After a few weeks of rolling out weak guests, Sky pulled out the bigger hitters this Sunday as Martin Samuel and Patrick Barclay lined up alongside Brian Woolnough and John Richardson on the Sunday Supplement.
Should Michael Owen be in the England squad? John Richardson quoted Owen’s stats of one in every two games for Newcastle to argue that Owen should be an England squad member. Patrick Barclay countered, saying there is no need for Owen in this squad as his talents are known already, with the talking-head talking up Gabriel Agbonlahor for a start. Martin Samuel added that if included, Owen changes the England set-up, and with a winning team there is no such demand for change at present.
Arsenal’s troubles were the next subject opened for dissection. Martin Samuel argued that losing four games has not, of itself ruled the Gunners out of the title, but the pundit believes the problems in their squad will stop them being champions. Patrick Barclay says Arsenal’s concerns should surround fourth place, not first. John Richardson picked up on all the remarks heard week in, week out about Arsenal – they lack a leader, they haven’t replaced Flamini and they generally have a squad which is too weak.
The Respect campaign and the Didier Drogba incident were the last point of discussion. Martin Samuel offered a limited defence of Drogba, saying fans who throw coins need to be punished. Patrick Barclay built on the same theme, saying coin throwing must become taboo and should be written out of football, even if that meansÂ playing games behind closed doors. Barclay also pointed the finger at preening referees who like to be the centre of attention. John Richardson believes these recent incidents of ill-discipline are indicative of failing standards in British society in general.