Right, we’re in to the one week countdown for the Europa League Final, so of course Chelski being Chelski they’re trying their best to get every inch of an advantage or mind games that they can, this time via leaked news that Petr Cech will be joining the club in the summer as Sporting Director.
Of course nothing has come out through official sources and of course nothing will do, but if anybody doesn’t think this is anything other than mischief making given the timing of this ‘leak’, then I’m afraid they’re very naive indeed.
This causes questions amongst the fan base about whether to start Cech or not and I’ve seen people suggest his position is compromised.
Personally I don’t think this changes much if I’m honest. Cech is, has been and will always be, a consummate professional and questioning the integrity of a player who has served us well in recent years is unfair I think. If Cech plays in the final then he will give his all to win it for Arsenal, of that I’m sure, so I personally don’t understand why so many fans are in uproar over him representing the club.
The question over whether he should because of his form versus Leno, however, is a valid one and I think that is where a lot of the ire is coming from. Leno has proven he’s a better ‘keeper this season and there should be no room for sentiment in Emery’s decision making. But I’d be surprised if Cech doesn’t start and so what we need from him is a performance which shows all the doubters how wrong they were.
It also seems that more controversy is hitting us ahead of this final with the news that Mkhitaryan and Arsenal have decided that the Armenian cannot travel to Baku for the cup final. Now, I’ve not been the biggest fan of Mkhi’s and I wouldn’t want him to start next Wednesday, but there’s no way I wouldn’t want him as a member of the squad so this is a blow from a footballing perspective.
But if it was just a footballing perspective we’d all be dealing with this very differently, because the actions that Mkhi and Arsenal feel they need to take, highlight what a dark day this is for football. When players fear for their safety enough not to go to a cup final – which players dream about as the pinnacles of their footballing careers, then the game has some serious issues.
This action only further highlights the irresponsibility of UEFA in choosing Baku as a venue and in to that there should be some serious questions asked about the venue selection process. It seems quite clear to me that there appears to be little due diligence done by UEFA when it comes to choosing the venue. Unfortunately for this year’s cup final both Arsenal and Chelsea fans are the victims.
How can you choose a venue in which open conflict that is so obvious – and long standing – exists between two countries?
How can you choose a venue in which the host country admits that they do not have the infrastructure to cater for a mass migration of football fans in the space of a few days?
How can you choose a venue so difficult to get to and require such ridiculous journeys that some people are travelling to Oman first, before getting to Baku?
This is so wrong it beggars belief and yet UEFA have lined their pockets and dismissed any concern shown by the clubs with regards to the handling of this year’s cup final. There will be ten times more people in the Islington area on the evening than there is in Azerbaijan at the actual venue itself. As I’ve been saying for the last couple of weeks this is scandalous and it’s all in the name of UEFA lining their pockets. The greasy palms of greed from the selection committee are all too obvious with every passing day.
And there’s nothing any of us can do. Arsenal could boycott the competition but it would only work if Chelsea did the same. The result of doing so would also surely mean a banning of the club in UEFAs competitions and as a result that would financially impact Arsenal as well. It’s a difficult situation for the club but I understand why they won’t boycott the competition. And I don’t think they should. What should happen now is that serious questions are raised by the big clubs on these selection decisions for venues and if Arsenal – as one of the big clubs in Europe – can get the support of the other big clubs they could probably lobby UEFA and put them under enough pressure to act.
But that’s a conversation for another day. It’s not a ‘another day’ as in never; this needs to be dealt with and dealt with soon and I hope that plans are already afoot to address it.
Catch you all tomorrow.