Decades ago in high school, I became an expert diver. I already had a lot of practice from primary school, becoming a top swimmer in my class. But it was totally different in high school where the sport quickly moved to diving on grass. Not that we didn’t have a pool. It had more to do with the merciless hazing you got as a 1st former; more of boarding boot camp than initiation in school. The 6th form prefects were absolutely ruthless. My two crimes on my very first night in school were making an assumption and pocketing; both capital crimes for a “rabble”, the colloquial name for a first former.
We became experts at diving across the quadrangle and swimming on the grass doing the butterfly and the front crawl. Hell, we even had tag team relays with other rabbles waiting on the other side of the quadrangle. I can’t help but think that in another life, I could have been one of the best practitioners of the dark arts in football. I’m a believer in football being a contact sport and don’t subscribe to the notion that any sort of contact in the box results in a penalty if a player just goes down. It has to be a foul. Players these days go down faster than a two dollar trick. Not like back in the day when someone had to break your leg or something for the referee to take note.
Wenger’s Talking, But Is Anyone Listening?
What are the odds that Arsenal will give away a penalty at Wembley tomorrow? With two of the Premier Leagues more experienced penalty acquisition merchants facing Arsenal, Wenger’s comment that English players have become the masters of diving was in Technicolor and Dolby surround for those who choose to listen. The question is whether he was talking to Anthony Taylor or whether he was talking to the Arsenal defenders. I certainly hope our defenders were listening because they will need to style up tomorrow.
I must admit, I was totally miffed when I saw the line-up against Everton. That Xhaka, Ramsey, Iwobi triumvirate irked me until the first goal went in. It makes you scratch your head. Clearly, we have players capable of doing this, but what’s with the feast and famine routine? Why can’t they just give us consistency?
The new signings had a massive influence, particularly Mkhitaryan, whose influence in the game reminded me of Santi Carzola at his best. Granted, it’s better to have selection headaches, so long as you can pick the right team for the right opponent.
Calm Down, Calm Down! We’re Not There Yet
Hector Bellarin avers that Arsenal high voltage football is back, the electricity supplied by the verve of our new acquisitions. Everton is one thing though, but the swamp dwellers are a totally different kettle of fish. Attack as the best form of defence is a risky strategy and tomorrow’s derby is one game that Mohammed Elneny has to play. With the business end of the season fast approaching, Arséne really has to cut down the nonsense of neglecting basic defensive discipline for the purity of Wengerball. It’s too early to make a judgement of the impact of Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan at least until after the league cup final two weekends away.
There’s just something about our defence that makes me nervous. Our ‘goal machine’ Monreal was substituted at half-time last week, yet he has been one of our consistent performers. One would hope that his substitution was just a precaution since we were 4 nil up. Kolasinac seems to have lost some confidence and needs a run of games to get back into the mix. Is it too much though, to ask for a bit of common sense and temper our attacking verve with a bit of simplicity and basics in the defensive midfield area? Of course, we’d love if the “Awesome Foursome” totally rips Spurs to threads, but I’ll take 3 points any which way it comes.
“He’s like a new signing”
It was cringeworthy when Ozil was touted as “just like a new signing” when he renewed his contract. Arsenal is on the brink of having another “new” signing. Wenger is confident Li’l Jack will commit pen to paper, and I must say, that’s a great move. Wilshere is Arsenal through and through and I can see him being the next Arsenal captain. I know, I know. Only if he stays fit is the refrain you can hear from the Hertfordshire plains. Contract talks are a distraction to players at critical times of the season and I hope the new back office team can start to bring some sanity to contract management at Arsenal, considering that Ramsey is also now stalling on his contract talks. I don’t blame Rambo, with Ozil hitting the jackpot, he must be thinking I can get a few more bob here. If that’s an incentive for the Welshman to up his game, well and good.
Our focus should now be totally on the league cup, the Europa league and making a consistent effort to climb up the table. The 4th place trophy is still up for grabs. As much as people are cynical about it, I want Arsenal to take every game seriously and continue building consistency for the rest of the season and hopefully, for a brighter season next campaign. We’ve won the last 9 games we’ve played at Wembley. May the good ship Victoria Concordia Crescit continue its journey and make it 11 before the end of the month.
Have a great weekend good people.