Daily Archives: April 20, 2012

A Tribute to the Premier League’s Best Divers: The Legends of the “Fall”

Sometimes, standing up is the hardest part

Nothing much has happened after that humbling home defeat to Wigan. The media Vultures did their bit to spice things up.

Arsenal’s captain, Robin van Persie has been on the spotlight for all the…wrong reasons. The Mirror published reports of him chilling with El Capitan and Ibrahim Afellay in Barcelona’s hotel in London while other gists surfaced about the skipper setting up a meeting with some Manchester City folks.

There was also the pointless issue of the handshake shenanigans with some twat in Wigan. As Arseblogger rightly pointed out, if a player has been a twat all game long then the offer of a hand after the final whistle doesn’t make him any less of a twat. Arsene Wenger made a point or two about Wigan’s time-wasting tactics, but he still gave the Latics the credit they deserved.

Moving over to today’s post, I’ve decided to take time off the world of Arsenal that has been infested with the regular barrage of abuses to poor ol’ Aaron Ramsey and the usual negativity a loss brings.

I’ve decided to air my views about one of the most consistent trends in the Premier League.

Not the late winners that heralded Arsenal as the comeback kings, the FA’s inconsistency in their decision-making, the atrocious officiating, the fiercely contested battle for the Champions League spots or the dogfight for relegation.

That disgraceful act that can be the difference between a win, a draw and a loss. That act that has the potential to make a team lose a player for a crime he certainly didn’t commit.

The art of diving.

Laying emphasis on the epic illustration above, I present to you:

The Legends of the Fall

Lead Actor: Gareth Bale

Gareth the Chimp auditioning for Team Great Britain's Olympic Diving Team

For what it’s worth, the world’s best left-footed Chimpanzee, Gareth Bale is odds on to win two potential gold medals for Team Great Britain in the forthcoming Olympic Games this summer.

Bale will certainly represent the British football team with the likes of the much-maligned Aaron Ramsey and loads of English folks without Jack Wilshere though. A good performance from the Brits can see them win gold but Bale will also be an integral part of the Team GB Olympic Diving Squad.

In one of the most enthralling North London derbies ever, the game was marred by Bale’s antics that saw his team win a penalty from a blatant dive. Emmanuel Adebayor converted the spot kick to put the Spuds two up but Arsenal turned on the style to give their faithful fans a game to remember.

Funnily enough, there was no media outrage after Bale’s dive but when Eduardo dived against Celtic in a Champions League play-off game a few seasons ago, a witch hunt followed with people holding forks and torches requesting for the Crozilian to be banned. They even went as far as creating a catchy headline to match his diving act, Cheat-Ed.

In the wake of that shameful incident that taints the beautiful game, former top referee Graham Poll has told everyone to stop blaming Mr. Dean but Gareth Bale and his diving crew deserve to be punished by the FA:

“If it was a foul it should have been a red card for the keeper and perhaps Dean had doubts over the accuracy of his decision and left him on the pitch. Replays showed that Bale had not been fouled but I would not blame Dean for being fooled; rather look at the conduct of Bale and plead that the FA introduce retrospective punishment for diving. This would not need a change to laws of the game, nor permission from the IFAB or FIFA as it is up to each governing body to determine their own disciplinary code.”

Bale responded to Graham Poll’s comments declaring that he doesn’t dive, but he’s into ‘self-preservation’:

“If people want to say I’m diving they can. But at the end of the day I’m trying to get out of the way and save myself and my career.

For once, I’m going to agree with Bale. Monkeys don’t “dive”, they “swing” from trees to trees.

He probably imagined Wojciech Szczesny’s post as the nearest tree so he “swung” in that direction winning a fictitious penalty in the process.

Supporting Actor: Ashley Young

You do too much, you're not Superman you know

In the yesteryear, Arsenal had its own “Ashley” that marauded the left flank forming a telepathic understanding with the dreamy Robert Pires. After winning seven trophies and notching up 228 appearances for the Gunners, the full back embarked on a new adventure in the Blue half of South West London.

However, there’s another “Ashley” that has become England’s own Superman without a cape in the 18-yard box. He was one player I admired from his Watford and Aston Villa days and I’d envisaged that he won’t remain in Villa Park after a while.

My predictions became a reality when Sir Alex Ferguson invested £18m for his services and he hit the ground running with some good early season performances for the Red Devils before his form waned. He will certainly be remembered for his role in the 8-2 mauling of Arsenal and the 3-0 win over Tottenham. His finishes in both games were “sweet” to say the least.

However, Ashley Young has added a new dimension to his game and his recent antics have made him enter some bad books. When Manchester United hosted Queens Park Rangers in Old Trafford, Young strayed offside when he received a through ball and he hit the turf as if he was sniped following a duel with Shaun Derry.

Derry wrongfully received his match orders and Shrek converted the penalty to put the Mancs one up. Ashley Young’s dive looked worse with each passing replay but it convinced the QPR hierarchy to state that Young could partner Tom Daley in Team GB’s Olympic Diving Squad, alongside Gareth Bale of course.

Young continued his diving run with another shameful “simulation” against Aston Villa.

Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger was also irritated with the incident and postulated that divers should receive three-match bans.  He also supported Gary Neville’s assertion that diving in English football spread from foreign players.

Why evils?

Unlike Bale, Young hasn’t come out yet to say that he’s preserving his next generation with each dive in the box.

Director: Didier Drogba

The World's Serial Diver

As a pure and thorough-bred African, I’m proud to know that my continent has produced the best set of centre forwards  in different generations for world football to witness. Many defenders have had numerous nightmares on and off the pitch courtesy of the performances of the likes of George Weah, Abedi Pele, Roger Milla  and Nwankwo Kanu amongst others.

Chelsea’s former goalie, Ed de Goey can attest to the “evil” Kanu can render to any opposition defence. Scoring a hat-trick in 15 minutes is certainly not as easy as Abou Diaby picking up an injury.

In recent times, the world has witnessed the latest breed of Africa’s finest strikers. While Samuel Eto’o continues to pave the way and earn the greens in Anzhi, strikers like Frederic Kanoute, Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Papiss Cisse and the Ba Ba Senegalese Sheep have registered their names in the folklore of their teams.

However, this post is dedicated to divers, and Africa’s undisputed diver remains the “Serial Diver” himself, Didier Yves Tebily Drogba.

Drogba’s stats are sickening to say the least and we all know that he has a season or two left in the gas before bidding his farewell to top-flight football. In Guingamp, he scored 24 goals in 50 games while he smashed in 32 goals in 55 games for Marseille. He rose to prominence in Chelsea and he has scored 155 goals in 336 games for the London-based outfit.

Despite having goal scoring statistics that can make you drool, Drogba is a serial diver that has made a tackle look like a shot from close range with a Rocket Propelled Grenade. Week-in-week-out, Chelsea fans are always entertained because they know what to expect from Drogba, besides the goals of course.

Drogba has perfected the art of diving and the picture below is no different from Michael Jackson’s world famous 45-degree stance he executed in the Smooth Criminal video.

Gerard Pique, he's a smooth criminal

Liverpool’s Luis Suarez also deserves an honorable mention but I decided to stick with the Lead Actor, the Supporting Actor and the Director.

In the art of diving, the cast is really much.

That’s yer lot folks,

The Legends of the Fall.


Reasons Why Arsenal Fans Have to Get Off Aaron Ramsey’s Back

The goal that killed Osama bin Laden

This has become a somewhat “delicate issue” so I’ll be as plain and crystal clear as I can be.

Aaron Ramsey is currently going through a poor run of form and like Andrey Arshavin before he was shipped back to Zenit, he has become everyone’s favorite scapegoat.

The fact that he has scored Tottenham, Sunderland and Marseille coupled with seven assists to his team mates with the stand-out chipped pass to Gervinho against Stoke hasn’t been enough. He is now a much-maligned figure and his confidence levels have plummeted downhill courtesy of the constant barrage he receives on Twitter on a regular basis.

The same fans that sent him over 50,000 goodwill messages during his long-term injury recuperation now wish that he suffers another injury, or even worse.

Let me take you down the memory lane.


Aaron Ramsey broke into the Cardiff setup in the 2005/06 season before Arsene Wenger acquired his services in 2008. He scored on his Champions League debut in the 5-2 victory against Fenerbahce. He found his footing in the 2009/10 season.

February 27, 2010 was a horrible day for gooners worldwide. This was the same month that Eduardo suffered that horrific ankle injury in St. Andrews two years earlier. The Gunners visited the dreaded Britannia Stadium for an away league encounter against the Rugby outfit Stoke City.

Rory Delap pelted one of his trademark missiles to the box. After a goalmouth scramble, a bloke called Pugh scored the opener. The self-proclaimed world best striker, Nicklas Bendtner equalized with a brilliant header. Thomas Vermaelen and Cesc Fabregas settled our nerves in dying moments of the game.

Every game in football is remembered for one moment. It can be a moment of magic, madness, elation or deep sorrow.

You can talk of magic if you remember the Champions League knock-out phase match between Arsenal and Porto in the 2009/10 season. I still don’t understand what Samir Nasri did with those able-bodied defenders but the magic trick probably worked on me watching it from my TV.

You can talk of madness if you remember that stalemate between Manchester United and Arsenal in the 2003/04 season. After Ruud Boy slammed the bar with his penalty kick the ref ended the game. Our players went berserk and an assault on the Dutch goal poacher followed. I miss that crazy lot.

You can talk of sheer elation if you remember that epic encounter between Arsenal and Barcelona at the Emirates last season. I can’t remember the last time those Aliens lost a game after scoring first.

The moment of deep sorrow took place two years ago in the Britannia Stadium. Just as French fans will never forget the name “Materazzi”, the name “Ryan Shawcross” will be in our minds for a long time. Just like Dan Smith and Martin Taylor, the Rugby player snapped Ramsey’s tibula and fibia with a clumsy tackle.

Rambo’s leg was hanging on his socks. His countryman Glenn Whelan held his hands till Colin Lewin and the team of physios took him to the hospital for further treatment.


Arsenal is a living testament as a club that has seen its players suffer long-term issues and the fans have also witnessed the end results.

Tomas Rosicky suffered a hamstring injury in the start of 2008 and was sidelined for 18 months. It has taken the Czech dynamo an extra 30 months to reproduce the form of the Little Mozart we purchased in 2006. Had Rosicky been in a “less patient” club, he would have been playing for new employers.

However, the lethal finisher, Eduardo da Silva didn’t get such patience probably because of the amount of personnel in his playing position. The Cro-zilian was in a rich vein of form before his leg was snapped like a twig by Birmingham’s Martin Taylor. On his return to full fitness, he became a shadow of that clinical goalscorer and was flushed to Ukraine.

Abou Diaby was also on the end of a horrendous challenge that saw his ankle get shattered to bits and he has never gotten himself again. Journeys all around the world to solve his injury worries have been to no avail.

Aaron Ramsey on the other hand was out for the best part of a year but he worked effortlessly to get himself back to optimal fitness. He was even vocal about how he was going to fight to win his place back in the Arsenal squad.

Some people feel that Ramsey’s injury paved the way for Wilshere but they are clearly mistaken. Jack Wilshere is where he is right now because of one man, Arsene Wenger.

There’s this adage I learned when I watched a Nollywood movie a few years back,

What the old man sees when he is sitting on a chair, the young man standing on a palm tree can never see it”.

When Wilshere was loaned to Bolton, he was extremely impressive. Owen Coyle came around again to request his services for another campaign but Wenger declined his offer. Wenger cleared our doubt when Wilshere was introduced in the first team when we played Liverpool in Anfield at the start of last season.

We all know how indispensable Wilshere is to us now.

This same Wenger sent Ramsey on loan twice last season but he still brought the Welshman back to the team and his faith was rewarded with a goal against Manchester United, much to the demise of Osama bin Laden the day after.

Literally speaking.

Call it coincidence if you must, but further goals from Ramsey against Tottenham, Marseille and Sunderland came hand-in-hand with the deaths of Steve Jobs, Muammar Gaddafi and Whitney Houston respectively.

Without further ado, here are the reasons why Arsenal fans have to get off Aaron Ramsey’s back.

His Age

For the love of the Heavens, Aaron Ramsey is just 21 years old. I must admit that he has had a boatload of games for Arsenal and he’ll make his 100th appearance for Arsenal if he starts against Chelsea on Saturday.

The departure of Cesc Fabregas was meant to coincide with the rise to glory of Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere but he clearly hasn’t been able to live up with that “great expectation” tag placed on him.

Ramsey’s best years are well ahead of him and the writing is on the wall that he’ll improve through hard work and determination.

Current Depth of the Squad

Arsene Wenger began the season with just 25 Gunners for the entire campaign. The boss used these players with a youngster or two across four competitions and as expected, injuries took its toll on the squad.

First things first, Arsenal lost two of its key central midfielders to rich predators and Arsene Wenger should take some part of the blame for not replacing them on time. Following the 8-2 mutilation in the hands of Manchester United, the boss cleaned the dust off from the club’s cheque book to make five deadline day signings.

At the end of the transfer window, Arsenal was eligible to use Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, Yossi Benayoun and Aaron Ramsey as its central attacking midfielders. It’s a bit funny to know that a “holding midfielder” leads the assists chart with 14.

Judging from the quality of the players in the aforementioned list, Ramsey won’t have been a regular starter but the gods of injuries have ravaged the squad leaving Ramsey as one of the available options for a league chunk of the season. For this reason, Ramsey has played 40 games for Arsenal, scoring three goals and laying on seven assists.

Judging from his input and contribution to the team, does he warrant such vitriol on Twitter?

Be the judge of that.

His Performances of the Past

Unless you live in a far away cave with no access to internet, colored TV or a sports magazine, you should know that Aaron Ramsey has been at Arsenal since 2008. In his four seasons at the club, he has been pretty impressive and his stats certainly prove so.

He started a bit slow in his first season but his next (2009/10) undoubtedly got him plaudits from his manager, the media vultures, his team mates and of course, Arsenal’s insatiable fans. I don’t want to delve into performances in specific games but Ramsey did pretty well before he got shawcrossed.

There are many other reasons best known to you but I’m okay with this three.

Whether you value his performances or not, bear in mind that Aaron Ramsey needs our support more than ever.

I hope I’ve been crystal clear enough.


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