Just how much more controversy can Jens Lehmann get in this season?
After losing his place in the Arsenal side early on in the season after two blunders, criticising his replacement Manuel Almunia and his manager Arsene Wenger and strongly indicating that he will be leaving the club in the January transfer window, Lehmann’s behaviour is again a focus after supposedly making a rude gesture to German fans during his country’s simple 4-0 win over Cyprus on the weekend.
The big goalkeeper has been accused by the German media of making a middle finger gesture whilst scratching his face to fans who were chanting for reserve keeper Robert Enke to replace him on the pitch. Unsurprisingly, Lehmann has denied the accusations, claiming them to be ‘nonsense’. Whilst the photo included might tell a different story I’m inclined to believe Lehmann at this stage. In saying that, it wouldn’t surprise me if the accusations did turn out to be true.
The relevance of all this to Arsenal is that if Lehmann’s gesture is found to be deliberate then it will just serve as another indication to me that the big German is not ready to come back into the side at the expense of Almunia. Whilst Lehmann received praise from Germany’s international manager Joachim Low after his performance against Cyprus, I still feel that he will be on his way out during the transfer window. I for one won’t be too bothered about it.
Diarra confused about role
One player who is currently on the fringes that I would definitely not like to see sold in January is Lassana Diarra. The French midfielder has been mainly used as a substitute so far this season and more often than not played at right-back rather than his preferred position at central midfield, something the 22-year-old has admitted he is a little confused about.
“It is true that my situation for my club is puzzling. My position is in the midfield. At Arsenal I don’t feel in competition with Bacary Sagna, as I am a midfielder. The midfielders are outstanding, but I work fine in training sessions and I am waiting for an opportunity.”
I think he’s got a right to be a little bit frustrated by Wenger’s consistent use of him at right-back rather than in central midfield, but at the end of the day all that matters is the team and Diarra is just a part of a bigger entity. I think the important thing for Diarra to remember is that he has not been brough to the club as a right back, he has been brought here as a central midfielder with the ability to play in a variety of positions. Although he is not currently getting to play in the position that he wants he should view his situation as very positive because his versatility increases his value to the club in the long run. He just has to look at Mathieu Flamini for evidence of that.
Final Euro qualifiers
The final round of Euro 2008 qualifiers will be played on Wednesday night and after Israel’s 2-1 win over Russia the door has been opened for England to book their place in Austria & Switzerland for next summer. Although the are playing Eduardo da Silva’s Croatia, who currently top the group, England only need to draw and with Croatia already through they really shouldn’t have too many problems. However, after Russia’s loss to Israel, anything is possible.
Although the likely outcome of the match is that England and Croatia both qualify, things would be quite interesting for Arsenal if Eduardo scored the goal to end England’s hopes. If this were to happen then Eduardo would very quickly become public enemy number one in the Premiership so for his sake, as well as that of England, I’m hoping that this doesn’t happen. However, if England do get through then I sincerely hope the level of their football at the Championships lifts from the dismal form they have been showing of late.
A team with players like Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Sean Wright-Phillips, David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand should be doing a lot better than they are and that has, in my opinion, been down to the managerial skills of Steve McLaren and the lack of effort being put in by the bigger players. If England do qualify they could do worse than to sack McLaren and let some more grounded players like Gareth Barry, Jermain Defoe and Micah Richards play in the place of the superstars who don’t seem to care about putting in 100%. Just my two cents worth on an issue that, as a football supporter who likes seeing good football, bothers me a little bit too much.
What do you think?
Have your say on Lehmann, Diarra or England by leaving a comment.