By Tony Attwood
It’s funny to think that the draw for the opening round of the European competitions has already been made, while the WC is plodding along as the media and governments make it clear they have no concerns about the corruption and fraud associated with the organisers.
Anyway in exactly one week the first qualifying round matches are played including such delights as Fola Esch v Europa. That is a Luxembourg team against a Gibralter team.
You might recall that in the last few weeks of the season the media was desperately trying to talk up the possibility of Arsenal finishing seventh and thus having to play in the qualifying matches. In fact there was no real chance of this but it is not such a luxury afforded to Rangers of Glasgow. They are at home to Shkupi of Macedonia. I remember a year or two back Rangers lost at this stage to a Luxembourg team who were not even champions of the Luxembourg league. I am sure they will be more careful this time under their new manager.
Coleraine of Northern Ireland start out away to Spartak Subotica, while Shakrock Rovers play AIK. Connah’s Quay of Wales play Shakhtyor Soligorsk. Burnley are excused to the second qualifying round against Aberdeen while Hibs play NSÍ Runavík of the Faeroe Islands.
Meanwhile back with the concerns of the Premier League there is a chance that some of their players might not be fully recovered from their world cup exploits by the time of the first game of the season against Arsenal. 11 of their players reached the last eight of the tournament despite even though Spain, Argentina, Portugal and Germany went out.
The maximum number who could reach the semi-finals and thus also play in the 3rd/4th place game or final is nine. This is the biggest contingent for any team. Manchester United, Juventus and Bayern had 11 players in the WC and Tottenham had 12, same as PSG and Chelsea.
Of course the nay-sayers and doom-mongers will complain that we don’t have enough players at the WC but there is a real benefit here – most of our men are getting a proper rest before coming back into training.
Meanwhile of course there are great dramas a-taking place. As for example with the story in the Guardian that asks “Is it fair for pubs to charge 50p more for a pint during England matches?” Big questions indeed. And then there are the vicars telling those they are going to marry that they must ensure their congregation is following the service and not following England on their mobile phones.
But I must say that seems a bit unfair. I mean God (assuming He exists which I don’t) would know the score. In fact he knows the score already being ineffable. Mind you I get the impression that the media is making H Kane ineffable too. I can just imagine the interviewer next season after a match saying, “And now we are joined by the ineffable Harry Kane. Harry, tell me, what did God say to you after the match this afternoon?”
You think that is bonkers? OK try this from the Daily and Sunday Excess web site.
“JUVENTUS boss Max Allegri turned down the chance to manage Arsenal because he had been promised that the club would move for Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Now in that sentence the noun “the club” refers back to the previous club in the sentence, Arsenal. I doubt it can be true and rather suspect instead it should be “his club” meaning Juventus. A tiny twitch of the grammar but it makes a bit of difference.
The Excess also says we are after Cristian Pavon of Bocca Juniors. And the Newcastle Chronicle says that “Sam Greenwood, the latest player off Sunderland’s production line, has agreed to join Arsenal, according to Team Talk. The 16-year-old centre-forward was out of contract this summer.
“Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United were both linked with Greenwood, but Arsenal appear to have won the race. Greenwood is an England Under-16 international, and had a prolific season playing for Sunderland’s under-18s, as well as in his own age group.”
I think we can all say jolly good show.
- England v Sweden: the Untold prediction. Will our run of correct predictions continue?
- Let the negativity begin. Blogs drop their pro-Emery stance with a vengeance and we’re back to the knocking
- Squad news plus Emile Smith Rowe – another name to add to our Cup team
- Beyond any doubt Infantino is getting his way. Next: Fifa will leave Zurich
- World Cup chaos: the bits you may have missed
- Fifa establish their unchallengable right to change football rules as they go
- Extraordinary report claims Arsenals’ FA Cup win was not a major trophy!
- 2022/23 Women’s Champions League Juventus v Arsenal – match preview