Arsene Wenger still waits for ideology to be vindicated


Richard Jolly

These are Arsene Wenger's wilderness years. Or so they are described, anyway.

Wilderness can be a strange way to brand annual top-four finishes and qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League, to talk of the glamour tie with Barcelona and the head-to-head battles for Manchester United for both the Premier League and the FA Cup.

Yet the six-year wait for a trophy continues.

Even a final where they were overwhelming favourites did not bring a coveted cup back to the Emirates Stadium. Instead Birmingham City are the Carling Cup winners. A historic triumph for them is a fresh embarrassment for Arsenal.

There was something sadly symbolic about Wojciech Szczesny and Laurent Koscielny's 89th-minute mix-up, handing the winner to Obafemi Martins: it was a microcosm of Arsenal's flaws.

It was the inexperience of a 20-year-old goalkeeper, the lack of conviction of a central defender who does not possess the pedigree of many of Arsenal's attacking talents, the sense that this is a team that can buckle under pressure.

To some, too, it was a consequence of Wenger's prudence. Koscielny cost £9.7 million (Dh57.2m), but Szczesny was the home-grown alternative to buying a goalkeeper. There is no guarantee that a more expensive alternative would not have fumbled on such an occasion, but it appears unlikely.

The belief that the young Pole could be Arsenal's goalkeeper for years to come ensured there was no short-term fix in the transfer market. Wenger has always looked long term, but the future remains frustratingly out of reach.

In many respects, Arsenal are the most accomplished side in England, yet moments of fragility mean the pragmatists draw unflattering comparisons with their battle-hardened counterparts at Old Trafford.

Manchester United do not lose cup finals in the 89th minute, the theory goes, or give up two-goal leads to lose a derby at home, as Arsenal did when Tottenham Hotspur visited the Emirates Stadium in November.

Or contrive to turn a four-goal advantage into a draw, as happened to the Gunners against Newcastle United. In short, the constancy of purpose of winners can desert them.

And yet … Robin van Persie's Wembley equaliser was a goal of rare beauty, the sort that few teams can muster. To then lose the Dutchman on a day when Cesc Fabregas and Theo Walcott were already sidelined was a cruel blow. Misfortune seems to stalk Arsenal.

Overwhelming as last season's 4-1 defeat to Barcelona at Camp Nou was, it was a depleted team that Lionel Messi dominated. Barring recoveries, a lesser line-up will head to Catalonia again next week and then on to Old Trafford in the FA Cup.

Wenger is accused of diversionary tactics when he alludes to "financial doping", when he makes none-too-veiled criticisms of Chelsea's spending. That is unfair.

While the Arsenal manager has chosen his battleground, that does not make it level. As he could argue, Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008 with a team bought on credit, but their triumph was followed by administration, relegation and humiliation.

It may be little consolation in the immediate aftermath of a crushing setback, but what Arsenal are producing, in contrast, is a level of sustained success that is rare.

With a presence in the Champions League assuming paramount importance, football's parameters have changed and Arsenal, on a budget, have remained resistant to decline.

The gripes about Wenger's reluctance to pay for a proven world-class goalkeeper and central defender have some logic, but that ignores the reality that his ethos has made the club's progress possible.

No one else has blended economics with aesthetics so seductively, but the Frenchman still needs the trophy that would offer ultimate vindication. And now it looks even harder to secure.

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Wolverhampton Wanderers' 4-0 hammering of Blackpool was remarkable in many respects.

As Mick McCarthy's enigma of a side tended to reserve their victories for the elite sides, it suggested a belated recognition that the more conventional way of escaping demotion is to defeat your immediate rivals.

After another catalytic display, it suggested Jamie O'Hara might rank as January's best recruit and that, following his outstanding attempts to save Portsmouth from the drop last season, the on-loan Tottenham Hotspur midfielder might have found a cause that is not doomed.

For Blackpool, the immediate prognosis is bleaker. Last week's stirring win over Tottenham was followed by a capitulation, while DJ Campbell's dismissal means their most vibrant striker is banned for the next three games, the first of which Charlie Adam will also miss. Factor in other results and they are very much back in the relegation mix.

And yet the fact it was only Blackpool's third thrashing of the season - and the others were by Arsenal and Chelsea - should offer some perspective; theirs has been an extraordinary season.

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At a time when West Ham United seem intent on shaking the unwanted tag of a one-man team, it may seem perverse to focus on that individual.

Yet though Demba Ba and Thomas Hitzlsperger are lending support, Scott Parker remains the inspiration.

His colossal performance in Sunday's 3-1 win over Liverpool included a technically-brilliant goal to augment a brand of drive and dynamism that meant Steven Gerrard was thoroughly overshadowed in the midfield. Great Scott, indeed.

No more lice

Defining head lice

Pediculus humanus capitis are tiny wingless insects that feed on blood from the human scalp. The adult head louse is up to 3mm long, has six legs, and is tan to greyish-white in colour. The female lives up to four weeks and, once mature, can lay up to 10 eggs per day. These tiny nits firmly attach to the base of the hair shaft, get incubated by body heat and hatch in eight days or so.

Identifying lice

Lice can be identified by itching or a tickling sensation of something moving within the hair. One can confirm that a person has lice by looking closely through the hair and scalp for nits, nymphs or lice. Head lice are most frequently located behind the ears and near the neckline.

Treating lice at home

Head lice must be treated as soon as they are spotted. Start by checking everyone in the family for them, then follow these steps. Remove and wash all clothing and bedding with hot water. Apply medicine according to the label instructions. If some live lice are still found eight to 12 hours after treatment, but are moving more slowly than before, do not re-treat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair using a fine-toothed comb.
After the initial treatment, check for, comb and remove nits and lice from hair every two to three days. Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 10 minutes.Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay.

Courtesy Dr Vishal Rajmal Mehta, specialist paediatrics, RAK Hospital

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3

Director: James Gunn

Stars: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper

Rating: 4/5

Where to buy art books in the UAE

There are a number of speciality art bookshops in the UAE.

In Dubai, The Lighthouse at Dubai Design District has a wonderfully curated selection of art and design books. Alserkal Avenue runs a pop-up shop at their A4 space, and host the art-book fair Fully Booked during Art Week in March. The Third Line, also in Alserkal Avenue, has a strong book-publishing arm and sells copies at its gallery. Kinokuniya, at Dubai Mall, has some good offerings within its broad selection, and you never know what you will find at the House of Prose in Jumeirah. Finally, all of Gulf Photo Plus’s photo books are available for sale at their show. 

In Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi has a beautiful selection of catalogues and art books, and Magrudy’s – across the Emirates, but particularly at their NYU Abu Dhabi site – has a great selection in art, fiction and cultural theory.

In Sharjah, the Sharjah Art Museum sells catalogues and art books at its museum shop, and the Sharjah Art Foundation has a bookshop that offers reads on art, theory and cultural history.

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Brave CF 27 fight card

Welterweight:
Abdoul Abdouraguimov (champion, FRA) v Jarrah Al Selawe (JOR)

Lightweight:
Anas Siraj Mounir (TUN) v Alex Martinez (CAN)

Welterweight:
Mzwandile Hlongwa (RSA) v Khamzat Chimaev (SWE)

Middleweight:
Tarek Suleiman (SYR) v Rustam Chsiev (RUS)
Mohammad Fakhreddine (LEB) v Christofer Silva (BRA)

Super lightweight:
Alex Nacfur (BRA) v Dwight Brooks (USA)

Bantamweight:
Jalal Al Daaja (JOR) v Tariq Ismail (CAN)
Chris Corton (PHI) v Zia Mashwani (PAK)

Featherweight:
Sulaiman (KUW) v Abdullatip (RUS)

Super lightweight:
Flavio Serafin (BRA) v Mohammad Al Katib (JOR)

The specs: 2018 Jaguar F-Type Convertible

Price, base / as tested: Dh283,080 / Dh318,465

Engine: 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 295hp @ 5,500rpm

Torque: 400Nm @ 1,500rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 7.2L / 100km

UAE FIXTURES

Wednesday 19 April – UAE v Kuwait
Friday 21 April – UAE v Hong Kong
Sunday 23 April – UAE v Singapore
Wednesday 26 April – UAE v Bahrain
Saturday 29 April – Semi-finals
Sunday 30 April – Third position match
Monday 1 May – Final

Company profile

Name: Tharb

Started: December 2016

Founder: Eisa Alsubousi

Based: Abu Dhabi

Sector: Luxury leather goods

Initial investment: Dh150,000 from personal savings

 

ENGLAND TEAM

England (15-1)
George Furbank; Jonny May, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell (capt), Elliot Daly; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Courtney Lawes; Charlie Ewels, Maro Itoje; Kyle Sinckler, Jamie George, Joe Marler
Replacements: Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam, Willi Heinz, Ollie Devoto, Jonathan Joseph

Seemar’s top six for the Dubai World Cup Carnival:

1. Reynaldothewizard
2. North America
3. Raven’s Corner
4. Hawkesbury
5. New Maharajah
6. Secret Ambition

Easter Sunday

Director: Jay Chandrasekhar
Stars: Jo Koy, Tia Carrere, Brandon Wardell, Lydia Gaston
Rating: 3.5/5

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 

Rating: 2/5

MEYDAN RACECARD

6pm Arabian Adventures – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (Dirt) 1,200m
6.35pm Emirates Sky Cargo – Handicap (TB) 87,500 (D) 2,000m
7.10pm Emirates Holiday – Maiden (TB) Dh82,500 (D) 1,400m
7.45pm Emirates Skywards – Handicap (TB) Dh87,500 (D) 1,400m
8.20pm Emirates Airline – Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,600m
8.55pm Emirates Airline – Handicap (TB) Dh105,000 (D) 1,900m
9.30pm Emirates.com – Handicap (TB_ Dh87,500 (D) 1,200m

Our legal consultant

Name: Dr Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champioons League semi-final, first leg:

Liverpool 5
Salah (35', 45+1'), Mane (56'), Firmino (61', 68')

Roma 2
Dzeko (81'), Perotti (85' pen)

Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

Leading all-time NBA scorers

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387
Karl Malone 36,928
Kobe Bryant 33,643
Michael Jordan 32,292
LeBron James 31,425
Wilt Chamberlain 31,419


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