Good show...next football is...?
England v Northern Ireland. Not a first half of high impression, Rooney's header onto the far post the only highlight, but they stepped up a gear, or N Ireland were one down, for Joe Cole to score. He has been much better and, although he didn't really hit it off in the first half with some lapses of passing, he made up for it with his shot and he is a strong contender for the left wing role. He can come with pace, skill, passing, cut back to cross right foot or even go on to cross on his left, cut inside to shoot on either foot too, so a good prospect at the moment. The last goal for me isn't Lampard's, it looked as if Maik Taylor had the shot covered until it was deflected. Three points and on we go to the Azerbaijan game. Nothing more, nothing much to report.
We've all noted Steven Gerrard has publicly announced he is committed to Liverpool, no deal has been done with Chelsea (and I imagine any other club), and he has yet to sit down with Rafael and discuss issues, not until the end of the season. Perhaps the 201st Merseyside derby could have put a different panorama to Gerrard. A second half with all three subs used and two men injured yet playing on in Garcia and Riise, then down to ten men, showed that the team can get tough when the going is calling. The match was very important to win, and dogged Liverpool did that under the circumstances to a better formed Everton, with big Ferguson and Beattie up front to boot.
This being the case, then either Ashley Cole is lying or he was lied to. What are the chances on either? More likely lied to? I trust the impromptu meeting happened and he was lied to by Moan-rinho and Kenyon. But after being charged by the FA for the event, Cole has stated he will leave Arsenal as a result. Doesn't anyone find this statement bizarre? Cole is intending to allow his contract to run down and then leave in June 2007? That is bizarre. One thing is certain, so excuse me if I say something obvious, Moan-rinho will not be signing him, for if he does, he'd be Public Enemy no.1, which he may not lose sleep over. If Chelsea loves him, good enough. Cole is not making the right headlines for Arsenal, and now that he is in a commanding position to receive interest from abroad, it could be he makes waves at the end of season. Arsenal will give permission for talks to commence, accepting a generous offer. Clichy takes over the left-back slot.
One former player I feel would have been ideal for Arsenal had he managed to remain there is Moritz Volz. I think he has pace and good defending that would have been enhanced under Wenger, where he could have given Lauren stiff competition. Rumour has it that Wenger is looking at another former player he released, Steve Sidwell at Reading.
Jeremie Aliadiere said to be disgruntled with his situation at Highbury and hoping for interest from PSG, Reyes is said to have spoken to Spanish reporters, saying he has told Arsenal he isn't happy and cannot adapt here, hoping that his words will move Florentino Perez to come in for him. A new era emerging on Arsenal? Henry remains, Pires remains, Ljungberg keen to sign, Vieira to again ponder his future elsewhere for more honours, Lauren considering he may possibly be forced out if summer buys, building process to occur around Van Persie, Senderos and Fabregas.
Chelsea possibly in the market with tempting offers for SWP and Juventus's Gianluca Zambrotta? Now that Keegan has moved on, Stuart Pearce could see one of the club's rising players walk in the summer to the tune of £15-£20m. That kind of money is certainly to be from Chelsea, unless you wish to spend your entire budget. But Zambrotta is a favourite defender of mine, have watched him under Juve and he gives plenty of commitment and a vital link between defence and attack, with key contributions aplenty. Good defender, would hate for him to join Chelsea, but again they would have the money. The question is the usual one: Why buy so many when you can only satisfy few? David Beckham buys a fleet of prestige vehicles and sports cars, does he actually drive them or they're mere tax exemptions?
Ranieri brought in Geremi, Ambrosio, Duff, Veron, Crespo, Bridge, and Johnson. Moan-rinho has added Cech, Carvalho, Ferreira, Robben, Kezman, Jarosik, Smertin and Drogba. Geremi remains, playing a bit-part, Veron has left , Ambrosio and Crespo loaned out, Bridge and Johnson are still there, albeit playing bit-parts themselves. Adding Zambrotta must mean either Johnson or Bridge leaving, I would bet on Johnson. I don't think SWP will be on Chelsea's hunting list, I cannot see him being on the bench as Robben and Duff play out and having to wait for either of them to be injured.
Finally, it has been reported in the papers this weekend that Raul has told Owen he should leave if he is not happy at Real. Raul called for Owen to leave as the club needs players desperate to play for it. If that is the case, then no one there is aware of their performances since Del Bosque left. That is what is desperate at the Bernabeu. And Raul is certainly in no position to speak after Owen has scored goals practically as he comes on off the bench. Were it not for politics, the forward would have been one of two potentially relegated to the bench in favour of Owen. The crowd have warmed to the Cheshire man already.