Is it me, or am I seeing things that aren’t there? It seems to me that some players over the years manage to not be available for the Christmas fixtures. They are then able to spend Christmas/New Year with their families, often at their homes abroad, when they would not have a chance of doing so if they were available for selection. It has been going on for years but increases with the rise in the number of players who are a long way from home and used to mid-season breaks. Have you noticed at this time of year that there are some surprising incidents such as reckless challenges that fly in, resulting in bookings and bans? Also an increase in the number of shirt removals on scoring, inappropriate language used towards officials, jumping into crowds to celebrate a goal. This is selfish and lets down your team.
Marouanne Fellaini has been great for Everton this season. Duncan Ferguson reincarnated. I am sure his 3 separate whacks on Stoke players has nothing whatsoever to do with this syndrome but I bet he was amazed when the ref did not spot any of them. He quickly accepted his three games off when the FA dealt with it after the game.
One way to deal with this might be to declare that with any offences resulting in bans that would normally run over the festive holiday period, the bans do not run between 5 December and 5 January. Similarly, minor illnesses which are not infectious and injuries other than long term serious ones require players contractually to remain with the squad.
Back up to 5th after the Liverpool game. What a difference Mousa Dembele makes. Luka who? Backs to the wall after he went off, though. We really must hope he stays fit. It is clear where we need to reinforce, if we can find the class of player and the money. Without Dembele and Parker, our midfield does not quite reach the same heights. With them we look good enough to challenge for the title. So we need another one of each, please Santa.
Any ideas as to where we might find two players of that ability who will be prepared to rotate? Joe Cole might be one… Radamel Falcao is the man of the moment. If he comes to the Premiership, will it be Man City or Chelsea? At least it might mean they’ll let another player go that they didn’t get the best out of. A setback against Everton right at the death – again. Apparently we would be in 1st place if matches finished in the 80th minute. Then a 1-0 win against Swansea after 99 minutes of play in which we had 23 shots and they didn’t manage 1 on target. Back up to what I like to call equal third (on points, technically 4th) with Chelsea.
I am doing the “Told you so dance” Fans of Will and Grace will know what I mean. In my November article when Mark Hughes was still QPR manager, I predicted Harry would take over at QPR and demonstrate his managerial nous yet again. Here we are a month later and he is unbeaten in 4 matches in charge, off the bottom of the Premiership and with their first win all season. Whatever happens in the future, that is already a massive achievement with the same squad that had previously not won a game.
Never out of top 4 in 14 years, or is it 15? On the same page in a newspaper the other day, there were two articles. Most of the double page spread was about how Wenger must splash the cash to save his job, despite balancing the books whilst building a fantastic new stadium. The other article pointed out in a little box, that Manchester City is now “only” £100 million in debt. Think about it; one hundred million pounds in debt after buying 1 Premier League title which they won by the skin of their teeth and buying not only any player they wanted but like Chelsea before them also the players everyone else wanted, thus ensuring they couldn’t play for their rivals either. It doesn’t look likely but think of the state they’d be in if their owners walked away as suddenly as they walked in. Mark my words; if Wenger does finally succumb to all the criticism and pressure, Arsenal will reap the whirlwind. It will be like Man United in the post Busby days. [We can but hope! Ed.]