May 052009

First, an apology for my absence over the past few days – I’ve spent most of them drowsy and out of it thanks to some medication designed to get rid of my chicken pox. Yes, you heard me right – chicken pox. And no, I’m not a child, so it is particularly unpleasant.

But on to cheerier things, and a quick recap of the past few days. The match away to Portsmouth on Saturday turned out to be surprisingly routine for a Carling Cup-like outfit, the 3-0 result not flattering in any way. Bendtner had a good game, scoring twice and showing lively touches throughout, but the star of the show was once again Arshavin.

Having already set up the opener with a delicious cross, and after having a penalty claim denied, he did win a spot kick only to tell the ref the tackle had been fair. Much like when Fowler did the same for David Seaman all those years ago, the official ignored him, but it was another admirable moment for the Russian, who seems to be winning over everyone, including the more anti-Arsenal side of the media (here’s looking at you, Daily Mail).

Lee Mason actually had a generally poor game in charge, getting all penalty shouts wrong, including when Vela was blatantly dragged down. But the Mexican had time to score the third, and confirm that we are now safe in fourth. It is strange to think that not so long ago, Villa were on the brink of leading us by eight points, but in the end it has been a cruise into fourth for us.

With Chelsea six points ahead, we are unlikely to catch them even if we do beat them at the Emirates, so realistically, the league season is as good as over. But a new story developed over the weekend, with Stan Kroenke upping his stake to over 28%, very close to the point of triggering a takeover. Usmanov, smarting from losing most of his fortune in the credit crunch (an amusing three quarters, estimated), has complained to the Takeover Panel, based on the perceived preferential treatment Kroenke is receiving.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but my understanding of a share ownership is that it is an asset that one can sell to anyone they choose, for whatever price they choose. If I own a share, Kroenke offers me £8k for it, and Usmanov £10k, I am under no obligation to sell to the highest bidder. To raise a football analogy, would we rather sell Cesc to United to £30m, or Milan for £29m? Greater offers do not necessarily secure a purchase.

Expect this one to run over the summer, but I have to admit that I’m relieved the Uzbeki is no longer our major shareholder.

What else is there to talk about today? Ah yes, the small matter of a Champions League semi final tonight. I’ll preview that shortly.

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