By Tony Attwood
It’s a funny old world.
Wednesday afternoon found us with this news…
- In true Arsenal style, Danny Welbeck is reported as injured despite being with the club for less than 24 hours after picking up a knock in training on international duty.(Arsenal News)
- Arsenal’s new £16m signing Danny Welbeck has been ruled out of England’s friendly with Norway on Wednesday, after the former Manchester Untied forward suffered a minor training injury. (Caught offside)
- Danny Welbeck has picked up a knock in training while on England duty.(goal.com)
- New Arsenal striker a doubt for England friendly after training injury, admits Hodgson . (Talk Sport)
Wednesday evening saw Danny Welbeck appear for England as a sub on 69 minutes. How odd! And I start to wonder not only who started the rumour of the “won’t be playing” type, but who circulated it, and why. It was someone who really likes to wind up Arsenal fans – particularly the AAA, providing them with ammunition their war on Arsenal I imagine.
Probably best just to ignore them.
But it is interesting how fast the rumour spread – within minutes, not only were all the anti-Wengerian blogs running the piece, but so were the supposedly neutral reporting organisations like TalkSport, Goal and Caught Offside.
Anyway, here’s another another funny thing.
TV figures from the game show that the audience in the UK watching England v The Norse Men was 4.5million, peaking at 5.5million. (Actually I was hoping Thor would put in an appearance, but apparently he was busy with the old sword making and thunder routine. Or maybe he picked up an injury in training).
Anyway, on the BBC at the same time was a cookery programme called the Great British Bake-Off which got an audience of 8.3million, reaching a peak of 9.1m.
So we can safely say that in the UK, cooking is our new national number one sport, with football running a poor second.
Of course much of the problem is with the FA whose handling of the game, along with the work done by the League Managers’ Assn and the Premier League has led to a fairly widespread disgust among those who would put the promotion of equality and abolition of sexism, racism and Anti-Semitism high on their personal moral compasses.
Among the FA’s own appalling cock=ups of late has been its inability to do anything to promote grassroots football which led to Sports England withdrawing its funding. As if that were not enough, the FA put out a response which said it wasn’t their fault they hadn’t done much – it was all down to the bad weather. Unfortunately for the FA the Sports England examination of the FA’s fitness for purpose covered a period when the weather was rather good in England and the story was seen as the feeble excuse that it was.
FA general secretary Alex Horne maintained the FA’s pathetically feeble approach last week when he said, “We have got some work to do…we have got to rebuild some trust with the supporters.”
That’s going to be hard since England ran up a debt of £757,000,000 with the rebuilding of Wembley, and despite cutting grassroots and other funding to try to reduce the bill, they reckon it will take another eight years at least before the debt is paid. And that is if everything goes according to plan (and with the FA it never does).
It shows just what a good job Arsenal did handling their building finances at the Ems.
But there was some good news for Arsenal, if not for the FA. Jack Wilshere continued his improvement in form, and we can imagine that an England team in the not to dim and distant might include
Calum Chambers, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, and Danny Welbeck. That’s five English players (and we also have one other British player in Aaron Ramsey). You might even throw in Gibbs at some stage, although he was out of favour in the summer.
Now if you know your history you’ll know that on 14 November 1934 George Male and Eddie Hapgood make the international debuts for England in a game that ended England 3 Italy 2. George Allison (our next manager but one) did the radio commentary, Tom Whittaker (our next manager but two) was England’s physio, and seven Arsenal players were in the team. The game was (quite naturally) played at Highbury.
Maybe we are on the way there again, and also maybe we’ll have a new topic of conversation – the Englishness of teams in the Premier League. But given that this debate would show Arsenal up in a good light, I doubt the press will adopt it.
But this leads me to ponder what sort of team we might be putting out in the future. We pretty much know the defence and defensive midfield, but who will play in front of the one or two defensive midfielders?
Alexis Welbeck Walcott
That combination (if we have one defensive midfielder) leaves us without spaces for Wilshere, Cazorla, Campbell, Podolski, The Ox and Rosicky. Not to mention the promising Gnabry upon his return from injury. If we have two defensive midfielders then we have one less spot. It’s going to be interesting.
But on the good side Alexis Sánchez gets more time to get to know his new team before having to play centre forward all the time.
But of course everyone in the AAA raves about the defence now and the notion that Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny are all we’ve got with two of Debuchy, Gibbs, Chambers and Monreal playing with them. But as we know, Flamini can play full back, Chambers can play in the middle or at full back, as can Monreal, and if Bellerin doesn’t get a game sometime he’s going to get a bit fed up, seeing just how talented he is.
What’s interesting is that Coquelin has returned to the club this year, and he had looked promising before he had his last year-long loan which seemed to take a wrong direction. He’s been a regular on the bench, which suggests Mr Wenger thinks he’s ready to go on. Meanwhile Bellerin doesn’t even have a squad number – but he will get one very soon – as will our other super defender Isaac Hayden.
So that is the left of defenders who I see so far…
10 players – of course we could always have more but ten players for four or five positions (if you include one of the defensive midfield slots) is not too bad.
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