24 July 2013

Luis Suarez is a dirty, dirty player

The hits keep on coming. I'm referring, literally, to the hits Luis Suarez has put on opposing players. Set aside the diving, the racism, the biting, the middle-finger, the handballs, and, if you haven't run out of breath from all of that heavy lifting, you still have to account for the fouls. Suarez doesn't just foul; he frequently looks like he's trying to injure an opponent. Of course, he wouldn't be the only player to try that (maybe the only £40m one...). However, there's a ruthlessness to it, a recklessness that verges on inflicting career-ending injuries. This youtube clip begins with a karate-style lunge from behind when Suarez was still at Ajax (after which he rolls around as if he was injured—but we've set aside the diving already. Focus.). From there, you'll see a cavalcade of fouls that are sometimes Shawcrossian in their potential to break an ankle or cause other serious injuries.

I understand full-well that one can assemble a montage on any player to make him look bad, but the problem with Suarez is that it's so easy to do. Take Mikel Arteta, for example, guilty of some 74 fouls this past season. Oh. The only video painting him as a vicious fouler is a 10-second clip of his foul on Bayern's Mario Mandzukic. He might commit fouls, but he doesn't seem as likely as Suarez is to risk injuring a player.

Watch that Suarez clip. I don't think you can defend many of these as inadvertent. Many—most, perhaps—seem deliberate. Ankle-stomp after ankle-stomp until after a while, you have to ask yourself if he is doing it on purpose. It certainly looks like it. Before you leap to his defense by pointing out how difficult it is to time a tackle properly or whatever, remember that there are two sides to this coin. We can't extol Suarez's virtuosity with the ball at his feet without also acknowledging that the same skill-set, that same foot-eye coordination and those same twinkly toes, can carry over to the ability to step on an opponent's foot. How many of those ankle-stomps even look like legitimate attempts on the ball? Yes, there is some theatricality or simulation from Suarez's opponents. I'm not even really sure if he did anything wrong at 1:09, 1:22, or 1:40, for example, but the rest of these fouls are ugly enough to look like Suarez is looking to hurt somebody.

I could be wrong, which is what stops me from going so far as to suggest that Suarez is vicious. However, the ankle injuries he could inflict could end a player's season, put that player out for several seasons, or end his entire career. One snapped ligament or tendon is all it takes, and Suarez's reckless inability to avoid, or his ruthless ability to unleash, those ankle-stomps has no place on the pitch.

And that's not all. An eye-gouge? I don't have how you feel about Scott Parker or Spurs, that's some serious shite right there. How about stomping on a player's back? A foot-to-foot foul can be dismissed or ignored, but going after a man's eyes is or stepping on his back is, ironically, some below-the-belt b.s. I'm surprised we don't have video-evidence of actual below-the-belt crimes. If the possible injuries to other players don't bother you, consider how the yellow and red cards and subsequent suspensions would affect Suarez's availability.

The more I learn of Suarez, the less I care for him, and the more I oppose our moving for him. We've apparently launched a £40,000,001 bid for him, with the £1 triggering some clause in Suarez's contract that means that Liverpool have to inform him of the bid. Whatever. I don't think a deal will be reached, and I'm praying that it won't be. We've had problematic players at Arsenal in the past, and we'll almost certainly have them again in the future. I would hate for this particular player to be among them. He doesn't play the game as if he understands what makes it beautiful. He makes it ugly enough that others have to look away in disgust, disappointment, embarrassment, and worse. The thought of him wearing an Arsenal kit, of hoisting the club's first trophy since 2005, is too much for me. Dammit, I don't need our boys to be saints, but I do reserve the right to look at them without having to grimace, wince, or swallow back the bile. When we do latch onto silverware, I want to feel the unrestrained joy and relief that I have stored away for all these years. I don't want Suarez to have any part in that because, selfish, spiteful me, I don't want certain people to feel that joy.

I guess that's maybe what it boils down to: spite. I don't want Suarez to win. I certainly don't want him to win with Arsenal. Am I being petty? Maybe. However, I think that wanting to deprive a cheating, reckless, racist, diving, biter has more to it than spite. I love Arsenal for more than "just" trophies and goals; I love Arsenal because of the beautiful style of football we've come to be known for and because of the beautiful memories I've stored away. I'm not sure Suarez is capable of enough of the former to inspire the latter.

Thanks, as always, for stopping by. I hope I've given you some food for thought. If you're still a firm Suarez-supporter, see if you can get me to budge, but be gentle. I'm fragile. Whether you agree or not, we're all Gooners. Speaking of all Gooners, go over and vote in the 2012-13 YAMA Awards for best Arsenal bloggers, writers, and tweeters. Woolwich 1886 is nominated in the "Best New Arsenal Blog" category. Just sayin'.