By Dr Billy “the dog” McGraw.
Arsenal boos as trio return to full training ahead of Atletico Madrid trip
Of course it only takes a mo to understand that this is not what Football Talk meant to talk about in their headline – because the story tells us that “Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sead Kolasinac and Alex Iwobi taking part in full training today ahead of our trip to Atletico Madrid.”
Yes it was a triple boost the club got, not a wholehearted round of booing from unnamed visitors.
But such is the frenzied state of the media one can’t help but wonder if the slip was totally a slip. Was it, perhaps, perchance, maybe, someone who fancied a job on Sky Sprouts showing off his credentials?
And that’s not all. For there’s another odd headline lurking around as well. Try this…
Bottom PL clubs fear Wenger’s selection
And this one is from the Sprouts themselves. Let’s see what wonderful deductions they have made.
“Sources at several Premier League clubs, including Swansea, West Ham and Southampton, have told Sky Sports News they are aware Arsenal’s progress beyond the semi-finals could lead to Arsene Wenger fielding a weakened line up, 74 hours before the Lyon final, his last game in charge.”
I don’t know how much Sky are paying for their sauce (geddit?) but whatever it is, it is too much. Arsenal have been playing weakened teams all over the place either to prepare for a game with a particular line up, or to avoid players being injured by thugs from lower level teams, or because the whole team is utterly useless as Sky tells us daily.
But helpfully, because the Sprouts like to dig holes for Arsenal to fall into, they even give us the rulebook ruling on this one.
‘Rule L.19 states that “In every League Match each participating Club shall field a full strength team”,’ they proclaim. I don’t know if it is true, but I’ve not noticed any action being taken thus far when Koscielny is dropped or Aub is left out so we can practice playing without him.
“The league defines a full strength team as one picked from the club’s official 25-man PL squad,” the Sprouts tell us to give full verisimilitude to their accusations. And that’s a bit dumb because Maitland-Niles isn’t in the 25.
Anyway, with not much else to do I did a spot of digging to see if any club has ever been punished under these rules and the answer is no. I did find a report from November 2016 in which The Football League has announced fines totalling £60000 for 12 clubs who contravened rules over fielding their strongest teams. (That’s equal to about two shillings and sixpence each). In that situation the EFL issued a report which said, “All of the offences punished were due to a failure to meet competition rule 7.3 of fielding a full-strength team.” But nothing from the PL.
Besides how would they work out what Arsenal’s fullest strength squad is when as we showed the other day, every pundit employed by Sky is saying day after day that Arsenal are appalling and a disgrace to football and haven’t got a proper squad let alone a full strength squad. In such a case and with such eminent people telling us how awful Arsenal are, surely it behoves Arsenal to play the under 23s in every League match from here on, in a desperate attempt to keep up standards.
Indeed reading Sky Sprout’s analysis of Arsenal we could say that by playing the regular first XI Arsenal are most certainly playing an under strength team. See According to Sky the quality of football in the PL is below that of Sunday morning in the park for further info on this story.
Anyway we do know that Konstantinos Mavropanos has been included in the squad for the Europa semi-final part 2 which makes the whole question of strongest team even more difficult to work out.
Funny ol game ain’t it?