There’s a football match this evening but it’s on BT so Sky enjoyed taking centre stage with their absurd plan for moving Liverpool to Christmas Eve for a 4.30pm kick-off.
Surprisingly, the Telegraph acted as a cheerleader for the move, momentarily forgetting that a rival media outlet owns the television company. They missed the chance to bury the hatchet firmly in Murdoch’s back. Instead, they helpfully pointed out that the last train to Liverpool Lime Street is 9.21pm which gives “fans plenty of time to get home”.
As if football supporters only come from the two cities involved. That it doesn’t allow anyone else to travel by train that evening escapes their grasp. Families be damned; this is big bucks.
Not that they care; they want people sitting at home or in pubs watching their product, playing online betting. Fans inevitably are the ones shafted by Sky, a situation which won’t improve if Amazon or BT become dominant. The Premier League holds strength in negotiations but acts weakly. It is time for them to resist such flagrant disregard for supporters.
Football without fans is a bunch of blokes kicking pigskin around.
Hopefully, the Met will step in and squash the idea with their size 11’s. Their resources will be spread thin enough as it is on Christmas Eve. The club may face similar issues.
From a football perspective, there is a knock-on effect which I’m surprised the Premier League are even willing to consider. Arsenal’s fixture after this on Boxing Day against West Brom will almost certainly be moved if Sky do their worst. If they don’t, the club faces two sets of fixtures played within 48 hours of each other; Arsenal must surely be working to have one of those matches postponed?
It’s a fixture move too far with the potential for chaos
The Sport of Today is Exciting
Ooooh, Bayern lost in Paris; they are heading to the Europa League. As if. They’ve got Celtic in their group, for god’s sake.
We’re in Borisov with an impressive XI left behind in London. Out are: Ramsey, Xhaka, Alexis, Lacazette, Özil, Monreal, Kolasinac, Koscielny, Bellerin and Iwobi. To make up the numbers, Petr Cech flew to Belarus for the match. We’ll have a full complement on the bench, even if it includes two goalkeepers.
Choosing the side is like pin the tail on the donkey; you know where the beast is but getting it right is luck rather than exact science. I’ll have a go though:
Ospina; Holding, Mertesacker, Mustafi; Debuchy, Elneny, Wilshere, Maitland-Niles; Walcott, Giroud, Nelson
A Carabao Cup side if ever there was one. If it works and we win, bravo, well-played Arsène; you judged the level of the competition correctly. I can’t help feeling that it’s playing into BATE’s hands. Motivation for the coach won’t be hard: “Look how they’ve disrespected us!” and there’s no Mesut Özil to bail us out with a moment of magic as happened in Bulgaria.
If it goes wrong, the brickbats will surely follow. Rightly so. I understand Wenger focussing on the Premier League but if players, early in the season, can’t face two games in just shy of 72 hours, we in the cart at Christmas. Well and truly. Add Alexis or Lacazette to the squad, as well as Kolasinac and there’s a half-decent XI.
While some couldn’t give a fig for the Europa League, we’re in it because this is our level. At the moment, it represents Arsène’s only chance of a European trophy in his career. It’s not the Champions League but it’s a better chance to fill a hole in his record.
It’s Brawn Against Brain
When you know nothing of the opposition, it’s hard to work out how much of a calculated risk the manager is taking. Belarus’ football is one of the few which hasn’t got a global audience and most of us only know of BATE through Alex Hleb. I wonder if he still likes ice cream?
It’s good experience for the younger players and who knows, Reiss Nelson may start at wing-back with Josh DaSilva in the middle of defence. There’s a hint of the Ajax thinking at play. You’ve read Bergkamp played at full back once so, the youngsters learn well playing out of position.
They will learn tonight as well. Whether we will see this XI in Belgrade or Cologne is another matter; I somehow doubt it. As you’ve guessed, I’m surprised we haven’t taken the opportunity to ensure we grab this group by the throat. Maybe we will – I hope we will – but it’s not as clear-cut as a stronger line-up may make it seem.
Finally, don’t forget that the Album of the Week catch-up post is on Dad’s Jukebox.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.