Some thoughts, as the new season trundles into first gear.

– On the Eduardo dive: it was blatant and disgraceful. The only possible consolation I can think of was that he didn’t want to leave his leg in for a crunching tackle after he broke it last year, and so flung himself to the ground to protect himself. Even so, much has been made by Arsenal fans of how he is ‘unfairly’ being targeted. The point is, anyone who dives should get this much attention . . . it’s not that Eduardo’s getting more than he deserves, it’s that the rest get less.

– On the Galacticos: having watched their pre-season, there’s no doubting that they pose an awesome (in the original, Biblical meaning of the term) threat going forward. With Xabi and one of the Diarras in the centre of midfield, they will have the required strength in that position. On paper, Pelligrini (a coach I actually do admire) has put together a good squad, and there are no positions where you can say they have an obvious weakness. My concern with Real would be whether or not the players gel together in pressure situations, and how the defence copes with the inevitable pressure that will come from Madrid’s relentless-attacking-and-not-tracking-back style.

As for Barca, I think the Zlatan deal was, to put not too fine a point on it, absolutely ridiculous. One understands that they wanted to cash in on Eto’o before he left on a free next year, but 46 million pounds plus a talismanic striker? We shall see, Mr Begiristain, we shall see. That Swede had better score some scorchers, and put in a shift covering his men, or the Barca faithful will be none too pleased. On the upside, Pep seems to be able to get the best out of his players, and there’s no doubting that Ibra is technically very, very good.

– The Ashes are over. The Aussies have lost, and that brings a little thrill to my heart I know not why everytime I say it out loud. I’m not an English fan, particularly – I think their cricket is insipid at best, with moments of inspired greatness, and that they win matches usually by playing less badly than their opponents. But something about watching the Aussies be invincible through my childhood has left me with mixed feelings of admiration and revulsion. Fanon wrote much about this sort of thing  . . .

ArshRussian star Arshavin tells the voices in his head to shut up, before he loses
his mind and shoots everyone in North London in a vodka-fuelled
frenzy of blood, guts and, rather strangely, suction pumps.

Picture courtesy AFP/Carl de Souza