Poor Sheffield United – beaten 6-0 by an Arsenal team with an average age of only 19. You have to feel for them because, on paper, it’s almost embarassing. But in reality, they shouldn’t feel too bad because this Arsenal side probably would have beaten West Ham by six goals.
I didn’t get to see the game of course – a lack of live coverage meant that no internet streams were available – but the highlights say enough. Arsene Wenger used the words ‘convincing, united and classy’ to describe the weekend performance against Bolton but the same words could be used to describe the win over Sheffield.
Carlos Vela was the star of the show as he scored a hat-trick on his first competitive start for Arsenal. The first and third goals were fine finishes while the second was as classy a goal as you’re likely to see all season, Vela controlling the ball over one defender before applying a deft lob over the Sheffield goalkeeper. Wenger warned that he is just like Eduardo and on this evidence, it very much looks the case.
Nicklas Bendtner also grabbed two goals, firing home low from just outside the edge of the area and finishing off a lovely backheel from Aaron Ramsey. And Jack Wilshere, the youngest player to get on the field last night, also scored after shooting a crisp shot from twenty yards after a short corner. It was the sort of shot you just can’t see a 16-year-old trying, but he made it look easy.
After the game the manager was understandably delighted with the win and singled out the performance of Carlos Vela in particular. He said:
“I think he’s a player who has everything in his locker of a good striker. He’s agile, good first touch, very calm infront of goal, clinical and quick finisher and I just think he’s top class.”
The thing which I was not overly aware of, but is absolutely apparent in the highlights, is Vela’s excellent first touch. For his first goal he moved the ball into just the right spot to fire home with ease, on the second he controlled a long ball so comfortably it took his defender out of the game. The third was more simple but still Vela was able to move the ball onto his favoured left foot comfortably, making the task of firing home all the more simple. His finishes weren’t too bad either. On this evidence he is certainly a player worth getting excited about.
Just as an aside, I think it is wonderful that, year after year, Wenger continues to use the young players in the Carling Cup. It gives them something to aspire to and it means that when they do get the opportunity to perform, they often give performances like the one dished out last night. A 6-0 scoreline is a reward not only for the players, but for Wenger and the rest of the coaching staff who give them the opportunity to express themselves in such an arena. Long may it continue.
Turning our attention away from the Carling Cup now and onto the verbal attack aimed at Arsene Wenger by UEFA President Michel Platini. Speaking about CFR Cluj’s surprise victory over Roma in the Champions League, Platini made these comments:
“That is what makes football so great. It is what people like Wenger do not want, little clubs beating the big clubs, because they want their business.”
Honestly, I’ve not heard many more stupid or incorrect statements in the time that I have been involved in football. Of all the people to target about football being a business, Platini chooses Wenger, one of the people who has been a consistent supporter of clubs managing their own finances in a sustainable way and a person who is perhaps more concerned with the development of the beautiful side of the game than any other.
This is a crude and ridiculous attack on a man who simply does not deserve it. Wenger has developed a style at Arsenal that no other club in the world that can match and what’s more, he’s done it without spending the type of money that the big clubs tend to throw around. He’s never said that he doesn’t want little clubs matching big clubs, just that he’s wary of the long-term impacts that will undoubtedly unfold at clubs that are bought out by sugar-daddies.
Platini is quite simply out of order and this sort of statement shows what a limited scope of the game he seems to have. And he is made to seem all the more out of order by the comments that Wenger has made in rebutle:
“I am stunned by the aggressive content of Platini’s words. I am for sporting justice and UEFA must be the guarantor of it. I am a supporter of good management of clubs, for financial equilibrium. And UEFA must equally support this idea. I am fighting for the future of the game and of football.”
So, Michel, shut your pie-hole and get back to actually doing some work, as opposed to criticising people who simply don’t deserve it. Idiot.
That’s it for today. Well done to the kids, well done to Arsene Wenger and slightly less well done to Michel Platini. The latest issue of ‘The Gooner Gazette’ will be available right here, right now a little later today. So stay tuned for that. I’ll put a little reminder in the ‘Asides’ if you miss it.
Have your say on Arsenal’s thumping of Sheffield or Platini’s idiocy by leaving a comment.