Sometimes I come across an idea in the comments section that needs to be the headline act, this is one such notion from our friend Eduardo
“Arsenal where soundbite is king. Much like the UK and Brexit, all it took was good soundbites to get the masses to ignore the reality.
Last season we had Trust The Process, that was our clap for the NHS, it allowed the dismantling of the squad, and shite football to be not only accepted by bloggers and big fan accounts, it seen them extol its virtue. Now this seasons soundbite is Leadership and Culture, and means fans are extolling Imperial measurement football as what we’ve always needed, even wanted. You see our poor results so far were nothing to do with us at all, it was not the process’s fault, no it was us being needlessly punished by the Champion League clubs for us deciding to leave the Champions league. But fear not we have a World Leading plan to make us great again, to bring us back to our times of Empire, we’ve branded it Leadership and Culture. The lack of goals in our Goals For Column is not self inflicted, its a Brexit caused supply chain issue, and has nothing to do with us making AFC an unwelcoming place for some very highly talented supply chain operatives. Our Leadership and Culture plan will sort it out, as we are making it easier for less qualified players to take up the roles of Goal Suppliers. Its World Leading just like our intense training sessions that AFC were so good to tell us about by planting questions to our esteemed leader in his Q&A, it was almost a leaf out of the Laura Kuenssberg fawning playbook when interviewing good old Boris.”
Arsenal take a trip to my neck of the woods today and will face the very epitome of Northern Grit. Burnley tipped their hand last weekend when they tried to kick Everton off of the pitch, and I expect more of the same only worse today. I also expect the referee to sanction it and the commentators to praise it. Football will take a back seat to a physical battle.
Because of the prospect of a physical aerial bombardment it is difficult to predict the line up. Does Arteta prepare to fight fire with fire? If he does I’m not sure we have the personnel to compete. Xhaka, our best midfielder and warrior, is suspended. Holding, our most physical centre backs is injured and none of our forwards have Giroud type attributes. So what can he do?
Personally I would go to 3 at the back , The Emperor Hirohito, White and Gabriel with AMN and KT flanking them, Sambi and Partey shielding them and some others up front. 3 of those someones, but I’m not sure which 3.
I just think if we play Ben White in a two we are sending a lamb to the slaughter, and he doesn’t need that so early in his Arsenal career.
Burnley blow hot and cold in little runs and they seem to be on a cold run, so that’s good?
Of course as it’s a lovely day up here, we could go all out to get the ball down and play, keep the ball and play as many technical players as we can muster, You know? Try to out play them. I know, I know, as if?
Anyway, I hope the referee gives us some degree of protection and we win. That would be grand.
The Norwich game is only the 4th league game and It is a massive game, and genuine 6 pointer between two teams that have played 3 and lost 3 without an open play goal scored between them. A real fight to not be bottom Dog.
That said, if we were picking a team to play at home, to score our first goal against, surely it would be Norwich? I mean they are our proverbial whipping-boys, we score the goals of the season against them, we have to win and win big! Right? I said RIGHT?
The problem is we are relying on them being poor rather than us being good. I honestly can’t remember the last time we played well. And I’m not kidding either, when the hell was it?
Now before anyone thinks about opening their wrists with a rusty spoon, let me just say, I think we will win. We simply have too many good players to keep losing.
Arteta and Edu assure us they now have the tools to succeed with Arteta’s vision, what could go wrong?
There’s big excitement with Partey returning to the team. After his stellar performances last season, I’m sure he wil be a real game changer for us, he might even get his fist shot on target since he joined? With Xhaka starting the first of his 3 game suspension and ElNeny injured, it looks like he and Sambi Lokonga will be our midfield probably with Odegaard, fresh from his starring role against the might Gibraltar. Joking apart, that’s a decent midfield.
As for the front 3, I have no Idea and I’m not sure Arteta has either. It will be perm 3 form Pepe, Saka, Lacazette, Aubameyang and Smith-Rowe(if he’s fit).
I expect Leno to be in goal with Tierney, White , Gabriel and someone at right back. Who that someone turns out to be will be interesting.
When you write the names down, it looks a decent team, whether they play like one remains to be seen, but if they are going too, now would be a great time to start. I can’t think of a game that we should expect to win easily, being as important to the Manager, players, fans and board. If the worst happens, we will be the worst team in the history of the Premier League after 4 games, and we can all do without that.
So good luck everyone, enjoy the game and try to chill.
At the end of last season it looked as if Granit Xhaka wanted out, and that Martin Ødegaard was on his way back to Spain, two players who would take quite a bit of replacing I felt. There were many rumours as to who their replacements should be, some realistic, some not so much. I don’t know what happened to Xhaka’s move but the moment he agreed to stay at the Emirates, Arsenal no longer needed to buy a replacement – he was in effect like a new signing, especially as a contract renewal was soon agreed on. To replace him would have cost somewhere in the region of £40 million, money that was then available to spend elsewhere. He will continue to be targeted by refs and pundits but I suspect will end the season as one of our most influential players, just as he has done before. Ødegaard became available and he is a new signing (though of course he doesn’t feel like one). His arrival on loan back in January did coincide with a slight upturn in results which saw the second half of the season more successful than the first had been. I am biased but think he could be a major player – I like the way he plays, reminding me at times of a less languid Ozil, a more graceful Wilshere.
We have signed Aaron Ramsdale, a backup goalkeeper (which was essential) who is surely destined to soon enough become our number one: I suspect he will be better with the ball at his feet than Leno and I hope that he might be more assertive when it comes to crosses into the box. For balance, I imagine he is not such a good shot stopper as our current first choice keeper. Ben White, our new CB signing came with seemingly very good credentials, and good judges spoke well of him. He had a poor first game and has since been unwell: it may well be that he was under the weather during the game, or maybe playing in a new side takes a bit of time to get used to. I think it would be premature to write him off just yet and I look forward to seeing him play and develop. Still on the defensive side of things, we have also signed a left back, Nuno Tavares, and a right back, Takehiro Tomiyasu. I do not know nearly enough about them to have a view, apart from making the point that since Bellerin’s injury a couple of years ago we have looked a little light in that department, and I can see why it was felt that we needed a back-up with potential for Tierney. I also hear that Tomiyasu can play at Centre Back, which will give more options for the man in charge.
Sambi Lokonga is an interesting new recruit, and its hard to know whether he was bought as a long term project, initially to provide cover in midfield, or whether he was seen as a first-choice starter. I’ve only caught fleeting glimpses of him, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen thus far, and think that a midfield engine room where you perm two from Lokonga, Xhaka, Elneny and Partey is a better base from which to build than seemed likely at one stage, and to my eyes is an improvement from last year. Could it be that Maitland-Niles might also feature in that midfield? He too seemed ready to leave, but now remains, at least for the time being.
The one area that I felt needed strengthening was the striker, but that was never going to happen while we were still paying Aubamayang and Lacazette. No one came in for Lacazette who I guess of the two was the more likely to leave, so we have him for the last year of his contract, but he has shown in the past that he can score goals, and that he does link play well. At the prices we could afford there were few out there guaranteed to come in and do better. Maybe a new target man may be the only target next summer.
Taken all in all it has been an interesting series of deals. For those keen to attack the club and its direction of travel it is easy enough to say that a lot of money has been spent, but spent on players who on the face of things don’t noticeably improve the side. For those who prize ‘winning the window’ it is certainly a disappointment: there is no big glamour signing, no player ‘guaranteed to pay for himself in shirt sales alone’. This summer has certainly been a gift for the soapbox orators at Talk Sport, the mouth frothers at AFTV and as I write I can almost hear the one-sided and seemingly down-to-earth common sense logic put forward by the likes of Darren Gough and Adrian Durham. In many ways I can see they have a point. But it is also true to say that this window represents a significant change in direction for The Arsenal, for the profile of these new players is very similar. They are all young, all between 20 and 23, and all, one hopes, with their best years ahead of them. They have cost quite a lot of money, but I suspect that although they will be very comfortably remunerated, they will not be on excessive wage packets. I don’t know who makes the decisions at the club, whether it is the manager, or the owner, or the Board of Directors, but these new signings do not seem to have been done on a whim, however easy it is for Paddy Power to suggest that the recruitment policy is nothing more than a joke. They do point to a plan, a project, a process.
Not all of these players will be a success, and they certainly won’t turn the fortunes of the club around at once. But there is a good chance that they will integrate well with the other young players already at the club, and that together they might start building a new Arsenal side, a side that has an identity unique and different to previous teams that have represented the club. The profile of the players suggest that they are talented, ambitious, and coachable. Whether or not the current coach will be the one to get the best out of them remains to be seen, and it will be interesting to see how it all pans out. While I am not brimming over with optimism, I can detect the first faint stirrings of hope, enough at any rate to find me already frustrated that we are yet again in the midst of a wretched International break.
In the new Hector Bellerin, we see not just the fashionista, philanthropist or footballer, we see the human.
It was one of those days we all look forward to, for Hector. The day of plucking the fruit of success from the tree of hard work had arrived. Months without football left Bellerin, as he’s commonly referred to, hungrier than ever before.
Almost a year after the snap of the knee which told him his career may never be the same again, the stench of fear riddled him no more. Fears of not returning to the football pitch, of harvesting less than he was destined to, had abated. Now it was about proving himself right, about making the best of a bad situation. His enthusiasm, as cherry-red as his jersey, he stepped out and began to step up.
But no matter how hard he tried, no matter the subjective improvements, there were doubters. “He’s lost his speed,” “he needs a haircut”, “he should focus in his football instead of modelling,” “he’s slow because he’s vegan” “he’s a pace merchant without pace” were among the criticisms he received from fans of a club he represented since the age of 16. Worse yet, those not saying it, feared it may be true.
A lot had happened since the last time he stepped on the pitch. A lot that made this injury a blessing in disguise. A lack of gametime and a lack of training meant he was forced to find something else to fill his time with. Modelling was out of the picture, so he focused on mental health.
Advocating for mental health awareness among men was always on the top of his agenda. Discourse at Oxford Union and his conversations with the media have shown his interest in the topic. However, his and the comments of others in his industry were always met with the same criticism. “Oh I’m sure you’re just fine with your thousands of pounds a week, save us the lectures on mental health.” The hordes of doubters were enough to send anyone back into their shell.
This injury did something different though. It allowed him to document his journey and to focus, to show others what celebrities may go through but most importantly, to focus on himself.
Months spent speaking about his tribulations have led to a person who doesn’t need football, who doesn’t need the fans’ approval. Professional sport and stardom in general comes with one key constraint – you’re not allowed to fail, no matter what.
Finally, he’s showing a sense of belief, not in who he could be, but in who he is and who he’s working to be. His is the story that proves that planting the seeds of self-belief results in fruit like none other.
Muhammad Adam is a digital marketing, branding and logistics lecturer at Rosebank College, Varsity College and Vega School in South Africa. Having completed his masters in supply chain management at the University of KwaZulu Natal,he is passionate about understanding people and using technology to improve their lives. A Durban native, Muhammad is passionate about football. He spends his free time pretending to be a baker, thinking of new ways to spread knowledge and dreaming of behavioural economics. An open-minded individual, he would love to hear your thoughts on branding, business, football and life in general! Catch him on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/moehadam
Here is me and @shotta_gooner looking a a bad defeat and trying to look at what led us here and what can possibly be done to climb out of the hole that just about everyone connected to the club has facilitated, starting with the fans by the way.