So, it’s been a busy week even without any actual Arsenal football, so let’s get started.
Wednesday saw the second of the Champions League semi-finals, and saw the end of me actually wanting Chelsea to do well in Europe. You see, painful as it feels sometimes, I always want British sides to succeed in Europe, no matter how much I can’t stand them, as I think it’s good for our game. Of course, with Chelsea finally playing another English side, I could justifiably wish for them to get an absolute kicking, but unfortunately Liverpool just didn’t turn up.
Back to the Emirates, and the big player news from the week was a new one year contract for Jens Lehmann. This surprised me, I have to be honest, as I thought the stopper was on his way home to Germany, but I’m very happy to be wrong on this one. While I have a slight concern that he might ‘do a Seaman’, it’ll be good not to lose excessive experience this summer. For the same reason, I don’t want to see too many other players depart, even the increasingly maligned Ljungberg and Hleb, but that’s a discussion for another time. For now, I’m glad of the stability. Next season may be his last in football, and this removes the need to sign a new keeper for now. Good stuff Jens.
Hoyte also signed a new deal, almost unnoticed, and he’s slowly won me over this season. I don’t think he has Eboue’s natural ability, but his workrate and excellent attitude might just see him become a better player than the Ivorian.
The rest of our news has surrounded the takeover. Peter Hill-Wood wrote a letter to shareholders, in which there were subtle overtones that any new owners may not follow the current plan of investing back into the squad whenever possible. It was a convincing defence of the board’s actions and intentions. He also mentioned that he will meet Kroenke – the media will undoubtedly leap on this and say that he’s caving in, but the American is coming whether he chooses to ignore it or not, so at least finding out what his plans are makes a lot of sense. It’s courteous, as much as anything, and does not mean the takeover is welcome.
And then yesterday, West Ham were ‘punished’ for breaching FA rules in their signings of Tevez and Mascherano. As I’ve said before, the Hammers had absolutely no defence to the charges, but their avoidance of a points deduction is utterly disgraceful. The FA even admitted that a migating factor for them was that a points deduction would’ve had more of an impact now than earlier in the season.
What utter idiocy. If a crime is worth a punishment, it should get it. They breached the rules – knowingly, it isn’t as if they accidentally messed up – and deserved at least a three point penalty. Yes, that would’ve practically relegated them, but that would’ve been the right decision. You cannot show leniency just because of their situation. I can tell you right now that if they were in mid table, they would’ve been docked points. Therefore they should now.
It is utterly disgraceful that the FA change their punishments in this way. What message does it send out? If they stay up, they will earn a fortune more than the fine they received, and partly due to their illegal behaviour. Despicable. No, it isn’t the fault of the current owner or manager at the club, but it is the club at fault, and they should be going down. After today’s result, they may yet escape.
Back to today, and with the whole world wanting Chelsea to lose, even with that meaning Man Utd take the league (and it looks like Wenger will even compliment his old foe to irritate Mourinho), it was quite hilarious to see them thinking they were closing in on the league at half time today before United and Bolton (yes, even Bolton) turned it around. Fair play to Ferguson’s men, they deserve it this year, more than once they’ve surged back in games we would’ve limply lost.
So everyone bar Chelsea becomes an Arsenal fan next weekend. Apart from Sky of course. If United win the Manchester derby (quite likely given how poorly City are playing) and we stop Chelsea winning, the title is over before their hyped up ‘decider’. Is that Sky Sports justice?