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Hello once again, and let us delve into the most recent controversy in the footballing world, involving an old regular in Chelsea F.C. and a new addition in the form of a certain ball boy.



Right, first things first, let us get the analysis of the incident itself out of the way.
Now, I think we can all agree that both parties are to blame. Charlie Morgan, as he infamously posted to his Twitter account before the game, came out to time-waste for the Swans. He takes a very long time to get to the ball and by the time he does, Hazard is upon him wanting to get the ball back. The pushing from Hazard doesn't help as it enables the youngster to fall onto the ball and shield it from the Belgian. What happens next however should NEVER be done on a football field if you would like to remain on the pitch. Swinging your boot in the direction of someone lying on the ground is a red card offence whether you touch the ball or not and the referee was absolutely correct to take the action that he did.

Hazard will now have to wait for further FA judgement to be handed out to him as although it's quite clear that his kick was not malicious, it was still dangerous and sends completely the wrong message on how to handle those sorts of situations. Stepping back and getting the referee involved would have been the more sensible course of action.

It is certainly ironic that this incident has happened with Chelsea and any Chelsea fan that is feeling outraged should first consider these two points:

1) Even if this incident had not occurred and absolutely no time had been wasted, Chelsea would STILL have lost the tie.

2) Chelsea would not have won the Champions League last season had they not based entire game plans around time-wasting and conning the referee. Time-wasting and cheating in general has benefited Chelsea a hundred times more than it has hindered them.


Now let us move on to the delightful young moron that is clamouring to get his 15 minutes of fame (and succeeding) and my main point that I would like to express to you in this blog.

Charlie Morgan


He certainly looks like the sort of lad that you wouldn't be particularly distressed to see introduced to a fist at a not particularly subtle rate of knots.

However, that aside, the image does look familiar doesn't it. That is because we now see this sort of picture in every football game we ever watch. We see our favourite players whether they be Luis Suarez, Santi Cazorla, Gareth Bale, Robin Van Persie or Cristiano Ronaldo flinging themselves to the ground every week under little or no contact and holding themselves in a similar way as though they have just been run over by a passing buffalo. Yet of course they are not too mortally wounded to not be able to look towards the referee to try and see if their ruse has worked. The body language in Charlie Morgan's case actually reminds me of Mr Orange as he lays in the back of a car after receiving a bullet to the gut.

We can all laugh and point at him and say "Haha look at him, he thinks he's a professional footballer!". Yet what worries me is that this sort of behaviour is now what we associate and expect with professional footballers. Why is Charlie Morgan acting like this? Simple. Because he sees the top professionals in the world doing it every week, thus making it perfectly acceptable to emulate for the young, naive and impressionable youth of today. Charlie Morgan is living proof of that.



Now we have had instances in the recent months where players like Suarez and Bale have been booked for simulation somewhat harshly. My opinion is as follows: excellent. Without trying to shove the moral of 'The Boy who Cried Wolf' down your throats too much, as it stands in these players minds, they have more to gain by going down than staying on their feet. That is what we need to change and it will take many more harsh decisions on many more players before the message is received and acted upon. It's a sad fact that it has resorted to two wrongs making a right, but it's important in tilting the odds back in favour of the defender. Players may have been wrongly accused of simulation, but you can bet that they have still benefited from simulation ten times more than they have been punished for it.

Whilst the top footballers are allowed to get away with diving, time-wasting, and general gamesmanship, the further warped the image of the game will become. Gone is the beautiful game that was played by men, now we have a low and underhanded farce that is played by little boys. And unless we can help referees to come down harder on the culprits, it will only get worse..

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So then, Euro 2012 is looming and I personally can't wait, just hope I can be off work for the important games really, though it's not looking too good at the moment. :(

It got me thinking, what about constructing the best England team possible using players who have played for England from 1996 onwards. Worth a shot, if you read this, tell us your opinion on how it could be improved or whatever you like, I'm just doing this to kill some time, exams are over and nothing to do til 4th June when I start work! So we'll have the starting 11 and 7 substitutes, here we go:

GK: David Seaman (Don't need to justify this I'm sure)
DR: Stuart Pearce (Commanding defender in his time, scared the shit out of many a strike force)
DC: Tony Adams (Nuff Said)
DC: John Terry (Commanding again, as a person, not my cup of tea, but his past awards speak a great deal)
DL: Ashley Cole (As far as left - backs go, one of the greats, certainly helped Arsenal and Chelsea in the past)
MR: David Beckham (World class player, end of)
MC: Steven Gerrard (Again, great player, unlucky his team had a bad season this year, but still today, an admirable midfielder)
MC: Frank Lampard (Whether he should be in the starting 11 for the summer is questionable, but a few years back, immense player)
ML: Joe Cole (Alike Owen, Cole's had some annoying injury problems, but at his peak, a great winger and playmaker for England)
ST: Michael Owen (One of, if not the best player in the world at the start of the 2000s, got to feel sorry for him and his career being dogged by injury, but defo deserves this place)
ST: Alan Shearer (The man was an exceptional player, helping Blackburn win the league in 1995, and going on to be a Newcastle legend)

SB: Joe Hart (A real cracker of a keeper, great season this year and the future's looking very bright indeed)
SB: Gary Neville (Love him or hate him, throughout his England career, fair to say he proved a consistent right - back)
SB: Rio Ferdinand (Another player I really rate, unlucky not to get called up to the Euros, but has played many a fine performance for both club and country)
SB: Paul Scholes (Cracking attacking midfielder, had a great career for Man Utd, great at long distance shots and has been gifted for England in the past)
SB: Ashley Young (Personally really rate this lad. Stick him on the wing, let him do a lot of attacking play, defo one to look out for this year and for the future)
SB: Teddy Sheringham (A great striker in his day, perhaps unlucky to not win as many caps as he should of, but has helped England out on a few occasions it's fair to say)
SB: Wayne Rooney (Certainly a great striker, form for England hasn't been it's best recently, but hopefully will turn it around in the summer)

Of course I'll probably have forgotten someone, so give us your opinion or whatnot, but in my opinion, a fair 'best of' England squad from 1996 onwards.

Cheers,

Tom

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It's been a chaotic year in the Arsenal camp. Highs include the famous 2-1 victory over Barcelona in last season's Champions League and the inspiring 5-3 win over Chelsea. Lows include, well.. that cannot be summed up in a simple sentence.

After allowing the Carling Cup to be won by Birmingham was the customary exercise of completely falling apart and unravelling at the seams as Arsenal are in recent campaigns becoming famous for. They will often go from competing in all competitions to competing in none in the space of about 2 or 3 weeks these days. Many would attribute it to a defence that has been gutted of power and reliability ever since its members decided to either leave for richer clubs, were emotionally destroyed by Bobby Zamora, or just plain thought that a pitiful £55,000 a week was not worth turning up to work for.

However, there is hope in Arsene Wengers current set of 'kids', I feel. In Wojceich Szczesny we have found a keeper whose reflexes, presence, and overall, consistency are reminiscent of the great David Seaman.

Thomas Vermaelen, injured now, as I'm sure some feel is the norm in his few years at Arsenal, represents our most commanding, fearless and composed defender since Sol Campbell was the rock of the Arsenal back four. If he manages to stay fit for a decent stretch then he will be vital for Arsenal in a defensive (and also an attacking) sense.

Laurent Koscielny is (along with RVP of course) our player of the season so far in my humble opinion. His ability to read the game and make vital interceptions has saved Arsenal from conceding on countless occasions. His strength and determination has also shone through in Arsenal's increasingly make-shift back line. If he continues to improve then he really will deserve to wear Tony Adams' number six shirt.

Currently our first choice full-backs are on the operating table, but when fit, Sagna and Gibbs provide a potent attacking threat and decent defensive coverage. Gibbs needs to work on getting back a bit more, as does his understudy Andre Santos, though he can be excused as it is in his Brazilian nature to be a forward-thinking defender.

With these players fit on a consistent basis, then Arsenal can begin to look more like the composed and solid defensive unit we remember from nearly a decade ago.

What needs to be addressed is that much better cover needs to be made available. Mertesacker and Jenkinson look completely lost and out of their depth when they play. Mertesacker is not used to the pace and physicality of the English game and Jenkinson looks like what he is, a player that barely made an impression in League One. Djourou had moments last season when he looked quite solid at the back, and he is a more consistent choice at right-back than Jenkinson, but he is still caught out of position too commonly and doesn't read the game as cleverly as his peers. He needs to improve fast if he wants to survive in the team, he's had more than enough time to do it.

I'm going to finish by saying welcome back to King Thierry Henry. I'd take him over Marouane 'I promise I was good for Bordeaux' Chamakh and Yao 'Maybe if I dribble into a player he'll disappear' Gervinho any day. :)

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Fantasy Football Winter Wildcard


It's January, and we've all got a great chance to totally reshape our teams in the form of another Wildcard. Yes, that's right, unlimited transfers for one week only. You're doing awful, thinking you're never going to get into the top million, never mind win a league, so who are you going to buy? Well, look no further than this guide.



Goalkeepers


Ali Al Habsi - Wigan - £4.1m - 71

If you want to spend big in other departments, Ali's your man. He's extremely cheap, and as Kirkland is out on loan, he's Wigan's number one. At 71 already, you can't go wrong.


Defenders


Seamus Coleman - Everton - £5.2m - 80

The great thing about Seamus is that even though he's marked as a defender, he plays right wing so he gets four points for a clean sheet and can easily get in the scoring list. He's a regular fixture in the Everton starting eleven, and with Pienaar gone he's even more likely to play the majority of Everton's remaining games.

Rafael Da Silva - Man United - £5.7m - 48

Rafael is really making the right back slot his own this season at Old Trafford. With our defence being so disciplined, he has license to get further up the field, where he can really cause damage. Even against the might of Gareth Bale, he took the initiative to attack, attack, attack, and used his skills to great effect until he was harshly sent off. He may only have 48 points this season, but he will add to that by the end of the season.

Ahmed Elmohamady - Sunderland - £5.2m - 89

One look at this creative fullback's graph and you can see it's up, down, up, down. His assists have been one of Sunderland's key driving forces this season, and Steve Bruce will surely be considering signed Ahmed on a permanent basis in the Summer.


Midfielders


Matthew Etherington - Stoke - £6.0m - 106

He simply can't stop assisting. Since last season, Matthew has been taking the phrase 'purple patch' to a whole new level. With the likes of Ricardo Fuller, Kenwyne Jones and now John Carew up front, he can only continue to score and assist for fun.

Gnegneri Yaya Toure - Man City - £5.6m - 92

Despite the fact he's primarily a defensive midfielder, Yaya is Man City's most attacking central midfielder. Even Vidic would have a tough time stopping this tank of a player, who specialises in making powerful runs through the middle. It's hard to see why he's so cheap.

Adam Johnson - Man City - £5.7m - 73

Man City's super sub is one of England's hottest prospects. He's a delight to watch, what with his dribbling and shooting. Even though he has so many points, one of his disadvantages is that he (wrongly) doesn't always play.


Forwards


Andrew Carroll - Newcastle - £6.1m - 113

England's biggest hope and the next Alan Shearer without a doubt. What he has over Shearer is that he's left footed. Currently sidelined with a thigh injury, Andy is one of the top scorers in Fantasy Football due to his habit of scoring pretty much whenever he plays. Still extremely cheap, you won't regret signing him once he's back.


Dimitar Berbatov - Man United - £9.6m - 132

At time of writing, Dimitar is the highest scorer in Fantasy Football, and under £10m. Whenever he's partnered up front with Rooney, he seems to really shine, as he's proven with three against Liverpool, five against Blackburn and three against Birmingham. He plays best at home, so you might want to get him when we play at Old Trafford.


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After seeing the Jaguars play so horribly in some games earlier this season (like against the Chargers and in the first Titans matchup), it's almost incredulous that they'd be leading the division and quite comfortably in the playoff hunt. But if they can keep up that dominating rushing attack, who knows what could happen?

While Maurice Jones-Drew's career-high 186 rushing yards were laudable, don't overlook the offensive line - and guys like Greg Jones and Zach Miller - who had amazing games opening holes for MJD (and other runners).

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WikiLeaks, the rogue media organization, has been getting lots of attention by disseminating thousands of classified documents. I don't know all the details of this situation, considering I haven't personally studied the leaked documents, but I applaud what they're doing as long as they focus on the really juicy stuff and redact names of ordinary people who might be harmed by the release of certain information.

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I don't feel like writing too much today - it's just too cold to type particularly fast. If the weather stays as cold as it was last winter, that would be truly unprecedented in Jacksonville's recorded history - having a very warm summer followed by a very cold summer - and would either make me believe Al Gore or else buy a 1960's muscle car to get our carbon back into whack!

Maybe I'll start posting more often - and longer - if people start reading this. Until next time, that's all folks.

- Vinny

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