On England, Referees and Besties

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.

’til Tomorrow.

55 thoughts on “On England, Referees and Besties

  1. Great post Yogi, thank you.

    I had to laugh at the thought of a “ruthless” Arsene Wenger forcing Mesut Ozil out. One of his biggest signings leaving under such circumstances would leave him with considerable quantities of egg on his face.

  2. Both Ozil and Sanchez leaving confirm the shift in dynamics at the club. Players signed because of him in the past, now they leave because of him!

  3. No idea how but want Wales to qualify…..please!

    apart from that still basking in the glory that was Sunday lunchtime & the fact that whilst we are dreadful and miles behind the leaders, the stupendous Spurs and the cracking chelsea teams are but a whisker ahead….

  4. Oy oy !
    Thanks for the write up oh wise one.
    I shall be glad when the Ozil and Sanchez malarkey is sorted out and they go to their chosen destinations,for as much as Iove both players ability(especially Sanchez,who continues to give his all even though he wants out),it’s leaving a bad smell around.
    If Sanchez’ destination truly is City he’d best get used to Giroud’s situation with us-indeed,the same situation he was in at Barca.

  5. Great post Yogi

    Another clean sheet is certainly a positive step. We are going to struggle to score most of this season unless Alexis starts scoring so we need the defensive solidarity. Like him or not Alexis is still our best player and he has the potential for more upside then anyone else on our squad and I am reasonably confident that he will play hard this season. I think we need to keep Alexis for the whole season, because without him I think our chance of finishing 4th goes way down. On the other hand I would dump Ozil in January if there is anyone willing to take him. We are not going to get any sort of transfer fee but at least we can dump the wages.

    I think it’s going to end up being a dogfight between us an Liverpool and Spurs for 4th place. We will probably finish around the low 70’s again and our final table position will depend on how many points Liverpool and Spurs collect. If I had to make a prediction right now it will be Spurs that finish 4th They finally broke their cycle of last season collapses last year and they are clearly a stronger team then we are. We just have to hope they go thru a long injury crisis.

  6. I have found it increasingly more nad more funny that since his arrival, everytime that it is mentioned that Ozil has been injured or sick its always been the same couple of narratives,:”he isn’t fully committed”, “he isn’t getting along with his teammates”, etc.; why simply can’t he just be injured or sick. For instance, against Chelsea 2 years ago people killed Ozil for struggling in the 2nd half in the beginning of the season but then it was found out that he had a knee injury and potentially heard a pop but it wasn’t verified by Arsene and Arsenal until AFTER the German doctors examined it and even still people questioned him. He got sick during the winter and got killed for it. For all the talk of Ramsey taking a battering, I think Ozil takes more of a battering not only in the press but by Gooners.

    I do thin the refs in the PL favor the defenders for the most part but I think the PL, like the England team, is behind Europe. Give me skill and futboling IQ over blood and guts any day of the week.

  7. Hello.
    From the, admittedly limited, sample s so far, I feel Lacazette has looked up to it and up for it physically. If I’m honest, more so than his larger compatriot.

  8. C

    Ozil takes a battering because he has such a huge reputation and he is not producing. Its an inevitable part of the way football always has and always will work.

  9. C

    Ozil has not been producing for 2 years which is not a small sample size. Unless you are going to try and make a case that he has been injured or sick for the whole time then you need to look for some explanation for his poor form. I don’t know what goes on between his ears and may be he cares deeply and his skills are fading or may be he can no longer find the mental energy he needs. Myself I think it is some combination of one of those 2. The bottom line is If he is no longer producing then it does not matter what the reason is. No?

  10. Bill,

    True, but doesn’t mean it makes sense. before the last 2 matches he was tied with chances created with Mhkitaryn, If your judging him purely based on goals and assists thus far in his appearances he hasn’t produced by doesn’t mean he hasn’t influenced. For all the talk in the last half of last season that he wasn’t producing, from the end of December until the end of the season he had 3 goals 8 assists in 20 appearances in all competitions; isn’t that producing? I think part of Ozil not producing is based on not being blood and guts because people including yourself said Ox was the 2nd more dangerous player for us last season yet during the same Ox had 0 goals and 4 assists in 24 appearances in all competitions. Which one was more productive to you?

  11. Bill,

    You do realize that last season he was our 4th leading goal scorer in the PL only behind Sanchez, Giroud and Theo with 8 goals and the next closest was Iwobi with 3. He was 2nd in the team in assists with 9 only behind Sanchez’s 10. The year before in the PL he was 3rd on the team behind only Giroud and Sanchez with 6 goals followed by Theo; but he also lead the team in assists with 19 with Giroud being the next closest at 6. I think Ozil like EVERY OTHER PLAYER at Arsenal including Sanchez has poor periods of play it happens. I don’t think his skills are diminishing because he is still highly effective for Germany (not to mention winning German Player of the year).

    Again the problem with Ozil isn’t production or anything, a huge part of how he is judge is based on his body language. I would say the same about Sanchez, he gets judged on his body language and tempermanent too, if he is having a go at players but scores a brilliant goal people excuse it, let him not score and still have a go at players and he’s being a petulant little child.

  12. C

    Ozil is not the sort of player who can help the team by doing the little things that go unnoticed. If he is not producing eye catching “magical moments” on the attacking end then he can’t help the team. You have been watching the same games that I have and Ozil has been invisible in most of the games for the last 2 seasons. You know that as well as I.

  13. C,

    Let’s open up the question beyond AFC? Where did Ozil’s stats have him sit on goals and assists compared with the rest of the league last year?

  14. A wingback can be effective on the attacking end without producing big numbers of goals and assists. However, a forward has to able to produce numbers to be effective especially if that forward is the sort of player who does not really add much in the way of doing the unnoticed things such as helping out on the defensive end.

  15. A pass only becomes an assist when a goal is scored, if the plonker (often Giroud) on the end of the pass can’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo, then the passer (often Ozil) will appear to be unproductive and his stats will inevitably suffer.

  16. Ozil has not been called into the German squad, so it’s most likely that he is injured, is not faking it nor has Wenger dropped him for spite.

  17. I suspect that a glance at Ozil’s wider stats, to include distance run, touches of the ball, completed passes, successful dribbles etc. will show him to be just as hard working in those fields as any of his teammates.

  18. Very nice Post, YW.

    Your friend Doris is going to have to go some to meet your request to persuade Johann Cruyff that it isn’t too late to make a comeback — he’s been dead for 18 months or so.

    But you could be cheered by the chances of PL clubs doing much better this season in the CL, as the ascendancy of Man Citeh, and the ruthlessness of Manure, under the tutelage of Maureen, is coinciding with a dip from Bayern, having sacked Ancelloti, and both the Spanish clubs looking a little bit pasty, especially Barça with the Catalonian problem showing no sign of going away — so who knows one of the aforementioned Manc clubs could scale the heights — and bugger it.

    Back to Johann — I think you are being a little over optimistic there.

  19. Orson

    Who knows where Ozil’s level of motivation really is. There is no way to quantify that and anything we say is complete speculation Those stats you mentioned mean nothing if the player has not been productive. The only thing we know for certain is that for some reason Mesut has been disappearing in most of our games for about 2 years.

  20. Hi C,

    I agree with you on most things and I do so again regarding Özil.

    There is no way to prove an argument based on observations made in both the macro and the micro levels, but in each case your view makes more sense than the alternative.

    The British teams are never going to be considered as the silky smooth, skilful ambassadors of the football world. Their teams are based on players who emanate from the PL where the most successful and skilful players are foreign, and the British players are for the most part full of vim and vigour – a mixture that makes the EPL such a delight for most of the world.

    So, Özil is a highly skilled player reared by teams in European Leagues – yes I know Jonny G, thanks – and those leagues are far more geared up for skill over brawn.

    When Özil played in Germany and Spain, his style suited those clubs beautifully. Intense periods of skilful interplay, and then periods of sitting back taking stock of the opposition before turning up the wick again. In that environment he looked terrific, and even when Maureen was manager of Real, he tended to take Mesut off after 60 or 70 minutes.

    In the EPL, there is no slowing down of the pace to occasionally marshall resources, and games are continually played at breakneck speed, with dollops of skill just to add icing to the cake — that environment, in my opinion, does not suit Özil — but I would prefer a player oozing class for 60 minutes, than a plodding donkey for 90 minutes.

  21. Bill,

    Actually Bill, Ozil is just that sort of player. Making a run to create space for somebody else, dropping deeper to accomodate Ramsey pushing higher and playing as a striker, playing a dummy yo get another player an acre of space. Watch him, and focus on him, honestly I think one of the biggest problems with the PL like England squad is that futbolers, those that create and don’y always run with the ball are thought of as purely possession players. Its complete and utter rubish, if England and The PL were so dominate and got ut right with blood, guts, power and pace then they would be dominating Europe and world futbol but last I checked neither is happening. Think about the clubs and countries that boss futbol: Brasil, France, Spain, Germany, Bayern, Madrid, Barca, Santos, PSG, Juve. All those clubs play futbol, have silky players and its not about blood and guts.

  22. Damon,

    I would be interested but look at the PL and his stats are better than Silva but its hard to do that when you factor in Silva, De Bruyne, Hazard and Pedro were feeding Aguero, Costa, Jesus and hell even Batshuyi and Iheanacho while Ozil was feeding Giroud.

  23. Here’s a questiom, why is Ozil constantlu either winning or finishing in the top 3 of German Player of the Year if he was so ineffective when you consider that he doesn’t play for Bayern and there are others like Kroos, Boateng, Groetzka, Mueller, Khederia, Hummels, Neuer, Lahm, Weigel, and the pleothra of other German stars playing regularly and playing well? Again, give me Ozil and his moments of brilliance over blood and guts any day of the week.

  24. The reason so many peaople are disappointed about Özil’s Arsenal form is because no one other then you has been seeing those moments of brilliance that we all have been patiently waiting for.

  25. We are playing in England so the idea that the things a specific player can do might work better in Spain or Germany or in international football is totally irrelevant

  26. Since the beginning of the Emirates era there has been no manager in England who has made more effort to embrace the “continental style” of football and look where it has gotten us in the PL.

  27. Bill,

    Its not irrelevant when you yourself have talked about his exploits in Spain as well as what you thoughy was happening with his form for country.

  28. C,

    I’m with you on the fact that he’s a wonderful player,but you can throw stats all day long at us-the fact is he’s not worth the money we spent on him.He DOES look completely uninterested at times(a lot actually) and he just looks like he’s only got to turn up-he hasn’t,he should track back once in a while.He should be more involved,but he isn’t.You could say that us fans are split over him,but I don’t think it’s 50/50.
    There are stacks of people out there that follow our club that feel just like me-that would say they don’t know why,but they don’t believe he does enough.
    He is brilliant-but not often enough.
    He really is a luxury.
    I’ll sometimes go and look at a prospective job,and for whatever reason I have a good look at it and think to myself ‘on the face of it the job looks okay,but I’ve a niggling feeling that tells me to let it go’.
    Ozil gives me that feeling.

  29. The story which appeared late last week that had Kroenke trying to buy Usmanov’s Arsenal shareholding is now being repeated in the Guardian. The offer is for £528 million.

    The reported buyout first appeared on arseblog and was taken up buy the Express. When I contacted arseblog they assured me the report was 100% accurate. Now essentially the same story is running on the Guardian website.

    For a story to last this long and to appear in two fairly well respected newspapers must have some element of truth in it.

    Arsenal’s latest set of accounts will be distributed to shareholders tomorrow, the AGM is on the 26th October.

  30. C

    I don’t know what the criteria is for winning German player of the year but club form in England must not be considered.

    What does it matter to Arsenal if a player is doing well for his country but showing the same form for his club? Ramsey has been one of the better players in the world for his country starting with Euro 2016 and that is not relevant to what he does for Arsenal.

  31. C

    Do you take Girond’s record for France into consideration when you are talking about how good he has been for Arsenal. You have to make somewhat of an effort to be consistent.

  32. Jonnygunner,

    It’s not good news from any point of view, other than Kroenke’s.

    If he succeeds in buying Usmanov’s shares he will then be able to force the minor shareholders to sell their holdings to him. With 100% of the Arsenal shares in his hands he can remove the company registration from the UK entirely. He would not then have to publish accounts or hold an AGM. He would also be able to use the assets of the club for any purpose he chose.

    We may be wary of Usmanov, but at the moment he is the only obstacle to Kroenke gaining total control of the club.

  33. Orson – is that correct?? having 100% ownership he can remove the company from UK?
    OMG, this is just a scary thought.
    Does he need 100% or 97% would do? How can he force anyone to sell their shares?

  34. bob – and who is that consortium that has enough money to buy out both billionaires? It cannot be true. See, that’s what you get when you are stuck in one particular blog – life passes you by 🙂

  35. Eddie,

    Once Kroenke reaches a certain level of ownership (97% I think) the remaining shareholders can legally be obliged to sell their stock to him.

    As outright owner he can turn the company into a private entity and then do whatever he wants. I believe that registering the company in Delaware USA would allow him to not publish accounts or hold public AGMs.

  36. The article in the Guardian mentions a consortium of local business men who have been in talks with someone who can provide the finance to buy out both Kroenke and Usmanov giving them a decent profit as an incentive to sell.

  37. YW – I agree, such an investor could not be kept anonymous, especially by a consortium. Google refers to a mysterious consortium and the gossip is beginning to gather pace 🙂

  38. Thanks for the post Yogi

    I am in no way a fan of Stan Kronke and I would rather see Usmanov own the club. We need an owner whose first goal is to win as many big trophies as possible and I think Usmanov would be much more likely to want that to happen. However, the thing you want from an owner is to make sure there is money available to spend and then stay out of the way and let the football people make the decisions. Stan has not really been meddling in the affairs of the club and we have spent plenty of money in the last 5 years. Before last season we actually had a higher net spend then Chelsea during that 5 year period. The problem is that our football person has not had a plan and IMO our football person had enough resources and he could/should have done better. IMO he is the one who is really the cause of the stagnation we have seen in this decade. Again that does not mean that I am happy with Stan and ultimately he is the one who has to demand better results but I believe that Arsene could have gotten just about anything he had wanted within reason. Even with Stan, I think we could have had better results if our football people had asked for more resources and most important had done a better job of investing the resources they have been given.

  39. 5-6 years ago was when we really started to spend. Back then Chelsea had a squad that had won lots of big trophies but was filled with aging stars such as Drogba, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka etc etc who had lost their motivation and none of them were worth any money in the transfer market. They had to completely rebuild their squad and they did it with less net spend then we had during that period. We certainly could have done a lot more with the money we spent if our football people would have had a plan.

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