When Patrick Vieira smashed his elbow into Darren Williams in the opening game of the season in August 2000, it was an act of aggression we had come to expect from the fiery Frenchman. The subsequent red card that followed was to be his fifth in four seasons, yet amazingly, fast forward two days to a match at Anfield and Graham Poll ensured that statistic would rise to six in four seasons. There appeared to be nowhere to go for Vieira from there. Well there was, to pastures new and away from the Premier League. Two sendings off in three days takes some doing.
So Lorik Cana – get the T-shirt from ALS – has brains as well as brawn. Perhaps that is one of the attractions for a certain refined Alcasien, now reported – to the dismay of all Sunderland fans, not just those who fancy Cana (for his mind, doubtless) – to have him back in his sights …
The least surprising news of the week, as far as English football was concerned, was that Arsène Wenger remains interested in Lorik Cana.
It would be wonderful if Lorik were to say: “Desolé, mon brave, mais je préfère rester à Sunderland.” Or even: “You had your chance when I was a kid and messed it up , chum, so buzz off”.
But never underestimate the pull that Arsenal has over players who have grown up in a Francophone environment, as Lorik did after his family’s flight from Kosovo. Long after Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira, French people I know still talk of the Gunners as the nearest they have to a Premier side.