- How the media caved in leaving no one willing to challenge PGMO and the referees
- If Everton find the Premier League is corrupt, what does that mean?
By Tony Attwood
The Arsenal match against PSV kicks off at 4.45am Sydney time which probably only affects a small number of Arsenal supporters – but at this moment I am among them. I don’t think it is being covered on Australian TV, and even if it were I am not sure I would get up to watch it. We are through, we are top of the group and I don’t do alarm clocks on holiday.
Of course this situation gives the media another chance to denigrate Arsenal players, this time by insulting Ethan Nwaneri, Reuell Walters (who plays right back) and Lino Sousa (left back) in calling them “products” . (Arteta calls them prospects). Apparently, all three are in the squad that has gone to the Netherlands.
Ethan Nwaneri you may recall is the youngest young man to play for the Arsenal first team when he gave something else for the media to complain about, coming on for Arsenal as a sub at the age of 15 and a half years in September last year against Brentford. (The media suggested it was a stunt).
Areteta however made the point that “We want to start to give them some experience because they have the talent to hopefully be very close to us. We will try to give them the opportunity if we can.”
Arteta also said that “We have five or six big injuries so we are already a bit thin,” although one player who is back is Emile Smith Rowe, back from his latest injury much to the delight of the rest of the squad who travelled with him to the match.
Concerning this Arteta said, “the sooner we can give him chances the better we’re going to be.”
But PSV are not a pushover as the table below shows…
This shows PSV (who finished seven points behind the league champions last season) are certainly not a pushover, scoring, as they are, over three goals a game while conceding under 0.5 goals a game on average.
PSV are secure in second place in group B in the Champions League group, having won two, drawn two and lost one of their games. They have scored seven and conceded nine this season in the group. Last weekend they beat Heerenveen 2-0, with the match moved forward to Friday, to help the club.
But important though Arsenal’s journey through Europe is, this is not the prime event that is on Arsenal’s mind, and should be on every other club and supporters’ mind at the moment. The current league table in Spain gives us an immediate insight into what is going on. For top of the league are ….
Yes it is Girona. Now that might seem rather refreshing since for years and years the league has been the preserve of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, but now in front is Girona who are seven points ahead of of Atletico and Barcelona.
And how have they achieved this? Well, it turns out to be dead simple. They were bought by the City Group of clubs which owns Manchester City among others, and the money has poured in, in a way that is rather reminiscent of the way in which Manchester City rose up the league in England.
The club got into the top divsion in Spain for the first time just over three years ago. Now they are beating Barcelona, and moving on to the idea of winning the league. They are, after all two points above Real Madrid.
For the City Group of clubs this is just another proof of what they already knew and the rest of us feared: money can buy success. If you have a second rate club and would like a) a lot of money, and b) to see your team win things, it’s simple, sell it to the City Group.
Of course, the City group are in denial, pointing out that they own a minority of the shares (47% in fact), although they admit that the likes of Pep Guardiola has had quite an input into the club including a couple of players who are on loan.
And yes it is true that it is only two (although others are lined up for moves from other clubs in the City Group). But that is not the point. What the City Group now has is some of the most experienced players, and behind them a management team (whose finances are not controlled by Uefa in the way that transfer fees are), who are able to see exactly who is needed in the squad.
Now of course many players would normally refuse to go to a tiny Spanish League team, but the promise of higher salaries year by year, and the chance of being within the City Group, is clearly attracting a lot of players who otherwise would not be heading out this way. Not least because the Group is handling its own transfer arrangements meaning clubs can get the benefit of players through loan arrangements.
Just as some players who previously might have been willing to wait their time out in Real Madrid’s lower teams, are now looking hopefully toward the City Group as a way into what is very rapidly becoming a League Within A League.
- Is the Premier League getting more exciting or simply ever more predictable?
- How far down might these points deducations take clubs?
- Big clubs that foul less lose fewer players of their own to injury
- What takes clubs up and down the league: attack or defence?
- Referee Extremism: the situation in Spain and in England