by JAMES CURTIS It’s been a topsy-turvy last couple of days for Gooners, having comfortably sealed a place in the Champions League group stages, only to be bashed on by football’s apparent high and mighty.
This heavenly troupe, who have seized on the Eduardo dive scandal tooth and nail, are lead by none other than Patrice “fisticuffs” Evra and The Independent’s chief sports writer James Lawton.
The Daily Mail has even gone as far as to open a poll on weather or not Eduardo should face punishment. Their very neutral phrasing might suggest which way they hope the scale tips, asking: “Should Arsenal striker Eduardo face a UEFA ban for his outrageous dive against Celtic?” I stress on the word “outrageous“.
Angelic French left-back Pat Evra, took the opportunity to drag Arsenal’s name further through the mud. “Cloggers: Evra let’s fly at the rough Gunners” report The Sun.
“What Arsenal did that day was shameful. I was asked if it felt like there was a contract out on me and I had to say ‘yes, yes, yes’.” Evra speaks about the Champions League fixture at the Emirates in May.
“It’s not at all the way in which Arsenal normally handle matches because they usually play really good football and are not overly aggressive – it was a big change. That’s why I have to thank the referee.
“He came up to me and said ‘Look I don’t know what’s going on but since half-time all the Arsenal players seem to be out to injure you. Don’t get involved’.”
And there’s me thinking the reason for Arsenal’s lack of success these last four years is because of the hesitancy to play ruthless, naivety to let the legs go a little loose under a challenge even though the opposition do, and being too much of a freshman to the Premier League to hurl abuse at the linesman hoping to intimidate them into making incorrect decisions.
Evra explained: “I particularly didn’t like the reaction Fabregas showed in that game when he knew full well we had a Champions League final to play that month. Yet he put in a bad tackle on me which could easily have robbed me of that final. We’ll meet again one day, hopefully off the pitch, and I’ll be able to let my personality tell him what I think.”
Let’s hope Fabregas isn’t wearing a hoodie that day if Evra is as much of a prude as Phil Brown lets on.
James Lawton followed this route in The Independent, crucifying Wenger for protecting his players, and using his romance for football against him.
“But he couldn’t do it,” Lawton said. “He couldn’t bring himself to say that his striker Eduardo da Silva had performed one of the more shocking pieces of deceit even at a time when such behaviour has become almost standard.”
Obviously Lawton has forgotten his journalistic training, and all those years writing for skewed editors, the man has managed to escape scripting what he is told to and has freely spoken his mind, without upsetting standards. He’s a better man than me.
Bizarrely, Arsenal’s biggest support comes from the most unlikeliest of sources, Alex Ferguson himself. A very warming thought, but I cringe at the image of the Scotsman relaxing with a bottle of Famous Grouse, discussing with the maid of his Highlands mansion what a wonderfully intelligent chap Wenger really is, and should we invite him round for dinner?
Asked by the Independent whether Fergie thinks the rivalry has shrivelled because of Arsenal’s unthreatening position in recent years, he replied: “No, I just think the character of the teams have changed. When Arsčne first came to Arsenal there was a feisty relationship between the clubs and that probably transferred itself to both managers.
“We were both competing for the same No 1 spot and some of those games were very, very feisty.
The other thing is that Arsčne and I have been here for such a long time that it is hard to imagine that we weren’t going to have one or two arguments. Longevity brings that, whereas we have loads of situations now where managers come in and vanish after a couple of years. It’s just the two of us now and we’ll probably ride off into the sunset together.”
Very sweet, but not an image I will hope to see come 5.15 tomorrow. The honey-moon period should be over for Wenger’s young star-struck heroes, and it’s time to start paying the mortgage to one very trusty landlord in Wenger.