Well, here we are again. Not much to report since last week.
Unless you count the England football team giving a perfect illustration of the benefits of turning your back on the expertise of foreigners. What a tactical masterclass! But then apart from Terry Venables or possibly Glenn Hoddle, it’s hard to think of an English manager over the last two decades who hasn’t appeared tactically deficient compared to, well, almost every other country in Europe. Though good of Marc Wilmots, doing his best to achieve the same levels of incoherence, wasting Belgium’s ‘golden generation’ in a truly ‘let’s play Paul Scholes on the left wing’ kind of way.
Things are so bad, that people are still trying to get Wenger to take over. A man whose tactical inflexibility has been ridiculed by less generous Arsenal fans for the best part of a decade. And with his contract up in a year, and with Arsene no doubt feeling the sting of the fans rebukes, he’s been flashing a little ankle at the FA…yeah, as if!
Or if you prefer, there has been the tragic hilarity of watching our two main political parties collectively and individually abdicate responsibility at the most critical constitutional moment of my lifetime. It’s been increasingly like a cross between the old BBC House of Cards (yes the American re-make is brilliant but is exactly the same story) and Game of Thrones. Last-man-standing stuff. A bit like our hunt for a striker.
Gove’s last minute knifing of Boris was impressively treacherous even by Tory party infighting standards. But it does leave the country with a selection of the blind leading the blind. Or to put it another way, it’s a bit like when we relied on an eleven with Almunia, Silvestre, Eboue, Clichy, Denilson, Walcott and Bendtner at the Nou Camp. With Craig Eastmond on the bench. This bizarrely leaves Theresa May in the Thomas Vermaelen role. No-where near the standards aspired too, but someone who can least be relied upon to try to stop it all going wrong. Probably in vain.
Looking towards the red corner, Old Gooner Jez Corbyn is pretty much in the same position as Wenger in the days leading up to last season’s damp squib protest. Many supporting his team aren’t totally convinced, despite the die hard acolytes, but his overall position amongst the broader fan base may be strengthened by a manner in which the most disgruntled are trying to make him resign. So it’s turned into a Charlton Heston situation in both cases. To quote that NRA nutter “…from my cold, dead hands…”.
Moving away from politics (both sporting and otherwise), how bizarre is it that Wales gave the most convincing quarter-final performance? And how satisfying that Rambo, Ozil (despite the fact he should really be off penalty duty now!), Giroud and Koscielny have been absolutely key to their team’s performances, and on the back of Xhaka clearly being the Swiss star man.
Let’s hope that form can carry over into the season, and, in particular, allow Giroud and Ramsey re-discover the confidence that left them both after Christmas.
One thing that has been very noticeable has been the lack of any real standout lone strikers. Out of the two in the top 5 scorers list, one already plays for us and we’ve been trying to buy the other for the last two years. And Giroud is third in the minutes per goal list as well. This certainly backs up Arsene’s observations about Europe not producing strikers anymore, but does nothing to make us feel any more confident about the prospect of finding one good enough to play for us next season.
And no, despite idiots on Twitter freaking out about the arrival of Takuma Asano, he doesn’t count. He probably won’t get a work permit and will have to go the Joel Campbell route of a couple of years on loan. He’s about as relevant to the rest of our transfer plans as Farage’s NHS figure was to reality (No, I’m not going to stop going on about this until there is actually concrete Arsenal things to write about!).
So while the world burns via political isolationism, terrorism in Turkey and the fear of Trump, things are still quiet on the Arsenal transfer radar. We all know a striker is the main target, but it will be interesting to see what other positions the manager is looking at. On that front, your guess is as good as mine…