Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Champions League cricket

So, Chennai romped home, beating the Warriors in the Champions League T20 final game. Indeed, they have been the team to beat ever. They have been the most consistent team since the dawn the T20/IPL/CL era. The reached the final of IPL 2008, semi final on IPL 2009. winners of IPL 2010 and now CL 2010 winners. I don’t care if people call Dhoni lucky, over-optimistic, talks-too-much captain. To me, he has delivered, he has won matches, as captain of the India and as the captain of CSK. So, congrats to MSD and congrats to CSK.

Coming to the popularity of the CL T20, or the lack of it, I think it would be unfair and makes no sense to compare it with Champions League Football. The CL football has a long, rich history (started in 1955). The Champions League Final, football, is the most watched annual event, drawing more than 100 million viewers. To compare an event more than 50 years old with one that is hardly two or three years old is, as I said, wasteful.

So, what can be done to increase its popularity and make it more meaningful?

Well, for starters, we cannot have new auctions every 3 or 4 years. I am talking about IPL here. There is, as you might know, going to be a new auction window before the next IPL, which would see all the teams being re-shuffled. While, Sachin and Dhoni have stated that they want to hold on to as many players as possible, only time will tell how successful they can be. Even so, the idea of having fresh auctions every 3 years is not a great idea. One of the things that makes Champions League football and club football in general so special is the traditions of the clubs, the rivalries between clubs, the “animosity” between the fans. A player has to think a million times before he makes a switch from Real Madrid to Barcelona. Athletic Bilbao, for example, is a team that recruits only home-grown players. As I said, we do need to give it some time to create rivalries between teams. But random re-shuffling of players every other year is not going to help the cause in anyway.

Then, you have the case of one player playing for different clubs and choosing the “bigger” club in the Champions League for obvious reasons. E.g: Jacques Kallis plays for the Warriors and also for the RCB (Bangalore). In the CL he chose to play for Bangalore. (It is a different matter that he was injured and dint play in the CL) Now, that is something for organizers to look at. Surely, a player must give preference to the local team/ team of his nationality. I would not like to see a situation where Kallis is taking 3-fors and scoring fifties against his own Warriors, or Ross Taylor taking apart the Central Districts. They should only be allowed to chose the “bigger” team if their local team did not make it to the CL.

The idea of “home and away” games also seems tasty. While the Sri Lankan (Wayamba), New Zealand (Central Districts) and West Indian (Guyana) teams were outplayed by the the CSKs and the RCBs, it would be interesting to see how, e.g South Australia would would play Wayamba on a slow-low turner at Galle. Can Suresh Raina play his pick-ups and hoicks against Central Districts on a green top at Napier? I know, it will be difficult to have teams travel all over in such a short period of time. But, this is just an idea that the organizers could keep in mind and try to implement.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Arspective

Back after a long break with the Arspective.

Arsenal 4-1 Bolton

And Kevin Davies has just joined my "Most Hated Footballers List", which includes Van Bommel, the Walrus (Alladyce), Shawcross and more. We were lucky that we came out of the with no player injured by the Bolton captain. It was almost as if he was playing this game with intent of sending someone back on the stretchers. I
seriously do wish that the punk was red-carded instead of Gary Cahill. Diaby was injured by a typical 'Bolton' challenge ( I am sure the Walrus has a hand in this), and had to be subbed immediately after he came in. He has joined the RVP, Bendtner and TV in the 'injured list'

Anyway, it was a good performance by us offensively, but question marks on the defence remain. Although, a point to be noted is that we started with an almost second string backline. No Sagna, No TV, No Clichy. Koscienly scored a goal, but his defensive abilities will be under the radar after this match. Twice, his headers back to Almunia was short. Once, we were punished when the Chinese Bolton player retrieved the ball and gave it to some 'El Matador'. Fortunately, it dint really matter to us. It still remains to be seen who (Djorou, Koscielny and Squilacci) Wenger would prefer when all are fit to partner TV. Cesc's cecsy performance is something that we have got used to, so I wont waste my time ranting and raving about his awesome passing and vision. But what was heartening to see, was the way he was trying to protect us against the Brutal Assault by Bolton. Most notable ones are when Diaby was kicked in the shin by some Paul Robinson and when Koscielny was hammered on the head by a horribly late challenge from Davies. Rosicky's was another stylish performance. His (eye of the needle) pass to Arshavin from the outside of his boot in the forth minute was a thing of beauty, probably the highlight of the match. Song's was another powerful performance. As worse his hair looks now, his performance on the pitch has remained awesome (if not better). He was all over the pitch, defending, attacking and was rewarded with a goal. Talking of horrible hair and good performance, MMM comes to mind (Marouanne, Moron the Moroccan). Seriously, his hair makes him looks like one! But, we dont really care as long as he puts in good performances like today's. His link play was neat, and so was his headed goal. He looks to be a player a little limited in ability but someone who is more than willing to put in his share of hard work. Arshavin, I do feel for him. He missed a couple of sitters, was pushed in the box at least 3 or 4 times (of which one could have been a penalty), was Off-side a dozen times when he could have been clean through. The Czar could have done with a goal. Hope he scores one soon. Almunia was decent, except for one bad pass to a Bolton player that could have spelt disaster on another day. (We still need a goalie). Gibbs, Eboue, Squillacci, Wilshere put in good performances. Vela got himself on the scoresheet with a neat finish. He is a player who does confuse me a bit. There was talk of him moving on from Arsenal at the start of the season. Then he comes up with a finish like that. Hope he stays and goes the 'Fabregas Way' rather than the 'Hleb way'.

Looking ahead to Braga (our next game in the Champions League), we have Diaby out, TV out and obviously Walcott, RVP, Bendtner and RVP. At home to Braga should still be ok unless we get too far ahead of ourselves.
Likely team for tonight:
Clichy Koscielny Squilacci Sagna
Wilshere Fabregas
Rosicky Arshavin