Basel Preview: Fawlty Performance Not Required

In 2010, after decades of searching, a short film turned up in Michigan. Made in 1914, it settled the debate once and for all. The film in question, A Thief Catcher, proved Charlie Chaplin had been a Keystone Cop.

Chaplin’s involvement with the Keystone Cops was long rumoured and there was nothing sinister in not knowing; it was just a thirst for knowledge and completism which spurred men on to find the truth.

And then the truth turns up in a flea market.

I often wonder if that’s where we’ll find the answer to Arsenal’s habitual failure to win their Champions League group and get a decent Round if Sixteen draw. Mind you, when we do get a decent draw, we screw it up anyway so does it really matter?

It does to the completist side if my nature. Big Ears is the only trophy Arsenal have yet to win. I’d like that to happen long before I prop up daisies but I’m not holding my breath. If I did I’d probably end up propping up daisies; hardly a win-win situation for me, it is?

Tonight feels like the album a band has to release to fulfil their obligations to a record label. Arsenal’s Point Of No Return 1, as it were. We’ve got to go through with the fixture but we know where we’ll end up.

Maybe Arsène feels the same? Perhaps that’s why he became more animated talking about Alexis’ contract than this match at his press conference. At the end of the day, whilst I agree with Arsène that the decision to renew should come down to more than just money, the salaries being discussed are hefty. Arsenal, as a club, has to be prepared to pay that money if they want stars to remain.

However, the ubiquitous and impossible to define ‘show me your ambition’ comes into play. Is the club capable of winning the title or challenging for it at the very least? Can they compete in the Champions League?

Arsène said:

“Well, I would like to say the luxury of the modern game should be that it’s not only about the money, because the players make anyway wherever they play good money at this level.

“I believe, personally… maybe I am a bit naïve, but it’s more about getting to meet the players’ needs. That’s about the way the club has values, the way the club has ambition, the way the club respects the players.

“So I think, for me, that is more important nowadays and an important ingredient for every player to consider. The money is good everywhere for everybody.”

Yes, the players care about how they are treated; this is after all, an employer/employee relationship but I do think there is naïvety on Wenger’s part as well. The club has ambition, nobody denies that. They want to win trophies; the Premier League, Champions League and to a lesser extent, the FA Cup and to a lot lesser extent, the EFL Cup.

However, it’s not just about having the ambition, it’s displaying the desire to meet that ambition. Alexis might – I’m not saying he is but playing devil’s advocate – think we’re not aggressive in the transfer window. He might not think that but another Round of Sixteen exit is certainly going to give him pause for thought about winning the Champions League, especially if another English club wins it.

Thank god, BTW, we didn’t sign Vardy. That just says your ambition has disappeared down the pan and is floating off down the sewer. I say that with the benefit of hindsight, of course, having thought he might be a good signing. Go, Arsène, you know best. On this occasion.

Anyway, tonight’s team.  Guessing there will be no particular changes beyond those enforced. Wenger highlighted the stability it gives the players so at a rough guess:

Ospina; Gabriel, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Xhaka, Elneny; Walcott, Özil, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Alexis

I think Giroud will be kept back as a late substitute but also with half an eye on the Neanderthals visiting the Emirates this weekend.

Let’s be honest, we ought to win. No doubt about which is the better side of the two and we can but hope PSG cock it up against Ludogorets. Realistically, we’re second in this group and facing a tough trip in the next round. Assuming we haven’t lost the first leg by a tie defining margin.

’til Tomorrow.


Point Of No Return was Frank Sinatra’s last album on Capitol Records and rushed out. He apparently cocked up the delivery of one of the lines but had already screwed up the sheet music so it was never re-recorded.

He fell out with the record label when a couple of years earlier, he’d wanted to form his own label with Capitol distributing but they said no. Fair enough, it was about a contract. Sinatra then delivered records to Capitol that he was obliged to.

And released better records on his own Reprise Records at the same time, frequently going head-to-head with his Capitol releases. And winning. Capitol won the contractual battle but lost the war.

109 thoughts on “Basel Preview: Fawlty Performance Not Required

  1. Jonnygunner says:

    100 comments…….wahaaay ?✌️

  2. Steve Palmer 1 says:

    Can’t see Wenger paying that Johnny boy

  3. Wavey says:

    Not sure Sanchez is quite ready to go to China just yet, but its certainly a useful threat for him to have in contract negotiations. Not sure what the figure will end up being for both players, but my gut feeling is that we have to be paying around £250,000 a week.

  4. Wavey says:

    Steve Palmer 1,

    If we don’t we lose the players. I don’t like the fact that star players are holding the clubs to ransom on a completely different level now, but it’s the harsh reality of modern football. If you think we can get to stay for cheaper, then fair enough. It’s not really about trophies for the players now, it’s about the cash. If they can get both, all the better. The teams that pay the top wages will get the top players and win trophies any way. The problem is that there are now four other teams in the PL who will pay the top money. We already know that Chelsea, City and United are willing to keep spending the cash. I think Liverpool are starting to come round to that way of thinking and if they do the top four target will become harder and harder. When there are 4 clubs willing to pay £200,000+ a week for players the prospect of Arsenal signing another top player seem slim. We can stick to our conservative approach, but I’m not sure it will get us anywhere in the long run.

  5. Wailesy says:

    Pay the money!

    If we don”t it only costs the club more in the transfer windows. Especially the way Wenger dithers.

    Imagine him upstairs for the next 10 years managing the purse strings? Jasus!

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