bayern; he does remember that he isn’t first choice at Arsenal and even at his best he isn’t ahead of Ozil.

  15. Dukey,

    I don’t have a problem with Ramsey, and I even said he is a really good player in my comment. Hell, even last season I said numerous times I hoped his return to the box-to-box role would bring back the best in him (though we know it was a widely mixed bag). The problem I have is with some of the more recent comments about Ramsey (same with a couple other players) that they should be walked back into teams or can walk into teams based on performances of the past. We haven’t seen that Ramsey since his breakout year, but have seen glimpses here and there so he is a player that we know has ability but for whatever reason it doesn’t always work at Arsenal.

    Maybe its the style we play or not necessarily being the focal point of the attack. He most certainly has a role to play at Arsenal but its a completely different role to the one that is played for Wales.

  16. Hiya, C, 🙂

    I think Rambo was on course to be a top 10 in the world player, but as I have occasionally said, that dreadful leg injury really has been a terrible handicap for him ever since.

    It has taken a yard off his pace which is so important at the Premier League level, and he seems understandably not to be as fierce as he was previously when making tackles — and yet he is still a gutsy and important player for us.

    I really feel for him, that such an idiotic tackle (or more correctly an assault) should have stopped him being as good as he could have been.

    As regards other clubs — both Barca and Real were reported to be interested in him a couple of seasons back, but his injury set backs in the last couple of years have put paid to all that.

  17. Nicky,

    Your lady wife is clearly able to discern your mischievous talents, and I am not at all surprised that she has agreed with me — we are kindred spirits! 😀

  18. HenryB,

    Hello my friend.

    I think the thing that some seem to ignore is that I have never said he is a shit player or some average player, but he does have qualities. I think the thing that has hampered him far more than the injury is that he is a player that likes to dictate play and in the right system, see Wales, he can flourish but in a system that is based on quick passing he might struggle because it doesn’t suit his style of play.

    Its the main reason why I think he struggles at Arsenal, we are no longer a slow build up team with Giroud as the focal point, more a quick passing quick counter team that lets the ball do the work (sans Sanchez but even he plays it quickly and wants to be the finisher more than the creator). I like Ramsey, and think he is a good player and in a side that allows him to roam free he would be brilliant even, but I think with the addition of Ozil, and even Xhaka its a different prospect.

    The interesting thing will be when/if Jack comes back because Jack when at his best can play that quick passing game (presently he too holds on too long) who does Arsene prefer, Ramsey and all he bring with his workrate and willingness to make the late runs or Jack with his quick passing and willingness to make little bursting runs. Guess it will depend on who is in form.

    Yes reports had both Barca and Madrid interested, but ultimately they ended up with Kroos (he is a top 10 player) and Raktik (think Ramsey with a quick passing and better finisher). At this point though, especially with Arsenal, we have evolved and if Ramsey’s game hasn’t or doesn’t.

  19. Fair points, C.

    My concerns with Rambo has nothing to do with the general points I made earlier about him and lean more to the questions you raise.

    There is no doubt our lad holds onto the ball too long and gets disposed much more often than he should, and also for a talented player he can make me cross with his lax passing to anyone but an Arsenal team mate. Actually he is not alone in that – as when we come under pressure the whole team seem to lose the ability to pass the ball, especially the much revered Santi – and like Jack in the past, when Santi loses the ball it inevitably leads to a break away threat to our goal.

    So, yes you have made a valid case about your concerns for Rambo, but as we both know football matters are very fluid and skills are one thing, while having a lion’s heart can be more important, and Rambo has that attribute.

    Hope you are not too disappointed about the election results.

  20. HenryB,

    I can agree with all of that. The question then becomes, does having a lion’s heart outweigh the need for skill and the ability to make that quick counter move from that box-to-box position; for me it doesn’t but my futboling philosophy is much different than most on here (as has been noted with plenty of lengthy debates).

    As with both Santi and Jack, this is a big year for Ramsey and he needs to start showing form and the ability to adapt to the current style of play that, outside of the last 3 years, has been a hallmark of Arsene’s Arsenal teams.

    Not for nothing, but if it was possible I think I might try a swap deal of Ramsey for Veratti, think both clubs and players would benefit immensely!

    The election, well just say, living in the DC area will be quite the adventure moving forward and probably not in a good way.

  21. C,

    You said: “my futboling philosophy is much different than most on here (as has been noted with plenty of lengthy debates)”

    I find that hard to believe – mostly because I do not quite know what you mean by a different footballing philosophy – surely your philosophy is – get a good team, score goals, win games, win tournaments – and bug Bill.

    That about sums it up – and apart from the bit about Bill – isn’t that the same as everyone else? 😀

  22. HenryB,

    Yea, but you forgot how you build that good team, which would then influence how goals are scored in a way, how those games are won and then how tournaments are won.

    Bug Bill, well that is truly different than most! 😉

  23. Ah, then, C, that is not so much a philosophy and more a team building strategy – get better players; then a strategy for winning games, and finally a strategy for winning tournaments.

    Come on, C, you are not alone out there – you are just like the rest of us!! 😀

  24. YW,

    Haha, maybe I should put some money on Scotland for a draw or result since I have no dog in the fight with both Jack and Theo on the bench.

  25. What a dreadful game from two very very poor sides. Hard to believe some of these guys are even professional footballers, they can’t even pass the ball accurately over ten yards. Stones is an awful defender, defending used to be an art (and we’ve seen many fine exponents) but with the likes of ‘ball playing defender’ Stones we have players who almost see it as an afterthought. Gibbs is not as bad but is another example. Regardless of what you think of him Cashley was probably the best balance of defender and offensive player, since then we’ve gone too far the other way in some respects (not Arsenal, but football in general). It’s so bad it’s not even entertaining.

  26. Germany has more talented players than any nation currently. France might be talented and top heavy but I don’t think they can rival Germany’s factory. They finally have more goal scorers coming through and if so they could really be hard to beat.

  27. Gnabry hat-trick it seems. Okay, poor opposition but good to see the lad doing well even if we don’t have an interest any longer.

    As for England if they play like that against Spain they will get spanked. Better second half but even so there are a lot of very average footballers in this side.

  28. andy1886,

    Not just for Germany but he has started brilliantly for Bremen. The thing is, he is showing the talent now that he is finally fit. I know most disagree, so whatever; and both Arsene and Gnabry said there was a contract prior to his departure, but the lad is soo talented and I hope there is a buyback clause because he is a goal scoring winger, and for those that wrote him off should think twice. If he wasn’t highly rated, no way he gets into this German national team, especially on the flanks where Germany has more talent (both experienced and not) than any other nation.

  29. Hmm, would be interesting to see what clauses there may be, I’d be confident that there is something designed to net the club some cash if he’s sold on. If there is a buy-back option you’d hope that it stipulates a modest figure, we wouldn’t want an ‘option’ or Pogba style scenario.

  30. Gnabry was close to becoming a first team regular before his big injury and the recovery period was extended. It seems that the decision to leave was down to the player as he saw limited opportunities to break back in to the first team with other players ahead of him. I can’t really blame Wenger for that as he had players who were ready, whilst Gnabry hadn’t looked to be up for it. I don’t know how things looked on the training ground when he came back from West Brom, but he didn’t get anywhere near the team. Not sure how hard we tried to sell him on his future at Arsenal if he signed a new deal and went on loan, but he clearly wasn’t convinced. Hopefully we either have a sell on, or buy back clause as we have sold him on the cheap. Bremen seem fairly smug about his performance for Germany which suggests we didn’t get much in the way of follow on deals.

  31. Wavey

    Time will tell but perhaps we are getting ahead of ourselves with Gnabry. Scoring against Marino in a game Germany won 8-0 when they did not even use their best players has about as much meaning as scoring in a preseason game. There have been plenty of players over the years that fans have lamented the fact that they did not get a run with the first team but Arsene’s record when he has sold a player like Gnabry in this century is almost 100% and I can’t think of any that I have wished we had back other then perhaps Vela and I suspect there were some other behind the scenes issues with him that we did not know about. Perhaps Gnabry will be the first and cases like his are why I think the idea of stockpiling young players on loan makes so much sense.

    Andy

    Have you ever seen a player where na buy back clause actually activated.

  32. As Walcott didn’t get on the pitch last night I guess he’ll start on Tuesday against Spain, no doubt he’ll be asked to play the whole ninety minutes which means he’ll probably be a leetle beet short for the Manure game.

    Wilshire will probably get a run out too, let’s hope he can maintain his new found fitness level and continue to recover his mojo.

  33. The number of minutes and spots available in first 25 is limited. There were not enough for Joel Campbell. The solution for a player like Gnabry is stockpiling on loan.

  34. My wife said “watcha doing today?”

    I said “nothing”.

    She said “you did that yesterday”.

    I said “I wasn’t finished”.

  35. Bill,

    That’s fine until the player gets pissed off and wants to settle at a club rather than being shunted around with no guaranteed future.

  36. Looking good at Twickers, England leading 20 – 9 against the Springboks at half-time.

    England look to have got at least a draw in the first test against India, 537 and 114 for no wicket in the second innings a lead of 163 with one day to play.

  37. Good win for England, 37 – 21. Perfect record under new coach Eddie Jones, ten wins from ten matches. What more could you ask?

  38. Bill,

    I’m not getting all excited just because he scored a hat trick v San Marino, it’s just brought him back into the spotlight again. I don’t think I am being over the top in saying that Gnabry was pushing for a bigger role in the first team squad before his injury. I also agree with you that another loan deal would have made sense, but I think the player forced the issue. We really don’t know how he was performing in training, but the injury had pushed him down the pegging order. He was highly rated before his injury and it just seems that we have let him go on the cheap because he has forced the issue. We may not have a buy back clause in place, but I really hope we have a sell-on clause. The most effective buy back clause in recent times was Morata back to RM.

  39. Wavey

    I get the prospect part of it but another loan deal? It might not have been a bad idea but he was, by all accounts, an absolute disaster at West Brom. Now we can blame Pulis all we want but they took a player onto their payroll expecting something they didn’t get. Was his attitude wrong? It seems that way and being in Bremen’s first team, maybe he was right.

    However given that he was injured so badly, you’d have expected him to want to impress bearing in mind he had to oust Theo from the side. He did well at Arsenal pre-injury and if he felt he could force his way into a first team so be it. But so did Fran Merida and that didn’t work out well; it’s not a precise science gauging a player’s future and on this occasion, AW may have got it wrong. It happens and – not directing this at you – some of the stick AW has got over this is unbelievable.

    Gnabry told the club he wouldn’t sign a new deal so what does he do? Selling Gnabry seems on the face of it, to have been the right decision. Gnabry is intent on proving it to be wrong; fair play to him but honestly, in May was taking Bremen’s money a bad decision? Hindsight’s a handy thing (says the bloke who uses it as a benchmark every morning. Or those when he can be arsed…)

    Let’s be honest, scoring against San Marino isn’t much to get excited about. FFS, even Stuart Pearce did it! No, wait, he scored for San Marino…!

    And that was the thrust of today’s post. As well as laughing at Scotland.

  40. Wavey

    That run in the first team that Gnabry had 3 years ago was just like we have seen for lots of other players who came thru our academy. He had 4-5 good games and then his effectiveness faded after the adrenaline rush leveled off. He isn’t much different then a couple dozen other than players so I don’t think he was any more special then the other several dozen players that we thought had the potential for greatness over the years. This year we didn’t have enough minutes for Campbell, Wilshere, Toral or Chambers so there was no way that there would have been enough for Gnabry.

    This year gnabry has had a good start in Germany and perhaps hecis the real deal. However Afobe has a great start at Bournemouth and Akpom had a hat trick in a league cup game early in the season for Hull so a great start does not always mean a lot. Let’s revisit at the end of the season

  41. YW,

    I’m definitely not saying he deserved a shot in the first team, or to even be on the edges of it. He only played 1 PL game for West Brom and didn’t get a sniff in the Arsenal set up even though he was back with us in January. As I said, scoring the hat trick doesn’t suddenly make him world class. San Marino are a pub team at best. It seems to be a well sourced rumour that Wenger wanted him to sign a new deal before he moved, so I’d guess he was targeted for another loan deal. £5m doesn’t seem like that much and Gnabry had another year or so on his contract, so we would surely have kept him if we were going to play him this season. Another reason to suspect he was going to go out on another loan deal. It’s the money that seems strange to me, £5m without any kind of sell on deal or buy back clause seems bizarre for a player who we wanted to sign a new deal. If Gnabry asked for first team game time and was told it couldn’t be guaranteed then it’s reasonable to let him move on, but hopefully not on the cheap because we feel some duty to the player. I don’t think we are talking about letting one of the major stars of the future go, but hopefully we haven’t handed £30m – £40m to another team when they do sell him on.

  42. I have been following the club for most of this century and Arsene has always been a very youth friendly manager and he has not sold a player like Gnabry that he thought had a chance to be an impact player. If Arsene has a fault, he has kept some players around for too long. Time will tell if this will be the first real mistake he makes but I doubt it. The problem is the number of players that we think might be the next great thing has probably hit triple by now and there is just no way to keep them all hanging around the fringes of the first team especially after they start to count against the squad numbers. I don’t blame Gnabry for wanting to leave but I don’t see any harm in with us keeping as many as we can stockpiled on loan. It’s not like we are short of cash. You never know when one might surprise you.

  43. Bill,

    And that is 100% my point. Gnabry signed a new 5 year deal on 28th Oct 2013 so were not going to be in a rush to sign him up or sell him. We couldn’t have been that worried about £5m either. Sending him on loan would have seemed sensible, but the player wanted first team appearances which we likely wouldn’t have been able to guarantee. So £5m without any conditions? Hopefully we aren’t being nice guys again and potentially giving Bremen a nice pay day down the line.

  44. Wavey

    I would have been more then happy if we had given that wide forward spot to Gnabry and kept Iwobe on the midfield depth chart or sent him on loan. Gnabry at least would have given us a threat to score a goal. However Arsene likes a central midfielder in at least one of the wide forward spots and clearly he planned to use Iwobe last summer when he held him back from the olympics. That made Campbell and Gnabry expendable.

  45. If gnabry gave the team an ultimatum then arsene didnot have much choice. $5M is quite a price for a player who has 1 first team goal in his career. He was a long way from being a sure thing. He was a punt for Werder Breman

  46. Bill,

    Maybe. Had just been top goal scorer in the Olympics though and had at least 18 months left on his contract. I can see that £5m isn’t a bad deal, but I would have been looking for add ons such as appearances, or sell on percentage. This just seems like one of those deals where Wenger has decided to be “nice” to the player. If we did include add ons I will be over the moon.

  47. At £5 million Werder Bremen have got themselves a bargain. Good luck to them and to Serge Gnabry, I wish him all the best in his future career.

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