Tommy Vermaelen and the Mogadishu issue

It’s Arsenal mania in the tabloids this morning but before we delve into the papers’ offerings a quick word for the small band of Gunners fans who have travelled over to England from Somalia for the Birmingham game. The Mogadishu Arsenal Supporters Club face ambush every time they watch the boys in their country’s capital and two supporters have been killed by Islamist militants who attack the cinemas in which they watch the matches.
I have promised them that Brum is a reasonable city and apart from the odd Zulu Warrior our passage should be safe. It’s a far cry from their homeland, the most dangerous place on the planet. Omar Kadeer tells me: “Independent travel is suicidal. When being escorted, it is best to be in an armored car. Infantry are highly likely to get engaged in street battles, and an armored vehicle can provide far better protection against most threats. A bullet proof vest is a must-have in Mogadishu.”
Bit like T******* away then.
Referee Martin Atkinson, the plum who sent off TV5 against West Ham, won’t need to go as fas as armed protection when he returns to the Emirates but no doubt he’ll get some verbal volleys if not the gunshot variety. And the Mirror informs us that we have appealed against the red card shown to Vermaelen. The club confirmed their challenge to the decision last night and the appeal will be heard today.
The paper adds that Vermaelen was ordered off shortly before half-time for bringing down Guillermo Franco inside the penalty area. We were leading 1-0 and went on to win 2-0, with West Ham’s Alessandro Diamanti missing the penalty which followed Vermaelen’s dismissal.
The ban would prevent him from playing in the league match away to Birmingham on Saturday, but we are expected to base their appeal on two grounds. Namely, that West Ham striker did not have control of the ball and Vermaelen was not denying a goalscoring opportunity as their players headed towards goal.
And the Sun tells us that an FA statement confirmed: “The FA has received a claim for wrongful dismissal from Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen. Vermaelen was shown a red card for denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity during Arsenal’s match against West Ham United on Saturday 20 March. A regulatory commission will hear the claim on Tuesday 23 March.”
RVP isn’t too far away from returning to action for the rip-roaring Reds and he tells the Daily Mail: ‘I am medically fit, but physically I have to gain,’ he said. ‘Only then can I train with the full group. I’m not there yet but I’ve left a difficult period behind. For a few weeks I’ve been training with the ball and it looks good.
‘I still hope I can take part in the final phase of the League and hopefully the Champions League. This has been my goal from the beginning. My first goal is to play for Arsenal. When I said that a few months ago, I looked crazy. But as it stands now, that will happen. Only then can I think about the World Cup.’
Ahead of our Champions League clash with Barcelona and Thierry Henry has had his say and it seems he isn’t too keen on crossing swords with us. He told the Telegraph: “Whenever there is a draw for the Champions League I am in pain. I’m not saying I won’t try to fight or whatever because that’s the way the game is. But I don’t want to play against Arsenal.
“It will be weird for me to step on the pitch, even if it’s at the Emirates and not Highbury, with another shirt on.” When asked if he would celebrate a goal against his former team, he added: “Forget about it. No. I do not want to play against Arsenal, simple as that.”
Last word as ever to Henry Norris, who writes in the Bugle: “Begs the question why did you ever leave us then Tel?”

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