Quite refreshing reading the Arsene Wenger interview yesterday when he was talking about growing up in a pub selling cigarettes for cash.
‘At that time, I remember Marcello Lippi at Juventus smoked a cigar during the whole game in every game.
‘I grew up in a pub where you did not see from here to the window because of the smoke and I spent my youth selling cigarettes. But times have changed. Society has had an evolution. In some respects in a positive way, in others a negative way.
‘One of the positives is that people don’t smoke any more. But my issue is that the players here are judged on their performances.
‘Ideally, the best way to have a high level of performance is to behave as well as possible, as close as possible to the rules that allow you to perform.
‘I am against smoking, but I have grown up in a period where I had to accomplish military service, and at the end of the month we got paid by cigarettes, so it incited us to smoke.
‘After, of course, slowly it became banned and it doesn’t exist anymore, but when I was a boy I grew up surrounded by smokers. I smoked myself when I didn’t play anymore.’
The story about the keeper has been corroborated by him. So all those slamming journalists for making stories up should start scoffing on that humble pie. I thought it was amusing the Mail went with an opening line of…
‘Arsene Wenger opens the door to Arsenal players smoking occasional cigarettes’
What I will say is that although the Wenger stories are very sweet, we’re not in that generation these days. Chezzer is a professional athlete who’s paid a huge amount of money to respect his body. Sparking up at home. Whatever. Sparking up in the oppositions showers is beyond dim. He should lose his place tomorrow. If he doesn’t, that tells you all you need to know about Ospina… another keeper not good enough to displace a failing number one.
It’s interesting that he has so much slack with the fans. His performances have been very indifferent for a while. Even last season, when he shared the golden glove, you couldn’t honestly tell me he ever stood out as one of the best keepers in the league. I don’t have the statistics, but he’s often beaten from shots top keepers would keep out. There’s always at least one duff Cruyff turn a game where you have you heart in your mouth. His positioning is pretty poor, which often gives the illusion he’s unlucky keeping when shots fly past him. His attitude is also very immature.
I don’t buy into good and bad keeping being about clangers. Almunia did drop some hefty keeping errors towards the end, but in the main, the big problem with him is that he was just an ok keeper. He never did anything bad enough to merit being dropped, but he never dazzled you doing something amazing. Cech in his prime, Lehmann in his prime, Van Der Sar, De Gea, Courtois and Lloris all do amazing things in almost every game.
That’s the level we need to be at, anything less, well, it’s not Arsenal standard.
… if Ospina isn’t good enough, you really have to question how we’ve allowed Valdes to move to United on a free.
Fantastic news for tomorrow is Ozil is back in contention. The creative German has been out an absolute age. He’ll be fresh and firing. I hope he comes back with a bang. I hope he’s played in the number 10 role. He’s a talented boy. We need to work out how we gain the most out of his powers. I’d love it if we were talking about him, rather than crying into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s complaining about how much we miss Cesc Fabregas.
He needs to lift his game. He needs to start looking like he gives a f*ck about playing for Arsenal. He needs to fulfill on all that potential he clearly has. We can’t bring another player into the fold and have them slink out the back door in a years time. If Pep is interested in him, you know there’s something there and you know that others feel he can be part of an intense set up.
The Willow Foundation have a some awards. They’re the charity set up by Bob Wilson, they organise special days for seriously ill people 16-40.. The Awards have recognised and been attended by top names in London football including Roy Hodgson, Aaron Ramsay and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, to name a few.
Alongside awards for London’s top players, past & present, the unsung heroes from London Clubs will be recognised in our new Community Project of the Year award.
The London Community Project of the Year award is voted for by the general public and short-listed by the judging panel. It will be awarded to the leading individual of an outstanding community based project, linked to a London Club, that uses sport to address issues of social, ethnic, physical, economic and gender exclusion. The five short-listed nominees will be invited to the awards ceremony with a guest, attended by the biggest names in London football.
The Awards are on March 5 at Battersea Evolution. Tickets available to buy at www.londonfootballawards.org. Jump on them!
Right, not much else going on. Have a grand day!