Burnley, Per Is Inspector Gadget and Not Now Me Old China

Arsène cut to the chase yesterday with the team news for Sunday. Bellerin, Coquelin and Gibbs are all fit, Giroud as well, but not Theo, no. They’ve looked everywhere for him, under sofas, in cupboards but the little scamp is proving pretty damned good at this hide and seek malarkey. There’s a joke in there about hiding on the pitch, but I’m not going there, no siree. Per Mertesacker won’t face Burnley either; he’s a couple of weeks from full training. He hurt himself picking up the pen to extend his contract and has put his back out; three weeks, Dr Wenger said, before the German returned to full training.

Unsurprisingly, Le Boss spoke positively about Sean Dyche’s side this season, who are no doubt grateful that their rivals are so hopeless. Knowing Sunderland, Swansea and Palace are so awful eased the pressure on them a little and they have flourished at home. Sitting comfortably in mid-table, they await their first away win of the season, a distinction they share with Leicester in the top flight. Burnley’s sole point on their travels came at Old Trafford, so we’ll no doubt donate the second one to their cause.

Arsène’s press conference was the usual wide-ranging affair, with his thoughts on Sunday accompanied by monologues on China, Marco van Basten’s drug and alcohol induced plans for football – conceiving those ideas when sober seems impossible – and of course, Per Mertesacker’s extended contract.

The latter popped into my head with Per as Inspector Gadget and his arm extending toward the manager’s office to put pen to paper. And like any good earworm, all I’ve got in my head is the cartoon series theme tune.

Not even William Shatner and Henry Rollins’ I Can’t Get Behind That has been able to remove it.

Burnley’s Too Soon For Per

The German is a key player in the manager’s mind. A useful squad player but more important in Wenger’s eyes as a leader on the training pitch. This is no doubt his final contract renewal; the curse of the Arsenal captain strikes again with appearances few and far between. Get your prayer mats out for Laurent Koscielny next season.

Mertesacker is no doubt the ‘cup centre back’ and will fleetingly appear in the Premier League. In the twilight of his career, he’s reconciled to that. For a younger player such as Rob Holding, that’s no bad thing. There’s no apparent clamour for him to be retained as a coach, or at least not to the pitch it reached for Mikel Arteta to stay.

That’s a fair(ish) criticism of the Arsenal set-up. New ideas from a fresh injection of new blood don’t happen too often. Arsène, when speaking about van Basten’s lunacy, said “change isn’t a quality, improvement is”, and no doubt points to improving finishes from 4th to 2nd as vindication of that.

If that is the case, and as with most things on here, its conjecture, the opposite holds true. Does he shake up the staff next summer – I assume he’s renewing his contract at this point – or keep faith with those who serve him well (in his opinion)? It’s a tough call; Wenger has previously been loyal to a fault, and wholesale change isn’t in his nature. If he doesn’t sign da ting, there’s no doubt there will be wholesale change at the club next summer. That’s a crucial part of the process for the new manager to deal with and arguably where Moyes made his biggest mistake at Old Trafford when he took over.

Mad Marco

There was nothing new in van Basten’s ideas; all of them have been floated at some point in the past and usually to disastrous effect. None of them is worth contemplating seriously beyond the notion of a sin bin, but Jimmy Hill thought of that four decades ago. There is nothing new in modern football.

Arsène is more gracious than we. On a day when Emmanuel Adebayor pondered why he suffered from a poor reputation in England, van Basten’s report raised a question which was never asked. Would Adebayor’s career have reached greater heights if offside didn’t exist? Arsène is too polite to answer, even wistfully.

On Me Head, Me Old China

The media builds the threat up but frankly, is Chinese cash so much to worry about from the player perspective? I’m not convinced it is; none of the players who moved to the Far East (so far) has been of the quality I want at Arsenal. Tevez isn’t in his peak, nor are a host of others.

Money isn’t buying them outstanding players, simply advertising boards. I’d question whether any of them will, in those circumstances, improve the indigenous playing standards? There’s a strong case to say no. Interestingly, Arsène thought India is more of an emerging market which makes sense in that the game is relying more on local players. Maybe that rather than the decadent spending is causing more concern at the China FA HQ?

It is simple, though. Until Chinese clubs sign a number of players at the peak of their careers, Europe will remain the game’s stronghold. I’d question whether the Premier League is the best league in the world at the moment. The most exciting but as the resident marketing suits always gloss over, exciting is always best. Certainly the absence of Champions League finalists/winners, and England’s continuing dismal international performances, call claims to be the best into question.

And maybe that’s the lesson China needs to heed. The Premier League proves that you can have all the money you want but if the quality isn’t there…

Finally, Dad’s Jukebox reaches 1989 today in Times of our Lives. The post will be up by lunchtime. There’s something about that year that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’ll come to me, I’m sure.

’til Tomorrow.

53 thoughts on “Burnley, Per Is Inspector Gadget and Not Now Me Old China

  1. Wailesy says:

    Thanks Yogi

    I like Per at the club. He would have to be our strongest leader and someone who, it’s said, stands up to AW.

    Is the pl the best league in the world? Probably.

    Does it have more elite players than other European leagues? Probably not.

    Does it field the the best clubs in Europe? Definitely not.

    Money just can’t buy the best league in the world.

    I have to hand it to AW. He’s pressers are enlightening.

  2. Jonny says:

    Good morning – trust we are all well fed?

    Good post there Yogurt Weiner.

    I wouldn’t object to Per being part of the staff per se – Mustafi claims he has been a hugely instrumental, beneficial figure in helping his progress. Characters like Holding I am sure could benefit. Equally if he goes after his next contract expires I would hardly lose much sleep.

    Mind you I was not one of the voices lamenting the loss of Arteta too much either – plenty of people have the outward traits to be great coaches but fall short and it is even more of as fools game to try to judge assertively the efficacy of potential back-room staff, from our distant perches, than it is future players/head coaches.

    I am happy for the English game to continue to be the most exciting ahead of the most technical – I’d still rather watch it than any of the other leagues in Europe and beyond.

    I suspect there is greater depth in quality of opposition throughout the EPL than within Spain or Germany which is to say that once you get below the top teams in those leagues the strength of those teams falls away faster.

    Better all round technique may abound but their leagues are top heavy and our best teams have in recent years struggled to match the very best.

    Perhaps, in due course, Klopp, Mourinho and Guardiola will have shaped their teams through the transfer market to sculpt teams that reflect their vision? At the moment the only big team at the top one could claim has had time to do so is AW’s. Plenty of times over…

    Perhaps arguably Pochettino’s trabble are mostly his now, but then he is hardly in charge of a ‘big club’.

  3. HenryB says:

    Lovely, light Post with some good thoughts and gentle humour — so I have no idea why Jonny should refer to you as a sausage! 😀

    You quoted Arsene as saying “change isn’t a quality, improvement is” and that is fair enough as far as it goes, but there is a little more, perhaps – “change isn’t a quality, improvement is, but change is inevitable, while improvement is not” and that is something some might think, possibly?

  4. HenryB says:

    You make some good points, Jonny, and it is hard to differ from what you say.

    You hit the nail on the head by admitting some of the best continental teams are superior to the current best in the EPL, but given a choice you would prefer a challenging, entertaining league like the EPL where any team can, on its day, beat any other team, rather than to watch the usual slaughtering of the innocents in Spain, Italy and France for example.

    Me too.

    The other side of the coin is that perhaps the best EPL teams have stagnated technically and it is just an interim phase before ManYoo, Citeh and Chelsea deploy their infamous cannons to blast millions of pounds sterling at the very best players worldwide, China permitting, and the EPL too becomes a false meritocracy based on wealth.

    [Your menu last night seemed both enticing and ‘multicultural’] 🙂

  5. Jonny says:

    Thanks Henry.

    Your ‘other side of the coin’ is what I was alluding to in my last para – but not just through throwing money but with time to shape teams that are truly their own.

    “Perhaps, in due course, Klopp, Mourinho and Guardiola will have shaped their teams through the transfer market to sculpt teams that reflect their vision? At the moment the only big team at the top one could claim has had time to do so is AW’s. Plenty of times over…

    Perhaps arguably Pochettino’s trabble are mostly his now, but then he is hardly in charge of a ‘big club’”.

  6. Jonny says:

    Cooee, somebody call in The Specials, it’s like a Ghost Town on here today.

    Anyone for sauteed tumbleweeds?

  7. Damon says:

    Sounds tasty Jonny!

    Where do you go for your locally sourced tumbleweed?

  8. Jonny says:

    Same guy I get the rest of my weed from. 😉

  9. Orson Kaert says:

    I see no purpose in this idea of keeping older players hanging around. Rosicky, Flamini, Arteta, Cazorla and now Mertesacker. Both of the latter two are weeks away from even starting training, let alone playing. What’s the point in keeping them?

    Wouldn’t it be better to release them from their contracts now and save their wages to pay either for new recruits or to put towards the outrageous salaries demanded by such as Sanchez and Ozil.

    The same should apply to Debuchy and to a slightly lesser extent Jenkinson. Perhaps he wouldn’t have been so ready to turn down the personal terms offered by Crystal Palace if he had been told to accept the move or redundancy.

    It all seems a bit too cosy, a bit too comfortable at Arsenal. The players obviously take their lead from the manager, whose own contract stalling tactics reflect the comfortable state of his own tenure.

    It’s time this club was given a good shake up.

  10. C says:

    Well its now official, Trump is in and Obama is out. Time to really immerse myself in futbol.

  11. Damon says:

    Jonny,

    Sainsburys is local to me, doesn’t mean everything they sell in there was grown in the car park!!

    Had you down as more of a home grown kind of guy

    Like Bob 😉

  12. Orson Kaert says:

    C,

    In a few years you may look back and think, “My God this Trump feller has made a difference, what were we all worrying about?”

    I’m not saying you will, but you never know.

  13. Jonny says:

    @Damon

    TBH – I don’t really smoke much at all – I have a friend, ex-flatmate/lodger from Northern Ireland.

    He supports Arsenal, loves cricket and I have just this season converted hook line and sinker to NFL.

    As with last night, he comes round and skins up. I provide the food. The system works. 😉

  14. C says:

    Jonny,

    I tend to think that people see the bigger clubs in thr other leagues and think those leagues aren’t as competitive but then again, I’m not so sure that its fair to categorize other leagues as such when you consider that thr PL has genuinely been about 4 main sides dominating over the past decade or so with Fergie’s sides being the dominant force. For instance outside of Leicester and Blackburn, there hasn’t been another non-big club that has won the title. Then you look at the other leagues during the same time period and other clubs have won it.

    The other thing is that though the top clubs in the other leagues are quite dominant, I would hardly classify the matches as slaughter, there are quite a few upsets but we also see slaughters in the PL week in and week out. Madrid, Barca, Juve, PSG and others lose or struggle through matches more often than some think.

    The biggest difference for me is that other countries focus more on playing futbol and tactics were in the PL its more about power and pace. Personally, I enjoy watching the other leagues just as much if not more than the PL(naturally Arsenal will AWLAYS be first choice) because you see the technical ability of players but you also see why PL sides struggle against their equals in other leagues.

  15. Jonny says:

    Orson Kaert:
    C,

    In a few years you may look back and think, “My God this Trump feller has made a difference, what were we all worrying about?”

    I’m not saying you will, but you never know.

    Oh we do know.

    This is going to be a fucking nightmare.

    Want some sobering thought? Watch this –

  16. C says:

    Orson Kaert,

    I could and wouldn’t have any problem at all saying it. Guess we will wait and see. Okay thats enough politics!

    Its quite impressive though how it is actually cold yet he is looking his orangish best!

  17. C says:

    Damon,

    Jonny,

    Are you all sharing or keeping it all to yourself?

    Funny enough, they are actually handing it out(since its legal to give it as a present but not sell it openly) at the inaguration because Trump and others want to repel it being legalized in DC. Damn I should have went!

  18. Jonny says:

    C:
    Jonny,

    I tend to think that people see the bigger clubs in thr other leagues and think those leagues aren’t as competitive but then again, I’m not so sure that its fair to categorize other leagues as such when you consider that thr PL has genuinely been about 4 main sides dominating over the past decade or so with Fergie’s sides being the dominant force.For instance outside of Leicester and Blackburn, there hasn’t been another non-big club that has won the title.Then you look at the other leagues during the same time period and other clubs have won it.

    The other thing is that though the top clubs in the other leagues are quite dominant, I would hardly classify the matches as slaughter, there are quite a few upsets but we also see slaughters in the PL week in and week out.Madrid, Barca, Juve, PSG and others lose or struggle through matches more often than some think.

    Decided to have a look at what the numbers say for this… hang on a minute…

  19. Pistol Fish says:

    I don’t do politics or often talk about it. But!
    I live in Florida and can tell you that the majority of people I deal with on a daily basis are exited and hopefull for Trumps presidency. There is a positivity that has not been felt for some time.
    Don’t go by what you hear from New York or California, the rest of the country is hopeful and for the most part willing to give him a chance.
    I didn’t vote for him but he is the president now and honestly there is naff all any one can do.

  20. Jonny says:

    So competition in the leagues of Europe, for my own interest as much as anything.

    To keep it simple I have gone for Prem, La Liga and Bund (Italy bores me).

    It took enough time just to crunch those. Should have made a spreadsheet but ne’er mind.

    I limited it to the last three seasons and compared the point difference between 1-6 1-10 and 1-20.

    *Adjusted for Germany as they only have 18 teams.

    I also threw in how many scored half of the points or more of the leader’s total – to give an idea of how compressed the league was top to bottom.

    Someone else can average it out and I am not saying it tells the whole story but, even at a cursory glance, it is clear there is less gap from top to bottom and between the top to 6, top to 10, as well as top to bottom in the premiership.

    If one goes back further in the Bundesliga I recall there being at least one season where they won by an appalling distance..?

    Anywho – I’ll let others pick over the bones.

    😀

    ——————————————–
    La Liga

    2015-16
    1-6 31
    1-10 46
    1-20 59
    8 teams scored above half of the leader total

    2014-15
    1-6 34
    1-10 45
    1-20 74
    10 teams scored above half of the leader total

    2013-14
    1-6 31
    1-10 42
    1-20 65
    10 teams scored above half of the leader total
    ————————————

    Bundesliga

    2015-16
    1-5 36
    1-9 45
    1-18 63
    7 teams scored above half of the leader total*

    2014-15
    1-5 30
    1-9 36
    1-18 48
    11 teams scored above half of the leader total*

    2013-14
    1-5 30
    1-9 46
    1-18 65
    7 teams scored above half of the leader total*
    ————————–

    Premier League

    2015-16
    1-6 18
    1-10 31
    1-20 64
    16 teams scored above half of the leader total

    2014-15
    1-6 25
    1-10 39
    1-20 57
    12 teams scored above half of the leader total

    2013-14
    1-6 17
    1-10 37
    1-20 56
    10 teams scored above half of the leader total

  21. Jonny says:

    Pistol Fish:
    I don’t do politics or often talk about it. But!
    I live in Florida and can tell you that the majority of people I deal with on a daily basis are exited and hopefull for Trumps presidency.There is a positivity that has not been felt for some time.
    Don’t go by what you hear from New York or California, the rest of the country is hopeful and for the most part willing to give him a chance.
    I didn’t vote for him but he is the president now and honestly there is naff all any one can do.

    Come back to us in a year’s time and tell us what the mood on the streets is.
    I’ll wager despair, anger and betrayal will be common themes.
    His cabinet choices speaks volumes of his total contempt for the average American – he is going to rob you all blind.
    However as you say – naff all anyone can do but watch it unfold at this point…
    😉

  22. C says:

    I will respond to you in a moment but I wanted to pass this piece of transfer along.

    Berahino to Stoke has been agreed and he is now a Stoke player. The other piece of transfer bit is Fonte has completed his move to West Ham.

  23. Ras says:

    Jonny,

    Skins up does he Jonny? Sounds like you got him well trained….

    The contract extension for Merts is for me a debatable one. Orson rightly referred to previously having “seniors ” players on the books and in on terms on field contributions it being very little.

    Change is invetiable and there are some players who are going to have to go at some point. That is inevitable.

  24. C says:

    Jonny,

    Sos just took a look at the numbers and I think its somewhere in between of your thinking and mine. Presently in the Bundesliga, Ligue Un and Serie A there are quite a few surprises including the big boys not running away with their respective leagues.

    Time will tell.

  25. C says:

    Jonny,

    Yup, love Mert. Just something about Arsenal and our German contigent over the years.

  26. Wailesy says:

    Jonny,

    Thanks for your 4.51. The Greeks were a clever bunch back then.

    I’m sure there are millions of Americans who have felt oppressed by Tyrant presidents for decades if not longer.

    I always enjoy the random clips you put up for us. Especially the stoner comedy!

    Cheers?

  27. Jonny says:

    Noted Wailsey – glad you enjoyed them.

    Though must admit I am struggling to recall what the ‘stoner comedy’ I previously posted was.

    😀

  28. Jonnygunner says:

    Jonny,

    Jonny-you’re at it again…….
    Just learn that a vote is a vote-thats democracy.
    Stop fucking whinging.

  29. Jonny says:

    Oh do come off it JG,

    I stuck my neck out and made a prediction of how I see things going – if I am wrong then I’ll hold my hands up. I did not do anything more than that.

    ‘a vote means a vote’ – no shit, that’s deep, did you find that in a chinese cracker? I must write it down for future reference. 😉

    Aside from the fact he may well have won through illicit, nefarious means and that he lost the popular vote – nothing I said suggests that he should not be president. I merely think he has conned the very people who voted for him (as evidenced by his cabinet picks) and that, regrettably, they will suffer the most.

    Wind your neck in and stop dictating anti ‘first amendment’ terms to me because you disagree with my tone – it’s anti democratic for one thing.

    Fascist.

    😀 😀 😀

    P.S. I actually think he’ll be impeached long before the year is out as he is already in breach of the emoluments clause of the constitution but should he last he will disappoint his core voters massively.

    If I am wrong about this, I am wrong – so what? Heaven forfend someone expresses an opinion in a manner you disagree with.

  30. Jonny says:

    NBTW precisely nothing about my post was whinging let alone ‘fucking whinging’.

    Not sure why the aggressive tone – entirely unmerited.

  31. Orson Kaert says:

    Wavey,

    What! What’s the TKB Movement? I haven’t done anything. I haven’t even got out of bed yet!

  32. Wavey says:

    Not sure if I missed this, but couldn’t see anything in the Arsenal news archive. The Mirror is stating they have seen FA paperwork that Arsenal lodged on 20th December extending Santi’s contract for another year. If it’s true, it’s strange that the club haven’t made much of it.

  33. Orson Kaert says:

    Oh, wait a minute, TKB, is that Trump Killed Bambi? I think that might have been Jonny.

  34. Wavey says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Trump Kills Bamber? I thought the former host of University Challenge was still going strong at the ripe old age of 81.

  35. Jonny says:

    Orson Kaert:
    Oh, wait a minute, TKB, is that Trump Killed Bambi?I think that might have been Jonny.

    Yes deer. Venison won’t cook itself y’know 😉

  36. Orson Kaert says:

    Waivey, I read that this morning, I guess they didn’t want to publicise the signing of a player who looks ever more likely not to play this season.

  37. Orson Kaert says:

    Not to get too involved in somebody else’s grief, I can think of only one person worse than DJT for President and that’s Hillary. I might start the NMC Movement. No More Clintons.

  38. Wavey says:

    Orson Kaert,

    Will probably get plenty of argument on this, but it seems to be a typical Wenger approach. When faced with having to fill a significant gap in the squad we have tended to make do. Flamini is a prime example, when we needed a midfielder organiser we decide to make do by signing the bloke training with us (don’t tell his mum I said that).
    On paper it makes perfect sense to sign him up for another year given his influence on the pitch, but his injury record for the past two seasons has been a nightmare. Wenger probably believes he has solved a problem for the club even if he goes, but it just means there is a salary being paid on a crocked player for another season. We saw how that panned out with Arteta, so another season on the sidelines with a 5 minute appearance to say goodbye at the end of next to season makes no sense.

  39. Jonny says:

    Orson Kaert:
    Not to get too involved in somebody else’s grief, I can think of only one person worse than DJT for President and that’s Hillary.I might start the NMC Movement.No More Clintons.

    You could well be right on that. I’d still have taken her over DJT but she’s a horrible hawk and I would have struggled to vote for either.
    The trouble with modern politics on both side of the pond – there is practically no one to actually vote for.

  40. Jonny says:

    Intriguing game between Spurs and Man City today – with Guardiola basically suggesting he has let the players down and ‘is not good enough’. He’s feeling the pressure and no mistake.

    The AKBs must be fucking loving it.

    In theory Spurs should smash them as they have been in rude form but I fancy it might be a bit tighter.

  41. YW says:

    Democracy? If we want one man, one vote, why do we elect presidents and governments with systems which don’t require the winner to get the most votes?

    And why, when we get one man, one vote, do we have numerous legal actions trying to overturn the result?

    The latter proves we can’t handle democracy.

  42. Jonny says:

    Indeed there is very little truly democratic about modern representative democracy though it has to be said America’s form of it is the most antiquated and downright bizarre of the lot.

    As Churchill said in parliament (bastardised from an unsourced aphorism)

    “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”

  43. HenryB says:

    Jonny,

    Perhaps Churchill had great foresight – this is how the European Parliament members are elected.

    — The allocation of MEP seats to each member state is based on the principle of degressive proportionality so that, while the size of the population of each country is taken into account, smaller states elect more MEPs than is proportional to their populations. As the numbers of MEPs to be elected by each country have arisen from treaty negotiations, there is no precise formula for the apportionment of seats among member states. No change in this configuration can occur without the unanimous consent of all governments.”

    Democracy? This is why I try to keep out of political comment — I just do not understand it. 😀

  44. Jonny says:

    HenryB,

    Thanks, yeah, I read something about that some while back.

    They brought in mathematicians to try to finesse it and get away from basic bargaining for number of representative seats but I don’t think there is anything too difficult, in itself, to understand about degressive proportionality.

  45. HenryB says:

    Thanks Jonny,

    As a mathematician myself, the math does not bother me 🙂 what I meant about not understanding it (politics) is not necessarily the process, imperfect tho the methodology is, but the drive to convince anyone who does not agree with the speaker that they are right and the other person is wrong – it will never happen.

    I have used up a whole year’s ration of politics right there – can’t wait until Jan 2018, so on that subject – over and out! 😀

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