ARSENAL VS LIVERPOOL: DERISK SELECTION, SPURS IS THE REAL FINAL

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Antonio Conte exited another cup, this time a semi-final against Chelsea, his side were utter, utter dross all game. No energy, no idea what they were doing, no real output.

That means they’ll show hard at the weekend and we’ll all be wondering how a team so bad can pull a performance out the bag so good just because it’s Arsenal.

Or… Arteta and the coaching gang might have a plan to take more than a point of a very average team bereft of ideas.

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ARTETA INSISTS NO ONE SAYS ‘NO’ TO THE ARSENAL

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Here. We. Go.

Arsenal are the prime target for all the hot goss this window because Mikel Arteta broke all his Ikea crockery and DEMANDED we go shopping at John Lewis.

The Dusan Vlahovic story seems hot online, I have no idea what the real deal is, but as expected, the fees that were being spoken about yesterday are now starting to come into line with something a little more realistic. Italian Sky reporting Fiorentina would like a shit ton of money, but they’d deal at 55m Euros plus Lucas Torreira. That’s quite the climb down from 69m euros yesterday.

Mikel Arteta once again reiterated in his press conference that every player he speaks to wants to join the club.

‘Historically, this club has been targeting the best players in the world and the best players in the world were always interested to come here’

… so let’s be real here if we are talking to Dusan, we’re not begging for his services. Edu and Arteta rarely miss and seem to do their homework, if the deal is progressing, it’s because they know the player wants a piece of it.

My suspicions are not very insightful.

  • Dusan Vlahovic wants a good deal.
  • Fiorentina wants a good deal.
  • There is only one club that will deal in January, which is Arsenal.
  • If another club comes in, the money goes up for all parties.

Johnny made a good analogy in the podcast about trying to do your pulling business before the lights go up. I think Vlahovic’s team is doing a last scan around the bar before making the decision to leave with the only offer.

Quick Spurs interlude. Matt Law reckons Barca couldn’t believe any club would pay the fee Spurs dropped for Emerson Royal. Lol, remember Arsenal fans losing their shit that we’d signed Tomi over him? I do.

The next deal the transfer accounts are talking about is Arthur Melo of Brazil. He’s a #8, 25 yrs old, he’s capped, he’s at Juve, played at Barca, was part of a mad swap deal massively overvalued him and Pjanic. He sound look like a good boy, there have been behavior issues with booze in the past, but he certainly has a lot of talent, finesse, and raw power. He was savaged for being a bit of a boring safe player to watch at Barca; without meaning to be rude, he sounds quite Xhaka-ish. Secure, not particularly adventurous, but I guess that’s what Arteta needs in that role. It’s a weird signing, but I guess we have to keep reminding ourselves… this is an emergency cover option, not the future of our midfield.

News on outgoing players is: BALOGUN HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.

He’s moved to Boro as they chase promotion under the excellent coaching of Chris Wilder.

I like this move for many reasons.

  1. Balogun is a mature adult. No sulking. He’s just cracking on with his future and he’ll go to the most northern parts of England to fulfill his potential.  This is his Huddersfield moment, we all know he can go to the top, now he needs to use this time to sharpen, grow bully boy teeth, and get some confidence.
  2. Chris Wilder is a great coach. What he did with Sheffield United was nothing short of a miracle. He’s progressive, he likes young players, he will make Balogun a star.
  3. Wilder has long had a football crush on Balogun. He likes the players, tried to signing him at Sheff U, which means this move isn’t a panic… it’s strategic. When a coach likes a player, they play them.

Arteta said Eddie is staying at the club, we’ll see there. If Palace comes in with a fee, it’d be hard to say no to it. The player wants big dollar, close to £100k a week, I’m not sure Palace are going to offer that. So his best bet if it’s about money, will be to wait and see who is there with a signing on bonus this summer. Rumours are French and German clubs want a piece of the action.

Talking football…

Arteta is going to seriously need to consider more rotation as we head into the back half of the season. Sambi Lokonga is a top player, but like any player, if he doesn’t get minutes, he’ll struggle when called upon. Arsenal played him on a long stretch of games until November the 27th, then we didn’t really see him until Nottingham Forest last week. The best managers in the league make everyone feel involved. I know we don’t have the depth of other sides, but come on, we have to be fair to Lokonga, he was part of that winning run, dropping him for 6 weeks wasn’t smart. There’s a lot on the line this season, but we’ll be better equipped to deal with bad moments if more players are trusted to take on minutes.

Nuno Tavares apparently reacted very well to the early sub. Arteta said he didn’t complain and that moments like this make the best people stronger. I really hope that’s the case, we won’t find out until we need him, because KT will need a rest at some point. Hopefully Nuno can come back fighting and play as well as he did at the start of the season.

Right, that’s me done. Have fun in the comments. x


TRANSFER NOISE + CHEATING IN PLAIN SIGHT

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If you’ve been reading Le Grove for a while, you’ll know I don’t really raise my hand on transfer rumours, because it’s a risky game. There are very few that truly know what they are doing in this space, David Ornstein is obviously the best in the business, BBC on the resume, an actual journalist, can cut through the bullshit, has real contacts, very rarely misses. There are others that get good information, but it’s peddled via agents, the deal with the devil there is part of your messaging is good faith, but the other part is shifting nonsense, being the authentic face of bullshit designed to whip up interest.

If a big name Twitter account says X player is moving to BIG club, it might not be true, but that Twitter account creates 1000 stories that make it feel true. Football is a game of emotion and execs all have the same biases and ticks you do. So this tactic can be fruitful because a front-of-mind name for you can be a front-of-mind name in an insecure scouting office.

So, first up on the nonsense chart.

The Daily Mail reckon Cedric Soares has been denied a move to Atletico by the move of Ainsley. This is a big fat NONSENSE. Remember, Cedric was a player so average Southampton assumed that when his deal ran out, he’d go to a lower league club. The idea that Diego Simeone is going to swoop in for a £90k a week right back that; as someone neatly put it the other day,  is still our 4th best right back after shipping a few, is utter dross. This is a story of Kia’s imagination designed to fool other clubs into thinking there might be a player there. If Arsenal could shake his £90k a week salary, they’d stick Bernd Leno at right-back for the rest of the season. Cedric might land a move, but let’s be real, Soares can’t do anything Trippier can do, and if he’s not an Arteta or a Hassenhutl player, he’s not a Simeone player.

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ARTETA STATEMENT COMPLAINT ABOUT SQUAD GOES AWRY

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Let’s get the Alka Seltzer in the cup right away, Matt from the podcast neatly surmised that:

‘If you are going to exit the cup, better now than at any other stage’

It would have been nice to win it, sure, but we didn’t, so going out now preserves legs, heartache, and allows us to focus on the two trophies we have left.

Your head is still spinning right, that didn’t help? Ok, understood… let’s get into the meat of our embarrassing loss. There are two ways I’m looking at it that both have an element of truth.

The first is that this is part of the turbulence of having a young team and a thin squad. We know that when certain players are missing, the Arsenal we’ve grown to love is hard to identify, that happened yesterday. We’re a long way from having a squad that can compete on two fronts.

Yes, we should have beaten Forest with any line-up we put on the field, but the attitude wasn’t there, inexperience and general awfulness won the day, we deservedly lost to a well-drilled side.

The second way I’m looking at things: this performance was partly intubated by Mikel Arteta as he danced a dangerous ensemble to make a point to the hierarchy about how skinny his squad is.

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ROTATION WITH A SPRINKLING OF FIRST TEAM FOR FA CUP

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FA CUP 3rd ROUND DAY!

The best cup competition in the world kicks off today, we have ourselves a lovely trip to the River Trent to take on the storied Nottingham Forest. Arguably one of the best club names in the game.

What do we expect from them? A big attempt at a performance. They are smack bang in the middle of the Championship, they’ve won their last 3, their players will be looking to shine brightly whilst the whole of the UK is watching on ITV a bit later.

Arsenal will be playing a very young side because there’s no choice. COVID issues, knocks, and some big games coming up will mean heavy rotation. When you have to heavily rotate, you can’t guarantee you’ll maintain performance, so we have to be prepared for the evening to be tough.

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ARTETA PUSHES FOR NOW DEALS

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My favourite evolution at Arsenal since Dec 2019, by far, is that Arteta just comes out and says:

GIVE ME PLAYERS

None of this ‘special talent’ nonsense. He wants bodies. He wants them yesterday.

I also like that he engineers the situation so he gets nicer things.

Ains in midfield? Sorry… he’s gone.

Jack Wilshere as a stop-gap? Sounds a bit poverty…

Auba second chance? Eddie minutes? Give Flo a go? Nahhh…

He wants new bodies because we’re short on his say so.

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ARSENAL HUNT JANUARY STRIKER

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Feels like it’s been a while since we had a meaty David Ornstein drop – and it dropped harder than a hock of vegan ham.

Arsenal is channelling some of 2018 January energy as they look to consolidate their powers to mitigate risk heading into the final stretch of the season. New York Times writer, Sir David Ornstein, reckons we’ll pull money forward for Dusan Vlahovic if the player is game, though people in Italy seem to think the player isn’t really game.

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