Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The 298th last day of my 20s

My dad loves penalty shoot-outs. He loves the drama, the spectacle, the fact that the whole match hinges on a single moment. He was really excited about watching the first one of the World Cup last night, with Japan bowing out against Paraguay.

Myself, I hate them. I reckon they can find a less cruel method of finding a winner after an extra-time dead-lock. Maybe they should line up the players on the halfway line and get them to take turns hitting each other in the face until only one side is still standing. Or maybe they should be allowed to use their hands after the second extra-time. Or maybe they should just let them play extra-time ad infinitum until one team scores. That's what happened at Wimbledon, and everyone loved that match.

It looks like we're going to sign Laurent Koscielny after all. He's another French player I've never heard of, cheaply bought from an obscure club, with a good season at a weaker league. He's a bit of a gamble, and I'd rather we went for a defender that everyone rates, but if Wenger thinks that Koscielny is worth it, why not? Wenger's still got a great eye for talent.

So on the 298th last day of my 20s, I skipped Spain versus Portugal in favour of more sleep. I'd drunk too much coffee the day before, and couldn't get to sleep. Because I couldn't sleep much last night, I ended up drinking more coffee at work today...which will mean a shortened night of sleep tonight... which means more coffee tomorrow... which is the beginning of a tortuous cycle of a World Cup fuelled by caffeine fumes.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hands off our youngsters, Capello!

"Jack Wilshere is an interesting player, who is very good. Kieran Gibbs is another. I hope some good young players will be okay in the next six months."

- Fabio Capello, with a rapacious eye on our youngsters

Fabio Capello wants fresh blood in his England side for the Euro qualifiers. He's identified some promising Arsenal youngsters who can help England move past the traumas of the Golden Generation. I'm not sure we should be that happy about it. If you consider the scrutiny that England players receive, and combine it with the pressure that a fresh batch of debutants would be under, you've got the ideal conditions to nurture a whole set of England neuroses.

I'm kind of hoping that Capello will leave our youngsters alone. I don't want to see the tabloids slamming Jack Wilshere for having a dip in form. I don't want to see them blaming Kieran Gibbs for a defensive lapse which led to a conceded goal. I've heard first-hand the kind of vitriol that Theo Walcott gets from Ingerlandish Mancs, and I don't want the rest of our kids getting that kind of abuse. I just want our players to be nurtured at the Colney creche for another few years, learn how to be nice boys like Theo, and then get their spirits crushed with unrealistic expectations from their fans. THAT's the Arsenal way.

I'm not sure why I'm watching World Cup matches anymore. I don't remember them. I got up this morning to watch Brazil vs Chile, and by the end of the day, I'd forgotten the match. When I watched the highlights in the evening, I didn't know who had scored, nor how. Each goal was a surprise. It's a bit of a concern, but still, one must press on.

So on the 299th last day of my 20s, I worked, came home, really want to sleep. Think I'm coming down with a cold. Got to get up tomorrow at 4am for Spain vs Portugal. One of these days, the enormous population of East Asia will mean that every other World Cup will be held in either China or Japan, and I'll be able to watch it during sensible hours. I just wish that those days will come sooner rather than later.

Monday, June 28, 2010

England out of the World Cup

"It's no shame to concede 4 goals to Germany... as we found out."

- anonymous Aussie guy talking to SBS news about the Germany vs England match

I had two patients today, one English, and the other German. I asked them about the Germany vs England 2nd round match. The Englishman lamented the disallowed Lampard goal, saying that England was level with Germany until that moment, but fell apart afterwards. The German also said that Lampard's goal should've stood, but that it wouldn't have mattered anyway because England were crap.

It's strange how you can get such contrasting opinions about the same match.

I'm glad that England are out. In the World Cup, I support three teams: Australia, Argentina and Anyone But England. While Australia didn't get past the group stage, and Argentina are on the difficult side of the draw, at least Anyone But England managed to put Ingerland to the sword. It's always a good tournament when England gets thumped in the knock-out rounds. It's even better when there's an unjust refereeing decision. About the only thing that would've made this result even better would be if Terry broke down and cried again. But then I suppose that's asking for a bit too much.

I didn't watch the match, by the way. Like the rest of the world, I was more interested in Argentia vs Mexico. It was a shame that the referee allowed the Tevez offside goal. It knocked the stuffing out of Mexico, probably contributed to the ghastly defensive error that led to Higuan's goal, and ruined the match as a competitive contest. Mexico played well. I was impressed by Hernandez; his goal was superbly taken, and Man Utd have a hell of a player on their hands.

I've got the feeling that Argentina have a chance in this World Cup. They're brilliantly attacking, defensively solid, play with passion and flair, and when on form, they're completely crazy. But most of all, they're lucky. You need a fair slice of luck to win the World Cup, and Argentina have it spades.

So on the 299th last day of my 20s, I went to work, worked, and drank a lot of coffee to keep awake. I bought a big tin of instant during my lunch break, didn't bother with a spoon and poured it straight from tin. The first cup of coffee was so black and thick it looked like a pint of Guinness. Tasted a bit like a Guinness. I hope it's just as good for me as well.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Eduardo's leaving

So Eduardo's leaving the Arsenal. It's sad, but he never really recovered from his injury. Lack of confidence, lack of match sharpness, recurring injuries - it's something that won't get better unless he's given more time in the middle. He's better off playing a solid year of football at a weaker club, building up match fitness.

The other problem is that he doesn't really fit into a 4-3-3. He doesn't have the physicality to play as the lone striker. And he doesn't have the pace for the outside forward positions. He's a goal-poach who can dribble a bit and play dinky little passes. He needs to play in a 4-4-2.

I'm really looking forward to Argentina versus Mexico tonight. It's going to be a great match. I'm wondering if we should've bought dos Santos when he left Barcelona. I know he flopped at Tottenham, but he's not bad with Mexico. Him and Vela would've been alright with us.

So on the 300th last day of my 20s I watched (500) days of summer. It's a great film about infatuation, love, disintergration. Really enjoyed it; it's truthful and awkward and very, very funny. Maybe it's because I'm just a sucker for non-linear rom-coms, because I also thought great things about Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind.

It stars Zooey Deschanel. I'm completely in love with Zooey Deschanel's characters. She always seems to play manic pixie dream girls. I especially love the way her character's introduced in the film - average height, average weight, in every way an average girl, but there's this certain something about her that every adult male has experienced at least once in his lifetime. Something I'm all too familiar with.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Some crap I wrote on another blog

I'm pretty tired at the moment, and can't be arsed writing anything. So here's something I posted the other night on gunnerblog:

You know, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I admire Wenger for what he has done in building the youth academy, encouraging a clutch of excellent youngsters coming through, and for keeping Arsenal at a Champions League level despite the major handicap of having to finance the stadium build. We denigrate Wenger for not buying X or Y, but we don't praise him for the above achievements, which only happen once or twice in the lifetime of a club (if ever).

These are remarkable achievements. Only a world-class manager has the talent to do it. Only an intelligent, far-seeing man could grasp the necessity of it. And only an emotional mature, spiritually humble person could be willing to risk his reputation to help bring it to fruition.

Wenger could've gone to Real Madrid, spent bundles on the best young players in the world, and won trophies by the netful. Instead, he stayed with the Arsenal, and is willing to risk his legacy being reduced to being known as a talented man who lost his way, in order to do what it right for Arsenal FC.

We say a lot of crap about Wenger on this Rack, but let's for once forget the immediate, and let us all applaud him for what he has done. Well done, Arsene Wenger!

So on the 301st last day of my 20s, I stayed up watching Brazil and Portugal duke it out for a 0-0 draw. Then I slept, and went to work. I'd planned a lunch for some uni friends, and it completely fell through. Everyone flaked out at the last minute. Ended up just me, my mate and his wife. Interesting lunch, though, and good food.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Australasia out of the World Cup

Plucky New Zealand drew against Paraguay and Italy lost to Slovakia. New Zealand finishes third on the table after three consecutive draws. I'm probably being harsh here, but I think an opportunity was lost. New Zealand had chances to win a game and qualify for the 2nd round. Be a bit more attacking, sneak a goal, maybe pinch a spot. But they didn't, finished with three draws and a very honourable commendation. But you've got to wonder what might've been.

Anyway, Australasia is out of the World Cup. It was a good run while it lasted. It also strengthens the case for federation between Australia and New Zealand. Not only would it facilitate trans-Tasman trade, increase the size of the economy, expand the zombie, mutant sheep into the Australian flock, it would also strengthen the Socceroos side for the next World Cup. If Australia and New Zealand can both finish 3rd in the group stages of the World Cup, imagine how well a combined side will perform....

Tonight, I'm tossing up between watching Brazil - Portugal at 11:00pm or Spain - Chile at 4:00am. I think they'll both be good games. I quite enjoy watching Spain play, but I'm not sure I want to watch them after the relentless tapping up by the Barcelona players. It turns my stomach. Then again, I'd have to watch Cristano Ronaldo play for Portugal, which is even more odious. I'm leaning towards Spain-Chile, but who knows.

So on the 302nd last day of my 20s, I went to work, met the new trainee, and drove back to my old clinic to pick up my severance pay cookies. I agreed to stay back a couple of months at the other clinic in exchange for a plate of chocolate chip cookies. They're delicious, but I'm starting to think I should've held out for something more substantial.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The 303rd last day of my 20s

A lot happened today. Julia Gillard was sworn in as Australia's first female Prime Minister. I finished my last day at one of my clinics. And the Socceroos were bundled out of the World Cup despite beating Serbia 2-1.

I didn't watch the match. I set my alarm clock for 4:00pm instead of 4:00pm, and when I woke at 6:00am, I couldn't be bothered to get up for the replay. If it isn't live, it's not worth the headache of missing sleep. I haven't even read the reports. It's not something I want to dwell over.

England's still in it, after they managed to pull themselves together to beat Slovenia. It's a real shame, but I suppose it build to the tension. While it would've been nice to see England getting thumped in the group stages, it'll be even nicer to see them lose in the knock-out stages again on penalties.

So on the 304th last day of my 20s, I went for a jog, went to work, developed a massive migraine and went out for dinner. A work colleague is leaving for London in a couple of weeks. It's really exciting. I can't seem to overlook the migraine, though. I feel nauseous, dizzy, headachy, sleepy, tired, and incredibly distraught. Straight for bed if it wasn't for the pledge to journal each and every day of my 20s.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Korea in the 2nd round

Korea got through the World Cup group stage last night. I like Korea. They're a tidy side; tactically solid, technically sound, always a bit zippy with their passing. I don't think they're going to progress much further than the second round (they're playing Uruguay next?) but it's still a mighty achievement to reach this stage. It's only the second time in their history that they've done it.

One thing that interested me was that they've hired a local manager for their national side. I think Korea went down the Dutch football route that Australia has embarked. They hired Guus Hiddink, Pim Verbeek and then a local manager. We hired Guud Hiddink, then Pim Verbeek.... and we'll need someone else after the World Cup. The Dutch influence has been good for Korea. They're playing football at a pretty high level. Let's hope we can say the same for Australia in about ten years' time.

Tonight could be Australia's last game of the World Cup. We're up against Serbia. We need to beat them by plenty, and then hope that something favourable happens between Germany and Ghana. I'm not sure what results would see us through. I think we can progress if either Germany or Ghana wins, but it depends on how much they're going to win by. I don't think we can do it, but we'll see. Our luck's got to change one of these days.

So on the 304th last day of my 20s, I went to work, ate a couple of incredibly starchy potato cakes, and then came home. I had the thought when I was munching on the potato cakes that I should've been born Scottish. I can still remember the taste of my first fried Mars Bar. It's like the most delicious thing you've ever tasted... deep fried.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The 305th last day of my 20s

Well, it looks like we're going to sign Koscielny. Lorient are holding out for a larger transfer fee, with manager Christian Gourcuff saying something eerily reminscient of something we've been saying about Barcelona's pursuit of Cesc:

So I expect we'll dick around with the transfer fee until the beginning of August, before a last-minute agreement at the stroke of midnight. It's what happened with a number of players. We seem to prefer saving a couple of million over integrating a player into the squad over a full pre-season.

The official site's been going through individual player reviews, and today focused on Craig Eastmond. He did pretty well this year, been impressive as Song's backup. I'd still like us to buy another defensive midfielder who can also play as a central defender, but Eastmond has good potential. He said:

So on the 305th last day of my 20s, I went to work. It's the last time I'm going to have the awkward situation where I have to work in two locations on the same day. I'm really pleased about that. Driving a hour in order to work a half-day was really starting to shit me off.

Recently, I've been bumping into a lot of people I used to know a long time ago. Last Saturday, met some people from my old church whom I haven't seen in 10 years. Yesterday, met a guy I hadn't seen since we were kids. This Saturday, going to lunch with some uni friends; I've kept contact with them more or less, but I don't think the four of us have been in the same room together since we graduated. It's interesting; maybe June's become nostalgia month.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The 306th last day of my 20s

Arsenal are after Koscielny, Chelsea are after David Silva, and Man City are after Yaya Toure. When it comes to signing big names, Arsenal's quite low on the pecking order. I don't mind it. Wenger's shown that he's still got a good eye for a player. If he thinks that Koscielny and Chamakh will take us to the Premier League title, then I'm willing to give him a chance. I just hope he signs a few more players as well.

I took a bit of a break from the World Cup last night. Only watched half the Slovakia versus Paraguay match before throwing it in for an extra 45 minutes of sleep. It wasn't a bad game, and Paraguay played well. But I'm a bit disappointed that I missed New Zealand versus Italy, and Brazil versus Ivory Coast. For some reason, I keep picking the mundane matches to watch.

Tonight I'm going to watch Spain versus Honduras. Spain should win. There's no way they'll be held scoreless two matches in a row. There's a thought going around that they're missing a player like Marcos Senna. Personally, I think they should take off Alonso and bring on our Cesc Fabregas. On the downside, it'll give the Barcelona players more time to tap him up. They're already tapping him up in the hotel, at meals, in the showers, on the bus.... the time he spends on the bench during games is probably the only time he's not being persuaded to join Barcelona.

So on the 306th last day of my 20s, I went to work and spent most of it trying not to yawn. It's surprising how badly the World Cup is effecting me. I watch about one game a night. I still get about 6 hours of sleep a night. And yet I'm walking around like a disaffected zombie. Must be the cumulative effect of light sleep deprivation. Or maybe old age.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Australia 1, Ghana 1

The thing that's missing from this World Cup is the sense of destiny. In 2006, it was Australia's first appearance in 32(?) years. Every match had special meaning. Japan was our first game, and and a look at our future in the Asian Confederation. Brazil was a sign that we'd actually arrived on the biggest stage. Croatia was a reminder of where the migrant roots of football in Australia. In 2010, though, that sense of occasion is missing. This time around, it's simply a case of facing three tough teams and trying scrape together enough points to qualify.

The other thing that we're missing is jammy luck. Against Germany, we played like crap and lost 4-0. We lost Cahill after a weak red card. Against Ghana, we played well, got 1-0 up, and then lost Kewell for a handball, conceded a penalty, and ended up drawing 1-1. We had a couple of good chances (Chipperfield missing a point-blank header, Kennedy missing an open goal) but couldn't convert. In 2006, we had similar set-backs, but made up for it with jammy late goals that got us through.

I think we played well after Kewell got sent off. It was a good performance: nice range of passing, nice build-up work, crap finishing. We persisted with Holman as lone-striker for too long. We were a lot more effective once Chipperfield and Kennedy had been subbed on. If we'd had those two substitutions at half-time, we might've won it. It goes to show what the Socceroos can do it they stopped playing cagey tactical football and started playing like stupid, enthusiastic Aussies.

The only thing I don't like about Australia's performance is the whinging afterwards. It was handball on the penalty line. A red card and a penalty was appropriate. It's harsh on Australia, but can you imagine the uproar from FIFA and the African Confederation if the referee didn't give that ruling? Instead of blaming the dodgy Italian referee (Italians, hey?), why don't we ask ourselves why Emerton didn't close down that guy on the edge of the box?

Oh, and Anelka's been expelled from the French World Cup squad for calling Domenech a "dirty son of a whore". If that's the criteria for expulsion, I'm surprised they've still got enough players to field a side.

So on the 307th last day of my 20s, I got my hair right. Push it in the middle, fringe on the left, scrunch it at the back. Looks like an urban mohawk but without the height or definition.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Waiting for Australia vs Ghana

It's half an hour before Australia meets Ghana. After Germany's shock loss to Serbia, we've got to win this one to progress. I don't much like our chances. We're too slow, too old, too lacking in inspiration. I'll be cheering the Socceroos on like the rest of Australia, but I think we all know it's a lost cause. Better to focus on 2022, when we'll be fielding a generation of footballers raised on the Dutch 4-3-3, and (hopefully) playing in front of Australian crowds.

The problem is that we lost a generation of footballers in the intervening time between the old NSL and the new A-League. It was a necessary evil to get the domestic league solvent again, but it meant that a crop of promising young players didn't have the chance to play in a national competition. End result, we're relying on the same bunch of players that we did in 2006. It'll be okay in 2014 and 2018, when the first batch of Dutch-trained players start breaking into the national side, but it's a bit awkward now.

Then again, considering how many times I've been wrong about this World Cup, we'll probably thump Ghana 4-1 and canter into the second round in first place. Here's hoping, anyway.

So on the 308th last day of my 20s, I went to work, got laughed at by my nurse over my hair, came home, had a nap. I think watching the World Cup is catching up with me. I'm constantly exhausted and sleepy. Went to my old church and met some people I haven't seen in over ten years. It was surprising to see how much they've changed, and even more surprising when they told me how little I've changed. I've the same mannerisms, same stance, same vocal inflections that I did when I was 19. Kind of frightening.

Friday, June 18, 2010

I love Maradona's Argentina

Somewhere during the second half, I had the thought that Argentina had found out how to deal with the unpredictable ball. Instead of belting it into the top corner of the net, they've resorted to lobbing the 'keeper, dinking it up for a header, placing the ball with the side of their foot, or hitting it powerfully along the ground. This means that they have a higher percentage of shots on target, which translates into a 4-1 scoreline.

I quite like Argentina. I still think Brazil's going to win, but Argentina have won my heart. It's a such a crazy side that you can't help but wish them the best. Against Korea, they played with two strikers, four wingers, one defensive midfield, one full-back, and two central defenders. It works because Messi has turned into a very hard-working forward, and Tevez is like an animal. They've got enough pressure from the forwards to compensate for the single defensive midfielder.

They've got six strikers and 8 central defenders in the squad. It makes perfect sense. If you're a goal up, you want to put in another defender. If you're a goal down, you want to put on another striker. And if you want to rest anyone in the squad, you send on Sergio Aguero. Forget about mdifielders, they're superfluous. Who needs them when you've got Messi? Just get the defender to tackle and pass to Messi, get Messi to bamboozle the defence, and then pass to one of the six strikers that they've packed into the team. It's simple, it's pretty, and against Korea, it's so damn effective.

So on the 309th last day of my 20s, I went to work, cracked the shits, came home, got dressed up. It's strange putting on clothes that are too cool for you. You look into the mirror, and you see someone you're not staring back at you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spain lost

Spain played like Arsenal last night - great build-up, nice passing, attractive movement off the ball, crap finishing. Spain lost like Arsenal last night as well, with a scrappy Switzerland goal enough to send them away with their first loss since the Confederations Cup. After all the talk about Spain putting their years of under-achievement behind them, it's come back with a vengeance. And this time, they don't even get to get their hopes up by flaying opponents in the group stage.

I think that Spain need Lionel Messi. They're basically playing Barcelona's game, with Barcelona's tactics and Barcelona's players, but without the one essential player that turns Barcelona into The Best Team In The World. They've got a lot of pretty passing around the opposition area, but no one to take the ball and dribble with pace at the defenders. Don't get me wrong, Spain's still an awesome proposition, but they don't work as well with Silva or Navas on the right.

Still, Spain had a lot of chances. Torres was rusty and profligate. Xavi Alonso hit the goalframe with a long-range shot. Pique had a great chance as well. If Spain had been more familiar with the new ball, or if they had a bit more luck, they probably would've stuck through with a 2-1 win. Oh well, they've still got a couple of games to redeem themselves.

So on the 310th last day of my 20s, I had the day off from work. I got hair styling advice from my pastor. Bought a pair of runners and a tub of hair gel. Thought a bit about the girl of my dreams, and what to do next, and then realised it doesn't matter. Things happen in their own sweet time. Que sera, sera.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I've changed my mind about the World Cup

A couple of days ago, I wrote that I thought the World Cup was awesome. In retrospect, I got carried away. I saw a good match between South Africa and Mexico. I read about England drawing against USA. I saw the last ten, crazy minutes of Argentina versus Nigeria. And I saw a technically proficient Korea outclass a poor Greece side. And from that limited exposure, I wrote that that World Cup was great.

It hasn't been a great World Cup. Players keep spraying the ball high and wide. Shots go wide. Corners and free-kicks fly into the stands. There's usually a good level of play in defence and midfield, but there's been a distinct lack of class in attacking, and a lack of players who can play a good final ball. About the best team so far has been Germany against Australia, and that was partially due to Australia playing a suicidally high defensive line.

The consensus seems to be that the new ball is messing everything up. Or the varying altitude of various grounds is mucking the players about. Or that the vuvuzelas are distracting players from moments of inspired genius. Or maybe it's just that everyone needs one game to blow out the cobwebs, run off their nerves, and work out their anxieties. By game 2, everything should be right.

Spain versus Switzerland up next. If ever there's a team that can front up to a World Cup and hit the ground rolling, it's Spain. They play football like they're up against 11 witches-hats. They've got Xavi and Ineista in the middle of the park, and they've got Cesc Fabregas in the stands. They play the kind of football that Barcelona play and that Arsenal try to emulate. The only problem is that half the team is from Barcelona, and considering how disrespectful they've been to the Arsenal, I'm not sure I should be cheering them on.

So on the 311th last day of my 20s, I went to work, worked and came home. Currently suffering a bit from indigestion. Been thinking a lot about my hair, and the possible need for outside help. I've been told I need to dampen my hair before I apply wax. I'm not sure about that, since it defies the law of chemistry, but my nurse is adamant that it works for her kids. That I'm taking hair-styling advice from a mum with a pair of 10 year old twins says it all. Her kids do look pretty cool in a spiky-haired kind of way, though.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The 312th last day of my 20s

van Persie played the first 70-odd minutes of the World Cup match against Denmark. He had a few good chances, and fluffed them all. My first impression of him was that he runs like an uncoordinated girl. My second impression is that he slows down play. He takes two or three touches to control a ball, compared to the crisp one-touchiness of the rest of the Dutch squad. Still, first game jitters are alright. Let's hope van Persie can put them behind him and start scoring like we all know he can.

I was really impressed by Eljero Elia. If we're going to raid the Dutchies for new talent after the World Cup, I hope we make a bid for him. He was brought on for van der Vaart in the second half, and he was one of the few Dutchies who ran with the ball with any kind of pace or intent. None of the other wingers could get behind their fullback with any great consistency. I hope Robben get well soon, because based on last night's performance, they're going to need him.

So on the 312th last day of my 20s, I worked. Spent ten minutes in the morning trying to do my hair, couldn't get the hang of it. I don't think I have the spatial awareness to style hair. I get the concept of messy-yet-stylish. I just can't translate it into hair and scalp and copious amounts of product.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The 313rd last day of my 20s

So on the 313rd last day of my 20s, I slept for most of the day. It's the Queen's Birthday long weekend, and the only thing I wanted to do was to sleep. I'm not going to get two consecutive days off for almost six months, and I'm thinking that I probably should've used it a bit better.

I got up at 4:30am to watch Australia get thumped by Germany. We were lacking in creativity, our midfield was atrocious, our defence was too slow. Germany cut us to pieces with through balls, off-the-ball movement and crosses. We lost 0-4 on the night, and we were lucky to get away with that. Germany played very well, though. The Arsenal should definitely sign Oezil as soon as we possibly can.

Ghana and Serbia up next. Incredibly, I was told that we have a chance against both sides because they played even worse than we did. I can't see how we can possibly win. The Australia I've seen under Verbeek is stodgy, unimaginative and slow. Maybe with Kewell and Bresciano back in the squad, and maybe if we played Josh Kennedy as our striker, maybe we could do it. I don't know.

Netherlands Denmark should be a good game tonight. I'm really looking forward to watching van Persie play. Fingers cross he doesn't get injured. I'm not as interested in watching Nicky Bendtner play. Now we've Chamakh, we've got another option for weird/tall thing on the right wing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The 314th last day of my 20s

I watched Korea vs Greece and I was impressed with the quality of Korea's football. I was shocked at Greece's defensive organisation. It was really sloppy marking on the corner for the first goal, and the second was just bad defending.

I took a short nap during the interval before Argentina versus Nigeria, but I overslept and only caught the last ten minutes of that game. Luckily, it was a great ten minutes. Messi was rampant, Argentina and Nigeria were both playing crazy attacking football, and the only thing that stopped Nigeria from equalising was poor shooting.

From what I've seen so far, it's going to be a good World Cup. One staid match between Uruguay and France. One brilliant moment of schadenfreude between England and USA. All the rest were thoroughly entertaining matches. Let's hope Australia versus Germany tonight will be equally as exciting.

So on the 314th last day of my 20s, I completed the rest of my make-over weekend. I spent $1000 this weekend, and I'm pretty numb at the moment. It's a lot to take in. I don't think it'll sink in until I catch my reflection in an unguarded moment, and I'm seeing myself dressed in alien clothes, glasses and hair. Or when my credit card bill comes back. Either/or.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The 315th last day of my 20s

I'm looking forward to seeing Argentina vs Nigeria tonight. Argentina has crazy attacking options, Lionel Messi is crazy good, and Diego Maradona is just plain crazy. Argentina have the ability to win the World Cup, and the tendency to blow up in the group stage. I don't think they'll win it, but let's hope they make it to the knock-out stages before they implode.

Watched the highlights of South Africa vs Mexico just then. Good match, open play, nice goal from the South Africans. I thought Vela did alright in the first half. He's got another couple of matches at least to show that he's good enough to take a first-team spot at the Arsenal.

So on the 315th last day of my 20s, I'm halfway through a make-over. I've had a haircut, got a new pair of glasses, and am being taken shopping tomorrow. I have grave doubts whether I'll go through with it, but it'll be interesting to see the end result.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The 316th last day of my 20s

So on the 316th last day of my 20s, I worked, came home, went out, came home. Talked to the girl of my dreams for five perfect minutes, and found out that she's genuinely busy. She's amazing. I wish that one day, she wasn't so busy that she could spend time with me.

World Cup's starting in a couple of minutes. South Africa versus Carlos Vela. Let's hope our Arsenal boys have a good World Cup, and none of them get their legs broken by defenders wanting to "let them know that they're there".

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We're fighting for Cesc

A while back, Cesc said that he had the most incredible talk with Arsene Wenger. The gist of that conversation was that Cesc should focus on the World Cup, and leave everything up to Wenger and the Club. Most people thought that to mean that we would allow Cesc to leave if Barcelona met our valuation. But then today, Wenger said:

This is a firm statement of intent from Wenger that we want to keep Cesc at Arsenal. So maybe that incredible conversation that Cesc had with Wenger had convinced him to stay for a few more season. It'll be interesting to know what Wenger said to change Cesc's mind.

Maybe Wenger said that he's going to sign every talented uncontracted player he can get his hands on. We've already signed Chamakh. We're leading the chase for Joe Cole. Who else can we get on a Bosman? It's not going to be the prettiest side around, but it's certainly going to be the cheapest.

So on the 317th last day of my 20s, I went to the city and visited charity organisation with the idea of volunteering. I'm going to have some spare time coming up, so I figured why not. Then I went to work, pottered around, came home and started this blog.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The 318th last day of my 20s

Well, Philippe Senderos has moved to Fulham. It's a shame, I really liked him, and I think that if he'd been given more of a chance he would've been a good defender. He looked great in that Champions League final run, but then got brutalised by Drogba in the Charity Shield and never looked right again. Signing Gallas from Chelsea relegated him to the bench, and he never recovered. He's been shunted to Milan and Everton, and he's failed to nail down a first team position with either clubs. Still, he's only 25 and has plenty of good qualities. There's still time for him to a great defender!

So on the 318th last day of my 20s, I went to work, had dinner with a friend and ate a steak this big. He chatted up the waitress at a cafe afterwards, just to show me how it's done. Be natural, talk, act silly - nothing to it, it seems. Might as well be shooting for the moon.

Had a chat about the World Cup. Well, I chatted and he tried to pick up betting tips. I'm not sure why he asked me, but I said I thought Brazil would win. They've got a great system, play disciplined football and can grind out a win, and have enough flair players to fluke a goal when they're not playing well. Also, they've won very World Cup that's been hosted in a neutral (non European or South American) country. Spain's hot favourites, but: their Barcelona players are exhausted; Xavi's playing injured; Torres and Fabregas aren't fit; and most importantly, the favourites never seem to win. Spain have been up for a very long time, and they've got to suffer a dip in form sometime.

I've love the Netherlands to win it, though. van Persie for Golden Boot.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Barcelona's having a laugh

Barcelona are having a laugh. They wanted £30m from Man City for Yaya Toure, but City said no. Now, they want to swap Cesc for Yaya and £10m. Let's forget that Yaya's already rejected a move to Arsenal, and we're still talking about a transfer bid for Cesc that tallies way below the £80m the board have set. Now, if they threw Messi and Alves into the mix, that might make the board think twice....

Joan Laporta is also having a laugh:

I wonder how Joan Laporta managed to say all that and keep a straight-face? "We will respect their opinion and try to change their mind" is one I'll have to use one day. Hilarious. Although, with Barcelona whizz-kid Gai Assulin set to leave their club (for us?), I suppose Laporta's open-door philosophy is soon to be tested.

In other news, Wenger's not scared to spend if needed.

Judging from some of our recent transfers, it's a fear he's only recently overcome.

So on the 319th last day of my 20s, I went to work, came home, typed on the blog. My nephew George has a cold, so progress on the crawling has stalled. Instead, he's been working on stuffing everything he can into his mouth. Good to see he's keeping busy while he's sick.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sandra Bullock kissing Scarlett Johansson is more interesting than Arsenal

"Number one, I'm not dead"

- Sandra Bullock, after kissing Scarlett Johansson at the mTV Movie Awards night

A strange thing happened with the whole "women kissing women during a Hollywood awards acceptance speech" idea. When it first happened with Madonna kissing Britney Spears, it was shocking and controversial. It made news headlines. But now it's a bit passe. Sandra Bullock kisses Scarlett Johansson at the mTV Awards? Meh. I've checked youTube, and even Scarlett Johansson seemed a bit bored by the idea.

What's interesting, though, is that it always seems to involve an over-the-hill celebrity trying to suck the life out of the current hot thing. Over-the-hill celebrity is trying to stir up controversy, get noticed by producers, and maybe sneak her way back onto the A-list. Current hot young thing wants to stay edgy and hip, and consents to getting snogged by an older, more desperate version of herself. It's like the circle of life played out by vultures.

At any rate, it's more interesting than what's happening with the Arsenal at the moment. Senderos has been mooted for a Fulham swap with Schwarzer. Coquelin's been mooted for a loan swap for Laurent Koscielny. And we're only going to sign Joe Cole if he's willing to take a pay-cut. It's all just talk at this stage, but personally, if we get Schwarzer, Koscielny and Cole, I'd be satisfied. If we got a DM who could slot into central defence as well, I'd be happy. If we did all of that, kept Gallas and Cesc, and got shot of Silvestre and Almunia, I'd be laughing.

And from Andrey Arshavin's website:

I've always wondered whether these questions are genuine or just a giant Russian piss-take. I wouldn't put it past Arshavin to set up a blog just to poke fun at the stilted conventions of the whole footballer-and-football-fan construct.

So on the 320th last day of my 20s, I went to work, came home, played with my nephew and started writing this blog. Nothing much happened. My nephew's starting to crawl now; he can kind of drag himself around the carpet with his arms. Once he gets the hang of pushing off with his knees, he'll be right to go.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Schwarzer wouldn't be a bad signing

We could be getting Mark Schwarzer from Fulham for £3m. If we do, it'll be good, but not great. Schwarzer's Australian, which is a big, big plus, but he's also 37, which is a definite minus. He'll be okay for a year or two more, and then he'll definitely be in decline. So he's a short, short term proposition. He's a decent, reliable 'keeper. He'll make his share of mistakes, and he might not win any games for us, but he won't cost us as many points as Almunia currently does.

It might not be too bad. In a couple of years, Fabianski might have matured into a 'keeper who doesn't fuck it up every five minutes. Szczesny might be a bit more experienced and may be able to step up to the first team. Or maybe we'll have the opportunity to sign a goal-keeping gem in the next couple of years, and then have luxury of having a world-class keeper for the next ten years.

Whatever the case, signing Schwarzer will buy us more time to find a long-term 'keeper. The main thing is that we're going to get a 'keeper who'll be better than Almunia. And if he's Australian, that's even better. You can't have too many Australians at the Arsenal.

So on the 321st last day of my 20s, I went to church, hung around like a disappointed stink, and then went home. Lethargic and discontent.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The 322nd last day of my 20s

So on the 322nd last day of my 20s, I attended a wedding for my friend's sister. At the reception, I sat next to a high school acquaintance whom I haven't seen in ten years. We started talking about religion, and Christianity and faith. Interesting talk - he's at about the same stage as me, and we're surrounded by churchies who believe with a unbending passion.

I wondered why I was invited to the reception. A lot of people from the church attended the wedding, but only a few where invited to the reception. I don't know the bride or groom well at all (talked to them 3 or 4 times), and I got invited instead of half a dozen people who should've got a place ahead of me. And I'm thinking about that talk I had with that guy, and thinking that it's not all a coincidence.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The 323rd last day of my 20s

So on the 323rd last day of my 20s, I didn't do much. Went to work, came home, that's pretty much it. There's not a lot happening with the Arsenal, either. We've been linked with a defender called Laurent Koscielny and another striker called Loic Remy. They're both French, so the story must be genuine.

We've also rebuffed Barcelona's first offer for Cesc Fabregas, a piddly sum of £33m or so. And to think that it's only £3m more than Aston Villa want for James Milner. You can't really say English players carry a premium anymore, can you?

Peter Hill-Wood had this say about it:

So, we would "rather not" they make another bid. Oh well, then I guess the gentlemanly thing to do would be for Barcelona to respect Cesc's contract and drop the issue for another season. They would have to be quite uncouth to disrespect our wishes and make another transfer bid. And the chaps who run Barcelona F.C are such honourable gentlemen, aren't they?

Everyone's just waiting for the World Cup to start, I think. Wenger's off promoting Castrol Oil, the players are either at the World Cup or playing the World Cup on their consoles... I think it's time for a bit of a break from the Arsenal.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Theo's not going to the World Cup

"I am very disappointed not to be included in the squad going out to South Africa, but completely respect Mr Capello's decision. I would like to wish the team the best of luck and hope they have a really successful tournament."

- Theo Walcott, dropped from the World Cup squad

Theo's been left out of the World Cup squad. It's a shame for Theo. He's been looking forward to it. But the reality was that he'd had a inconsistent, injury-riddled season, and he didn't deliver what Cappello wanted in the past two England friendlies. So Cappello decided that Theo was a gamble he couldn't take. You can aonly live on the fame of a hattrick against Croatia for so long.

But time's on his side. He's only 21. There's still time for him to knuckle down, improve his decision making, get back into form, and maybe get into the squad for Euro 2012. Hopefully he'll realise that he hasn't made it, that he's got a lot to improve, and he'll focus his time on improving himself at Arsenal next season.

Anyway, buck up Theo. We still love you!

And apparently, we're looking at signing Joe Cole on a free. I must say that we've had mixed success with free signings from our major rivals. Sol Campbell was great. William Gallas was okay. Mikael Silvestre was a disaster. What about Joe Cole? He's in his prime, he's inconsistent, and he's a dribbly, creative midfielder/winger who'll demand a large salary. If we sign him, we'll probably bung him in a central midfield role next to Cesc (if he stays). I'd rather we sign a centre-back and a goalkeeper with actual money, but scoring two free signings of the calibre of Chamakh and Cole would be pretty impressive. And considering how often I've complained at the thinness of the squad, I can't really complain.

So on the 324th last day of my 20s, I listened to Contra by Vampire Weekend. It's vaguely disappointing. It's a good listen, has a couple of great tracks, but it's nowhere near as good as their eponymous debut. Their first album was jaunty, fresh, different, intelligent. This second album just sounds like a normal album with a few quirky bits added in.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The 325th last day of my 20s

So on the 325th last day of my 20s, I went to work, came home. I went to this church function with a friend of mine, and I met the girl of my dream's ex. He's a nice guy - understated, pleasant, polite, intelligent. As a bonus, he's quite dapper in a suit.

I'm quite impressed. The girl of my dreams has exceptional taste. If I was a girl, I'd be tripping over myself trying to get his attention... which actually happened while I was there. This really cute girl threaded her way down the aisle, tripped over his feet, and started chatting with him. He brushed her off in the end, but damn, he's good. Effortless.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Arshavin pities the fool who's content with 3rd place

"There was nothing special last season for me to think back about. The season was normal - even pitiful."

- Andrei Arshavin, not impressed with a 3rd place trophy

Andrei Arshavin pities the fool who is content with 3rd place, a financially-sound business plan and a manager who loves to play kamikaze football. He pities those of us who are content with normal seasons that aren't laced with success. He pities the mundane.

Mr T pities anyone who doesn't acknowledge his innate superiority. Mr T is an icon of American bravura, and like Arshavin, he's proud of his accomplishments and pities the fool who doesn't measure up to his own standard of excellence. As he said in Rocky 3:

I pity the Arsenal, because unless we start changing the way we approach the season, we're going start off with promising form, then fade away as winter settles in and injuries whittle down our squad, and then make a brief comeback to finish in 3rd or 4th. I pity the gooners who'll go into the season thinking things will be different, when we've done nothing to correct the mistakes of the past.

I pity Cesc Fabregas for the difficult choice he has made. Barcelona is calling to his heart, his head and his stomach. But he feels loved at Arsenal, and even at Barcelona, he'll never have a home club as safe and nurturing and supportive as the Arsenal. Expressing his desire to leave Arsenal would be like killing a baby elephant by pelting it with week-old baby chickens. But it's something he's got to do. He owes it to himself.

So on the 326th last day of my 20s, I went for a jog, went to work in Doncaster, had lunch with my mate and his wife, went back to work in Wandin, then came home and had a cold dinner.

I had a great idea to ask the girl of my dreams out. It's by far the best idea I've had in years. I ran it past my mate and his wife, and they both loved it. They didn't think it had a snowball's chance of working, but they loved the concept. And I'm thinking that it's an amazing idea, and I shouldn't waste it on a hopeless cause. I think I'll save it for the day when I know she'll say yes.

I dealt with the fallout of my resignation today. My bosses wanted reasons why I want to quit, and kind of want me to stick around at their clinic on my spare Friday. I'm of two minds about it - the clinic's still under-stocked and it's frustrating to work at that place - but it is extra money and I need a bit of spare cash at the moment.