A beautiful challenge.

by .

Get this people, I am in America, BUT, in a place called ESSEX. I grew up in Essex and there is a second one. Mad times. ‘Yoooou fuuucking SLLLLAAAAAYYYYYGGGGGGG’ does not go down as well with the locals as it does back home, but hey, you can’t have everything. Talking of Essex, listen to this with the volume on. Absolute ‘YOU LOOKING AT MY BIRD’ gold.

Finally, the Premier League season is coming to an end. It hasn’t been glorious for Arsenal. In fact, it’s been our worst ever. No Europe via the front door for the first time in a very long time. The best we can hope for is winning the FA Cup Final against a Chelsea side that has some very scary players in their attack.

The coach has called the problems we’re facing a ‘beautiful challenge’, he knows that his career trajectory directly depends on what he brings to the club over the next two seasons, and he will go hell for the leather to up our standards. It’s a scary challenge, but as many folk will tell you… it’s easier to take a team at their lowest ebb, than getting in there after a winning run. The only way is up.

As for the challenge being ‘beautiful’? Well, let’s just say that when I see an ugly baby, I always call it beautiful. The Arsenal challenge is ork levels of cuteness. Someone has to hug it though, I’m glad the person dishing out the faux affection is a man that has such pristine athleisure stylings.

Europe really is massive for us this summer. You can’t make up the gap with free transfers and Whatsapp scouting tips from untrustworthy sources. We need to have a sharp eye to the future this summer and every single player we look to has to have the ability to add something to the club in the longterm.

We’ve been linked with a bid for left winger Joelson of Sporting Lisbon. The young player looks absolutely electric. He’s explosive from a standing position, has all the tricks you’d expect from a Sporting player, annnnnnnnd… he’s with Kia. The story is that we’ve bid for him because he’s under a contract dispute. Some worry Kia is using us for a bigger pay packet at Sporting… but whatever it is, the player looks good and it’d be the first future-facing name to come from his portfolio.

There’s a view that this sort of signing is why you work with super-agents. The crass idea is if you take some dross, you’ll eventually land some gold. It’s a fucking abomination of a ‘process’ that only the amateur mind would look at as smart. You have 24 spaces in a squad, if you want to be elite, you don’t sacrifice any of them in the hope of a future deal. Doing quid pro quo signings is Del Boy Trotter stuff, it’s just not how a club like Arsenal should ever act, so hopefully, that’s not been the case.

I genuinely hate the way people look at dark arts in football like it’s clever. The type of people that purr over this sort of thing are the types that like to tell you who the hard men are at the local shit hole pub. Being smart is the best way to win at football, doing things properly, underpinned by good decisions from talented people. That is what should be revered… and look, don’t take my word for it, look at how many clubs are trying to move away from super agents reccos. Look at the state of Barcelona these days, The Athletic reckon they barely use a scouting department.

‘Among a host of concerns, The Athletic can reveal that scouts feel alienated from the recruitment process. Barcelona, quite remarkably, held just one first-team scouting meeting over the past year. Barcelona, as well as rivals Real Madrid, declined to comment on all points presented to them for this report. There is also frustration that the club’s world-renowned data scientists are not trusted or involved in the recruitment strategy, while several figures around the club stated they felt the club had become overly dependant on certain agents for recommendations.’

Sound familiar? Super-agents are bad news. Still, at least we know that Mikel knows what he’s after this summer… creativity.

“You go back to (Santi) Cazorla, to (Tomas) Rosicky, to (Andrey) Arshavin when he played there, to (Aaron) Ramsey when he played there, to (Henrikh) Mkhitaryan when he came in. Even Jack Wilshere used to play in those pockets all the time.

“That is a lot of players who are now not here. We have to renew that cycle, because if not, those kind of players won’t be there for us anymore.

We need a real infusion this summer. We need a marquee creator, but we also need at least two other players that are on the up that can help us. We can’t have just one Jack Grealish this summer is what I’m saying.

Still, that makes things very exciting. We’ll be addressing the fun positions which. I mean, we need players everywhere. An 8, a 6, a new centre back. The list is vast, but the most important areas are in chance creation because things are dire at the moment.

I’m not sure what Arteta is planning against Watford this weekend, we know he’ll want to win, and he’ll have had some time to think about how bad we were in the final third. Does he practice setting up a deep block again? Does he try something new in the pockets we’re lacking? Or does he see the game as a dead rubber?

Who knows, but the Chelsea game is going to be very difficult and if we play like we did against Villa, we’ll be handsomely beaten.

Right, short post today, see you in the comments.



529 Responses to “A beautiful challenge.”

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  1. The backpass

    “I trust The clubs valuation in sales over what y’all think”

    The same club that allowed Mhkitaryan to leave for free?

  2. The backpass


    “Atletico isn’t budging on their valuation of Partey
    Leverkusen aren’t budging on havertz”

    Atletico arent budging because its a release clause.

    Leverkusen have actually budge, with Chelsea set to pay €75 million (including bonuses) when they were asked to pay €100 million. I believe after today’s match, every club would know what to do in the market.

  3. Ben D

    It will be a happy day today if we send Watford and that twat called Deeney down today. Let’s see if he has the cojones to apologize. COYG!!

  4. Marc


    My worry is that we could be in a situation with no European football, we’re then either buying from a poorer selection of players or having to pay higher wages to attract the players who can push us on. Those players don’t work out and you’re stuck with another round of Xhaka’s, Sok’s and Kolas who are difficult to move on.

  5. Marc


    Oh dear – Atletico don’t want to sell Partey so why should they lower the price.

    We are desperate to unload a swathe of players in a market where very few clubs have money to burn.

    You figure it out.

  6. Champagne Charlie

    Extra 5.4 mil if we finish 8th instead of 10th.

    Does Mikel even need to do a team talk with that beauty over head?

  7. Habesha Gooner

    I think PSG set the tone for the market with Icardi. A 30 year old Lovren is going for 10 mil. Napoli bought Osimhen for 60 mil euros. So I think we will get 30 mil for either torriera or Guendouzi. Sokratis would go for 5 mil. Mustafi will go for 10. And Elneny will go for 10 too. Holding and Niles are still going to for the English premium.

    Any way even with your estimates 70 mil + huge wages of the wage bill and a 30 mil budget will have us at 100mil+ to invest. Ceballos loan if we have no money, Malang Sarr for free, Van de beek and Partey for 45 mil each will be a huge improvement.

  8. Victorious

    Something is seriously wrong with club. I mean just the whopping 30M as summer budget for a squad that is struggling to finish top 10,and to think relegation fodders have bigger amount to splash! lol.. Good luck Mikel in your quest to bridge the gap Buh you’re going to need a truck load of sauce if u’ll be successful.

    I wish the Americans will sell up before they completely ruin the club.

  9. Habesha Gooner

    Yeah I get that. But I have faith in the selling ability of Raul after last summer’s ruthlessness. We sold Iwobi for 35 mil, Beliek for 10, Dominik Thompson for 3 mil. I think he can do it again. Big Bad Wolf Raul will sell them all.

  10. Habesha Gooner

    Oh Forgot Laurent Koscielny for 6 mil. And Bennacer also provided 5 mil. We should have brought him back seeing his performances now. Oh well you win some you lose some.

  11. andy1886

    I see City have been linked with Ceballos….

    I’m sure Pep wouldn’t mind spending £30m to fuck us over.

  12. Marc


    The money issue is two fold – the part of it we’ve been slowly dealing with ie a CL wage bill whilst playing in the EL. What’s killing us now is COVID related – our match day revenue is £100 million a season – what’s it going to be next season? We’ve also got the possibility of a self inflicted loss of a further £30 odd million revenue by not getting any European football.

    All of that is taking place whilst we were losing £20 odd million a season prior to COVID.

  13. Marc


    Stand by for Ceballos to be the greatest CM available and it being Sanllehi’s fault he didn’t tie Madrid down to a fee.

  14. Victorious

    Let City have Ceballos, too slow and lightweight to cut it as a top level CM in the league, watched him against Villa and struggled badly to move the ball even after beating his man

    We need very strong and rapid midfield players who can dictate games for ages, Partey or Doucoure will elevate us.

  15. Victorious


    We sold some high earners last summer,and did a few loans as well,I agree the wage bill might be overbloated but we should be doing better than 30M seriously

    The covid issue isn’t perculiar to our club, how come Chavs are splashing the cash like confetti? We could be permanently marooned as a midtable club for ages if serious cash isn’t somehow injected to the club this summer

  16. Marc


    “how come Chavs are splashing the cash like confetti?”

    Because Abramovich is subsidising them. Something Kroenke is not going to do.

  17. UTarse

    Fuck me some you love abit of drama….. let’s wait and see what the transfer activity is before slitting our wrists.

    The problem hasn’t been spending the money, it’s been the shower of shit (in the main) that we’ve spent it on.

  18. Marc


    You’re also missing off the loss of match day revenue. Season Tickets have usually been paid by early June right now the club cant’ offer ST’s because no one has any idea about when fans are going to be back in the ground.

    ST holders are already owed a 6 match refund from this season so that’s almost a quarter down on the usual value.

  19. Marc


    I do agree with you on that – last summer people were having complete meltdowns because we’d hadn’t spent all the money in the world 20 minutes after the window opened.

  20. Graham62


    You still, after all this time, come across as a rather arrogant and patronising individual.

    You couldn’t “educate me” on my golf knowledge, let alone my football expertise.

    Now I sound frigging arrogant!🤪

  21. Daniel Altos

    Legrove is a very funny place….so someone can dismiss a winger’s stats because he is playing in an inferior team when the same winger’s stats when they were playing in the same inferior team last seasonwere good?Things like losing possession and winning headers has nothing to do with how good a team is.

  22. Marc


    I just wish he’d put his “great knowledge” to some positive use and go and educate Pep or someone so they put a £150 million bid in for Ozil.

    Would massively help us out.

  23. Sid

    If iwobi playing for Emery brings in 35m, a rejuvenated Xhakalson should be minimum 40m,

    If championship Bielik went for 10m, Mustafinovs on sauce should bring in 30m

    Im telling you for free!

  24. Pierre

    Champagne Charlie
    I’m afraid you have lost me with this post..

    Holding the players to a standard?
    Backing a particular person or Choosing sides?
    Saha ?

    WTF are you on about.

    Only you would equate holding the players to a standard as a backing of Arteta, what a daft little view.
    Arteta might be the person enforcing such a thing, but I’m supportive of meritocracy itself. It’s nothing to do with backing a particular person or choosing sides.
    Every player should be held to a certain professional standard, and if you can’t meet it then fuck off and play for another club.
    Dead easy
    .“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more bizarre defense of player’s poor performance over a season than saying he plays for a shit team…….even though his numbers in seasons past were twice as good for the same shit team.
    Weird Even weirder is how you’ve drawn that conclusion when I never made any remark about how well Zaha has played this year. My entire pov is that Zaha is a totally different type of player to Pepe, and he’d have been a better fit for us last year.”

  25. Champagne Charlie

    Not a hard one Pierre, I value meritocracy and the fact Arteta is the one enforcing it is of no relevance to whether I agree or not. Meanwhile it’s more and more apparent you develop issues with such a practice when Ozil is a major failure of such.

    Dani Altos
    You’re another one that’s not followed the premise of the debate about Zaha and Pepe. I’m not going to bother rehashing what’s been said about 5 times now, waste of time.

  26. Marc


    The perfect outcome for the end of the season would be the following.

    As you say Leicester knocking ManU out of the CL places, then us relegating Watford – fuck you Troy Deeney just a shame the fans aren’t in the ground to give it to him with both barrels, with the Spud’s finishing 7th.

    We then win the Cup securing EL football for us and denying them any European football.

    That in what has been a crappy season would be a pretty good outcome.

  27. Marc


    Nah Levy gives him a new 3 year contract with no clauses (you’d have thought Levy would’ve learnt with the stadium) and then sacks him 6 games into the new season with a £45 million payout.

  28. AhaTom

    True, you never mentioned Zaha’s poor numbers this season but half of your argument with Freddie was based on how shit CP are, and therefore Zaha’s numbers should never be compared to Pepe’s since there’s a gulf in quality between two clubs.
    The other half was about his game being better suited for Arsenal, which I don’t necessarily disagree with.
    Basically the part of debate you and others who wanted Zaha at 80m( doubtful Palace would’ve allowed the same deal structure we got with Pepe btw) want to emphasize is the speculative one which can never be proven, while conveniently ignoring the part backed by hard numbers.

    To each their own.

  29. Big Perm


    You still, after all this time, come across as a rather arrogant and patronising individual.

    Pot. Kettle. Black. Wanker

  30. Nelson

    Arsenal XI Confirmed: Martinez; Maitland-Niles, Luiz, Holding, Tierney; Xhaka, Willock, Ceballos; Pepe, Lacazette, Aubameyang

  31. andy1886

    David Luiz
    Aubameyang (c)
    B. Saka

  32. Marc


    I didn’t expect Arteta to switch formation. I don’t get what Arteta’s doing with players some of the time though. AMN say’s he wants to leave and is back in the team, a back up rightback we’ve just signed permanently is on the bench.

  33. Nelson


    The other day he didn’t get any support from Auba and Kola. Auba was knackered and Kola was shit.

  34. Victorious


    He hasn’t changed formation, and AMN is not new to the RWB position, far better than Cedric there

    Arteta is making do with what he has at the moment, win this and the cup final and that’s job well-done.still think AMN will leave and there’ll be a real shuffling in the summer.

  35. Pierre

    Champagne Charlie
    “Meanwhile it’s more and more apparent you develop issues with such a practice when Ozil is a major failure of such.”

    Oh dear Charlie, another quote out of the Receding, jamie or fred book of pathetic retorts.

    Ozil has been out of the side for about 2 months and I just happened to mention(after 2 months of saying nothing) that we have better results and performances with Ozil in the team , a comment which some ( including you) have taken exception to.

  36. Wasi

    Willock with a start. Hopefully its in his natural box to box position and not an auxiliary wing back or no. 10 where he seems very uncomfortable.

  37. Marko

    Did I miss another Zaha and Pepe discussion? Damnit. Ah well my pennys worth absolutely delighted that we didn’t bring in Wilfred as it’s obvious he wouldn’t have added much better.

    As for today just win and be done with this shit campaign and start anew. Also don’t buy into the 30 million budget stuff it’s plucked from thin air no one outside of the club knows our budget yet. And given Mikel’s comments recently about bridging the gap quickly I’m assuming that promises have been made about the summer and obviously 30 million isn’t going to close any gap whatsoever so I’d just wait and see.

  38. Jamie

    Going for an easy win today. Cajones.

    Surprised AMN is picked at RB over Soares though. Hopefully he plays as well defensively today as he did vs City.

  39. Marko

    Love that he isn’t even giving Mesut a potential farewell at the Emirates. Love the stance taken by the club we need to free up those wages if we have any chance of improving the squad this summer

  40. Wasi

    Big perm

    Ceballos is even more uncomfortable than Willock in the no. 10
    If its a 4-3-3 I expect Ceballos to be the deepest lying midfielder with Willock Box to box and Xhaka as an advanced playmaker.

  41. Nelson

    Normally, before the FA Cup final, you would expect a manager to practise a lineup in the 1st half and rest players in the 2nd half. Arteta thinks that Willock is more useful for his system than Saka. Hopefully, Saka will play in the 2nd half.

  42. TheLegendaryDB10

    Come on The Arsenal!!!

    I really like the new shirt!!! The arrow type motif is cool and the red used is lovely. Really classy shirt to wear. (Not being biased because I have one 😀)

    And we get a pen. How kind of the refs. After all they have done to us, they owed us one.

    Cool to see Auba convert.