The unsurprising news arrived today that Eduardo has indeed received a two match ban from the Champions League after his dive against Celtic last week. UEFA took less than an hour to come to their decision despite a 19-page dossier sent by the club in defence.
But then we knew that was going to happen from the moment he was charged – it was clear that Eduardo was to be UEFA’s scapegoat, their statement of intent that diving would no longer be tolerated. From that point of view, fine. If Eduardo is to be the first in a long line of suspended players due to simulation, deceiving the referee, or whatever you want to call it, then I think we’ll all be relatively satisfied.
Unfortunately, there are already signs that double standards will be at work. No mention has been made of Ashley Young’s tumble in the UEFA Cup, and as for other offences, are they planning on even looking at Messi’s headbutt in the Super Cup?
However, I will wait for the first round of Champions League group matches before making judgement, at least on how consistent UEFA are this season. However, whatever they do from here, you can understand Arsenal’s frustration:
“We have been deeply frustrated by the perfunctory and apparently arbitrary process that Uefa has followed in this instance. We believe it is imperative that Uefa’s explanation for its decision provides clear and comprehensive standards that will be consistently enforced. It is also critical that Uefa provides specific details of the processes it plans to adopt in reviewing all games under its jurisdiction.”
You will notice that there is no insistence of Eduardo’s innocence, merely a demand for a full explanation of why the decision has been made for this particular incident, having ignored hundreds of instances in the past, and what the process is going forward.
That seems fair to me. We are due to receive that explanation from UEFA tomorrow, and then have until Monday to appeal. I’m sure Wenger knows how fruitless such an appeal would be.
In a strange way, this might not be such a bad thing for Eduardo especially. Last week, he was the butt of all jokes in the media, having been spectacularly knocked off his pedestal earned by having his leg shattered (for that is the strange hero to zero path the press like to inflict). Now, columns are beginning to appear suggesting that he might be hard done by, and certainly will be if these standards are not adhered to all season.
Every time UEFA ignores a dive in the current campaign, vitriol towards Eduardo will drop a little further, and sympathy will rise.
In other news, Denilson and Bendtner have signed new contracts, taking the total of players extending their contracts to nine since the start of the summer (if my maths is correct). It might be less glamorous than signing superstars, but it is equally, if not more, important.
Speaking of which, we signed no-one on deadline day, as expected, but it seems that the summer has gone exactly to plan for Wenger – he removed Adebayor, who was poor in the playing sense after his motivation ebbed away, and even worse as a dressing room influence, making room for the abundance of forwards we have, and sold Toure’s aging legs, bringing in the snarling centre back we’ve craved for so long.
In addition, he has forced Silvestre down a notch in the central defensive pecking order by retaining Senderos, leaving the only troublesome position of defensive midfield, which is seemingly lacking in backup. It is a big season for Denilson, Diaby and perhaps even Ramsey.
I like the current squad, I have to say. Plenty of them have committed their futures to the club and there is a real sense of unity. We are also light on troublemakers, provided Eboue concentrates on his football.
The transfer window has shut, and I’m still optimistic about the season ahead. Which is more than I can say for my confidence in the even-handedness of UEFA.