The magic number
North London was once again the scene of the saddest ‘Where’s Wally’ puzzle I’ve ever witnessed on Wednesday as Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger faces fresh criticism following a humiliating Champion’s League 3-1 defeat by Monaco. Totally outclassed by the French side, he branded his own team’s defence as “suicidal” and striker Oliver Giroud’s six failed shots on goal “not one of his best days”.
Arsenal now face an uphill struggle to make it through the last-16 stage – a feat they have not managed for four consecutive years. The Gunners will have to score a minimum of three goals against Monaco when they meet on 17 March to stand a chance of progressing. That’s the number of aggregate goals scored by the team in three of the last four exits from the Champion’s League, faring slightly worse last year with just the one.
Bringing shame on the game
Amidst reports that seven men have identified themselves to police in connection with THAT incident at King’s Cross, this week the focus shifts to another friendly London club, West Ham.
It’s a double whammy for Hammers, with not one, but two incidents which took place last Sunday when they drew 2-2 with Tottenham Hotspurs at White Hart Lane.
A video has emerged of some fans chanting anti-Semitic abuse on a train in London’s Stamford Hill – a Jewish area not far from White Hart Lane – en route to the game. And there are also reports of a derogatory chant using offensive language to describe people with Down’s Syndrome during the game, which was reported to the FA by BBC pundit Kevin Kilbane, whose daughter has the condition. He has since been the victim of abusive messages via social media *slow claps the internet*.
A Spurs spokesman said they hoped “those individuals responsible for this vile behaviour are identified and dealt with in the strongest way possible” and West Ham confirmed their “zero-tolerance policy” could see those responsible facing a life ban as the “strongest possible action”.
We mustn’t tar all fans with the same brush, of course, they are in the minority but football has got quite a bad rep at the minute and we could do with a good news story. It’s extremely embarrassing for the game that certain groups seem hell-bent on proving football exists outside the parameters of normal, socially acceptable behaviour.
Heat is on Fifa
Having perfectly legitimately awarded 2022 World Cup hosting duties to Qatar, Fifa are now faced with the unenviable conundrum: How do you solve a problem like playing lots of super energetic games in the middle of a desert in temperatures of 40°C?
Don’t worry, they’ve got this. They’ll just shift the tournament from the life-threatening temperatures of June/July to the cooler climate of November/December. Simples, right? Possibly ending on 23 December, which is ideal really, considering how quiet that time of year is for the bulk of the western world. I imagine it’ll be super convenient for the leagues of over 50 affected countries, too. It’s “common sense”, according to Fifa vice-president Jim Boyce – just like the decision to hold it in Qatar in the first place, I suppose.
Meanwhile, QPR are taking advantage of a weekend off to attend a warm-weather training camp in Dubai. Wonder how many of them will make the England squad..?
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