Preparations for tomorrow’s match in Baku are underway with Unai Emery apparently changing the routine established under Arsene. The players will train tonight in the stadium instead of the last session being in London before travelling.
Whether that’s true or not I don’t know. I can’t say I ever paid that much attention to the subject before but I read it in the paper so it must be true.
Is there much to be gained from one training session in the stadium? It’s a general routine rather than match-specific, I should think. A limber up, limber down, knock a few balls about kind of thing. If it contributes to winning, all well and good. If it helps us perform consistently over 90 minutes, then I’d argue we should be doing the same for every game!
We won’t, of course. I don’t think the Premier League makes provision for such things anyway. It’s a bit far-sighted. Their only interest is in making money and keeping Manchester United successful, according to Scudamore. He must be having kittens this morning as a parade of devils with pitchforks being stabbed into their arses accompanied stories of ghost ships, maladministration, and just generally being rubbish, in the back pages.
And we’re told the standard of football is lower in the Europa League.
The crowds at the matches underline the dying nature of the group format. Rafts of empty seats are commonplace, so too matches being played behind closed doors, particularly in France.
I remember the surprise in the ’70/’80s when West Ham and Manchester United played behind closed doors and at Home Park respectively. The incidence of closed stadiums seems to be rising in a time when the hooligan problem is nothing compared to what it was. Not good news for the UEFA brand.
Leno Me When Times Are Tough
Back to the Arsenal news. Petr Cech is finding out the hard way that three months is the new three weeks. He’s “expected to return to full training in 3-4 weeks” but then again, so was Manuel Almunia. That didn’t end well, did it?
Not that I’m saying the Czech Cech is checking out, but Bernd Leno has four weeks to show why he was signed. In an attempt to sow the seeds of division among the ranks, Unai Emery prefers Cech and will return him to the first team as soon as he’s fit again. Or at least that’s the claim.
I sincerely doubt the journalist making the claim is that well-connected.
There’s a decision which must be made in a month. Two games, thanks to the international break; it’s not much time to claim that prize but it could be enough.
Unlikely though, unless Leno’s distribution becomes outstanding in that time. The Brentford game and forty-five minutes against Watford suggest he is on a par with Arsenal Cech. With age on his side and knowing there is genuine competition for places, Leno should improve.
Should is a powerful word though. We’ve seen promising goalkeepers – Manninger, Wright – come and go. Leno is more established with international caps to his name. His fee was such we expect him to deliver. Usurping Cech is one of those expectations. It has to happen otherwise questions will be asked of those who pushed Leno’s case.
Not the pleasant ones either. With the new management structure comes clear responsibility. I was going to say accountability but when you’re run through an obscure PO Box in Delaware, there’s none of that. There was none of that when we were run out of Highbury House but we’ve been run out of Highbury House, there’s even less.
Signings are no longer the responsibility of the manager and ol’ Diamond Eyes carries a reputation which he’s got to live up to. With restricted budgets for deals, scrutiny will be high.
Not that having a bucketload of money is any guarantee as those who have tridents being rammed into their arses at Old Trafford will attest. Tridents, that’s what they are, not pitchforks.
Whatever it is, seeing their discomfort brings a tear to the eye. Laughter really is the best medicine.