It’s a beautiful sunny day here in the South West. Beautiful, sunny and bloody freezing. I’ve just got in from a session out on my bike and I have a variety of frozen extremities – even the incredibly fetching Bane mask I wore out to aid breathing in the cold didn’t do much in the way of prevention. My poor hands feel like a couple of frozen hams and my customarily slow two-fingered typing is even more of a painstaking process. I think I’ll go and get a cup of tea and start again…
*Allows 10 minutes to thaw and drink tea*
That’s better. Right, onwards and upwards. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of news. I’m James ‘Raul’ Stokes. My species? Homospainews!
As I mentioned briefly yesterday, the draw was made for the last 16 of the Europa League and we have a prestigious tie against AC of Milan to look forward to. Their sporting director, Massamiliano Mirabelli had these slightly cocky words to say about the draw,
“I’m sorry for Arsenal, who I’m sure would have liked to have continued in Europe.
It would have been a nice final, but I’m happy. It’s best to face a big club like Arsenal now. We needed opponents like these.”
I wouldn’t say I find that disrespectful or overly confident, but it’s a bit stupid. Milan currently sit 7th in a league nowhere near as competitive as the Premiership. Undoubtedly, they have a wonderful history in Europe, but their current side is considerably different from the hazy days of Inzaghi, Gullit, Seedorf, Maldini or Van Basten.
Looking at their first team, not many names stand out as major threats and quite a few of them have really stupid squad numbers (I know that’s irrelevant, but No99 as shirt winds me up). They’re a good team with unquestionable pedigree, but extremely beatable.
The Europa League still remains our best (perhaps only) avenue into the riches of the Champions League, but it’s a strong competition this year. Should we beat Milan over 2 legs, we can expect another tough fixture in the quarter-finals and all the way to the final – if we make it that far. The full draw is:
Lazio v Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig v Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid v Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA v Lyon
Marseille v Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon v Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund v FC Salzburg
Milan v Arsenal
Elsewhere, Jack Wilshere received a few pelters for his display against Ostersunds. Whilst I wouldn’t disagree he was utterly crap – along with everyone else – remarks like this from Roy Keane are nothing more than bombastic attempts to court controversy:
“Jack Wilshere is probably the most overrated player on the planet”
Roy Keane was a superb player, a born winner and a great professional. However, he is a sh*t manager, a sh*t coach and a sh*t pundit. I would suggest that Jack is occasionally treated favourably to others when he plays badly. There is a curious pedestal upon which he’s placed by Arsenal fans at present and he often gets away with the odd lacklustre performance when others wouldn’t – Ramsey has arguably done far more in an Arsenal shirt, but continues to be a whipping boy in some quarters.
But to state Wilshere is the most overrated player on the plant is just moronic. And it’s the kind of moronic statement pundits are making with increasing regularity because it’s what sells. It whips people into a frenzy and it gets attention. That is the media world in which we live and it’s best to pay it as little attention as possible. Truthfully, I shouldn’t even be writing about it – I realise it’s a touch contradictory for me to do so…
I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon at some point to preview the Carabao Cup final. The old nerves are beginning to jingle and jangle in my stomach.
Have a good. day, folks. As always; thanks for reading, you beautiful bastards.
Soundtrack to this post: