The World Cup's round of 16 has already offered a bit of drama, what with host-country Brazil defeating Chile thanks to the woodwork and the heroics of Julio Cesar, and with Uruguay failing to make up for the lost of Luis Suarez. Still, eight of the final 16 hail from the Western Hemisphere: Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, and your correspondent's home-country, the U.S. For as proud as I may be for my half of the world's showing thus far, I'm still drawn back to what all of the action means for Arsenal. To wit, I'm thrilled that Suarez is out of action for four months (and may be out of the Prem). I found myself doing double-takes as I at first cheered on the efforts of Mertesacker and Özil before realizing I was cheering against the U.S. Looking beyond that, though, the World Cup does offer Arsène a chance to vet a few players before tendering offers. With that in mind, who's seizing the opportunity?
28 June 2014
26 June 2014
It's official: FIFA has banned Luis Racist McBitesAlot Suárez for four months and nine international matches for Uruguay, and this also includes nine Prem matches and three Champions League matches for Liverpool, which all but dooms Uruguay's chances this time through and does the same to Liverpool—although it must be noted that Liverpool did quite well to start the 2013-14 season when Suárez was banned for ten games—wait for it—biting an opponent, winning seven, drawing two, and losing once. They're hardly toothless without him, I'll say that. While his suspension may seem harsh to some, I'm not sure it goes far enough. After all, he bit an opponent. For the third time. However, these antics and the fact that Suárez won't even be available until the end of October, has apparently not deterred Real Madrid or Barcelona from pursuing him. Fine. If we can ride the transfer merry-go-round again, let's give it a spin, shall we?
25 June 2014
It's hard to take much away from Tuesday's dour draw with Costa Rica, what with England already eliminated and the Ticos basking in the glory of advancing on the strength of a draw (and winning the group thanks in part to the antics of one Luis Suarez, who sank his teeth into Chiellini and may have sunk Italy's hopes in the process). In short, neither side, not the Three Lions nor the Ticos, had much on the line except perhaps pride in the former and bragging rights in the latter. In the end, then, Wilshere's only start in the World Cup was abortive from the start. More worringly, it portends poorly for his future with both club and country.
24 June 2014
Just when you thought it was safe to walk the streets, a daemon so foul, so unholy, so unspeakably vile in his bloodlust that none shall escape his leering gaze has returned: DRACU-LUIS! You thought he had learned his lesson after biting Otman Bakkal in 2010. We thought we had learned our lesson in after he bit Branislav Ivanovic in 2013. Now, the unholy trinity appears complete as Suárez seems to have bitten Italy's Giorgio Chewllini—excuse me, Chiellini. The incident apparently escaped the attention of referee Marco Rodriguez (who himself appears a bit vampire-ish), but FIFA has already begun an investigation and will likely issue a ruling before Uruguay's next match on Saturday against Colombia. For myself, I'm going to spend the time counting the £40,000,001 we've just saved by not signing Suárez last summer.
23 June 2014
As the rumor-mill turns, we now have reports that current Colombian and former Atleti star Falcao may ditch his Monaco digs to return to Madrid, this time as yet another galáctico because, after all, Real Madrid suffered an ignominious and inglorious campaign, having to endure La Decima while finishing third in La Liga while scoring only 104 goals. Why, that's hardly a campaign befitting a club as bedecked with baubles and cubic zirconia as is Real Madrid. What's this world coming to when you can't simply go out and buy trophies but have to, you know vie for them? Not content, apparently, with having Ronaldo and Bale, it seems like Florentino Perez is not sated and must have a new plaything. Enter stage-right one Radamel Falcao. Should he return to Madrid, this might render Karim Benzema superfluous to Real Madrid's needs. Just as Bale's transfer paved the way for Özil to come to Arsenal, might Falcao's tranfer do the same for Benzema?
Ahead of this World Cup, as with many, the question comes up in some form or another: would you rather your country or your club win it all? It's a bit of a silly either/or question as it's rare, to put it mildly, for clubs to face off against countries. Those who follow England and Arsenal have so far been spared any undue questions about Gunners facing England because (a) it hasn't happened yet, and (b) England is eliminated, thus shearing Tuesday's England-Costa Rica clash of any drama and Gooners of any conflicts of interest. That settled, we're free to cheer on Joel Campbell, hoping he can use Tuesday's clash as well as those that follow to prove his worth to Arsène. I just hope he doesn't overdo it, for Arsenal's sake, if not England's.
22 June 2014
So England's World Cup ambitions have ended before they even really started, foundering on the Merseyside shoals and ending in a bit of humiliation as Costa Rica—teeny, tiny Costa Rica—can now coast through Tuesday's "clash" knowing that they'll advance no matter what happens. There's some small consolation in knowing that Spain crashed out even more ignominiously and that Portugal were 15 seconds away from joining them, but, even better is the comedy on offer from former Spurs manager and current Droopy-impersonator Harry "'Arry" Redknapp, who has gone out of his way to suggest that various Spurs found it necessary to beg off of playing for the national team. Thank you, 'Arry. Thank you very much for lightening the mood around what was otherwise a dismal trip to Brazil.