Well, there’s quite a lot to unpack today.
The football, at this point, is about one thing and one thing only… winning the Europa League.
The second part of the football equation is keeping our stars fit. We didn’t manage that against Fulham. Alex Lacazette pulling up with a bad hamstring injury which could be the last of him this season, maybe even forever depending on how the summer goes.
The game overall was a bit of the nothing event.
We dominated Fulham, had 18 shots, hit the woodwork, had a good goal chalked off for a VAR minor infringement, then conceded a stupid penalty.
To the credit of the team, they did keep going until the end. Mat Ryan making himself available for a corner, nodding it to the back post where a cross was tapped in by Eddie.
The team celebrated like they’d won a world cup instead of focusing and chasing down the last minute, but there we go. There’s still a lot of education to go at Arsenal FC.
You could complain about the line-up having too many first-teamers… but when we rest players and lose, it affects our momentum.
You could complain about Balogun not making the bench, but Eddie did and he scored.
You could complain about a lot of things, but in the grand scheme of this season, the only thing that matters now is making the Champions League via the back door.
I didn’t think the performance was as bad as some made out. We created enough big chances to win that game and we weren’t treated well by VAR. The main concern defensively was Gabriel with another reckless mistake at the back. He’s young though and that’s part of the bargain with defenders of that age. I hate that he has to come out and defend himself from social media idiots. The internet really is an embarrassing place these days.
Saka, Gabriel and ESR didn’t have their best game, but man, when those three click, it’s going to be special.
The main concern going into the Everton game is who picks up that role Lacazette has been doing so well?
I think we’re dreaming if we think Auba is going to recover from malaria in a week. It’s a serious, serious disease. I think it’s going to take a while to go from hospital bed to Premier League fitness.
That gives us a conundrum in attack. Eddie is going to be off this summer, do we put our season on his shoulders? I’m not so sure the quality is there for him to do the things we need him to do.
Flo Balogun has signed his deal, he’s exciting, but it might be a bit wild to start him in a European semi-final we have to win. Crazier things have happened in the past, but that might be a stretch.
Martinelli seems the obvious choice as a striker, but he’s not a connector of players like Lacazette is. He’s more in the mould of Jesus at City. He can lead a press, he can go over the top, and he’ll work like a dog.
There are also other options in the false 9 role. Nico Pepe could be an interesting option, though I worry that he’s quite sloppy compared to Lacazette. Alternatively, the return of Odegaard might alleviate the need for Lacazette to play that role.
I just really, really, really hope it’s not an emergency call for Willian.
The other point I’d make about the Fulham game… Mo Elneny just ain’t it. He can do a lot of the basics well. He moves the ball fast, he covers a lot of ground, but the biggest miss yesterday was Partey’s quick thinking and fast actions. Mo doesn’t like to go vertical, he’s extremely low risk, and his crab football totally clogs up our game. We really need to take a chance on a youngster for the rest of the season, even if it’s worse, at least we’ll be investing in an idea we’ve not seen tank numerous times.
Onto the biggest story of yesterday: Arsenal is part of a rebel set of clubs that are pushing to set up a super league. Vinai was due to meet with fans on Sunday, but after the uproar, he cancelled. Shocker.
Here’s the basics.
- 20 participating clubs with 15 Founding Clubs and a qualifying mechanism for a further five teams to qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season.
- Midweek fixtures with all participating clubs continuing to compete in their respective national leagues, preserving the traditional domestic match calendar which remains at the heart of the club game.
- An August start with clubs participating in two groups of ten, playing home and away fixtures, with the top three in each group automatically qualifying for the quarter-finals. Teams finishing fourth and fifth will then compete in a two-legged play-off for the remaining quarter-final positions. A two-leg knockout format will be used to reach the final at the end of May, which will be staged as a single fixture at a neutral venue.
It’s a £340m signing on fee. There’s no relegation. No promotion. It’s an enclosed league of ‘big name’ clubs that think they are better than everyone else. The absolute cheek that they’ll let 5 other clubs cycle in based on achievements… we’re currently 9th in the Premier League!
This is a football coup.
This is the billionaire class taking a lead in destroying football culture to entrench their wealth.
No one wants it.
It is an outrageous heist none of the owners will speak publicly about.
It is an international disgrace.
A few have said that the modern fan likes the big games and this might be targetted at them. I absolutely cannot have that. The narrative cannot be allowed to shift to ‘this is a visionary marketing step for a game that needs change.’
No, no, no, no. Football is fine. In fact, it’s more than fine. It would be in stunning health if not for the pandemic. Fans are getting what they want and they show it because they keep paying for it. Sky know what fans want, which is why they keep buying the rights. Amazon is sniffing around, because they know it’ll help them sell Prime bundles. There hasn’t been a conversation amongst fans about the need for a Super League.
This is not a painful idea to save a game in decline. Football is not baseball or golf. The model we have now is the hottest commodity in sport. It doesn’t need an innovation to keep the dollars rolling in.
… and if there was an innovation then SURELY that innovation is not creating a less competitive league for a select few elite names.
What makes Champions League football incredible is that everyone can win it until they can’t. A Super League will not be that. 2 or 3 teams will compete, then what of the rest? Fans like winners. A bottom of the table Super League clash will not be a spectacle. Just like it’s not a spectacle in the NFL when a once-great team that’s gone to shite falls off the wagon.
Who wants to see a shite Arsenal get walloped by Madrid? Why do Spurs, a team synonymous with losing, deserve to be in this coterie of clubs? How are Liverpool selling this vision to Klopp?
This is the billionaire class trying to impose themselves on the people’s game, again. We’ve already had to deal with expensive TV subscriptions, aggressive price hikes, attacks on the kick-offs… but the game was still the same. Moving to this model is an attack on our football culture. Keir Starmer, the Sports Minister, and Boris have all piped up about this. Fans need an intervention at the highest level. It should not be allowed to happen. It is an international disgrace.
I am absolutely ashamed my club is part of this. Not surprised though. Stan hasn’t been able to crack the football code organically after trying 50 bang average short cuts, so now he’s attempting the ultimate short cut… start a closed competition. It is absolutely shocking.
It also shows where we are on ‘values’ and ‘class.’ Just talking points. Very sad.
Let’s see how this farce plays out.