This Week in Football: Wenger, Nasri, and the Supercopa Brawl
Welcome to another Bleacher Report Edition of "This Week in Football." This week I will analyze the Nasri situation, Wenger's possible exit, and my feelings toward the Supercopa fights. Come back every Friday for updates on the good, the bad and the funny of European Football.
The majority of this column will be written on European football (club or international).
Transfer Rumors will have a place in this column, but there are enough great writers already on this site to give you the skinny on each European move.
If you have a funny footy video and would like to see it next week's column, you can contact me at email@example.com.
In the News: Nasri, Wenger, and La Liga
Nasri Selected for Arsenal
Well this is going to be awkward. Due to a significantly depleted roster—Jack Wilshere is still missing due to injury, and Alex Song and Gervinho are serving three-match domestic bans—Arsene Wenger has (un)willingly included want-away Samir Nasri in Arsenal’s team selection for the weekend clash against Liverpool.
After being booed and heckled by Arsenal fans last weekend (there's a rather unsavory cheer concerning the Frenchman that can be looked up on YouTube,) Nasri tweeted “I heard what the fans were singing about me on Saturday and it is really disrespectful because I'm still an Arsenal player,”—the most important word in that tweet being still.
Arsenal fans waste little time in voicing their displeasure, as Emmanuel Adebayor found out after forcing a move away from the Emirates to Manchester City in 2009.
According to Roberto Mancini, the Nasri-to-Manchester City deal is in its final stages and could be completed by Monday. But just to make the situation a bit more bizarre, Nasri apparently stated on Friday that he preferred Manchester United to their crosstown rivals.
We are thinking the same thing: “When will this saga end!”
Arsene Wenger To Leave Arsenal?
Rumors swirled about the Arsenal camp Friday. Former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein warned Arsenal supporters that the iconic French manager could step away from the club if the rampant criticism toward him fails to subside.
Despite promising a summer-spending spree (just like every summer), Wenger has spent no more than 12 million on a player—which he put down to bring Southampton teen winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to the Emirates.
In his weekly press conference early Friday, Wenger exhorted fans to trust his judgment. Given the current climate, that call will likely fall upon deaf ears. Gunners fans want results—and if Arsenal fail to secure qualification for the Champions League group stages, and drop points to Liverpool and Manchester United in coming weeks, August could prove to be a true span of dog days for the Frenchman.
Spanish Opening Weekend Postponed
After a thrilling Supercopa (Barcelona defeated Real Madrid 5-4 on aggregate) got Spanish fans excited for the weekend, a player strike has delayed the start of the 2011 season indefinitely, due to lack of fulfilled contracts.
Spanish players have said that they will strike for the entire season if necessary, but negotiations have progressed in the past week and a solution is expected to be arrived upon soon.
I know you might be disappointed now, Spanish fans, but in the long run, this strike will have little effect on the season.
As the NFL has proved, if a popular league sorts out its legal issues without taking away games, the fans will come back.
My Reaction to the SuperCopa Finale
This week one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports started back up again, as Real Madrid took on Barcelona in the Spanish SuperCopa.
As always, the run of fixtures featured some terrific football—with both sides fielding a veritable "who's-who" of international football stars.
Lionel Messi’s superb volley put away his rivals in a 3-2 victory (5-4 aggregate.) It was a strike worthy enough to win any game, and most certainly put the finishing touch on what was a rollicking end to the match.
But the true finale came when Real Madrid defender Marcelo scissor-tackled Barcelona new signing Cesc Fabregas in the 90th minute, resulting in a bench-clearing brawl and three ejections. Some fans have labeled the scuffle an embarrassment, but I had no problem with the fighting rivals. In fact, I enjoyed it.
I must admit that I am not a diehard La Liga fan and have no serious connections with any team in the league. I am a true neutral observer and simply turned on the game to be entertained like any soccer fan would.
However, I came into the game not looking forward to the goals, or the skills, or even the coaches. My main purpose of sitting on the couch Wednesday afternoon was to watch the cheap-shots, hard-fouls, and chippiness that only a few rivalries in this game still have to offer.
With the English Premier League's crackdown on illegal tackles, it seems as though some of the grit and fierceness that once made those matches so special has been lost. Alex Song will be absent from Arsenal’s next three games due to stomping on Joey Barton’s leg, yet Marcelo remains untouched after attempting to kick Lionel Messi in the groin in the first leg.
Wayne Rooney was suspended two games for simply yelling at a cameraman last year. On the other hand, Jose Mourinho can gouge eyes at will. No wonder he left Chelsea in 2007.
As you can see, Spain has no reservations about challenging the EPL for the label of toughest football league. While they may have taken the task a bit too much to heart, a little fire on the football pitch never hurt anyone.
Playing witness to a classic rivalry is exactly why I tune into every Barcelona-Real Madrid game I can.
With the amount of quality throughout European leagues these days, I have my pick of potential breathtaking games to watch.
But to find two rivals who can be let off the leash twice a year for 90 minutes with no consequences—now that is very rare. That is why El Classico is the most entertaining match in all of football.
Goal of the Week: Arjen Robben
Robben's Champions League strike takes home this week's GOW honors.
Keep the Faith- It may not be funny, but for all you homies out there, here is a hip new rap about Arsenal. Okay, I promise I won’t say homies ever again in a football piece.
Sheep Slaughtering- Turkish team Sivasspor FC slaughtered a live sheep in a pregame ritual that left multiple players covered in blood before the match. It was a good idea at the time.
Scott Parker Bid- West Ham had a laugh this afternoon as QPR offered a mere 4 million for desired midfielder Scott Parker. Their response, “We see it as a cheap publicity stunt. It's a bit like us bidding £12 million for Wayne Rooney."
Follow me @RBStampede on Twitter.