YOUNG PLAYERS MAKING MOVES

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Bit of a drab England game against Hungary. Jack Grealish getting dropped for Bukayo The Great was amusing. Would have been nicer if he’d been able to rescue the game.

What I think we’re all loving is the decline of Harry Kane. The highest level in football requires the physical and mental working in tandem. The Spurs striker isn’t at the races in his head. His failed move this summer has totally rattled him. It is quite something to see how something like that can take from the best on the planet in your position, to a total bum in a matter of 3 months.

What was Daniel Levy thinking turning down that money? One of the shrewdest businessmen in football has been going through a midlife crisis. He sacked Poch for superstar Jose Mourinho. Now he’s turning down mega cash for a player in decline? Imagine the damage Spurs could have done with £120m this past summer. It’s stunning that he chose to keep a loyal player against his will… and pair him with Nuno.

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MONDAY ROUND-UP

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Thank you to all the folk that dropped nice comments and messages after the mental health post yesterday. I implemented the Bad Day rule for my team today, I hope you did too!

Onto Arsenal news…

We’re being linked with: Chambo.

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BAD DAY RULE

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It’s World Mental Health Day.

A moment to talk about one of the most important self-care items going: What goes on in your head.

A moment to talk to an audience that is the most likely to be affected by it and not say anything (you, my friend).

Men are pretty shit at this. Mostly, it’s men that read this blog. So let’s have a chat about it.

It’s ok not to be ok sounds cliche, but it’s true. Mental health, no matter how many ‘wellness days’ brutal office cultures offer up, is not respected to the level it should be… still. That’s why I think it’s so powerful superstars of elite level sport are crafting a way forward for normal people. Simone Biles tapping out of some of the Olympics? If she’s ok to say ‘no thanks,’ after all the shit she’s been through, then guess what… Pedro who makes tweets for a living can tap out if things are going badly.

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JACK IS BACK

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Mikel Arteta continued to progress his charm offensive on the fan base.

Jack Wilshere is now officially training with us.

“He wants to do his coaching badges again and we are prepared to fulfil all the needs that he wants. That is basically the idea and it is no further than that.

“He is going to be training sometimes with us, he is going to be around the place, he is going to be continuing his coaching badges that he is very interested in, try to get him fit, try to get his experiences across to our players, our young players, our academy and I think it is great influence to have around.”

No two ways about it, this is a very sharp piece of manoeuvring from the backroom team.

  1. Fans love the player. Being the club that lifts up an exPro when they are at a low is just a feel-good story and it makes us all feel warm and fuzzy inside. Far better than feeling like a toxic demon is living on your gut feasting on good vibes.
  2. We have the youngest starting 11 in the Premier League. Jack Wilshere is in his late twenties. He has tasted highs like being the best player on the pitch against the best Barcelona team ever. He’s also tasted some pretty dreadful lows. Both of those experiences are extremely relevant to players finding their feet in new careers.
  3. The Hale-Enders, without doubt, will have had a poster up in the changing rooms and maybe even their bedrooms. Jack was a major, major name when they were plotting their routes to the top. Having him at the training ground will be special.

I suspect Arteta sees a bit of himself in the Jack situation. His injury issues weren’t ever as bad as the one’s Jack has dealt with, but he was a miserable shit during his last season with Arsenal and he’ll know exactly what his mental state is like right now. When Mikel was on the physio table, what was he doing? Plotting coaching moves. It’s interesting that Jack is leaning on the club to help him there.

I love the move. Could there be a fairytale at the end of it? Who knows. But for now. Let’s wish Jack Wilshere the best of luck with his rehab.

Newcastle United are selling out to Saudi Royalty. Slagging off another club just got a little bit riskier. Why is the deal going through? Because they solved for… illegal streaming. Can you believe it? The thing holding up the deal was piracy, not all the other delightful things their rulers get up to. Grim, grim, grim.

Newcastle fans won’t give a shit. They are about to be elevated into the stratosphere when it comes to money. The group running the show will invest in the City, the arts, the schools, they’ll invest in the club facilities, and they’ll spend an absolute shit tonne of money to make the team competitive.

Am I worried? Not really.

The Premier League should be viewed a little like a property market. If you got into New York property in the 70s as a rich man, you’re making a killing. Go there now with a billion and you are not making the same margins.

The first movers were Chelsea and City. Outside that, billionaire owners haven’t really made much of a dent. You need to be smart to succeed in the richest league in the world. Maybe Newcastle United will be that, but there are no guarantees.

Even in the world of petrodollars, Liverpool beat City to the title and still compete at the highest level.

We’ve seen Spurs in a Champions League final.

We’ve seen Lyon and Leipzig make Champions League semis.

There’s a diminishing return on being mega-rich. Just look at the state of Everton to confirm that.

Newcastle can’t stockpile the best players like Chelsea did in the 2000s.

Even when you can stockpile players, it doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.

United has spent as much as City since Ferguson left. What do they have to show for it?

PSG bought every elite free transfer this summer. They spent £80m on a right back. They were beaten by Rennes at the weekend. A club with a wage bill two-thirds of what Lionel Messi earns. They haven’t won the Champions League yet.

Even City, who do things properly, can’t win in Europe.

Mike Skinner, a UK garage/hip hop artist from when I was very young, once said that being around famous people at awards ceremonies took him right back to being bang average… because everyone in the bar equalised out. It was better to seek out ladies in Colchester Hippodrome. That’s how I feel about this move. Standing out in a bar when everyone is wearing a Rolex is tougher.

… but hey, who the fuck knows.

What we do know is the Premier League has absolutely no shame and as fans we’ll soon forget what it all stands for. No one asks how the sausage is made if it tastes nice… a metaphor that could work for bloggers if we’re not careful.

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DEFENSIVE NUMBERS MOVE FORWARD

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So we spoke a little about the need to ramp up the productions numbers in attack. The thing we didn’t cover is our defensive stats. There are some good numbers doing the rounds.

•Most blocks in the PL (includes shots and passes)

•Fewest times dribbled past

•Fewest tackles won

•6th most interceptions

•3rd fewest fouls committed

•4th most aerials won

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THE STORY OF ‘SHOTS TAKEN’

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Ugh, trying to be creative during a dead week is… tough.

How about a table?

Arsenal rank 10th in the league for shots on goal according to the Premier League data. We’ve had 92 shots across 7 games. That’s 13 a game.

Now, there’s a little bit of misleading context there. We’ve played City and Chelsea, the two best teams in the world, and we played them when we were in pieces with covid issues. Take them out and our shots per game looks a little healthier at 17.

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