Watching Arsenal: You can’t have more fun with clothes on

A family emergency meant that I had to travel up to Wales on Saturday, thus missing our home game against Bolton Wanderers. I had to be content with the highlights on Match of the Day. These failed to show the foul on Abou Diaby which has resulted in yet another client for the training ground treatment room. Let’s hope it’s just bruising and nothing worse.
From what I could see on the highlights we were pretty much our usual selves – silky passing, slightly toothless in the final third and some pub team defending thrown in for the Trotters’ goal. Some lack of understanding between Sébastien Squillaci and Laurent Koscielny is understandable as they’ve never played together before but the problem was – yet again – team defending and tactical discipline. What we don’t want is a “Groundhog Day” repeat of last season, being found out when we play the top, top sides.
It’s so easy to be spoilt and want it all being a Gooner. The last goal was simply delicious. You just can’t have more fun with your clothes on than watch football like that. 24 passes and a wonderful, orgasmic pass and finish from Cesc Fàbregas and Carlos Vela, both of whom were coming off long transatlantic flights back from Buenos Aires and Mexico City respectively. But, but, as a wide man once said attack wins games, defence wins championships. We’ve GOT to keep on working on our defending and tactical discipline when we don’t have possession.
We now turn our attention to the Champions League and the visit of SC Braga to the Grove on Wednesday night. Getting off to a flyer would be nice. I’m looking forward to seeing the extra goal line assistant referees in action in person for the first time having only seen their use on the box in the Europa League last season. I’m hoping that their deployment might help cut down on the constant holding and pulling in the box at corners and free kicks which so blights the modern game. Another pair of eyes can’t do any harm, especially as they’re far closer to the action in the box that the assistant referee running the line at that end.
Talking of match officials, Stuart Attwell had a bit of a stinker on Saturday. To be absolutely fair to Bolton, he missed a clear foul (as did the assistant referee on that side of the pitch) from Alex Song on the edge of our box. He should also have played advantage after the foul on Marouane Chamakh, coming back after the move had completed to deal with the foul by Gary Cahill. I confess I thought the foul was worthy of a caution rather than instant dismissal. There were a couple of other incidents for which Bolton players could have easily been shown the red card however, particularly a foul on Jack Wilshere in the first half, so things evened themselves out in that respect.
It’s a particular hobby-horse of mine that British referees don’t properly apply the “new” advantage law (not so new anymore, having been in force for over a decade now) which allows the referee to let play go then subsequently award a free-kick if insufficient advantage to the non-offending team accrues. Most referees elsewhere in Europe apply this law far better and more consistently than ours do.
One little related wrinkle I’d like to see football’s playing law-makers at the International Football Association Board adopt from both codes of rugby is related to this. Where a late foul tackle is detected after the ball has been played upfield I’d like to see the free-kick awarded where the ball alights further forward. If the ball lands in the offending team’s penalty area the non-offending team should be awarded a free kick-kick at any location they wish outside the penalty area. This would cut out some of the gratuitous fouls after the ball has been played upfield.
Whilst we’re at it, a related law change I’d bring in which is again employed in both codes of rugby is the right of the non-offending team to elect to take a free-kick from any position in a straight line behind the free-kick-mark. This would allow a team awarded a free-kick just outside the box to take the ball back a few metres to give themselves a better chance of getting the ball up over the wall and down on goal. It would be a further deterrent to fouls just outside the box. It would also allow a team awarded an indirect free-kick for a deliberate back-pass handled by the goalkeeper (very, very rare these days I know) to take this outside the box if they wished.
Finally, ownership. There’s a story doing the rounds (with quotes) that the American hip-hop artist and all-round entrepreneur Jay-Z (real name Shawn Corey Carter. He’s married to the delicious Beyoncé Knowles) is interested in buying into Arsenal. He’s already involved in sports ownership in the USA, being a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association.  The Nets will move across the Hudson River to the new Barclay’s Centre in Brooklyn, one of the five boroughs of New York City in 2013, when they will become either the Brooklyn Nets or the New York Nets. Jay Z, a native of Brooklyn has been deeply involved in the development of the Barclay’s Centre.
In September 2009 Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov paid US$200 million (around £129 million) for a majority stake in the New Jersey Nets. Prokhorov is said by the rich peoples’ bible Forbes to have a net worth of US$13.4 billion (around £8.64 billion). The 45 year old is known to be big sports fan (he previously financially backed the CSKA Moscow basketball, ice hockey and football teams). He’s a member of the Supreme Council of the Sport Russia organisation and president of the Russian Biathlon Union. He’s also even richer than Alisher Usmanov (who has to make do with just US$7.2 billion, or around £4.64 billion). Prokhorov is at number 34 (with a bullet) on the Forbes world billionaires list. Usmanov is at 100.
Jay Z himself is also worth more than a few bob. Somewhere between US$400-500 million (£258-322.5 million). His missus Beyoncé is also minted – she has around US$115 million (over £74 million) in her biscuit tin.
Jay Z was interviewed in the official Arsenal magazine last season. He said then that he’d been an Arsenal fan for about five years. This could all be media puff of course but with Lady Nina Bracewell-Smith’s shares out there in the market, who knows? I confess to worrying about his even richer Russian friend however.
You can find an interview with Jay Z in which he refers to Arsenal here. Personally I think Arsenal Fanshare is the solution rather than yet another uber-rich muckey-muck. If you haven’t signed up already and have a UK Sterling bank account go here:
You can invest a one-off sum of between £100 and £12,000 or monthly contributions of between £10 and £1,000 in your own personal slice of Heaven. Do it today if you haven’t already joined.

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