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Arsenal: “Winning Beautiful”

0fb268de6d4d1cfce49f00e7b22f38f4Good morning Positives old and young,

There is a concept much bandied about by the punditti of “Winning Ugly” which, on most occasions as far as I can see, involves a team playing poorly, having a slice of luck, clinging on like grim death to fortune’s undeserved award and making off with the points.

Well last night I think our lads may have coined/created the new concept of “Winning Beautiful”. Let me elaborate. I have in mind Arsenal were playing football of the highest quality from the start of the match, dominating the opposition all over the pitch for 92 minutes, scoring two delightful and entirely deserved goals. There was no fouling, diving or cheating, and we earned an entirely justified reward. Every man of the 14 who played was a credit to the club, to the fans and to their old Mums. So Mr Shearer, Mr Murphy and Mr Lineker poke that up your collective pipe of inane jargon for future reference.

Of the game itself I had the advantage of not seeing it live and suffered no distractions from social media. Santi buzzed like a hornet and I doubt he has had a more influential game in the past three seasons. Hector showed an attacking, creative flair that makes me wonder whether a Philip Lahm style move forward into midfield might not be in his future ( if of course we did not have such a plethora of talent across our middle regions). Another defensive masterclass from Kosc and Mustafi, with it taking an hour for the Swiss to land a shot of goal, and even that was from outside the box. Credit to Ospina, called from his slumber just once but his sharp Colombian hand saved the one decent effort from the Toblerone toilers.

But you are waiting for me to come to the two men on whom our evening pivoted, nay I would say “pirouetted”. I think we now all know why Arsene decide to persevere with Alexis as a striker don’t we ? The system just about clicked perfectly into place last night, with balls wedged over the top of the Basel defence to the Chilean, not too hard, not too soft, just perfect. And when it did not go over the Basel defence, Sanchez dropped short and went through them. It has taken five/six games to really work as well as it did last night, and for Santi, Mesut, Theo and Alex Iwobi to find the right wavelength but the reception as clear as a bell last night.

And top of the class our reborn right winger, the man of the moment, who can’t stop banging then in Theo Walcott. He absolutely terrified the Swiss left back Traore from the first whistle. The visitors never found an answer to his running. What struck me is there was so much confidence in the player last night, a certainty that when he took on man he would pass him, or hit a shot it would be on target.

For our visitors Vaclik was outstanding and the reason a 2-0 win was not 5.

It would have been pleasant to see a score that reflected our dominance, and the one irritation of the evening was the number of presentable chances that were not converted. Sanchez hoofing the advertising hoarding in frustration on 89 minutes indicated that he was not satisfied. That may however be a feature of “Winning Beautiful” – less is more.

Highly competent referee – young chap, just 33 – Danny Makkelie – I bet we hear more of him.

So onward to Turf Moor on Sunday and no doubt a rousing, meat and potato pie throwing welcome from Lancashire’s finest. A little rotation in order you ask ? We shall see. One tinkers with such precision engineering very carefully.

Enjoy your week.

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85 comments on “Arsenal: “Winning Beautiful”

  1. Where to begin? From the coining of the delicious “punditti” through the spearing of Linekar and co to the Toblerone toilers. A work of finesse and penmanship which a performance like that deserved.
    Bravo again sir. As Arsenal raise the bar on the turf so you raise it on the page.

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Andrew. We saw the same game!
    Yet another first half of football not often seen on this planet. Silk and steel. What more can a gooner ask for? But for the heroics of the Basel keeper, (who obviously studied Peter Schmeikel; arms, legs, chest and head are all effective at stopping goals) we could well have seen a 5 or 6 goal lead at half time. Alexis, young Alex and Theo well supplied by Oz and Santi were running riot. Theo’s 2 goals well deserved as he showed his critics (some of whom, self included would not have shed a tear had he been sold in the summer) what he is capable of. He’s also now defending well and together with Hector is making life miserable for the opposition’s left flank. This is the Theo that AW had so much faith in, proving once again that “Magic Hat” knows a lot more than we do. Let’s hope that’s the last we’ve seen of Wally! Young Alex continues to improve and it’s getting very hard to work out team combinations when the unfit are fit again. Glad it’s AW’s problem and not mine.
    Defensively we were close to rock solid. The Koshodra pairing is really working and with Nacho and Granit also combining well, there was very little to worry about.
    In a roundabout way, that was bad news for Oosp who was given virtually nothing to do bar one great save in the second half. He won’t be able to convince his knockers that he is an extremely good keeper with so little chance to shine.
    Now for Burnley in the NW. I suspect a few rotational changes will be made…we must have a bench that is very frustrated at only having bit parts at present.
    Keep the faith.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Bravo indeed

    Like

  4. A5, many thanks for being a witness and reporting back. I haven’t seen the action yet, and was only able to listen in to the first half, and so woke up looking forward to your review,and feeling grateful knowing you would gives us a summary of the play.
    Thank again!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. It’s hard for any team to press for ninety especially when playing twice a week but two observations from last night:

    With the new CB there is a partnership/combo that resembles the LK6 & TV5 combo before Vermaelan’s ankles were torpedoed, one that can and did strangle the opposistion. (TV5 had some critics but his first season was the equivalent of an Alexis first season for a CB).

    These clipped and lofted passes have been and are a key component of the Arsenal’s armoury when at the best.

    A fair few lofted artillery shells gently plopping in behind the enemy lines, some more obvious then most but it was Cazorla’s early invitation to Alexis that was the pick for me, not an obviously long pass but perfect clip, Sanchez could just wait for the ball to drop and bounce into the perfect position for him to craft his third stunning cross assist for the season. Great football.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Toblerone toilers” ! Wonderful

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Your review is spot on and thanx ever so much for that excellent piece. The game was a clinical master class and was like a continuation of the Chelsea Match. All our Boys gave their all and played a near perfect game. With this kind of intensity, the central defensive pairing of Kos. and Mustafi, the speed and creativity provided by Walcott and Bellerin on the right side and the magic of Carzola and Xhaka in the middle of the park, we are definitely contending for all titles now.
    One advantage going for us also is the size of the team which showed clearly in our game against Nottingham Forest.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Awesome Andrew, just awesome. You and Steww are the best 1-2 combination in the blogsphere. As effective as an Alexis-Walcott give and go. Simply outstanding.

    By the way I just read the by-the-numbers dude sensationalizing elsewhere, i.e. the same dude who put Pep and City above Arsene and AFC. Despite the overwhelming weight of evidence he is trying hard to decide whether the club has “turned a corner”. If he and his similarly wavering, vacillating readers been paying attention to this blog, they would have unbiased data showing that the trend upward started 3 years ago with some setbacks in between. As the data in my last blog revealed, the most important number to watch is the winning streak; currently it is 7 wins if you count champs league and the diddly cup. Historically Wengers’s winning teams would go on 9-12 game winning streaks smashing his opponents as we did to Basel yesterday.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. fins I would disagree with you about Vermalen’s first season, for me his 8 goals that season masked his defensive problems, and then the following season(s) him and Koscielny were not a good partnership, the signs are that Mustafi and Koscielny are building a good understanding.

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  10. Wonderful football, wonderful blogs, wonderful cake (Macmillan Coffee morning at work!). Only my sleep wasn’t so wonderful, probably because of the wonderful football?

    Liked by 4 people

  11. one of the most funny things, or maybe it is better described as idiotic things, is the malcontents proclaiming that Theo Walcott’s improved form, is down to the criticism they put him through.
    Its amazing that a guy who has suffered many major injuries in his career, and yet managed to produce the stats Theo has, still gets such abuse – for me it all stems from the nasty jibe from that prat Chris Waddle, the hasn’t got a football brain, this was latched on to by those who have got a brain at all, and a scapegoat was born – Theo has right across his ten years with us, been a big game player, his first goal was in a Cup final, and it was a beaut. He also scored the first goal in a cup final, he has scored and assisted against all the big club, Chelsea a particular favorite of his to score against, spurs, liverpool, man utd, man city all find him a major problem, as has the top clubs in europe, and would RVP have had his big season without Theo’s great link up with him.
    But all this is simply written off, when it comes to the boo boys, as far as they are concerned Theo has “never had a good season”, even some are now saying “these are this first two PROPER games for us”, as I said above, Brain Dead is the best way to describe most of these idiots.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Arsenal are often referred to as Barclite, its of course not meant as a compliment, its a subtle or not so subtle dig at Arsenal, they are saying we have the pretty football of Barcelona, but not the toughness to win the big trophies.
    Now for me there are a few major differences between Arsenal and Barcelona, firstly Arsenal do not dive and cheat, we do not surround refs when a call does not go our way, we certainly do not get proper protection from refs, I don’t recall Barca players getting their legs broken by thugs and we do not have the media and pundits like our balls. i wonder if Barcelona had to put up with the circumstances we do, and visa versa would they be Arsenalite.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I wonder why Arsenal could not have played v Liverpool on the opening day of the season like we did last night. Why could we not have kept a clean sheet against them.

    v LFC – Cech Bellerin, Chambers, Holding, Monreal, Coqeulin, Elneny, Walcott, Ramsey, Iwobi, Alexis

    v Basel – Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Cazorla, Walcott, Ozil, Iwobi, Alexis

    I can’t understand it at all, its almost as if Mustafi, Koscielny, Xhaka, Cazorla and Ozil make a difference. But it can’t be that, otherwise the uber bloggers and super fans would not have got their knickers in a twist. so what is it then.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Jeorge Bird ‏@jeorgebird 12h12 hours ago
    Bielik attended first team game with his arm in a sling after suffering injury while playing for U19s. (Via @sanogoed )

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  15. Excellent report A5. Thanks.

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  16. Excellent. The first half was almost euphoric for me. Two glorious beers (first two always the best for me) and that football.

    My footballing high fell off quite a bit thereafter, but I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to keep that intensity going for a whole match.

    As for Theo, he is simultaneously proving me categorically wrong and satisfyingly right.

    The wrong annihilates the right, as I didn’t believe he would play like this again and could quite easily have assented to selling the man this summer.

    The right is that people were generally doing a woeful job of even trying to understand the impact the knee injury had on him.

    He got it just at a time when he was adding elements to his game, including some extra combativeness, and that for me made it a more tragic event. He went from being a 24 year old with a good overall career to date but a clear need to push on, and who was about to push on, to a 26 year old, with many critics, a desire and a need to reach a higher level than before but with the terrible threat of a recurrence of the knee injury hanging over him.

    My argument was that Theo could afford another serious injury even less, by a distance, than the majority of players. Theo without his speed or ability to run freely would be in horrendous trouble.

    For that reason, I completely understood an unwillingness to take risks with contact upon his return. This meant he was more shy of it than ever and was constantly thinking about how to keep himself safe, when receiving the ball as well as in clear cut tackle situations.

    This included the eye-catching incident with Kaboul. It looked clear in one of the replays that Theo was faced by the giant figure of Kabul, studs raised, looking as though he were about to lunge in with force.

    Became clearer than ever to me around this time that the attitude of many to our players is that they are expendable, i.e if you wear the shirt you must never pull out of any challenge whatever the circumstances. I think that attitude is exceptionally dumb and wrongheaded.

    You never get to see proof you are right in these matters. Those same people from the last paragraph would have just said ‘oh, what a shame’, and possibly blamed the player himself, if he had followed their dictates and forced himself into contact despite being uncomfortable with it and then picked up a serious injury, jeopardising the rest of their career.

    I think it’s part of our job as fans to try get as far into the heads and shoes of players as possible, especially if it can lead to a defence of behaviour that looks odd or worthy of criticism. Do that and you can,say, imagine some of the fear for players who have suffered badly with injury previously and what a battle it is for them to prevail afterwards.

    It also means a realistic understanding that one damaging challenge can deny a player a brilliant period many months later, or even screw up a whole career. That Kabul incident was nothing to me for that reason.

    So it feels like I got so much right with Theo and the subject of injured players…just a shame I was bloody wrong about him hitting these heights now!

    Oh well, no harm done and another chance to think, ‘thank feck the manager got it right’

    Liked by 7 people

  17. Rich @ 12:21pm – Meanwhile Joel Campbell, the choice of our uber bloggers and tweeters, has been benched by Sporting Lisbon for being lazy and uninterested. (I suspect those reports are over-hyped but there is never smoke without fire.)

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  18. Just watched the game that indeed was great. But got to say, even thou I knew the result beforehand, I found myself exasperating at all the missed chances. So many great movements that deserved a more glorious ending.

    As for the game I thought the team as whole showed great combination of urgency and control while Sanchez individually is finding a good combination of hunger and team play in his new role. Also like how the team is taking up new positions, filling up for each other, both in defense and attack. Especially the runs into the box are wonderful to watch and hopefully Ozil will soon be rewarded for one of those.

    Off the game I’m confident both Ozil and Sanchez will sign the new contracts soon. And with games like this I’m sure many stars and future stars will wish to be part of the red and white football glory. And if that doesn’t cheer you up, think of the many wobs and manure fans that watched the game. Oh the pain.

    Finally thanks to all the bloggers and commentators on here. Games like this should prove it easy to be an arsenal fan, and so you do.

    Jenks for Christmas.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. What? I forgotten about Ramsay….Kelly sorry…..

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  20. Top stuff A5. Started a bit sluggish after the last international break vs Saints but we slowly found our gears and are now firing at all cylinders.

    The speed at how we turn defence, or at least what were almost defence, into attack and the accuracy of our passes doesn’t even give opposition any time to assemble a bus – their usual plan A vs Arsenal. When in this mood Arsenal are a joy to watch and apart from a few die hards, there seem to be harmony in the Goonersphere – and that can give this team 5% more in output.

    Theo, like Ramsey before him, is proof that just because a player go through dips in form for whatever reason and are not at the level we would like our any of our starting 11 players to be, it doesn’t by extension mean that he is not good enough to be part of this awesome squad. We all have seen these guys play, and had seen them at their best one time or the other, with a little bit more support when going through tough times, they’ll get that self-belief back quicker and be ready to play at our pleasure.

    Off to Burnley we go with the wind at our backs. Fingers crossed the inter-lull don’t stymie our momentum too much.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. I love this blog. I love the writers and I love those that add so much in the comments .
    It’s a real pipe and slippers place. Even when there is a storm outside. the fire is lit and we can all keep dry and warm.

    Liked by 10 people

  22. Shotta

    I caught five minutes of his first or second game and he looked extremely sharp. If he has dropped away so quickly it really makes me wonder about his attitude. You’d think it’s the perfect set up (Brian Ruiz excels there!) for him to really enjoy his football and kick on. *

    I quite like him as a player but approved of the loan. He’s not a starter in our current squad and there are guys who get the nod, just about, as subs to bring on. Quite an uncontroversial call (unless you are 100% decided the Ox won’t improve and should move on- which isn’t a good call in my book)

    His loan is one good indicator of how healthy (very) the squad is.

    * on that topic- it sucks that I’ve heard pretty much nothing of Crowley, Toral or Pleguezuelo so far. I imagined Toral being a big hit for a small La Liga team. Them’s the breaks with loans, I guess.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. By the way, not signing up to that wordpress thing any time soon, so you’ll have to just add an extra like mentally to a lot of your comments folks

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Nicely done Andrew, thanks.

    I too was struck by a sense that our lads were quite sensibly ‘coasting’ with the game well won at 2-0. Theo confirmed as much in his post-match presser.

    Also struck by the absence of foul play, gamesmanship and cheating by either side so full credit to Basel and Arse alike; I think it was a relatively easy game to referee, to be fair.

    That we are winning these games with so much spare in the tank is of huge significance and fingers crossed this translates itself in the injury stats as we work our way through the season.

    Roll on Burnleh.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. So happy to see us finally having such a balanced, and well stocked squad. So happy we’re finally getting back to a truly beautiful style, and playing with confidence..
    Hell, apparently Wrighty has come out admitting he feels guilty about some of his criticism of Arsene, having not known what Arsene did!
    Life is good. Long may it continue!

    Liked by 4 people

  26. welcome back philly, long time since I seen you post a comment, hope you are as well as Arsenal are at the moment

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  27. Giroud left out of the France squad

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  28. Beautiful Football and as Steww says Beautiful Writing, lovely stuff A5,
    I know people will say I’m not ambitious and I do want to win things but do I really need a trophy to tell me how good that was last night.
    After growing up amazed by the 70s Brazil sides and the 80s dutch sides I never really expected to see ARSENAL play globetrotter football, I just went to the games for the warm atmosphere and the hope we would win. What wobs will never realise is the real trophy Arsene has brought to our club and the fact it can be seen glistening all round the footballing world

    Liked by 8 people

  29. Chris Evans ‏@chrisevans1 1h1 hour ago
    Next in the @telegraph #football4sale investigation, we name an individual at a Premier League club

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  30. Stephen Cole ‏@coledinho1984 22m22 minutes ago Stroud, England
    What Ibra and Pogba dreamed of playing infront of…… Theatre of Plastic Fans……

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  31. Was lucky enough to be at the game last night, a true priveledge.
    An immense performance, so much verve and quality. The players were busting a gut, but in a quality way. Santis energy is astonishing, he has not long recovered from surgery. Ozil ran himself into the ground, by the end, he looked knackered, taking a breather walking over to take corners. Then….Theo….Alexis… The whole team were brilliant, and the fans recognised it.
    On another note, with these performances, and perhaps, more significantly, post Allardyce, Wengers stock seems unusually high with at least some of the MSM.

    Liked by 4 people

  32. I’m still enjoying a warm glow from last night. As I watched the dazzling passing and movement of these guys in yellow, it was like watching a swarm of bees acting with one mind. It was just something else. I can’t wait to find some time to rewatch the last 2 matches at my leisure to savour the champagne football served up.

    Liked by 7 people

  33. We didn’t really coast once we got to 2 – 0 did we? Maybe the last 20 minutes yes but we made chance after chance after chance when 2 – 0 up.

    Liked by 3 people

  34. I think we sat back a bit more and counter attacked 2nd half rather than taking the game to Basel the way we did in the first half. That seemed like a sensible tactic as we have been undone in the past where we have poured forward unnecessarily and got caught ourselves. The team is definitely maturing.

    Liked by 3 people

  35. Sir Bob ‏@BobtheRed1 Sep 27
    Rumoured that the 8 managers taking bungs was Redknapp at Portsmouth, Redknapp at Southampton, Redknapp at Spurs, Redknapp at QPR, Redknap..

    Liked by 2 people

  36. Get French Football ‏@GFFN 39m39 minutes ago
    To celebrate Arsène Wenger’s 20 years at Arsenal, tomorrow’s @lequipe dedicates 10 pages to the French manager.

    Liked by 2 people

  37. Eduardo, that is unfair, everyone knows it was his dog who is the guilty party. Nothing wrong with manager/managers who reside on Sandbanks

    Liked by 1 person

  38. AST @AST_arsenal
    Perhaps the Daily Telegraph could investigate what the £3m paid in ‘consultancy’ fees at Arsenal each year is actually for. #Governance

    Leo@_LS87_ Leo Retweeted AST
    Or where the £250k fanshare money ended up…Leo added,

    odd that AST did not reply to this tweet, maybe Tim Payton was too busy asking harry and rosie for advice on finances.

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  39. ‘Coasting’ probably too clumsy (and loaded) a term, Stew but Passenal (as usual) said what I was trying to say, but with far greater eloquence. As Pass says, we were not frenetically chasing the game or taking unnecessary risks; had Basel miraculously scored I think we’d have seen a different Arsenal those last 20 minutes or so.

    And the real underlying point is the significance of games (on squad fitness, fatigue and injury) that are effectively won well within the allotted 90 minutes.

    Didn’t watch the Manure game last night but a narrow hard-fought win on a Thursday ahead of another vital weekend fixture, will take its toll on their whole squad, not just the ageing ‘superstars’ in their midst, winding down their careers.

    Really hope Arsenal can continue with this ‘economy of effort’. Looking classy and in control.

    Liked by 3 people

  40. Lovely write up. So many great performances of late. You barely touched on Iwobi due to the fact that everyone else shone also. I thought he had another magnificent game. Can you imagine the talk about this lad if he’d chosen to represent England.

    Also Gibbs getting on regularly is great to see.

    Loving the Toblerone toilets.

    Liked by 2 people

  41. Nice little treat. Arsene’s big bro looks a good ten years younger than his 71 years in one photo so hopefully that bodes well for continuing good health of the boss

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/football/2016/09/29/meet-the-other-wenger—arsenes-brother-reveals-the-arsenal-mana/

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Thanks for that link Rich. Interesting and enjoyable. (And yes, I still want AW to stay!)

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Wonderful, wonderful play – and previews and reviews to match. I was lucky enough to see the first-half demolition of WBA in our final match of the 14/15 season, before we went on to put Villa to the sword the following week at Wembley. Walcott was up front then, but the team played in the same sort of way that they have played in our last two games. I think that is why the 15/16 season was so frustrating for so many (and for the manager in particular, I suspect) because it had seemed for all money that we would carry on in the same vein. Injuries did for us of course, so let’s hope this latest incarnation of the side can enjoy a little more luck on that front.

    Liked by 1 person

  44. I’m heartened by the consistency of the commentators on here. We all seem to be driven by our appreciation of beautiful football, or Wengerball. For me Wengerball is synonymous with beautiful football. It is now everyone’s expectation when watching Arsenal. This will be the minimum I will expect from Arséne’s successor. It’s why Arsenal is so loved the world over. Ian Wright reminded everyone the other night on BBC. We had a respectable reputation domestically but little world renown before Arséne.

    I can’t help thinking that Skodran Mustafi is exuding the type of toughness we associated with Martin Keown. This toughness is coursing through the team which together with Sanchez’s work rate is making all our players emulate these qualities.

    Piers Morgan is a poster child of all that is wrong in today’s western world: short termism, supercilious attitude, greed and mendacity. I fuckin’ despise him.

    Liked by 8 people

  45. injury update from wenger’s press conference.
    Giroud and Ramsey out of Sunday’s game, Ramsey should be back after international break – that was what was also said before last international break.

    Coquelin was back in training yesterday, Wenger reluctant to bring him back on Sunday, and said he’d have to see how training goes today and tomorrow, before deciding. Coquelin injury not as bad as first feared, no ligament damage.

    other news
    he did not rule out staying Arsenal manager for another 5 years, also did not rule out England job.

    focus
    Arsenal must have the same focus for Burnley as we had for Chelsea and Basel.

    Liked by 2 people

  46. What Wenger wants to achieve still at Arsenal
    Win everything, play the perfect game every game, give pleasure to our fans

    Wenger said he will make a decision about his future at the end of the season, and basically a lot depends on how well we do this season, the backing and support of the board is great but the main thing is the team doing well. Kroenke was at the Chelsea game, and a board meeting and of course congratulated AW on his 20 years.

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  47. It’s not ARSENE FC its AL FC

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  48. Sir Chips presented Arsene with a crystal vase to mark his 20 years at the club.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. arseblog ‏@arseblog 4h4 hours ago
    haha, Arsene handing out pens to journalists at the presser. “Just so you can write good things about the club!”

    I bet the journos were not smart enough to know he was giving them a dig.

    Liked by 3 people

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