Here we are party people, the next round of the
Champions Europa League is nearly upon us. The CL comp is like a shite New Years party at Vodka Revs. Top talent has turned up, surveyed the crappy clientele, and decided they want out. They want the hipper party that’s serving quinoa and marmite cocktails, they want to hang with a lucid crowd still chasing indie rock n roll dreams in their late twenties, they want to chat over a bag of mystery about the impact the UKG scene had on their in their youth in a post-ironic seriousness.
Damn right kids, the Europa League is where it’s at.
Here’s who we know is heading to the party because they clicked yes on the FB invitation.
Here’s who COULD be joining this evening.
Liverpool or Sevilla or Spartak
Shakhtar or Napoli
Porto or Leipzig
Dortmund or APOEL
So what can we conclude from this list?
We’re not winning the Europa League this year. It’s already too hard. We’ll be in the metaphorical bathroom chucking our guts up after the last 16 as per usual.
Still, at least we could have an exciting game in the next two rounds. The major teams will be seeded, so hopefully we land someone from the crap pack.
Jose Mourinho just won’t leave it on the Lacazette front.
‘The truth is Eric Bailly no chance for the weekend, Phil Jones a chance, [Marouane] Fellaini a chance, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] a big chance, Matic is injured but will play for sure, I’m telling the truth but he will play for sure, [Michael] Carrick no chance,’
‘No stories of Lacazette, David Silva… all the truth.’
Mourinho playing the honesty card. Like he has any sort of ethical or moral compass. This is a man who destroyed the career of a female physio because she didn’t realise Eden Hazard was cheating. A man who’d throw his own mum under the bus if it helped him win a point away in the Champions League.
Damn, I hope United are absolutely ripped apart at the weekend. Nothing would make me happier than the saviour of English football dishing out a lesson in how to play the game. It’d be so beautiful.
Anyway, Wenger hit back at suggestions he was playing mind games.
“I thought he wouldn’t play. In the end, he could play. What did you want me to do? Leave him at home? I am always honest”
Let’s be fair to Wenger, he’s been telegraphing his starting 11 for the last 21 years to great detriment. There’s no precedent for announcing your starting line up to the media. It’s totally up to him. What I hope Arsene learns is that playing a surprise 11, or a surprise formation, or making a decision that isn’t 100% obvious… can have a pretty interesting impact on a game (though clearly, not on the United game).
A real basic. Unpredictability makes you hard to plan against. We’ve not been tough to plan against for years. Pep can change his style of play 4 times in a game. He’ll always try and bring something new to the table. He’s always experimenting with new ways to win.
Daniel Franklin, who pulls together predictions for The Economist, told Contagious he thinks Wenger could leave this year. I’m not saying I believe it, but listen, that magazine is fine publication… and I’d LOVE to believe it. I have no idea what data is pointing towards that, because data doesn’t work with Arsenal. You can’t model predictions on Wenger, he’s a success manipulator, and Stan K is game for a reframe at any point in time.
We can dream though…
Wenger says tomorrow’s game should see an experienced squad.
Nice to read that he’s thinking about the pile-up that’s coming, and he’s going to put some game time in the legs of players that haven’t had much first-team action. To be honest, thinking about it, I can’t think of too many names that’ll be a surprise? Mustafi has recovered from embarrassment but is unlikely to be risked. I still expect to see a lot of kids before we go hard with the first team when the competition resumes next year.
Finally, it sounds like Theo Walcott might be off this January. There’s a weird groundswell of support for him, and talk of a testimonial. I can’t tell you how misguided that is. People mistake being a good servant, with keeping quiet because you know you’re absolutely fleecing your employee.
He’s the accountant asleep at his desk. 107 goals or something in 13 years. Probably £50m in wages. Let’s not kid ourselves here, he’s been a totally average signing. The poster child of a failed Project Youth. The poster child of the second coming of that vision with Project British Core. The poster child of club so desperate to keep players at one point, they made one of the most consistently average performers a top 3 highest paid player at the club TWICE.
Forgive me for having zero sentimentality here. He was ignored for the World Cup in 2016, he’s missed all the 2018 qualifying. He should be moved out the back door. I’m sure he’s a terrific bloke, but this is sport and we shouldn’t be getting sentimental about a player who has summed up so much that is wrong at the club.
Good luck to him. Hope he actually goes. I’m sure he’ll bang them in at West Ham. Then get injured or lose interest.
Jack Wilshere is being PILLORIED in the media for ice skating like a lunatic on a family ice rink.
‘I don’t know exactly [what he did on the ice]. You can do ice skating and make sure nothing happens. Ice skating violently, I don’t think he did that.’
Someone needs to explain to him the dangers of walking around a rink with his wife and kids. Such bad behaviour.
Finally, big thumbs up to the club going over to the Whittington Hospital to say hi to the kids. Very sweet. The Arsenal Community team are consistently brilliant, and I know we expect players to be good about this sort of thing, but I still think it’s great they do it with such enthusiasm.