The press, conveniently forgetting it was one player, seem intent of linking racism with our club. This time it’s Jose Reina who has appeared in a TV commercial which is said to be racist and homophobic.
I haven’t seen the advert nor do I wish to, one of many benefits of having Sky+ is that you can now skip through this sort of nonsense. No doubt you can Google it and find it somewhere if you really care however, a quote from Simon Woolley who is part of something called Operation Black Vote said this
“Firstly, how would the Spanish feel if the English stereotyped Spanish people as backward, stupid, and animalistic homosexuals? Secondly, what does this say about Pepe Reina?”
If the Spanish were like Simon Woolley then presumably they would be offended. Perhaps it is part of a wider malaise, anyone remember the abuse England’s black players took when they played in Spain sometime ago? Most however, I suspect would simply view the advert as silly, outdated, inappropriate and ill thought out but hardly grounds for launching the Armada!
What does this say about Pepe Reina? That he was ill advised for getting involved but, despite this, he is not, as Mr Woolley seems to imply, a racist? Moreover what does this say about Spanish TV and whatever vetting procedure they use before allowing ads of this type go to air? What does this say about the insurance company? Perhaps any ire should be directed at them and surely the best way to make this hurt is to not take out any of their policies. A sensible and more effective approach to take but then again that wouldn’t really make much of a story would it?
So to this lunchtime were we entertain Arsenal. The Carling Cup final should be a distant memory by now as we try to concentrate to make up ground in the league. In terms of the runners and riders for fourth place I suspect Liverpool will be regarded as a rank outsiders however, a few wins and things could change particularly if they are against clubs above us such as Arsenal. Looking at it a different way if we lose today and, if other results go against us, we could be ten points of fifth let alone forth place. Games are beginning to run out for us, but hopefully Sunday has given the players the appetite to kick on and make a well timed run into a key position?
Team wise and what a difference a week makes. From being able to pick from a full squad for Wembley we now have injuries to Daniel Agger (rib on Sunday) and Steven Gerrard (hamstring playing for England on Wednesday). Nonetheless we have the cover and, with all due respect, we’ve done quite well without Gerrard for most of this season and have plenty of defensive strength in depth, Presumably Carragher, Coates or one of the youngsters will fill in for Agger and no doubt Kenny will be able to shuffle the midfield about to accommodate Gerrard’s absence – Kuyt or Maxi to step in?
Re today’s opposition I guess it all depends on which version of Arsenal turn up. The side that beat Spurs last week or the one that has lost so many games this season that normally you would have expected them to win, as if we can talk! I guess we might have hoped that Arsenal would have half an eye on their Champions League tie next week however, given the result at the San Siro, I suspect they will be fully concentrating on today? Arsene Wenger makes me laugh, in last night’s Standard he bemoaned his side’s up and coming crowded fixture list and then suggested that we wouldn’t be tired from Sunday as we’ve had time to recover. Presumably our stock has fallen so much over the years that none of our players were deemed good enough to feature alongside, or against, his precious charges in the midweek internationals!
Prediction? Our home form, together with the past history of this game, suggests a draw probably with Arsenal knocking the ball around nicely, weaving some pretty patterns scoring and then allowing us back into the game for an equaliser. Last seasons was the other way round with, ironically, Jose Reina handing the visitors a point with an own goal (click here for match report). Even though we have a game in hand this is really one we need to win and brave, brazen ill considered optimism compels me to suggest that we will by two of our goals to their one!