Cup Final Chatter: Ox, Mustafi & The Wages Of Sin

The sun is shining, The Charlatans new lp, Different Days, is released today – reviewed at Dad’s Jukebox this morning – and the FA Cup final is tomorrow. What’s not to like about life?

David Luiz, for one. It’s a sign of ever-growing detachment from reality which haunts football. The poor lamb took a pay cut which means he now earns in a week a sum which takes the average wage-earner five years to make, instead of a decade.

Arsenal reportedly offered Alexis £270k per week with more talks planned. Jesus wept. I understand that there’s an element of haggling over terms. After this season’s collapse, he’s got genuine and well-founded concerns to address before signing a new deal.

Two hundred and seventy thousand pounds each week? My reaction to it? Think Steve McQueen and the news that everyone was leaving via the tunnels.

You can’t be blasé about it. The flippant comment, usually readily at hand, is missing this morning. I don’t know why either; I’ve always wanted the club to pay top dollar to the players who deserve it.

Not the Theo Walcott’s who perform well for a season and a half before his contract ends, before sinking into a mire of poor form and injuries. Not them but the ones who consistently make a difference.

I wonder how George Graham would manage today. It was his way or the highway; players took what they were told to take or else found themselves in the stiffs if they kicked off. No issue with the boss being highest paid, as long as there is accountability

The word at the time was that the board – Dein in particular – liked the trophy but not the football, among other things. Arsène remains untouchable, no matter the changes in managerial structure.

I Realised Then That The Wages Of Sin…

But for the next thirty-six or so hours, these are issues to push to one side. T FA Cup final is all that matters; nothing more, nothing less.

The major concern is Shkodran Mustafi’s fitness; Arsène probably knows if he is going to be available for selection or if a different plan is needed. It’s got to be the comfort blanket of a back three because none of the alternatives offer confidence that a flat back four will work.

Per Mertesacker’s pace hasn’t miraculously improved since being out and Chelsea gleefully exposed the weakness in the past. The only genuine alternative is Debuchy and that’s a serious concern. While full backs in the three isn’t unusual, two at once is a sign of how badly we’ve been hit. That red card, stupid at the time, is looking worse with every passing day.

The uncertainty is likely to mean Hector Bellerin will retain his place in the starting line-up. Ox is fit once again but that’s not a change I would make for the final. I might, in Arsène’s shoes be tempted to put him into central midfield although Ramsey is likely to retain his place.

At his press conference, Arsène spoke about finding the different solutions in view of the injury problems. I wonder if we’re going to see a repeat of the 2005 strategy when injuries wrecked those preparations? Dour, defensive display, looking to nick a goal or take it to penalties. Actually, not the latter; I wouldn’t trust most of our lot from the spot.

I’m not sure we have the squad to carry out that type of task. Bringing Coquelin into midfield is a must in that situation, with the knock-on effect of slowing down the counter-attack.

…Was Two Bucks An Hour And Working Weekends

The pressure is off Arsenal to a certain extent. While we – the supporters – heap our hopes on their shoulders, the media has rightly marked Chelsea down as favourites. Couldn’t be happier; let them deal with the pressure of expectation that the double brings with it.

World-class players thrive on that expectation; others crumble. Let’s hope Chelsea fall into the latter category. And before the game, that’s one thing no-one can take away: hope.

’til Tomorrow.


425 thoughts on “Cup Final Chatter: Ox, Mustafi & The Wages Of Sin

  1. C says:

    I completely agree with Keown on this one:

    “They should name this after Per Mertesacker,” said the three-time FA Cup winner. “This should be called The Mertesacker Final, because I can’t believe the performance he put in.

    “The pressure he must have been under. He’s been out, he’s played one game this season and it’s the biggest game of the season. To perform as he did, the three seemed to suit him actually.

    “We’ve not seen him in a three really because he’s been almost last in line. He was magnificent, as all the players were.

    “Perhaps it was Arsène Wenger’s finest hour.”


  2. andy1886 says:


    With you on that too C. Not really a surprise either, apart from his own personal performance Per has always made others around him better. He certainly helped Kos improve, in fact Kos has looked poorer without him. I think that he’d be great for Holding and Mustafi would probably benefit too. Given that he’s not likely to be on huge wages and has another two or three years in him it wouldn’t be the worst thing to see if he’ll stay a little longer. After all we regularly spend huge fortunes on certain players who are or were never fit so why not keep him around to help our younger defenders learn their trade?

  3. nicky says:

    Couldn’t agree more. He has always been noted for reading a game and today it showed.
    A worthy captain on possibly his final game for the Gunners.
    What a way to end a career. 😉

  4. nicky says:

    With respect I think we should agree to differ. It may be that my idea of loyalty to Arsenal FC is far too uncompromising for you and others. That’s life I’m afraid. 😉

  5. C says:


    I think your spot on about helping others, his organizational skills and command of his back line is something I think Mustafi would do well to absorb as he has it bit needs to soak up everything he can from Mert. I wouldn’t mind him staying to help with our CB’s but wouldn’t hold any ill feelings if he said he wanted to leave to continue to play regularly in Germany. The other thing is he is ptobably the lasy player that seems to speak his mind no matter who it is including Arsene.

  6. Bill says:


    There is no right or wrong way to be a fan. Myself I think the idea of being optimistic in the face of significant evidence which suggests the contrary view is more likely to be true does not make much sense, but that is just me. I believe and say what I see even if it is not necessarily what I want to believe.

    You can be whatever sort of fan you like but every other fan deserves to be able to do the same.

  7. C says:


    Yup, the problem with Mert was always he was slow but always had a high futboling IQ and his reading of the game has always been high level. 3 FA Cups for the BFG and after that performance, have to take your hat off to him.

  8. Limestonegunner says:


    I loved our fight and determination over all else as you say. First to the ball, physically tough as well as skilled. It was a wonderful and memorable match for sure.

  9. Limestonegunner says:

    Stopping a Chelsea double was lovely. Let’s try and win one ourselves next year.

  10. Limestonegunner says:

    Arsenal support has been terrific.

  11. Bill says:


    Pace is always an asset but its importance is often over rated. The 2 most dominant CB of the Emirates era were probably John Terry and Nemanja Vidic and neither would have won any foot races.

  12. C says:


    Pace is never oveerated if used properly, see Bellerin ALL match, but at CB its hit or miss. Take Kos’ pace from him and he’s an average CB. I think the thing with Mert is that he is always a cerbral commanding futboler who reads the game expertly.

    Don’t forget that Rio Ferdinand is also probably in that group and his pace helped allow Vidic to be the CB he wa because he would always sweep up behind him.

  13. Kenny says:

    I think Wenger’s experience in this competition plus Conte’s lack thereof , made some difference as well.

  14. Bill says:

    Mert was great today and it was an epic but unexpected type of performance that was more likely a 1 off which I doubt he is really capable of replicating on a consistent basis. He has never had pace but he was always reasonably effective. However, he has been fading for a couple of years and he never regained his place in the CB pecking order even after he got healthy because he had not been playing all that well before he was injured.

  15. Bill says:


    Ferdinand was almost always injured or not playing for some other reason during the 06-10 era. Vidic was the best CB in the league by far during those years and he did not need someone to sweep up behind.

  16. C says:


    Two things:

    1. Mert the season before last was absolutely brilliant paired with Kos, I think your memory is a bit off mate. Mert wasthe organizer and was the “attacker and reader” while Kos swept up behind him, together they were brilliant and our defense, even you admitted was superb. In 15/16 he started 24 matches and we gave up the 2nd least goals, in 14/15 he started 35 and we struggled but that was with Kos only starting 26 matches, in 13/14 Sczney won the Golden Gloves and Mert adn Kos started 35 and 32 matches respectively. Mert has been good to really good for us since his arrival and Arsene stopped with the Kos / Verm experiment not to mention during that time Kos has transformed in no short part to the fact that he and Mert played extremely well together and yea at times he struggled with pacy CF’s but the same could be said of Kos even now with some of the stronger CF’s in Europe as a whole.

    2. Ferdinand’s injury problems were in 09/10 and 10/11 seasons other than that he started 24+ matches in every season he doned a Manure shirt. I’m not taking ANYTHING away from Vidic because he was dominant and there is no denying that but to say that it was him and nobody swept behind him is wide of the mark. Vidic’s game was all about reading the game and attacking strikers and balls played up and he was brilliant at it as you rightly say but make no mistake mate, Ferdinand was just as important because he would sweep behind. Actually, every CB pairing I can think of that were dominant had that pairing, one the attacker and presser and the other would play more the sweeper type should they not win the first header.

    Sometimes mate, I think your memory goes a bit.

  17. C says:

    Mert didn’t regain his place for a couple of reasons, one even he admitted he simply hasn’t been fit all season so ofcourse he wasn’t in the running; the other reason is Mert has aged ad our CB pairing moving forward is Msutafi / Kos with players like Gabriel, Holding and potentially Chambers filling out the rest of the CB depth chart.

    Honestly, I could give a flying fuck about Mert’s season or even last season because when we needed him, our Club Captain to step up and put in THAT performance against a side that when we did have our best CB’s ripped us to pieces; he stepped up and was brilliant. Arguably one o the best defensive performances I have seen in quite some time from a CB. For Keown to acknowledge it, somebody who not only was brilliant himself but had a makeshift back 4 be dominant in the CL; that’s justification there.

    So thank you Mert for your brilliant performance and tonight when you empty your pockets, don’t forget to take Costa, Hazard and Batshuyi out of your pockets because all of them were there today.

  18. Jonny says:

    Yeah now roll that out to practically everyone else on here.

    Or whatever – I don’t care – far, far too happy.

    nicky: With respect I think we should agree to differ. It may be that my idea of loyalty to Arsenal FC is far too uncompromising for you and others. That’s life I’m afraid.

  19. Wailesy says:

    What great game and an even better result!

    Thanks for another great year penning your thoughts and observations Yogi. Brilliant!

    If Wenger is shown the door on Wednesday it will make it a very successful season. And a very fitting way for any manager to leave a club

  20. Damon says:


    Broke a personal rule Friday about not betting on Arsenal (I’m emotionally involved enough as it is and that emotion no doubt clouds judgement. Only adds to the stress too!). But at the prices the bookies were offering us at,it seemed like too much value to not stick a score on. Very glad that I did!

  21. Orson Kaert says:


    Cheapskate! You should have at least put a pony on the game, or even a monkey. Think how much better you would have felt this morning. 😊

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