31 December 2022

Brighton Preview: they're droppin' like flies over there...

The nay-sayers will point out to you that we've only won twice in ten outings against Brighton, including a 1-3 loss in the League Cup back in November. That match does stand out as one in which Arteta got it wrong, not so much in fielding a heavily rotated side (only Saliba and Tierney started among a bunch of back-benchers) but in panicking late on, throwing on Martinelli and then Big Gabi and Zinchenko and Jesus and finally Xhaka in what looked like an increasingly desperate grasping at straws. Arteta may have learned from Pep that it's imperative to fight for each trophy, but if he had wanted to win, he would have started as we finished. Ah, well. Water under a bridge or off a duck's back. This is the Prem, a competition we know not to take lightly...even if our hosts will be lacking key players.

30 December 2022

Arsenal Amoeba II: Evolving Into the Great Beyond...

Ever since Henry retired, a large swathe of Gooners have hungered and pined and craved a striker who could single-handedly dominate an opponent, seizing the ball in his own half and eviscerating an opponent and leaving flummoxed defenders in his wake on his way to scoring yet another goal that propelled him to a Golden Boot and the club towards a Prem title. Gabriel Jesus is the latest incarnation who, it seems, falls short of expectations, having scored just five league goals to this point (a number unlikely to change, unfortunately, for a few weeks). However, as I originally explored in this post from the blog's early days, there are certain advantages to lacking a clear focal point who dominates but also constricts the scoring threat. That focal point not only gives defenders someone to neutralise; it also impedes the contributions of the other attackers.

29 December 2022

Arsenal inch closer to signing Mudryk for just £45m...

One of the better photoshopped images out there...
We're getting closer and closer to "finally" signing Mykhaylo Mudryk with reports of a £45m offer, plus add ons, being tabled after Shakhtar apparently rejected a previous offer of £55m. £15m in add-ons do increase our offer somewhat, but, if these numbers are accurate, it seems like Shakhtar have at least agreed in principle to selling for less than the wild sums they've insisted in throughout this drawn-out saga. I started with "finally" because the January window hasn't even opened yet, and here we are getting closer to signing what looks to be our #1 target. 

Shakhtar CEO Sergei Palkin has been quoted by a few sources, and he sounds open and positive, as if negotiations are progressing positively. We're inching closer and closer, and, while there are shades of Zeno's Paradox to consider, it feels like we're almost there.

28 December 2022

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham: Player Ratings/MOTM Poll Results

Sure, these aren't available as quickly as those at the BBC, Fotmob, or Whoscored, but few of them can boast of the beautiful graphic representation. Almost 600 (okay, 586) votes Gooners chimed in on this one, giving Martin Ødegaard MOTM honours along with a nearly-perfect 9.48 rating. Saliba, despite fouling Bowen to give West Ham a pen and brief lead, escaped with a tolerable 6.45. I'd suggest that Saliba was caught between a rock and a hard place, having to choose between challenging Antonio for the ball out wide or tracking Bowen's unmarked run in behind. That's another story for another day. We rallied and took the match by the scruff. One of these days, we'll keep another clean sheet. For now, let us all bask the result's warm glowing warming glow... 

27 December 2022

Nketiah rated WORST on the pitch in romp over West Ham!

Fotmob, what are you on about?
Despite scoring the third goal to add some gloss to our win over the Hammers, Eddie Nketiah received the lowest rating of any other player on the pitch, once and for all proving his legions of critics, doubters, and haters correct: he's not good enough to wear the shirt.

Okay, so "worst" overstates it, but he did receive Fotmob's lowest rating of our XI—a sad 7.1, lower even than Tierney, who struggled; and Saliba, who fouled Bowen to gift West Ham a penalty. What gives? What did Nketiah do to earn such a sad rating? Maybe those critics, haters, and doubters have been right all along. He'd be lucky to start for a Championship side, and the fact that he's now leading the line for the club that tops the Prem is a joke. The idea that he wears the hallowed #14 is a scandal. And so on.

The reality is probably somewhat more-nuanced (if you've come here for histrionic over-reactions, you've come to the wrong place). The reality is probably closer to Nketiah being an unproven player full of potential playing for a club whose fanbase's expectations have reached a fever pitch and whose fears have ramped up even higher after Jesus went down injured. Nketiah is neither as bad as his detractors insist nor as good as his supporters claim.

26 December 2022

Arsenal 3-1 West Ham: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

We dominated. It looked for a while like we would blow West Ham away until Saliba gave Jarrod Bowen a chance to go down in the box (under the lightest of touches, it must be added, but a touch nonetheless). Strangely, somehow, against all odds, Bowen managed to take several more steps before realising he had been clipped. Fair play to him for trying to play on rather than diving awkwardly to attract Oliver's attention. Anyway, Benrahma converted from the spot, and it might have felt like the old Arsenal again. However, we stormed back. First, Ødegaard forced a pen by drilling his shot off of Cresswell's arm in stoppage time, only for VAR to overrule. It did look to go off of Cresswell's head, if we're being honest. Into the second half, three goals in 15 minutes secured all three points: first, Saka pounced on Ødegaard's smothered shot; then, Martinelli beat Fabianski from a tight angle, and last but not least Nketiah spun his defender tidily to score the third—his 11th goal in 11 Emirates starts from just 16 starts. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Anyway, we've taken all three points, we're safe from relegation on forty points, and we're now eight points clear of City...for now. Let's get to the poll and rate the lads!

25 December 2022

Open Letter to Declan Ahead of his Emirates Audition...

Hey, Dec (can I call you Dec?)
We've flirted with each other, haven't we? You were coy a year or so ago, encouraging us to go after Yves Bissouma and ultimately staying at West Ham, and why not? Moyes guided you lot to a seventh place finish, good enough to qualify for the Europa League Conference (congratulations on winning the group, by the way). However, the Prem campaign has...failed to impress. I hope this isn't impolite to bring up, but you're just a point from the drop-zone. That's gotta be a more than a bit frustrating. Still, y'all have only conceded 17 goals, level with such luminaries as Liverpool and Chelsea and stingier than Man U or Tottenham. We know you've been a big part of that.

24 December 2022

Arsenal can borrow Felix for £8m? We'd be fools not to!

This piss-poor photoshop makes it look like they're eyeing each other...

Add to your list of reasons to despise this Winter World Cup the extension of the silly season. During any other sane season, we'd have had actual football to discuss, you know: results and tables and so on. Instead, we've had to succumb to interminable weeks of rumours and teasers and all sorts of folderol to fill the time between the end of the World Cup on 18 December and, well, I guess it's only been a week... but it already feels like an eterntiy. We've already discussed the possibility of loaning in Depay, signing Mudryk, playing Nketiah through the middle, and playing Martinelli through the middle. I feel like I'm talking out of both ends of my digestive system. Now comes news that we can apparently borrow João Félix for a mere £8m? Colour me unimpressed.

23 December 2022

The REAL Ronaldo gushes about Martinelli: but can he be a #9?

To be clear, we're talking about the original Ronaldo, Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, O Fenômeno, R9...anyway, now that we've cleared that up, let's get to the meat of the matter: his words regarding Gabriel Martinelli. In what is apparently becoming a series of posts in which legends testify about our current squad members, that Ronaldo had this to say:

He is definitely a great asset, is developing wonderfully at Arsenal and showed his potential in the group stage in Qatar. He will certainly stand out at the 2026 World Cup. We are very excited about him.What impresses me the most is that he plays with a lot of passion and self-confidence.

Fulsome praise indeed, but can Martinelli step up now, rather than in 2026? We need a central threat, and it's unclear whether Nketiah can step up, although it is something we just discussed here on Wednesday.

22 December 2022

Thierry Henry on Nketiah: "If that guy plays, he scores. Simple".

Now, there has been a lot of hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing and, I'm made to understand, garment-rendering over the fact that Gabriel Jesus jetted off to Qatar, barely played, and got injured anyway. Our entire season is falling apart before our eyes. First this. Then, the loss to Juve. Then, the loss to Luton Town. They'e a Championship side. Clearly, Arteta's been exposed as a fraud, and it's all going to get worse when we return to Premier League action against West Ham on Boxing Day because we have only Nketiah to play striker. Hold that thought. No less an expert on playing the position has a few words.

21 December 2022

Martinelli's new contract? £200k/week. The symbolism? Priceless.

Now, this little blog is not the one to come to for breaking news. If you're coming to it for breaking news, well, I have some news of the breaking variety. As is being reported elsewhere not yet officialy confirmed, Gabriel Martinelli is set to put pen to paper on a new contract set to pay him £200k/week. If true, we've secured the services of one of the world's brightest young talents for the next five years, give or take. For as exciting as it is to know that he's committed to this glorious club, the deeper significance cannot be overlooked. For one, there's the domino-effect. For another, there's the laying to rest of old ghosts.

20 December 2022

Time to re-name the club Arteta-nal...

It's been more than twenty years—two decades, a generation even—since this club was named after its legendary founder and best-ever manager, Arsène Wenger. I could never figure out why they didn't include the accent grave over the letter "e". Oh, well. Savor the mysteries, I suppose, such as "what was the club's name prior to Arsène's arrival?" We may never know. Anyway, on the third anniversary of Arteta's hiring, it's clearly time to re-visit the club's eponymous name in light of Arteta's successes both on and off the pitch. In just three short seasons, he's clearly earned the right to have the club re-named after him. While it's true that "Arteta-nal" doesn't quite roll off the tongue as smoothly as "Arsenal", the precedent is as clear as the nose on your face.

19 December 2022

Arsenal's KEY role in gifting Messi this World Cup...

Well, one thing's clear now that Argentina have won the World Cup. The debate that has raged well-nigh these many years is well and truly over. Messi has finally emerged victorious. About that there can be no doubt. I refer, however, instead, to who is truly responsible for Argentina's triumph. It's not Messi. It's not even Martinez. Set your faces to stunned: it's our beloved club. Yes, it's true. Take a trip with me down memory all the way back to the hallowed days of yore, 2020, when a French or Argentinian striker injured a German keeper. 

18 December 2022

Mudryk? Pffft! We have Cozier-Duberry and Nwaneri!

From the funeral pyre that is our 0-2 loss to Juventus in the penultimate match of the—what's that? I'm being told that this was not a match of record, and that the result means nothing in the grand scheme of things. In fact, its only purpose was to embarrass Vlahović and maybe spank an Italian side that's so corrupt the Mafia are taking notes. Still, from those ashes, a phoenix rises. Make that two because we have two precocious talents on our hands in Amario Cozier-Duberry and Ethan Nwaneri, each of whom impressed against Juventus on Saturday despite the result. Arteta offered a significant vote of confidence to both teenagers, sending them each on despite us having conceded an own-goal against the run of play just before halftime and hoping for and equaliser. Am I exaggerating their performances just a little bit? To pose another rhetorical question: can anyone determine the location of ursine defecations in arboreal ecosystems? Who needs Mudryk when we have these two waiting in the—wait for it...—wings?

17 December 2022

Arsenal 0-2 Juventus: highlight clips [UPDATING]

Mikel named a fairly strong side here—Ramsdale, Tierney, Holding, Gabriel, White, Xhaka, Partey, Nelson, Ødegaard, Vieira, and Nketiah as we play our last friendly before getting back to the real action against West Ham on Boxing Day. To tide us over on this cold winter morn, I'll post highlight clips here as they occur, hopefully all going Arsenal's way. Refresh the tab every once in a while to keep an eye on the action. #COYG!

Well, that's it. Full time, and Juve come away with a thoroughly undeserved 0-2 win. Ah well, there goes our streak of taking four points from matches. Maybe we'll take a closer look at this tomorrow; maybe I'll come up with something completely different. We'll find out...

Vlahović HIDES from embarrassing Emirates appearance!

News that Serbian striker and one-time transfer-target Dušan Vlahović has not made the squad for Juventus's friendly  has we wondering: wow has his €70 million transfer to Juventus gone so far? I know it's early days, but the returns seem a bit..mixed. His new club struggle in third place in Serie A, ten points from Napoli even after a six-match winning streak and finished absolutely bottom of their Champions League group. There's also the small matter of what we'll call Calciopoli II: The Quickening, engulfing the club. For Dušan, it's surely been a struggle for him to replicate the kind of form that convinced Juve to splurge on the transfer, but he won't be the first or the last to struggle to justify a massive fee.

16 December 2022

Shakhtar CRACK in Mudryk talks with Arsenal: €35m?

How can this be the only picture of the two together that I can find?
First, it was €100m. Then, Shakhtar were willing to settle for €50m. Now, Gianluca Di Marzio is suggesting that Mudryk could be had for €35m. At this rate, we might just want to wait until next week by which time Shakhtar will be paying us to take Mudryk off their hands. More seriously, it seems that the public negotiations are reaching a more-reasonable level after the club initially set an astronomic fee, the player complained, and the club came to its senses. Anything less than €50m has to feel like a deal worth doing. We need cover on the wing, and Mudryk ticks quite a few boxes. From his point of view, playing alongside compatriot Zinchenko must add some gloss to a move to the red side of London.

15 December 2022

Arsenal 0-1 Lyon: Watch live!

A win or a draw here sees us win the group; avoiding a loss worse than 0-5 still lets us advance. I'll update the post title as the scoring happens.

Exposing the mediocrity and inferiority of Bukayo Saka, once and for all.

Couldn't drag Arsenal to a top-four finish last year. Couldn't lead the Three Lions past France in the World Cup. He's not even the club's leading scorer, so just what is all the hype around this supposed "starboy"?  Okay, so, sure, he's "humble" and he's "cute", but what does that prove? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Recently, a member of the Twitterati decided to tweet out what we'll call for now "evidence" of Saka's mediocrity and inferiority. Maybe he raises a few salient points. Maybe he's a troll who'll run away after the clop-clop-clopping of the first Billy Goat's Gruff (fun fact: "Gruff" was apparently the family name of the three billy goats. The things one learns from the internet...). At any rate, I tried to engate this @cynicalac7 with a few tweeted responses of my own, but he hasn't responded in kind. This unrequited affection has me feeling like I'm down the drain like molten toothpaste (if you can identify that allusion without research, add a comment below. I may just send you a prize).

13 December 2022

Arsenal 2-1 AC Milan AND Arsenal 4-3 AC Milan Highlights!

Arsenal defeated AC Milan 2-1 and then added gloss by winning the post-match shootout 4-3, thanks in part to Karl Hein again coming up with a save. He could have saved two more but was at least good enough to guessed right on Rade Krunić's shot, which went wide to seal the extra point. Having taken the maximum eight points from our two matches, we've won the Dubai Super Cup! I posted earlier with social media clips of the goals scored during regulation; here are highlights from the match and the shootout:

And here's the shoot-out:

Dubai Super Cup champions, you'll never sing that. Feel bad for Matthew Smith now, for he has at least one thing in common with Harry Kane: missing a pen. On the other hand, he now has one thing that sets him apart from Kane: winning a trophy. If we can continue taking four points from our matches going forward, Man City will really have a hard time closing the gap on us. We'll have to see how long we can keep that up. For now, I hope you've enjoyed this little waltz in the park. It's just under two weeks until real matches resume!

AC Milan 1-2 Arsenal: Highlight clips [UPDATES]

Greetings, Gooners—I'll do what I can to post highlight clips as they become available. Ødegaard has already opened the scoring; let's hope that there's plenty more where that came from!

  • 21'—Martin Ødegaard scores a brilliant curling free-kick (Twitter).
  • 42' —Reiss Nelson scuffs one home to make it 2-0! (Twitter). This one might get credited to Ødegaard; it looks to have deflected off of him and in.
  • 77'—Tomori makes 1-2 with a glancing header from a free kick (Twitter).
  • Full time—Arsenal win 2-1! That's seven points taken from seven available. On to penalties now to see if we can pick up this point-after. We've won the Super Cup! 
  • Cedric steps upand coolly sends the wrong way and scores.
  • Hein guessed correctly but couldn't reach Milan's first. 1-1.
  • Big Gabi makes it 2-1.
  • Hein saves a tame one! It stays at 2-1.
  • Marquinhos squeezes it past to make it 3-1.
  • Hein came close to saving from Tonali, but it gets past. 3-2.
  • Elneny steps up and scores. 4-2..
  • Cheeky panenka there to keep Milan alive. 4-3.
  • Matthew Smith can't beat the keeper, and it stays 4-3.
  • Milan miss way wide, and that's the end of that! 
Dubai Super Cup Champions, you'll never sing that! 
Things have settled down here, with my Arabic commentator talking much more about transfer-rumours than about anything happening on the pitch. I don't speak Arabic but am hearing all sorts of player-names and club-names, none of whom have anything to do with the Dubai Super Cup. Nonetheless, if anything does develop on the pitch, I'll continue to post updates.

Super Dubai Cup SUPER Preview Gamepak!!!

I just can't contain myself, I'm so excited at the prospect of winning a trophy! OMG! That would be the greatest feeling ever—

Oh. Wait. I support the Arsenal. We've won trophies before.

I'll be honest I say that I don't know what to expect from this odd little tournament. There are four teams, but we each only play twice. Lyon seem to have sent out strong-ish sides by their standards, but we and Liverpool seem to have adopted a more casual approach with differing results. I have no idea what to expect from AC Milan because this will be their first match in this competition. Will they field a strong side? It's anyone's guess. 

12 December 2022

What does Kane's calamity mean for Arsenal? Good times.

As of this writing, the ball that Harry Kane blazed over the crossbar to consign England to a 2-1 defeat to France has been found in near-Earth orbit, having forced the International Space Station to adjust its own orbit in order to avoid the ball. For as high as it sails, the trajectory of Kane's career threatens to follow an opposite course.  This had the makings of a make-or-break moment for Kane, and its outcome may just break him. It could do the opposite, but the circumstances do not bode well for the 29 year old, who is facing the very bleak and very likely end of a career bereft of silverware of any kind.

11 December 2022

Enough of Kane. Saka should take the pens from now on.

 Well, that was heart-breaking, and I'm not even sure I wanted England to go through. Irish and all. Still, that was a brutal way to crash out, especially after being the better side for most of the 90 minutes plus 87 minutes of stoppage time. The Three Lions dominated possession (57%), completely muzzled Mbappé (one shot on goal), and put just as many shots on target (8) as France took in the entire match. When France's Theo Hernandez helped Mount with his bowling-pin impression, it looked like a stirring comeback, combined with a chance for Kane to become England's all-time top scorer, was in the cards. That's when itall went sideways, or, rather, too high. That's just unforgivable at this level, with these stakes. You have to at least force the keeper to make a save. From now, on it's Saka from the spot.

10 December 2022

And then there were three...

Friday's results had everything a neutral could hope for—goals from marquee players, presumptive wins for the favorites, stunning comebacks, and dramatic results. For those of us refined enough to support the Arsenal, results have brought mixed blessings as various countries have been knocked out, depriving our players of a chance at World Cup glory but also sparing them the worst ravages of overexertion. After sending ten of our players to Qatar, just three remain standing (although two of them have spent most of their time there sitting): Saka, Saliba, and Ramsdale. Sent packing, literally, are Tomiyasu, Xhaka, Martinelli, Magalhães, Turner, Partey, Jesus, and White. Whilte it's frustrating to say the least to see Jesus suffer an injury when he finally got to play in a match from which Brazil didn't need a result, and it's infuriating to see the speculation swirling around White's departure from Qatar, we can heave a collective sigh of relief around the damage that hasn't been done, namely to key players like Xhaka and Partey and to those who've become even more vital after the injury to Jesus.

09 December 2022

DISGUSTING rumour on Ben White's Qatar departure circulates...

When Ben White left the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the support was just about universal. This hasn't stopped scurrilous rumours circulating, alleging that White had a "dust-up" with England trainer Steve Holland and offering unsourced, unsubstantiated rumours that the two had come to blows after White showed up to a session unprepared for the match against the USA. None of this holds any water, and, given the possibility that White is attending to a rather-urgent family matter, it all comes across as rather unseemly, to say the least.

It's all speculation at this point, but there's speculative speculation, and there's scurrilous speculation. This reeks of the latter. If it turns out that this story is in fact clickbait, I sincerely hope that those involved are sacked and are subsuquently sued for defamation, emotional distress, and any other relevant charges.

08 December 2022

Arsenal 3-0 Lyon—Highlights!

Arteta named the strongest side he could from the players available, and they absolutely battered Lyon 3-0 through goals from Big Gabi, Nketiah, and Vieira. Arteta basically replaced the entire outfield with youngsters, and they still ran Lyon ragged. It could have been 6-0, but the woodwork did a better job of keeping us from scoring than did their keeper, to be honest, and our own Karl Hein turned away four of the five end-of-match pens to secure that fourth point. Anyway, not a lot to analyse here, just some good clean fun.

Lacazette wants to audition to return to the Arsenal...

The timing is just too perfect, isn't it, what with Gabriel Jesus going under the knife, doubts swirling around Nketiah's quality, and Alexandre Lacazette appearing in the Dubai Super Cup? What better occasion to remind us of what we once had—nay, of what we may yet possess again? Lacazette has been en fuego for les Gones, and with that, all I need is a book title and I'll have the italicized trifecta. If you haven't already, go read Black Swan Green. It'll bring you back to 1982, Margaret Thatcher, the Falklands War, etc., etc. Good times were had by all. Back to the match, though. Lacazette, as I mentioned a moment ago, leads Lyon with nine goals in 15 appearances, including five in his last six, and, to all outward appearances, could just very well be the reinforcement we need as Jesus recuperates.

07 December 2022

In Jesus's absence, Portugal offer Arsenal a chilling vision of what was and what could be...

Thanks to the inimitable David Squires...
Ronaldo has not only been squeezed out of Man U's life, down the drain like molten toothpaste; he must also feel like he's been used and spit out (and if you can recognize those lyrics without Googling, you've got good taste). Exiled—I'm sorry—having parted ways with Man U by "mutual consent", Ronaldo has also been dropped from the Portugal for the forseeable future after his petulant reaction to being subbed off against South Korea. In his absence, Portugal have offered a certain section of the Arsenal fanbase two blood-chilling visions of what could be. One is the future of a Ronaldo-less Man U; the other is of a Ronaldo-ridden Arsenal.

06 December 2022

PSG will prevent Mbappé from eclipsing Henry. Prove me wrong.

Well, it's official. Olivier Giroud is now a better striker than Thierry Henry ever was or Golden Boot wintter Karim Benzema ever will be, at least for country if not for club. That's the only rational, sane conclusion to be drawn from the fact that Giroud has now overtaken Henry as the all-time leading scorer for Les Bleus, courtesy of his goal in France's 3-1 stroll past Poland and into the World Cup quarterfinals. Anyone doing a spit-take with their coffee, tea, or scotch will do well to note that Giroud scored his 52nd goal in just 116 matches. It took that tosser Thierry 123 to score 51. You can't spell "over-rated" without...well...to be honest, I expected more of letters from Henry's name to appear in "over-rated" and have painted myself in a bit a of a corner here.

05 December 2022

Are Arsenal eyeing up a loan-deal for this in-form Dutch striker?

Now that the sky has fallen and the wheels have come off and the trains been derailed, we might as well throw in the towel. After all, just as our critics and naysayers have ben saying all along, we've relied so extensively on Jesus's goals that his absence, rumoured to be as long as three months, will set us back past the point of no return. We've ridden the deepest purple patch of his career to the top of the table, and, without him, we'll fall to the bottom faster than, well, faster than Ronaldo goes to ground in desperate search of any chance to finally score another Prem goal before he...oh. Anyway, all sarcasm aside, we do need som reinforcements, and that was true before Jesus apparently went down. We'll return to that "apparently" at some point soon.

04 December 2022

England 3-0 -Senegal—Saka highlights as soon as they're ready!

England take on Senegal today with the winner facing France in Saturday's quarterfinal. In the rare event that our own Bukayo Saka manages to do what he always does, we'll feature the clip(s) here. Strangely, Southgate has decided to deploy our starboy at [checks notes] right wing? Is that a position Saka knows how to play? It might have been better to play him at left back, no? Okay, so, yes, he's played his preferred position in all three appearances now, but far be it from me to miss a chance at a cheap shot at Southgate from the cheap seats. At any rate, any Sakasian (Saka-esque?) highlights will appear here with all due speed.

Click to expand each link; I'll do my best to add more as I find them on social media.

Arsenal suffer MASSIVE Brazilian setback. Who will step up?

consarn it.
Ok, so, normally, that's me using a click-bait title to lure readers into (what I hope is) a more in-depth article. Well, now that you're here, dear reader, rest assured that you won't see any more sensationalism or exaggeration from me. In fact, there's literally nothing I hate more than hyperbole. I was just sitting down to put pen to paper on Gabriel Jesus with the news that he had been feeling some pain in his knee prior to the World Cup and to then interpret this to mean that his withdrawal from the match with Cameroon was simply a precaution due to something like tendinitis or some other nagging but not-serious niggle. News now from Renato, essentially a Tier One Brazilian journalist, has spilled the tea, and it's going to leave a mark.

02 December 2022

Those Gunners be nicking a living at this World Cup...

...and that is an unqualified
Good Thing, at least in my book. In any normal, sane World Cup that happens in the summer instead of disrupting everything and that leads to the deaths of more than 6,000 "workers" in the host nation, we'd want the lads to all get their time on the pitch, making meaningful contributions and pushing their respective national teams towards glory. To a degree, I want that this year, but, given the timing of this Cup and our ambitions in the Prem, I don't think I'm wrong when I look at the minutes our boys have played compared to the minutes of our rivals' players. Our squad is still on the thin side. Fewer minutes equals fresher legs.

30 November 2022

Criticising Koscielny? Them's fightin' words...

Should I photoshop my face in here? Nah.
Welcome to the next installment of our semi-regular, forced by this weird World Cup series in which we seek to demolish various myths that plague our beloved club. In previous installments, we've looked at who was the bigger snake between Fabregas and Persie (spoiler alert: the Spanish word for "snake" is serpiente) or whether it was Giroud's fault that we failed to win the 2015-16 Prem title (it wasn't). That brings us, dear readers, to our next installment: Laurent Koscielny is just another snake in the grass who saw that the grass was greener on the other side and made us green with envy. Or something. It's hard to knit together more than two idioms, as I've just demonstrated. Anyway, if you're going to come after Laurent Koscielny, you're going to have to get through me first.

29 November 2022

The last time we drew Oxford, we won the FA Cup. Just sayin'...

Matchday programme from that 2003 match
In the midst of this misbegotten midseason World Cup, we were finally treated to some actual Arsenal-related news rather than Arsenal-adjacent news. As much as I love seeing that Thomas Partey's Ghana side bested Son Heung-Min's South Korea or that Tite might grudgingly have to admit that Gabriel Jesus is better than Richarlison (revisit this bit of satire if you want my take), the draw for the FA Cup Third Round brings us back to this wonderful club's prospects. We've drawn League One Oxford United, whom we've only faced a grand total of eight times, winning three, drawing four, and losing one. The one loss came in the 1985-86 First Division when we finished seventh and they finished 18th, just a point from relegation thanks in large part to that result. We may have taken our foot off the pedal with our own position secure while they had quite a lot fo play for. 

Now, I don't want to make too much of this, but the last time we drew the U's or the Yellows back in the 2002-03 FA Cup, also in the Third Round, we won. What's better, we went on to win the whole kit and kaboodle. Past is not prediction, of course, but we have reason for optimism.

28 November 2022

Confessions & Cravings of an Amateur blogger

Now, I know in advance that this will end up as a low-interest post because I'm not offering a splashy title about whom we're going to splash some cash on in January, but maybe that's because I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too. If you're here reading this and read beyond this point, you might actually visit this little blog o' mine more than occasionally, and you are therefore more inclined to give me the feedback I seek. If you're not here, all the better for me because I'm therefore somewhat less likely to get the kind of feedback I don't like. With that in mind, I'll offer a brief, brief history of why I'm here (while you reconsider why it is exactly that you're here) and then ask you to weigh in on a few issues. Let's get to it, shall we?

Have Arsenal prepared a SHOCK sale of Partey?

Sigh. Here we go. With little other club news to report, and even less Arsenal-related World Cup news to report, would-be journos are suggesting that Arsenal are ready to offer Thomas Partey and £20m to pry Ismaël Bennacer away from AC Milan and bring him back to Arsenal after his brief spell in the youth set-up didn't work out. It must be said that Bennacer has impressed with the rossoneri, boosting his valuation to something close to £40m. Still, the idea that we'd swap the midfielder who is arguably our most irreplaceable for a relatively unproven player is enough to suggest that the silly season has indeed begun in earnest, and several weeks early to boot. Then again, with little else to delve into (except maybe the pseudo-retirement of Messi to Miami), let's have a look at this little rumour, shall we?

27 November 2022

The "Ukrainian Neymar" can be had for half Shakhtar's €100m price? Hmm...

I thought I'd take a bit of a break from the clickbait-ish (clickbait-ey?) headlines and have a closer look at the rumours surrounding Mykhalo Mudryk, apparently dubbed the "Ukrainian Neymar". For myself, I have to admit to mixed feelings around such a sobriquet. On one hand, Neymar is, when he wants to be, one of the best in the world. On the other, he is a prima donna, a diving diva, a flashy fop who would rather lose looking good than win looking bad. If Mudryk has any of the latter Neymarian tendencies, I'd rather we walk away. The fact that his stock has risen so sharply suggests that he's mostly shown more of the former. That might be a proverbial kick of the tires.

26 November 2022

Arsenal plan SHOCK move for new transfer target! Mudryk? Danilo? Nope. Hard pass.

Which player should Arsenal pony up for? Will it be Mykhaylo Mudryk, the Ukrainian speed-demon who has apparently outgrown the Ukrainian Premier League and is ready for the real Premier League (that's the British one, for anyone asking)? Will it instead be Danilo, the Brazilian defensive midfielder starring for Palmeiras? Arsenal have been heavily and frequently if not accurately linked with a move for both, but each may end up being nothing more than a red herring to Edu and Arteta's master-plan: the signing of the American Yunus Musah, the 20 year old (okay, so he's 19 until he's 20...on 29 November), had to have set some salivation in motion with his performance, earning the USMNT a crucial draw in what was supposed to be cakewalk for the Three Lions.

25 November 2022

Gooners FURIOUS after buying "wrong" Brazilian!

Just doin' what he does on a weekly basis...
After Richarlison single-handedly demolished Serbia on Thursday, Gooners around the world were left ghashing their teeth and rending their garments. A long-simmering doubt, one that had been eating at the fanbase since the summer, finally reached a boiling point after the "wrong" Brazilian's brace revealed to those fans the folly of having signed Gabriel Jesus when the club could have gotten Richarlison. Making matters worse, the scintillating striker has gone to Tottenham, where he will no doubt continue this goal-scoring rampage, picking up, in fact, right where he apparently left off before this international break. Edu and Arteta have been exposed as the inexperienced charlatans that they really are.

23 November 2022

Apparently, Giroud was the striker we needed all along...

Oh, how wrong we were, those of us who slated Olivier Giroud. We hated on him. We doubted him. We insulted and derided him, and now comes our comeuppance. Surely, we will line up dutifully to eat our slice of humble pie or crow or whatever it is one does when one is caught out being so thoroughly wrong. Wrong we all were then, when we blamed him for his goal drought that allowed Leicester to win the Prem. What other conclusion is there to draw from the fact that he's now equalled Thierry Henry for goals scored for the French national team? For those who still doubt his bona fides, he's done it in eight fewer matches than Henry needed. This proves clearly and unequivocally, throughout the space-time continuum, throughout the multiverse, that Giroud is the best Frenchman to play for Arsenal or the French national team. Full stop. End of.

22 November 2022

Just give Bukayo Saka a blank contract and let him fill it in.

This is unlikely to be the last trophy he earns...
Okay, okay, so bagging a brace against the likes of Iran is hardly evidence that Bukayo Saka has announced his arrival on the world stage. The Iranians, already overmatched going in, lost their keeper to a nasty head-to-head collision with his own teammate and, what's more, may have been a bit unnerved by their "is it a protest?" silence during their country's national anthem before the match. FIFA might book a player for wearing a rainbow armband, but the Iranian government may come down somewhat more heavily on what may have been a gesture in support of the anti-government protests going on back home. Still, at a risk of glossing over these weighty issues, we simply have to acknowledge the transcendent talent we have in our squad, and, what's more, it's time to offer him a rather large pay rise to ensure that he's here for years to come.

21 November 2022

Time to swoop for de Jong, I guess...if we must...

Normally, you think of the world's biggest clubs as being, for the most past sane. Prudent. Responsible, if a little profligate with the spending. All in all, though, we expect them to be sober. By and large, all of them are. Well, almost all of them There's always that one outlier, the one at the end of the bar at last call who can offer you the night of your life or the one who will boil your pet rabbit on the stove. Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I introduce you to FC Barcelona, sometimes known as Barça, sometimes known as mes que un club. For those out of the loop, they're also known to be....well, what is the colloquialism I'm looking for? Ah, yes. Bat-sh*t. How else to explain the driving out of a club legend and scorer of 672 goals in 778 appearances? 

20 November 2022

Poor Pep clutches his pearls as Arteta considers poaching more players...

Okay, so it's an unsourced report, but Football Insider claims that "it is now believed that Guardiola’s side will reject any potential further offers from Arsenal for players who would go straight into their team." It has all of the outward appearances of being complete common sense dressed up as a scoop, but it does conjure up some delicious images of Guardiola furrowing his brow as he wonders who among his current squad see the playing time their former teammates are getting at Arsenal and might start to feel a bit restless at being accessories rather than actual players. Whatever Guardiola and others at Man City have or haven't said, it would be more than a bit rich for either to whinge about Arsenal poaching their players.

19 November 2022

Cesc was a bigger snake than van Persie could ever be...

 ...and I dare you to prove me wrong. During the shiny, happy international break about which no one anywhere has anything remotely resembling a complaintTM', we have some time on our hands to revisit old gripes and issues. To white, we're here to judge once and for all why Cesc Fàbregas on his best day is a bigger snake in the grass than Robin van Persie ever could be on his worst. 

They share some similarities, to be sure. Each jilted us in a horrible fashion, confirming the worst rumours about the club's ambitions and undermining Wenger's plans in the worst possible ways, but, at the same time, heaping our scorn on van Persie is taking the effect and making it the cause.

18 November 2022

Edu's BBQ reaches fever pitch! He's like a new signing! He's...

It's like a new signing, in a way, as Arsenal have officially Edu's new position as the club's first-ever sporting director, which sounds not so much a promotion (although it does expand his responsibilities somewhat) as it is a recognition of the expanding role he's played since his appointment as the club's first-ever echnical director back in July 2019. In addition, it recognizes how well he's performed in that role, overseeing an overhaul of the squad, clearing out all sorts of deadwood and making astute deals. The proof is the pudding, of course, as we are top of the league with room to grow. Such has been his success that Barcelona, that remorseless eatin' machine, had come sniffing around. This promotion serves than as proverbial middle finger in their general direction just as it solidifies Edu's role and future right here.

Dear Piers Morgan, sod off (and take Ronaldo with you).

My dear friend and (dare I say it), colleague, for, after all, are not we not both wordsmiths, spinners of tales, like the bards of olde? (The extra e is to indicate "days of yore".), Where was I? Ah, yes—some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. Pundit became, well, I'll leave off for there and let imagination step in. In the wake of this juicy, splashy Ronaldo-spills-tea 16-part miniseries, I've used up my annual allotment of hyphens. Along the way, Piers, you seem to believe that you have become legend...in your own mind, at least, if not on Twitter. To be frank, I don't really care one whit about Ronaldo making his case on your channel or program or station. You call yourself a Gooner, and I can't abide that. 

17 November 2022

It's Giroud's fault we didn't win the Prem in 2016.Really? Hmmm...

The moment when it seemed to come together...

One of the more-pernicious myths out there is that it was Olivier Giroud's fault that we failed to win the 2015-16 Prem title. Giroud was and remains a convenient scapegoat; after all, he did fail to score in fifteen consecutive matches from January to May as we slumped to a second place finish behind Leicester. In a year in which 81 points was enough to win the Prem, we finished on...71. Surely, a striker who scored just 16 goals all season deserves the brunt of the blame, if not all of it? With the international break upon us, let's revisit this hoary old cliche.

16 November 2022

Arteta eviscerates his squad...

Well, "eviscerate" might be excessive, but the Spaniard did have some strong words on the season. Talking about the club's fortunes and the development of a young squad still exploring its potential despite some exciting early returns, Arteta spoke frankly and directly as he assessed our chances at challenging for the Prem title. We're a little more than a third of the way through the season, and, with this completely conveniently scheduled mid-season Winter World Cup, about which absolutely no one has any quibbles whatsoever, we have some time to do a little bit of navel-gazing, a little bit of soul-searching.

With that in mind, then, let's delve into Arteta's forthright assessment.

15 November 2022

Ronaldo to Arsenal? We'd be crazy not to!

After the bombshell revelation that Cristiano Ronaldo feels disrespected by Man U and sees no future at the club, it wasn't long before "Ronaldo to Arsenal" started trending on Twitter, and if there's a gold standard for good journalishm, it's what is trending on Twitter. At first, I'll admit, when I found out about this, I went through a wide range of emotions: first I was nervous, then anxious, then wary, then apprehensive, then kinda sleepy, then worried, and then concerned. But now I realize that signing Ronaldo is something we have to do. If nothing else, he's burned his bridges there. Wouldn't it be something to see him to join this young, up-and-coming squad? He could be just what we need to lay to rest once and for all those nagging questions if our title-tilt is legit.

14 November 2022

Rivals' Roundup—it's over. Give the trophy to Arsenal.

In which my quest for an original graphic may have gone awry...
There is not an ounce of piss being taken in that blogpost title, friends. I am deadly serious; it is in no way a hyperbolic, tongue-in-cheek mocking of where we stand (and will stay until Boxing Day, if not longer). "Top of the league during a six-week mid-season break for the World Cup, you'll never sing that if only because everyone hates this World Cup and they'll never do it like this again!" Hm. Doesn't quite roll off the tongue as it should. Anyway, it was a topsy-turvy matchday 16 in which not a single club has played 16 matches with Man City's shock loss at home to Brentford, Tottenham and Man U finding miraculous late wins, and Newcastle grinding out another win as they climb slowly if inexorably into the title chase. Right. Let's get to it...

13 November 2022

Gooners, do NOT celebrate. We know how Wolves hate that...

Simmer down, simmer down, y'all. Just because we won at Molineux to strengthen our spot top of the table and send Wolves bottom of the table should mind their manners and keep any untowards over-exuberance in check. It's poor form. It's better to simply nod politely, adjust one's spectacles, and get on with the business of the day. Indeed, it is in fact a sign of one's moral superiority to not lord it over one's inferiors, to instead accept such outcomes as a reinforcement of the Great Chain of Being decreed by the Almighty Himself.