DOUBLE CUP FINAL WEEK

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So here we are, another Monday, another big week of games.

This Thursday, we avenge our Europa League exit and the covid infection that shutdown the Premier League.

At the weekend, we welcome a North London Derby game against a Spurs team that has Bale and Kane in BIG form.

This is what it’s all about.

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FIXING ARSENAL ONE BOX AT A TIME (LONG READ)

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Arsenal head into another week where everything feels poised on a knife-edge. Truth is, I don’t believe there’s a knife-edge Arteta is hanging on. This season will be put in the bin for a lot of major clubs. Liverpool just lost their 6th straight home game at Anfield, Spurs have been utter shite, United have failed to capitalise again… really, it’s hard to hold any club up bar Manchester City who are well ahead of every team in Europe.

If the objective is to get back into the top 4 next season, then we’re likely chasing Leicester, United, Chelsea, Everton and Spurs. We are easily on the level of those clubs and if we can fix a few things over the summer, I think we’ll certainly be up there.

Structurally, we’re in a good shape.

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ALL SMILES AUBA IS BACK

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There are two certainties in life. Organic deodorant will always let you down and Sean Dyche’s Burnley will make you sweat.

The Turf Moor outfit are certainly not the most odious of the North West teams, but they’re not exactly a pleasant day out. If Brexit were a football club, it’d be Burnley, and they’d be telling you that the BT Call Centre should be nearshored.

Patrick Bamford had all sorts of problems when he was there.

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CHASING THE PACK

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Well good morning to you all. I made a passing comment about Flo Balogun in my post yesterday and everyone seems to have taken it like it’s the most important snippet in world football right now.

I dislike some of the commentary that happens around these sort of things when it comes to ‘greed.’ Whatever he’s asking for cannot be construed as that. In life, you get what you ask for. If you don’t hustle your boss for raises, they’ll tend not to dish them out. Same is true of football.

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CONTRACTS, TRANSFER PLANS, AND BARCELONA? WTF?

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Well, as I write this story, Leicester are level with Burnley* (*they drew). Why does this matter? It means Sean Dyche and his boys are throwing all their energy at earning a valuable point. For once, when we play a team below us in the league, we’ll have the fresh legs.

Doesn’t mean we’ll win, obviously.

They’re a bit of bogey team for us. The modern version of Bolton, except it’s never quite as shocking when we lose to them in the 2020s.

There’s amusing news in the press that Barcelona are going to make Mikel Arteta part of their presidential campaign next year. I always suspected that City or Barca would come in for him if he did well. Not sure that I would classify this moment in time as ‘doing well,’ I’m also not sure I’d want the Barcelona rebuild job if I were him. If Arteta went there and dropped a Christmas run like he did with us, he’d be fired about halfway through that moment in time.

‘There is always going to speculation when there are elections in Barcelona. It’s a huge team. Obviously I was raised there as a player and they’re always going to be linked. I’m fully focused on the job that I have to do here, and we have a lot to do.’

I’m also not sure many fans would care if he did decide to jump ship midway through a very painful rebuilding process. I think I might have denied the rumour with a more full-throated ‘get fucked,’ but there we are.

The manager once again went to great lengths to reiterate his desire to keep Flo Balogun.

‘I think I am pretty positive about it and every time I spoke to him, he mentions the same thing, that he’s determined to stay here. He has some really positive conversations with his agent as well’

I heard the player wants about £40k a week to stay at Arsenal. A very small outlay when you consider the clubs that are sniffing around him. One would assume the hierarchy is concerned about giving him a mega-deal only to see him go out on loan next season. For me, he looks like he could start for us in 2 years time. Get him on a 5-year deal, send him on loan next season, then give him a run out in our first-team squad the season after. If it goes well, he stays, if it goes badly, we’ll get a £30m fee for him because he’s fast, technical, and can score goals.

What the club is probably very keen to avoid is the CHO situation. Bayern sniffed around, Chelsea panicked and dropped £120k a week on him. Now look at him, getting double subbed for the second time in his short career. They’ll struggle to flog him. It looks like too much too early, but it might just be too much for too little talent.

I quite like the change of tone when it comes to player transfers at Arsenal.

‘We will see. We are planning what’s going to happen in the summer. It will depend on where we finish, how we finish. I think what we had to in December is unprecedented for a club of this stature. To do the amount of transactions that we had to make it tells you as well where we are. I think it was very much needed and you want to improve, you want to do that. It’s where you have things in the house and you believe that you can improve on it. Externally acquiring players to go to the next level. Everything is planned and let’s see what the market can bring and what the last few months can bring to the club.’

It’s not quite Arsene’s ‘if a special clam pops up, we might consider,’ and it’s nice that the plans are in place now. Jack Grealish, Declan Rice, and Charles N’Zogbia incoming.

The most important news from the press conference was about an injury.

‘Emile had a scan yesterday, it doesn’t look a significant injury but he was in discomfort. For the rest, hopefully everybody should be okay.’

Precaution is key. The player clearly thought he’d done something bad to himself. That’s a worry, if he’s feeling it, we should protect him, keep him in good shape for the Europa and give his body a chance to recover.

Matt Kandela, apparently a fan favourite on The Arsenal Opinion podcast, is now doing press interviews like some sort of show pony.

“Arteta’s probably not looking at one game, but the set of three games. Burnley on Saturday, Olympiakos on Thursday and then Spurs on the Sunday. So really the question is ‘How does he rotate?’”

Yeah, whatever mate.

But actually, I agree, the next batch of games are absolutely integral to the success of the season. We need to beat Burnley so we head into Thursday with momentum and fresh legs. Then it’s another horrendous shit sandwich of a fixture list. Two London derbies against the second-best manager in the world David Moyes, and an aging dinosaur over at Spurs.

Win those two games and suddenly you’re asking questions about Europe that don’t start with ‘back door’, lose them, and Arteta is back on #FraudWatch being accused in chatrooms of molesting cones.

We need 5 victories from the next 5 games. It’s time to impose ourselves on this season and finish strong, just like Wenger used to back in the day.

Let’s see what he has. Catch you in the comments. x


ARSENAL SIMMERING | ARTETA MAKES IT CLICK WITH HEAVILY ROTATED 11

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It’s not often I make correct predictions, but this week, I nailed it. I said on The Arsenal Opinion podcast last Sunday that we were going to see two victories post-City and here we are.

We are better than Leicester City. They shit-housed us in the last game with a Vardy counter and some shocking VARing. It was different this weekend, that’s not to say the afternoon wasn’t a wave of emotions.

The starting 11, on first perusal, absolutely stunk. It looked like a death wish from a manager that really doesn’t give a fuck about fan sentiment. Willian, Elneny, Luiz, Xhaka, Mari, and Soares didn’t feel like a winning formula… most fans were grumbling in the group chats. Then, after 6 minutes, the I TOLD YOU SO chickens came home to roost. Willian and Xhaka lost the ball, Pablo Mari back-peddled against a surging Tielemans run, Mo Elneny failed to move across, the Leicester midfielder took full advantage and unleashed a brutal low shot past Bernd Leno.

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