Get. A. Grip.
It’s the Round of Sixteen, it couldn’t be Barcelona so it had to be Bayern Munich. Arsène Wenger didn’t watch the draw; the tension was all too much so he took training instead.
It’s a rigged draw, some sneered. Ruud Gullitt allegedly felt some warm balls to make it that way but frankly, that’s old news. Joachim Löw did it in front of billions at Euro 2016, finishing off with an armpit for good measure. Scratch ‘n’ sniff television indeed.
The first leg is in Munich where we’ve our record is P5, W1, D1, L3 and the second at home where the ‘return’ games are P5, W2, D1, L2. Don’t get your hopes up. Notional and real aggregate scores are 2 – 3, 2 – 3, 3 – 3, 1 – 3 and 3 – 5. Or to pur it another way, P5, W0, D0, L5. Never beaten them over the two legs; end of.
Why should this year be any different? Well, it’s the optimism of a football supporter to believe that things can only get better. It’s the D:Ream, isn’t it?
I’m not bothered by the Champions League until 15the February next year. Well, maybe a couple of days earlier after the Premier League game against Hull City.
Does anyone have any contacts at BT or Sky? I’d like our Hull match moved to the Friday, not because we’d fare better with an extra day’s rest but simply because I want to see Mourinibore’s apoplexy at perceived favouritism toward Arsène Wenger.
Oh god, I am savouring that just as I type it.
Arsène Wenger, Footballing Man
Which is no surprise. I am surprised that he rejected the notion a ‘football ombudsman’ considering the Independent Football Ombudsman already exists. That’s independent as in funded by the industry it is monitoring. The topic came up following the cynical opportunism of previous FA chairmen who penned a letter to MPs demanding action against the excesses of the Premier League. This from a group of individuals who in the past thirty years have made no attempt to control the Premier League themselves.
Of course, the FA think they should monitor the game but who monitors the FA? FIFA? Maybe an ombudsman set up by the government might be the answer. Those are the same politicians who filled in their expenses forms so diligently.
Whenever previous FA suits pen diatribes to politicians demanding reform of the Football Association, I always hope – and am always disappointed – that the reply ought to begin: “Why should we listen to you? You didn’t try to change anything while you were in the job”.
I found the letter to be a despicable attempt by the signatories to distance themselves from opprobrium. They were former senior executives of the organisation and instead of keeping their heads down, they’ve turned to opportunism. With the current and troubling scandal over child abuse in clubs over the past few decades, the likes of the risible Dyke and Triesmann should be answering for their lack of action if this has been such a widely known ‘secret’ in football circles.
Which let’s face it is the reason we’re all here today. Goodison Park teetered on the brink of a return to the good old days when Everton began the season with 1 defeat in 8. Since then though, it’s 1 win in 7 with four defeats. For an accomplished defender, Koeman’s side are showing disturbing signs of vulnerability at the back from their fans perspective.
Which is fine by us. With Alexis, this side counter-attacks dynamically and fare better than some of its’ predecessors. It will be interesting to see if Arsène goes with Alexis at the start. Such is our form that you’d believe it a mistake to change the XI, especially as he is the form striker. If there is to be a change, it’s on the hour mark with Giroud coming on and Lucas Perez for Theo. Unless Theo is on fire. The reality is that, for a short time at least, we have options up front which is an unusual position to be in.
However, defensively we don’t. Gabriel will presumably shift into the centre with Hector Bellerin returning to the side although if Wenger doesn’t feel like risking the young Spaniard, he has the option of playing Rob Holding against Lukaku. No, me either; Bellerin it is.
It leaves the line-up:
Cech; Bellerin, Gabriel, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Coquelin; Walcott, Özil, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Alexis
Other than that, Arsène seemed to suggest that the biggest enemy for Arsenal tonight is complacency. He’s right to talk of Goodison Park’s sense of “soul” and “history”. Football, as it moves to new stadia, is losing that. It’s why, despite their best attempts to do otherwise, I’ve never found it disappointing that Everton have yet to move grounds. Unlike Highbury, expansion is an option. It’s just a shame that the Leitch architecture, the towers, all the decor and history, is purged from refurbished/new stadia.
Finally, there’s an audio of the AST meeting featuring David Ornstein on Soundcloud. About a minute or two in, there’s a ‘Naked Gun’ moment when Frank Drebin forgets to unhitch the microphone. You get the drift. Brilliant stuff.
Oh, and before I forget (yet again), at 1pm a new playlist is live on Dad’s Jukebox. No, it really is.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.