The momentum was high for the Gunners as they travelled to the Theatre of Dreams, coming off the back of that morale-boosting derby win over Tottenham on Sunday, and the small matter of a 19-match unbeaten run. Those facts, as well as Manchester United looking lacklustre, meant the hosts were very much there for the taking, and it wasn’t wide off the mark to put the Gunners as favourites going into this game.

Yet it’s been something of an Arsenal blueprint to fail to take opportunities, particularly one in which they seem outright favourites against a top-six side, defeats against United and Chelsea in 2016 spring to mind. That’s just one of the habits that have characterised the latter years of the previous Arsenal regime, one of the habits Unai Emery is expected to abolish in his time at the Emirates. On Sunday in the North London derby, they did show that they curbing some old bad habits, like the ability to cave in when things got tough. In the win over Spurs, Emery’s side showed that when the pressure hit home, they could rise above it.

So, on Wednesday in Greater Manchester, it was time for another kind of evidence that they’d come far under Emery, showing that when they’re put as outright favourites in a game against teams of their ilk, they wouldn’t falter. It didn’t quite go that way, the performance, particularly in the first half, lacked much of the zest and energy that was on show on Sunday. Then again, Arsenal have been slow starters, if not completely in performances, then definitely in stats, the Gunners haven’t led at halftime in the league this season, and would be 18th if games finished after 45 minutes.

They did take the lead at Old Trafford around the hour mark, Shkodran Mustafi’s header fumbled over the line by David de Gea, but they still wouldn’t go into the break ahead, some sloppy defending and goalkeeping meant United would find a response almost instantly, Anthony Martial dragging the hosts back on terms. Despite the obvious improvements under Emery, defensive frailty has still been one of the flaws in the side, hence two league clean sheets in 15 games, and that goal conceded from Martial was proof that they can still very much be got at.

Arsenal have always shown that they can rally in second halves, proving that time and time again this season, Emery not afraid to make halftime calls, adapting to and changing games, and here he would throw on former United man Henrikh Mkhitaryan before the second half began. Arsenal’s second half improvement wasn’t quite as immense or substantial as on Sunday, but they showed something different, another trait they’ve been accused, with reason, of lacking in recent past. Playing against this current United side was coming up against who wouldn’t be uncomfortable spoiling games, making them scrappy and ugly. And Arsenal scrapped, and fought, as Premier League analyst Don Hutchinson put it, they steeled up, not minding having to scrap, not particularly fearful of going down in the dirt if required.

It was the kind of mettle and metal that the Gunners hadn’t shown in the past, but defensive fragility would undo them once more. After retaking the lead thanks to an own goal from Marcos Rojo, Arsenal would go on to surrender that lead immediately. In fact, from the time United kicked off, they were only six touches of the ball before Jesse Lingard got Jose Mourinho’s side back on terms, thanks in no small part to some schoolboy defending from Sead Kolasinac. When Arsenal rose to the challenge, self-inflicted wounds hampered them. Even in the victory against Tottenham, errors at the back could have done for them.

Arsenal turned on the style late on, and should have grabbed a winner, but would settle for a point. Despite their recent improvements, factors at the back prevented a good week from becoming a very good one, clear signs of shards from the past. But it’s also testament to their new-found resolve that this is likely to have little bearing on their good run.

Elsewhere:

  • Another win for Manchester City, but this time it was not quite a stroll as it had been lately, at least on the scoreline anyway, but it’s still seven league wins in a row for the champions.
  • Liverpool are still doing their bit to keep on the leaders coattails, as they came from behind to win at Burnley. It was an improved performance compared to recent games from the hosts, who could consider themselves not to have gotten anything from it, but Sean Dyche’s side are bottom bar one, thanks to a less inferior goal difference.
  • After six winless games, five of which were defeats, Wolves got back to winning ways, beating Chelsea at the Molineux, thanks to overdue goals from Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota, the latter’s first of the season. Two league defeats in three for the Blues, who host City on Saturday.
  • It’s a place in the top-six for Bournemouth, whose 2-1 win over Huddersfield sees them very much in line to be the team that everyone talks about not being talked about this season.

Results

Manchester United 2-2 Arsenal

Tottenham 3-1 Southampton

Fulham 1-1 Leicester

Brighton 3-1 Crystal Palace

West Ham 3-1 Cardiff

Burnley 1-3 Liverpool

Everton 1-1 Newcastle

Wolves 2-1 Chelsea

Bournemouth 2-1 Huddersfield

Watford 1-2 Manchester City

Published in International Watch

18 games unbeaten. No defeat since August. But there was a bit of scepticism towards Arsenal. The defence was branded, not without reason, as shaky; the Gunners were guilty of underwhelming first halves, if not in performance, definitely in results. So, those 18 games unbeaten had elements of ‘although’ in them, and as Unai Emery’s side prepared to host Tottenham in the first post-Wenger derby, many saw this as the game where their progress could truly be measured, irrespective of the Gunners having played Liverpool earlier in November, a game against opponents who spent the week beating Inter Milan and Chelsea.

In that case, the Gunners gave the most resounding statement with a 4-2 win in a brilliant derby at the Emirates. It was a game that showcased qualities Arsenal used to be known for; resilience, doggedness, spirit and a sheer sense of superiority. ‘…we had the fans behind us and we had power, we felt strong’, said forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang afterwards, while his teammate Lucas Torreira pointed out Arsenal showing their ‘spirit and our soul during the game’. ‘We won against a good team and showed a very good performance’, was goalkeeper Bernd Leno’s assessment after the final whistle.

If you were a progress examiner sent by the Premier League or football itself to evaluate Arsenal on their improvements, it would have been hard to resist the temptation not to mark them as ‘ready and primed’ after just ten minutes. The Gunners were well and truly on the front foot from the off, pushing Spurs back, harrying their visitors, and celebrating a deserved lead after Jan Vertonghen’s ill-advised handball meant Aubameyang would score from 12 yards.

Arsenal had been accused as slow starters so far this season, again a valid point – they hadn’t led a single league game at halftime in the league – but here they paid very little interest in playing in accordance to the ‘getting-to-you-know’ phase of the game, quickly out of the blocks, and only a sharp save from Hugo Lloris denied Alex Iwobi putting the hosts two up. It was the kind of display Spurs have been synonymous with putting, particularly against this same club during the old and sometimes lacklustre regime, but here it was Spurs who looked like they hadn’t left the bus, passes astray, panicky in midfield, and offering next-to-nothing in attack.

But they would get their break just past the half hour mark, after Sokratis’ foul on Son Heung-Min outside the box, with Eric Dier heading Christian Eriksen’s free-kick into Leno’s near post for the equaliser. Dier’s ‘shush’ celebration sparked a few handbags on the touchline between opposing players, but it was followed afterwards on the pitch that had the semblance of chaos, particularly for the hosts. Both teams had barely gotten to grips with the game being 1-1 when Spurs broke forward again, and Son was deemed to be have been fouled again, this time by Rob Holding, and, more crucially, in the box. Harry Kane stepped and made no mistake from 12 yards, equalling Emmanuel Adebayor’s record of eight goals in this derby.

Arsenal fans were stunned, and the feel at the Emirates was one akin to catastrophic disbelief, this was what many deemed as their first real test, they were failing, and once again they’d go into halftime without a lead. This was the time to test Arsenal’s mettle; and they lived up to that challenge after the break, the sense of deflation and shock didn’t pervade the Emirates for long. ‘We don’t give up and that’s the mentality’ said Aubameyang on whether the Gunners are becoming more resilient, and it was the Gabonese forward who grabbed his side’s equaliser, a finish of deluxe class for his 10th league goal of the season.

From then on, it was practically all Arsenal, the Gunners had shown resilience once again, just as they’d done in some games prior to this, particularly at home to Liverpool. But this was the first game against any top-six side in a while where they was a palpable sense of superiority, and huge credit falls to Emery for restoring that in this game, not least with those halftime substitutions. ‘Before I started this match I prepared in my mind different situations in the match. One was this’, said the Gunners manager. ‘Why? Because Lacazette has very big efficiency in scoring against every team and because Aaron has experience against Tottenham and in derby matches.’

And did those work a treat; Ramsey supplied Aubameyang for the equaliser, and Lacazette, with the aid of a deflection, put the Gunners in front. Spurs never looked like replying and when Torreira added a fourth with his first goal for the club, and followed it up with a typical derby celebration (shirt off, knee-slide and bellowing at the sky), the Gunners had the derby very much in their palms. It was a nigh-on complete performance, the ‘yeah buts’ that followed previous games was non-existent, no ‘what ifs’ over this win, it was unquestionable and unadulterated.

The Gunners face another tough test right after this, with a trip to Old Trafford coming in midweek, but are far from fazed, and not without reason. Emery signed up for big tests, and was hired to provide a sense of belief going into those said tests, and isn’t failing so far. ‘We know it will be difficult (against Manchester United), it’s a big challenge for us and we want to have a lot of challenges like that.’

**quotes from arsenal.com

Sense of what might have been lingers in South Coast stalemate

Two points dropped, or one point gained? For Southampton it would look like a good point against Manchester United had they not thrown away a two-goal lead, no side has dropped points from winning positions this season than Mark Hughes’ side. For United, it was a commendable fight-back at the South Coast, at least it would be if they weren’t so awful before going two behind, and so listless after going level. The Saints are still in the drop-zone, with just one win all season, while the Red Devils are in seventh, eight points off the top four, and 16 from the top, with a run of three league wins in nine.

Bedlam in Merseyside derby

It was done and dusted. Four minutes of added time were given in the Merseyside derby. Six had been played, and we were heading for a fair draw when Liverpool launched one last attack. As the ball came the way of Virgil van Dijk who set himself for the volley, images of Germany-Holland in the Nations League formed, except this time the volley was awful. Yet as the ball spun and moved, Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford made a clanger of anticipation, resulting in the ball falling to Divock Origi, who couldn’t miss from a yard out. Jurgen Klopp sprinted onto the pitch in bedlam, Origi grabbed the ball in a fit of confusion, and the Everton players raised their hands to the officials, almost like they needed a message that there was no way a point just got taken from them. Liverpool were anything but convincing, superior, or fluid, but they’ve won again. No matter how they do it, they just won’t lose sight of leaders Manchester City.

Liverpool and the most berserk of derby wins

Elsewhere:

  • It was back to winning ways in the league for Chelsea, who saw off Fulham in the West London derby (that many don’t really fancy) to go third. Fulham boss and former Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri saw the positives in his side’s loss, claiming this performance was even better than the win over Southampton, and while that may seem patronising, it wasn’t without reason. Fulham didn’t let their heads drop after conceding early, no sense of defeatism, and when Chelsea’s second goal came, it was a game still very much in the balance. The Cottagers, though, still remain at the foot of the table.
  • Another defeat for Wolves, whose bubble has very much burst. Five losses in six, Nuno Esprito Santo’s side host Chelsea next.
  • Newcastle fans were just finishing their 11th-minute protests when they were put in bother, Javier Hernandez putting West Ham in front early on at St. James Park. A resounding win for the Hammers, who climb above their hosts, while Rafa Benitez’s Magpies’ winning run comes to a giant halt.

Results

Leicester 2-0 Watford

Liverpool 1-0 Everton

Southampton 2-2 Manchester United

Newcastle 0-3 West Ham

Cardiff 2-1 Wolves

Huddersfield 1-2 Brighton

Chelsea 2-0 Fulham

Manchester City 3-1 Bournemouth

Crystal Palace 2-0 Burnley

Arsenal 4-2 Tottenham

Published in International Watch

The 61-year-old, valued at £11.1b may make a swoop at buying other club asides Arsenal if Kroenke is refusing to sell 

 

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has indicated he might consider buying another club if Arsenal’s controlling shareholder Stan Kroenke refuses to sell the club.

Kroenke, in August, bought Alisher Usmanov’s 30% stake in the club for around £600m to become Arsenal’s owner – a bid at turning the club to a private entity.

Dangote, who has always reiterated his desire to buy the English club, told Bloomberg TV at the new economic forum in Singapore revealed he might consider buying other clubs should Kroenke still maintains his stance of not selling Arsenal.

“I’m very attached to Arsenal but if he won’t sell, I might have to change,” Dangote said.

“I’m very much a fan of football. I have to have a club. I don’t have to own Arsenal.”

Bloomberg reports that Arsenal’s London rival Chelsea may be on the market.

Its owner, Roman Abramovich, has hired Raine Group LLC, a merchant bank in New York, to advice on the possibility of a full or partial sale.

 

According to Bloomberg, Abramovich, who bought Chelsea in 2003 for £140m is said to value the club for £3b. 

Published in International Watch

Emery says unseating the complacency in Iwobi has improved the 22-year-old

 

Alex Iwobi came under criticism last year at Arsenal, but with sterling form for both club and country, the Super Eagles midfielder has been one of the most improved players under Unai Emery

At the press conference ahead of the game against Liverpool on Saturday, the new Arsenal manager discussed how he had helped the Nigerian international to develop his game.

The former Sevilla and PSG manager, who said he had no doubt over the quality of the Arsenal youth team graduate, confessed that the 22-year-old needed to be push and be given sureness to perform at his peak.

He is very young and I think he played here with improving moments in his career,” Emery told Arsenal official website. “We need to also push him more to improve because he has the quality and the capacity.”

The first thing is with the behaviour in training, finding ways to improve every day. And then, also to give him what he can improve tactically, individually. I think a lot of it is confidence, every player needs confidence.

“Not only with playing but when we are together and we are here. I want every player to feel this confidence but also with a very big demand from us and on himself also to work every day.”

On things he told Iwobi, the Spaniard said further: “I think before I came here, Arsenal was already one family.

“Maybe we needed to improve or to develop some things differently with the team and with the club, but I think this club is very big and was a big family also before I came here.

“We are doing more combinations to do more to be stronger with the relationship between us. The family is very important for us, for every player to feel important and enjoy.

 

Iwobi, who joined Arsenal as a teenager made his debut for the club in 2015. He has scored one goal in 12 appearances this season.

Published in Awa Football

Two defeats in 10 league games. Two defeats in 15 in all competitions. You can forgive an Arsenal fan for expecting a higher number in the loss column at this stage of this season back in August. Then, the Gunners began the season with back-to-back defeats, a hapless loss at home to Manchester City and a narrow defeat at Chelsea; the uncertainty that met pre-season was getting replaced with dread just two games into the Unai Emery era.

But the Gunners have rallied since then, unbeaten in the next 13 games to date. In fact they have won all but one of those games, a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace last weekend, amassing 11 successive wins. The North Londoners haven’t completely convinced in those games, but have managed to get the result, as well as showed signs of things clicking into gear.

One point of note that has caught the eye is the fact that Emery’s side haven’t beaten any side in the Premier League’s current top six, the two games they’ve played against sides in that bracket were the defeats to City and Chelsea. Simply put, the Gunners have beaten the sides below them, and lost to the ones above them, showing that we should neither get carried away, nor fail to see the feel-good atmosphere building at the Emirates.

That feel-good atmosphere is likely to face its biggest test since the opening day of the season, with Liverpool coming to the capital this weekend. Liverpool haven’t show total conviction themselves so far, Jurgen Klopp’s team getting a few hairy wins, but the Reds remain unbeaten in the league and are second, only behind champions City on goal difference. Their fearsome front three haven’t quite clicked into gear so far this season, but look to be on the way, with Sadio Mane bagging a brace and Mohammed Salah getting a goal and two assists last weekend, and, along with Roberto Firmino, are likely to be the biggest test the Gunners defence will face so far.

That backline has been one of the areas which have served as cases in point for sceptics to sniff at Arsenal’s run of form. Emery has seen his side keep just two clean sheets in ten league games so far, owing as much to defensive soft-centeredness as it does to the team acclimatising to the ‘playing from the back’ philosophy. The Gunners have also not started games in the best way this term, they haven’t led at halftime in any league game so far this season.

Those are traits they’d hope to not show this weekend, with a ruthless Liverpool team coming to visit, who, unlike most of the teams Arsenal have faced so far, will hardly offer up any room to recover in games, or make-up for or get away with slapdash defending. But the Gunners are seen as underdogs going into this game, a lack of pressure, unlike the past, that could well play into their hands.

Arsenal have been making progress. No matter how little or flawed, no matter how unconvincing or the sniffs of ‘yeah, but…’- they’ve been making progress. Defeat at home to Liverpool might not even dampen that progress, but it will show how much progress still needs to be made. A win, and suddenly that progress becomes a statement.

Elsewhere:                                                                                                   

  • The last time Southampton went to Manchester City, they suffered a late defeat, and the Saints’ Nathan Redmond was told by opposition manager Pep Guardiola that he didn’t do as much as he could, didn’t do as much as he did in his previous game at the Etihad. In the 34 league games since then, Redmond has scored once, 3.5% of the Saints goals since – which is 28 by the way. The Saints have failed to score in 14 of those 34 games in that time, and haven’t scored in five in the league this season. Doesn’t make for good reading as they visit the champions.
  • Slavisa Jokanovic may have been backed by Shahid Khan lately, but the Serbian knows results have to come much sooner for him to stay in the Fulham job. The Cottagers have conceded 28 goals this season, haven’t kept a single clean sheet so far, and have slipped into the relegation zone in the past couple of weeks. They visit Huddersfield on Monday night, the Terriers themselves in no better mood, as they remain winless in the league. Cliché it; it’s a six-pointer.

Fixtures

Manchester City v Southampton

Chelsea v Crystal Palace

Cardiff v Leicester

Wolves v Tottenham

Bournemouth v Manchester United

Arsenal v Liverpool

Newcastle v Watford

Huddersfield v Fulham

Everton v Brighton

West Ham v Burnley

 

 

Published in International Watch

 

If ever you could say a club are doing a ‘go unnoticed’ challenge at the moment, then it’s Arsenal. The Gunners have won nine successive games in all competitions, have the second-best attack so far, have won four straight away games for the first in almost two years, have racked up 60% of their away league goals of last season, and are just two points off the top of the table. Yet Unai Emery’s men have hardly graced the spotlight, operating in the shadows, unnoticed but effective.

Perhaps there is a fair amount of reasoning to that. The Gunners are still adapting to life under Emery and the sense of building up expectation this early is still very much ill-advised. But life under Emery is going well so far, and there’s a different feel to things as an Arsenal fan, no sense of dread at the expected fatalism that’s bound to come, rather than continuing to dive into the unknown with a sense of adventure and excitement.

There’s no building angst for home games, and away matches are not approached with a defeatist atmosphere even before kick-off, as it had been for some time in the past. Players have also spoke of the increased intensity in training, which has shown in matches, and there’ also being improvements in forms of players, the likes of Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi finding their feet after an almost regressive stagnation last term.

There’s always the check on Arsenal’s form, on the point that the defence still looks very much shaky, and has only kept two clean sheets so far. Plus, there’s the fact that for all of Arsenal’s improvements, they’ve hardly completely convincing, and the highest-placed side they’ve beaten in the league so far are ninth-placed Watford; the two games in which they’ve come up against teams whose levels they aim to get to, they’ve suffered defeat, played off the park on home soil by Manchester City on the opening day, before looking defensively haphazard at Chelsea a week after.

So, it’s important to keep things in perspective. The Gunners host Leicester on Monday night, and with the glass half-empty perspective of their form meaning that every win so far has come with at least an ounce of ‘yeah, but’, this is not the time to slack off. Because nobody expects the problems that have dogged Arsenal to be gone after just four months, wins will still be met with scepticism for now, and failures to attain victory will be followed up by derisive snorts of ‘see, there you go’.

But right now, the Gunners should continue to go about their business quietly and away from the limelight. Operating in the shadows hasn’t failed them so far, and the chance of a perfect ten looms very large.

Elsewhere:

  • It’s a return to Stamford Bridge for Jose Mourinho, as he takes his squad on another save-the-boss quest, this time in a trip to the capital. Whether their comeback win over Newcastle was a form of defeating defiance or a turning point will certainly get more evidence, as they face a Chelsea side with a number 10 in absurdly good form.
  • Sit back and ignore them and check the scores after, or see them on the goal rush, it’s the first six-pointers of the season. First off, bottom-placed Cardiff host fourth from bottom Fulham, with the Welsh side still seeking their first win of the season; a clash of lacklustre attack against leaky defence. Then the other is the clash between Newcastle, second from bottom, host Brighton, six points ahead of the Toon.

 

  • Sticking with the bottom-dwellers, Southampton are winless in five league games, losing four, their only win of the season coming in a game where they managed to be so poor yet won at Crystal Palace. The Saints visit sixth-placed Bournemouth (can’t believe that was mentioned so casually), and a defeat at the Vitality stadium will surely see the start building on Mark Hughes at the South Coast… or maybe not.

Fixtures

Arsenal v Leicester

Chelsea v Manchester United

Everton v Crystal Palace

Bournemouth v Southampton

Wolves v Watford

Huddersfield v Liverpool

Manchester City v Burnley

Cardiff v Fulham

Newcastle United v Brighton

West Ham v Tottenham

 

Published in International Watch

Man U plot January Ramsey move

Monday, 15 October 2018 00:58

Man United plot January Ramsey move

Manchester United are said to be interested in signing the Welsh midfielder this upcoming winter transfer window.

Aaron Ramsey will be out of contract at Arsenal at the end of the season.

Talks between Arsenal and Aaron Ramsey over a new contract for the 27-year-old last week hit a deadlock – as Arsenal are unwilling to meet the wage demands of the former Cardiff midfielder.

The Red Devils, who last winter transfer window, snapped Alexis Sanchez up from Arsenal are reported to be interested in signing another Arsenal player in this winter transfer window.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has identified Ante Rebic and Nikola Milenkovic as possible January midfield recruitment, but should the United hierarchy fail to release funds, Ramsey has been identified as a more affordable target.

 

Ramsey is also a target for Italian sides Juventus and AC Milan, as the former will move for the Welsh international should attempt to sign Adrien Rabiot from PSG fails.

Published in Transfer Rumors

The former Golden Eaglets captain has set his sight on being Nigeria's greatest

In 2015, Kelechi Nwakali led the Nigerian Golden Eaglets to win a record fifth FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

The 20-year-old midfielder was rewarded with the overall best player at the tournament for his sterling performance at the tournament.

Nwakali who was snapped up immediately by Arsenal after the tournament in Chile has only represented the senior national team on one occasion but has set his sight on being the greatest player to ever represent the Super Eagles.

On loan at Porto from Arsenal, the midfielder told The Nation Sports and Style in an interview that with “with hard work and humility” he had all it takes to be Nigeria’s greatest ever footballer.

“… I’m just starting my career and it’s like I have not started at all,” he said.

“One of my dreams is to be Nigeria’s greatest ever footballer and it’s not just saying it but to work for it.

 

“I believe with hard work and humility, I will achieve my dreams.”

Published in Awa Football

Arsenal v Watford. September 29, 2018. Alexandre Lacazette gets into the box, goes past Christian Kabasele, is tackled by Kabasele, but opts to stay on his feet, and eventually plays a cross/shot over Ben Foster’s goal. Replays show Lacazette was clearly fouled by Kabasele, but, mostly as a result of his honesty and refusal to go down, he gets no penalty.

That seems to be a recurring theme in football, players not getting decisions until they end up on the ground, almost like it’s not a foul until the player lies on the turf. In Watford’s draw at Fulham last weekend, Troy Deeney was on the receiving end of a not-so-clean tackle from Fulham’s Timothy Fosu-Mensah and was praised by many for not going down and making a meal of it. The decision looked like one warranting a red card, and speaking on radio in midweek, Deeney posed the question as to why players necessarily have to go down before a clear and obvious decision is made.

Lacazette was on the receiving end against the Hornets, but his side got away with something similar almost exactly a year ago. In Arsenal’s win over West Brom in September 2017, Lacazette scoring both goals, Jay Rodriguez was fouled in the Arsenal box midway through the first half, but as a result of him getting up and firing a shot wide immediately, it was deemed as next to nothing.

Same goes for Raheem Sterling in Manchester City’s draw against Tottenham at the start of 2017, Sterling on the receiving end of an obvious push from then Spurs defender Kyle Walker, but due to the winger’s refusal to go down and rather being intent on getting his shot away, no decision was given, and almost immediately, Spurs go down the other end and score. Pep Guardiola was far from pleased at fulltime, while Walker himself admitted to pushing Sterling.

So what’s the reward for honesty? For all the clamour over the need for players to stop exaggeration and keep on their feet, players who show those traits shouldn’t be denied clear and obvious decisions because they show those traits. There’s always talk, as regards to fouls in the box especially, that the player goes down anticipating contact, or makes the most of very little contact. But, as condemnable as those acts are, the lack of ‘justice’ to the more honest ones wouldn’t help; if a player sees his honesty as getting nothing more than ‘proper football men’ applause, then surely it encourages him to be more cunning. If you play the ethics right, and it yields nothing, then why not skirt the rules a bit?

If the world can sit up and take attention when a player opts to con the referee, why can’t it do the same when players are fouled, but instead choose to be honest and stay on their feet, and as a result get nothing. Listen to commentators in replays of such scenarios and the word is usually ‘I’m not encouraging players to go down, but…’, which just about makes the point: your honesty will hardly get the justice it merits.

Make no mistake about it, diving and trying to con the referee will always be despicable. But when it seems like the officials are giving decisions looking less at the cause, and more at the consequence, then you can hardly begrudge a player trying to overplay and exaggerate contact. The reward for honesty on the pitch seems sparse, and until that changes, tilting the rules will always be seen by many as clever, rather than corrupt. Playing by the rules doesn’t seem as lucrative as playing the rules.

 

Published in International Watch

Carragher believes Cech is back to his best, and questions Emery' usage of the goalkeeper

Cech, who has started all Arsenal league games has come under some criticisms – following some underwhelming performances in the early games of the seasons.

But after the 36-year-old put up a sterling performance – that earned him the man-of-the-match award in Arsenal 2-0 win against Everton yesterday, Jamie Carragher heaped praise on the former Chelsea shot stopper.

The former Liverpool defender believes Cech is getting back to his best, but question Arsenal boss Unai Emery usage of the former Czech international.

Carragher said Emery asking Cech to play with his legs is like “manager putting me on the wing.”

“I think Petr Cech in this first five or six games looks like Petr Cech I remember at Chelsea in terms of the saves he makes,” Carra told Skysports. “His starting positions and coming out at people’s feet.

“The criticisms he’s got in terms of using his feet, and I’ve been critical of it. My criticism is not for the goalkeeper, it’s maybe more for the manager for asking him to do those types of things.

“It’s like manager putting me on the wing and asking me to beat the full-back, you can’t do it.

“He’s never going to be good with his feet and again, there were problems against Everton, playing out from the back and losing the ball in their own half with Everton pressing.

“You think at some stage they may come a cropper and it may hurt them, but they do seem to be getting through these games.”   

Published in International Watch

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