The final match of the Australian tour takes place this morning/afternoon/evening/tonight depending on where you are in the world. Another Saturday, another kick-off to suit the television companies rather than 3pm. Modern football, eh?
Back in the day, you were lucky if a match like this warranted any attention. Unless you were ‘in the know’, the likelihood is that the first you knew about it was the single line in the results section. Sometimes papers sent hacks to cover or relied on a local paper to provide them with a report.
Even the Heil would use material ‘honourably’ rather than regurgitating material shamelessly from other sites. Yeah, Fleet Street and honourable; a contradiction in terms if ever there was one.
Now, we have live coverage and don’t need to rely on the Chinese whispers which embellish Alex Lacazette’s goal from a ‘tap in’ to a thirty-yard screamer by the time it reaches these shores.
By the time you read this, the team will be know – hell, the match will have already been played in some cases – but I guess the subs introduced with twenty minutes to go on Thursday will start and others enter the fray on the seventy minute mark.
Again, it’s about fitness, first and foremost. Slating a player’s performance in these games is just you seeking confirmation bias or trolling. It’s not a competitive match, so don’t judge it as such. Fine words which fly out the window if we lose…
Don’t Leave Me This Way
The match is, as ever, overshadowed by Alexis Sanchez’s contract situation. Headlines tell us Arsène is sexting Alexis to persuade him to stay, leaving out “next season” so that you read the story. And I guess that while the objective is to get him to sign a new deal, it’s a stepped approach. If he’s here at the end of the summer, Wenger has the season to change his mind, or four months at least.
However, I don’t think he will be. Despite the manager’s tough talk, Arsenal will sell if they can land a replacement and Thomas Lemar is identified as that man. Will Monaco sell? The media believe not with Mbappe, Silva and Bakayoko all leaving. It sounds more like a negotiating posture for the home market rather than a discernible strategy for team strengthening.
Financially, Arsenal won’t allow players to walk for nothing, not when they can claim £40-60m for them. It will be a surprise if Stan hasn’t intervened and told the club to take the cash. A deadline of a return to London following tours and holidays to sort it out?
“There is not a lot to resolve with the player. I have spoken through text and it was very positive. My thoughts are always positive.’
A masterclass of how to say nothing in a positive manner in thirty words or less.
I still think he is leaving. If he stays and leaves on a free, as Martin Keown observed, there’s no danger he won’t try or give his all; it’s not in his nature nor will there be a Cesc-esque ‘injury’ to see out the final weeks at the club.
Sign Of The Times
It’s a genuinely tough situation for Arsenal to deal with. It’s a lot of money to walk away from but strengthening Manchester City will go down like a lead balloon – rightly so, in my view – and the player will find himself referred to as the latest Nasri / van Persie.
Losing a player of that calibre is always going to hurt and no matter how it is positioned, it’s an indictment of Arsène’s reign while we enjoyed Sanchez at the club. Noticeably, the ‘anti-Sanchez’ rhetoric is increasing in volume, ready to deflect attention from the manager. Stats about ceding possession, etc., are bandied around, determinedly ignoring his record of a goal every other game. And always prefaced by knowing how great a player is…
Wenger went on to talk about his contract, reiterating the negative impact it had on last season but for me, that’s done and dusted. That season is over and nothing about it will change nor will it diminish the pleasure in beating Chelsea so comprehensively at Wembley be dimmed.
The Arsenal board, ill-prepared for replacing him this time around, renewed. In two year’s time, they will be in the same boat and do the same, scared of change. I’d guess the renewal won’t be hanging around for so long. Small changes, tinkering on edges happened. Are they enough to make the big change in the team’s performances? We shall see.
Later today, a new record of the week on Dad’s Jukebox but until then, enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.