Well happy Thanksgiving to all my American brethren.
What do we Arsenal fans have to be thankful of? Absolutely nothing.
I hate life right now.
… but, we do have a tasty away clash against Molde tonight. The Europa League is my escape. It’s where my dreams of progressive one-touch football go to play out at level 11.
The coach did a pretty extensive press interview, clocking in 18 minutes of chit chat. He looks pretty relaxed, which is nice to see, BECAUSE I AM NOT RELAXED.
Most of the press questions were around Nicolas Pepe. I love how critical journalists can be about football, preparation, subs, tone, jacket choice… but they are all totally fucked if someone else asks the one question they had prepared for the interview.
Anyway, it was interesting how adamant the coach was about Pepe’s inclusions (all four times he was asked about it). He aggressively shot down the idea that his career was over with the sort of face a Spaniard gives you when you reach for the ketchup during a fine dining experience.
“Absolutely not, it’s not about that and I don’t like that type of statement,”
“I will give Nico my full support all the time. He knows the things he has to improve but again we all know his qualities.
“He has some responsibility, and I have a lot of responsibility, to get the best out of him. I cannot fault his effort at all. There are certain aspects he can do better because he has the ability … but to say there is a threat to finish his career here, it’s not at all like that.”
The player made a mistake, showed remorse, and he’ll be going right back into the starting 11 to prove himself.
That’s good news. Arteta went to great lengths to say that the responsibility of his career is on his shoulders. I’m very unsure where we’ll land with the player. He cost £72m but he plays like he’s come out of the U18s. He offers no cover on the right, his touch is often fat and heavy, his decision making is slow, he runs with the ball too much. Everything in his game needs to speed up and he needs to find intensity for the full 90. He’s been so awful, you almost have to wonder whether AMN should be put in the side to cover for the lack of help Hector receives.
Back to Nico. What better place to show the world what you can do than the greatest of the European competitions?
There was also a bit of a rewind on Folarin Balogun. The manager admitted the club has reopened contract talks because the player is showing something he wasn’t before. I have no idea what that means specifically, but I’m assuming the attitude slipped last summer when there was a lot of back and forth over whether he should have gone to Sheffield United.
Tonight would be a great moment to see whether he can translate U23 performances into a big boys competition. He certainly looks the business. He’s more of an all-action striker than Eddie. He can run with the ball a pace, he’s strong, he loves a low shot like Nik Anelka. The question is, as ever, can it translate? He ‘looks’ like he could be the Aguero Mikel doesn’t have. COULD. I said COULD.
I suspect tonight was originally going to be full-on kids, but I wonder if we’ll see more senior players on account of some of the dismal football. The club is going through a weird transition midseason as we hopefully begin to move away from 3 at the back. We don’t exactly have an easy set of Premier League fixtures to test and learn, so tonight might be a good place to start.
There’s talk that William Saliba will leave in January. I really hate the idea that he’s going back to St Etienne. Why would you go back to a subpar league that’s comfortable? Go to a club in the Premier League. Leeds, West Brom, Brighton, and Burnley could all do with reinforcements. Why head back to an oven that only half baked you last time?
Some additional unwanted news, it appears our most creative player, Bukayo Saka, is out of contention for this Sunday. I have no idea about Thomas Partey, but you’d imagine Mo Elneny is also out. It’s not looking good.
Finally, Diego Maradona. One of the most joyous footballers ever to grace the game passed yesterday, probably because he just enjoyed the good times a little too hard.
He told the Gallaghers that if they left his party with any of his women, he’d have them both shot.
60 years of living life like Diego, or like you, sitting there, reading a blog with your avocado on whole-grain toast. You big joke.
It’s quite incredible that Arsenal went all in on him. Probably the greatest ‘nearly signed him’ of the last century. Imagine Diego ripping it up in North London in the 80s? It would have been spectacular. I think we also tried for Platini? We’d have lifted the European Cup with those two in the side. Maradona tearing it up at The Wag Club with Spandau Ballet, Martin Kemp reworking the lyrics of GOLD to celebrate a league title win, I would LOVED to have seen it (Kev K emphasis).
I do find the football cultural police a sight to behold on the internet. The people that brought you ‘defensive midfielders are for thugs’ and ‘touchline passion from managers is bad etiquette from a bygone era’ are now trying to push the idea that it’s uniquely English to have a shared hatred for a player in the tribal game of football. I especially love the idea that these total bores, particularly the English variety, think it’s uniquely sophisticated to be able to brush off the Hand of God as a positive.
The same folk will enthusiastically share articles from painfully hip Square Space websites that trace the origins of violence from fans at the Argentinian Superclásico to early years consumption of folk music from the Andean hills.
‘Their violence is just, you know, better’
It’s ok to be bitter about football.
If you’re not still seething about Stephan Henchoz in that 2000-01 cup final, who are you?
Right, short one today. See you savages in the comments section.