Intent Is Hard To Prove

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The row over the Diaby challenge rumbles on, with Wenger now apparently exploring all legal avenues. I have to say, it does seem exceptionally harsh that the player in question got just a yellow card, the same punishment as someone who throws the ball away at a free kick. The rules, clearly, are flawed.

That said, suing Smith would be a tricky one, because presumably you’d have to prove that he meant to do it. And did he? I don’t think he meant to hurt him like he did, but that’s not what Wenger thinks. “There was only one intention in this tackle – to hurt the player – and it’s a career-threatening tackle”, he said.

It was a reckless, naïve and utterly pointless lunge, but was it more than that? And how can you prove it anyway? The player has already apologised and his boss has given him a good character reference.

Perhaps the truth is Wenger is just threatening such action to highlight the seriousness of the situation – and to raise awareness to something he considers is happening more and more, the kicking of players to stop a team playing.

But through all this, you’ve just got to feel sympathy for Diaby. It’s not a two, three or four week injury – which would be bad enough, as it puts him out of the biggest club match he might ever play – it’s a six to nine month job. That’s hideous, and it doesn’t get much worse than that for a footballer. And how will that harm us next season? Diaby was shaping up to be a seriously promising midfielder, a big player for us.

Tonight sees the first 90 minutes for Cole, a player who, if he’s ready, would be my first choice for left-back in Paris. Forget that Flamini deserves better having done so well there, and forget all the crap Cole dragged us through, and forget that he might leave in the summer. The simple fact is that, on form, he’s one of the best there is, and we need our best players against Barca.

I think he should play the 90 on Sunday too.


Arsenal since about 1979. Thick, thin and all that.