Written by The Final Ball on 09/12/2020
Welcome to The Final Ball Blog! This is where we’ll have weekly a weekly detailed insight into the last week of sport for those of you who just couldn’t live by only listening to us for an hour a week!
What is it with these ‘celebrity boxing matches’? Has the sport gone that far down in quality that we prefer to completely discredit everything that goes into becoming the highest level athlete and substitute it with pitting people together who sit in their room with a camera and talk to themselves? With the “no knockout” fight of Mike Tyson & Roy Jones Jnr and this highly anticipated matchup of Mayweather and Logan Paul, the path that boxing is going down feels as weird as the year that we’re currently enduring.
And in football, the highly anticipated return of fans in the stadium ended up giving us a reminder that there is still a minority of society that aren’t taking to kindly to the kneeling of players at games, making their feelings known by booing the players at the Millwall vs. Derby game. And although the same “political statement” gets brushed onto this situation, it’s gotten to the point that there’s been more than enough time to get educated about this. Enough people are speaking about it, diversity has increased in all media platforms (whether coerced on willingly is another question). And with only 2,000 fans, there should be no difficulty in determining the perpetrators and applying the expected punishments. Their names should be revealed to all 92 teams in the football league and they should be banned from all stadiums. That’s the only level that we should be expecting. Severe punishments may not eradicate racism, but it will suppress their aggressive desires to make people feel less than a human being.
On a lighter note, it finally feels like the usual suspects are starting to get into the rhythms that we would expect from the bigger teams. Manchester United continue to entertain in a rollercoaster fashion, Manchester City are starting to torture teams into submission again, even Chelsea are looking like they’re having fun going forward whilst holding together what is now a competent defence. On top of this, Liverpool continue to steamroll through teams irrespective of who makes up their defence and Tottenham are continuing to do what they do best at the peak of their abilities. Most of other teams that started unexpectedly well have been given a reality check by the make up of the fixture list and have now found themselves in positions that they would expect to fight for. Everyone except for one team. North London Reds seem to keep finding new ways to embarrass themselves on a weekly basis. By every passing week, things seem to make less and less sense in how they’ve gone about running this club since Arsene Wenger was forced out. And they cannot claim that they haven’t spent money. They’ve just overloaded on average quality in certain positions whilst starving the others, resulting in an array of mediocrity just off the A1. The build play looks confusing, Arsenal fans have been so used to having a family of small technical players, grouped around the edge of the opposition’s area like the seven dwarfs around Snow White. Now they just pass it wide and cross? Since when “top quality” managers seek inspiration from the teams in the relegation zone? It’s a style that simply doesn’t suit the players. And it hasn’t for months. Anyone can see that chances are Arsenal’s biggest issue at this moment in time. And once you become renown for not being able to score goals, every game comes with an extra pressure of not being able to feel comfortable. When you think about it, they’ve only won comfortably against teams that are staring relegation in the face in Fulham & Sheffield United. And maybe it’s an easy answer but these players can’t be happy training everyday with their most creative player but not playing a single minute with him in a competitive game. On top of the fact that his wages are so high, in terms of quality he is probably still the best player on the training pitch. Which must be playing on the players mind while things aren’t going well. And while it’s business as usual for their rivals, Arsenal might have already thrown another season down the toilet.
Finally a word on Crystal Palace, where black excellence seems to reign supreme on the posh part of Croydon. Seeing Zaha back to his best, complemented by Eberechi Eze, something that really seems to have galvanised Wilf by taking the pressure of him a bit. Knowing that there’s someone else willing to dictate the game is allowing him to do different things for the team and take up more threatening positions on the pitch. Add in the energy & experience of the full backs in Clyne & Van Aanholt, Palace have been starting to show that there’s a little more to them than simply being a solid side. Even Benteke is scoring goals. Maybe in the next couple of years they may have to reinvigorate this team with younger players down the spine, but for now, to see black young players that grew up in London establishing themselves as Premier League regulars, it might end up being a route that keeps them up for longer than they ever dreamed of.