Today is pretty much the Premier League version of the Europa Cup Final.
We head away to GIANT killers Wolves in the hope of securing a top 4 that’s been gift-wrapped for us.
Spurs won very late last night against a resolute Brighton (that f*cking sunk me).
Chelsea is a point ahead of us courtesy of that drab draw against Burnley.
Now we MUST leapfrog them into 4th.
Wolves are struggling. As Matt Scott pointed out yesterday, they’ve only 19 first team players in their squad and two of those are back up keepers. They have only won two games in their last 6 outings.
They haven’t had a great time since Watford beat them in the semi-final of the FA Cup after extra time. They lost 3-1 to Southampton and only managed a draw at home to Brighton on Saturday. Small teams with small squads aren’t usually that good when they have to play 3 games in a week. They have a revenge game in the league against Watford on Saturday, which is effectively a 6 pointer for them. There are 2 points between 10th and 7th, I would imagine Nuno Herlander Simões Espírito Santo wants the higher position because of his RAMPANT ego and the £5.7m additional prize money which goes a long way up North.
My strategic brain would say that if you were a TOP TOP manager, you’d probably fancy beating Watford away… so if you were to make rotation sacrifices with a tired squad, you
probably SHOULD make them against Arsenal this evening.
No point in going all guns blazing against us tonight only to lose on Saturday. If I were Nuno Herlander Simões Espírito Santo, I would throw this evenings game and go big at the weekend (Wednesday client drinks VERSUS A FUCKING MAD RAGER on Friday in layman’s terms). I MIGHT be biased here… but even if I weren’t, I’d calculate that Arsenal rested big at the weekend, they lost in humiliating fashion and they’ll be coming with energy and purpose tonight.
So we’ll see… the counter to the above is we are usually shite away from home to counter-attacking sides and the Unai Emery press conference was a vigorous defence of a defender who is awful (and he’ll probs play). This was his defence.
“I want to protect the players, Mustafi is a very good player, a very good centre-back,”
“He has the habit – usually he is doing the sliding tackle and using anticipation against the opposition. He can win one, win two, win three, win four – but if he loses one he is the picture and if he concede a goal he is the big picture, Sunday was the same and happened with him.
“I have spoken to him: ‘You are young, you can improve and you need to work hard because you have a big quality for a centre-back.’
“He is young, he is improving and Sunday he is in the big picture because of the second goal. Who is in this picture? Mustafi – but it’s not his mistake. The mistake was tactical because we need to protect him with two centre-backs against (Wilfried) Zaha. I protect him because I believe in him.”
… err, Unai, the player is 27 years old. The same age Cobain died. The same age I am right now (it is TRUE). He’s not young, he’s in his footballing prime.
He then went on to ask a favour of the fans.
“I am going to say to our supporters, ‘Help our players.’ We need to take the criticism and be strong as players, as a coach, as a team, as a club. We need to improve knowing that.”
You can’t knock Unai here. He’s rallying the troops around a player who is obviously going through a really tough patch and I’d personally take that sort of management style over a Jose Mourinho lambasting him for being a disgrace to his mother. A manager c*nting a player might make you feel better, but it’s not good for trust. Mustafi isn’t trying to be average.
Let’s see what the Unai’s real intentions are in the summer when I have no doubt he’ll move him off to Italy or Spain.
Talking of the summer… lots of leaks and rumours that the war chest is more of a trinket this summer. The tiny sum of money that I reported way back in November looks near enough spot on. The more worrying thing is someone from the club mentioned there is a concern that the Champions League money won’t make it to the manager as an advance.
This does make sense though. We are a business and we can’t keep spunking money on players/wages without balancing the books. We have a £220m wage bill, we’re the 3rd highest net spenders in the league over 5 years, we’ve outspent Madrid since 2010 on a net basis… and we’re still rolling with Jenks in an decisive league match. I completely agree with the notion of ‘get your finances and squad in order before you come begging for money.’
There are lots of very expensive names we should be moving on, and we could see the cash benefit in wages and in fee in some places. Interesting that Sokratis, Auba, Ozil, Mikhi and Mustafi all have two years on their deals. Raul explicitly said something about not allowing players to venture beyond that juncture.
My big, big worry is that we’ll have to lose one of our stars because we didn’t make any money on Aaron Ramsey (who was foolishly allowed to pass the 2-year position in his deal). But if that is what has to happen, then that’s what will happen and we’ll just deal with it.
… there’s a sub concern that we don’t have a technical director in place or an experienced head of recruitment. I know there are folk that think that isn’t important, but then there are people out there that think tactics don’t matter… or underplay the importance of a manager, or believe the earth is flat, but rest assured, those people should be ignored.
Sven M came in for a year and nearly all of his signings have contributed to a more stabilised first season. We need someone who understands up and coming markets, someone that can give us a critical edge through tech implementation or someone with a very sharp eye, and we really need them in ASAP. I have deep fears handing over control to Raul and his backroom dealing ways.
… I also think Emery is hit and miss with players he likes (Denis is just a pretty boy). To be fair to him, there’s no way he’s going to have time in his day to scout effectively. I have no understanding of how the recruitment drive will be operating. Trust in Morrow and Cagiago I guess?
Right, that’s me DONE.
See you in the comments and BE NICE TO EACH OTHER. Blog. Of. Love.
P.S. You made that little boy’s uncle very happy yesterday AND it was his birthday. Perfection. Big love to you all, the donations went up! For those who wanted a PayPal option, it is HERE. THANK YOU AGAIN.
LOVE YOU ALL YOU ARE HEROES x
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Finally, before I go. A bit of a kindness ask. Luke, top Gooner lad (good looking boy in the photo below), lost his life recently (read here). His uncle, Dominic, is raising money for East Anglian Air Ambulance as they airlifted his son to the hospital and did a great job. I think you should NOT put currency into my Patreon, and instead add some money to the fund which is a whopping £22k. It’s a great cause and it would mean a lot to me and his dad.
Gooners, we all look after each other, right? Thank you in advance for your generosity!