Et tu, Henry?

Pumped about tomorrow’s La Liga? One of the most dramatic chases ever; tomorrow’s trio of matches will decide who among the three will get the title. Real Madrid are favorites, needing to exceed or equal Barca; Barca must exceed Real Madrid to win; and Sevilla will be hoping to win while plumping for Real and Barca to lose. A win for Sevilla with draws for Real and Barca would still give Real the win, on head-to-head, I think. If Real do get the title, they have to do a lap for Barca because Barca gave them the title with lousy play. They looked to be cruising to their third title but crashed and burned horribly. Losing the Copa del Rey after being thrashed 5-0 by Getafe didn’t help either.

Speaking of Barca, the Henry saga rolls on. Apparently the French daily L’Equipe got an inside on a supposed deal between Wenger and Barca, either to sell Henry, or an Henry-Eto’o swap. Both could be on the cards, given that Eto’o isn’t happy at Barca. So what happened to my boasting that Henry couldn’t go? Well, it seems that there’s more to the story than was being let out. I’m not yet rolling out the farewells but chances do seem higher this time around. Of course, nothing’s over till Lampard sings.

As expected, Henry’s dithering is drawing a lot of flak on sport blogs far and wide. To me, he has been a major contributor to Arsenal’s success, and I do appreciate his goals over the years. Condemning him in case of a move to Barca would be churlish, as would calling him a has-been. He still has some football left in him, and he can still be dangerous. However, I didn’t appreciate his dishonesty; if a deal was on, he should have come out clear; a sudden appearance in the Grove clutching his ticket to Barcelona would not endear him any further to Arsenal. I doubt he wants to leave a club which gave him his superstar status so casually.

Va va voom?


‘Henry goes to Barcelona’ title goes here

No, I’m not going to talk about Henry much, despite the title. Much ado has been made about his dogged refusal to make a concrete denial of his move to Barcelona being touted around half of Europe. Barcelona to me seems to be a team in tatters. A team that can drop the league as easily, can’t be said to have the best prospects for Henry to end his career with. Even if Madrid were to be thumped by Mallorca( I think) and Barcelona have Gimnastic for dinner, giving them the title, it hasn’t been the Barcelona of yesteryears. To me it looks like a club rife with rampant egos, scattered minds and a lack of cohesion. Can’t see what he would contribute. Eto’o will stay, as will Messi. Ronaldinho will move, leaving them without their chief, albeit unreliable, midfield maestro. Where will Henry get his supply from? All he’s doing is increasing Le Boss’s wrinkles. So while he’s being noncommittal at the wedding vow renewal, let’s turn our attention away from this media circus and let the Spanish media choke on their recycled trash.

The transfer market is relatively quiet, with Newcastle snapping up Viduka and doubling in size; Boro meanwhile have got Tucay Sanli from Fenerbahce. And Malouda has been tagged with a 17m pound fee by Lyon. That’s easily too much for an average player, but I can’t see Arsenal having many choices in terms of cheap experienced players, unless Wenger pulls a winger out of his hat. Not that he wears one. Ah well. Will we see Malouda prancing around in the Grove? Can’t say.

Not much going around elsewhere. Man City are in trouble after the proposed takeover by Thaksin fell like a tackled Robben. Serves them right for dealing with a person whose financial fortunes were hanging by a thread, his morality be damned. And damned be the media who churn the Henry soup in hopes of finding les croutons.

What was that line about too many cooks?


Running out of good titles here as yet another day of season transfers ends. No big news on the transfer front after this week’s flurry of signings. In Arsenal news, it seems somebody saw Arsene on a flight to Sardinia, no doubt scouting the Next Big Thing ( or the Next Little Thing) to wear the Arsenal shirt and guide us to victory. Or maybe just a vacation. Arseblog maintains it’s the cheese. Here’s some info on Sardinia. Yes, you’re welcome. And here you thought you’d never learn anything by browsing soccer blogs. ( Man, I feel like the paparazzi with this post.)

Another transfer is that of Aliadiere to Boro, which starts the inevitable exodus of second-teamers from the Grove. He’s had good times and bad times here, but never really justified his place as a first-team player though Henry’s and RVP’s absences were a great opportunity to do that. He’ll get far more first team football there, so best of luck to him.

Also, Graham Poll who can’t count his cards but was otherwise a solid referee, hit out at the Premiership managers and players. He also accused the FA of being coquettish towards the players, and added that FA stood for “Fawners’ Association”. Can’t argue with him too much, although the FA’s discipline has been alternately Spartan and Caribbean this time around.  I do feel that players need to get more accountable, and that there need to be rules which prohibit players from venting, or just plain intimidating, the referee. Maybe they should recruit referees from Big Brother and American Idol. They’d probably have thicker skin.


Offseason rumblings

It’s the start to the monsoons and thunder here in Mumbai but you can hear the rumblings over at Arsenal. Henry said that he is an Arsenal player “for now”. Barca seems to have been hanging on those two words, as it resulted in a virtual explosion of headlines. “Henry frustrated with Arsenal” screamed one, and that’s a load of crock. “Fed-up Henry casts doubts over Arsenal future!!!!” (exclamation points mine) yells Guardian football, and it’s only within that you learn that this gem of a headline is based on that piddling disclaimer. I’ll  believe that Henry is leaving when he says it, not before.

Henry is frustrated with the Arsenal season, yes; and part of it has to stem from his absence at a critical point in the season. Van Persie’s metatarsal played its part as well; so while Henry can pout all he likes, we haven’t had the dice rolls to give us the best results. Our Champions League exit was disappointing; however, I feel that sides which lose CL finals somehow falter easily the next time round. Look at Liverpool’s tame exit in ’06.

So to put it frankly, we’re gonna see Henry around for at least a season. What happens in this season will tell if Arsenal have used this period well to get together a coherent playing style. Also vital are the transfers; what Wenger brings in this time could well spell out the future. Man U, Chelsea, Liv’pool, even Spurs are competing like Christmas-time mall-shopping ladies and Arsenal looks like the token male. Our only signing so far has been Lukasz Fabianski, a Polish keeper, who is slotted as Lehmann’s successor when the Mad One goes blind by the light shining off the bald pates of our back four. In Wenger fashion, it is also aimed at keeping Lehmann on his toes and committed( not that committed ). It would seem weird to lose out to Fab-2 ( Cesc is Fab-1 ) while you’re making claims of being German no. 1. 

And in news not so hot off the press, Chelsea have signed Pizarro from Bayern and Man U have gone for Nani, Anderson, Owen, Anelka and the Sepp Blatter( “I’m happy to be here till 2011”,he said) . Spurs got Gareth Bale, a marauding wingback who talked about how he loves Arsenal and then snubbed for Spurs. Ah, the PR that youth do. We’re apparently looking at options all over the world, but what we need is some bolstering experience in defense, a versatile winger to give us some width, and a good diver. Right now our width is that of Posh’s derriere. And we’re the team most fouled against, which is a nauseating stat. How many times have we seen Bert in 1v1 vs the keeper? Bert probably keeps track of the matches played by penalties taken. “Chelsea was the bottom right corner, West Ham was the left…no, right…center? yeah, center.”…

And it’s 1-0 to the English against Brazil in the friendly. Beckham curled in the free kick and Terry headed it in. Look for lots of self-back-patting from McClaren if results persist, though knowing Brazil, it’s not over by a long shot. “Long shot? Where?” says Lampard, but he’s having a bad day. Becks, Terry, Gerrard and Owen seem to be keeping them alive.

Anyways, this post is done. Look for more enlightening commentary on offseason transfers and Julio’s tearful reunion with Fabio Capello, on Arsenalysis.

It’s hopefully boom time this season, and I’m not talking about the monsoons.