Morning everyone and I trust you all had a Merry Pre-Boxing Day Sales Day with friends and family. The NHS is getting ready for a surge in September births after Boots website crashed due to the volume of users. Education authorities must act ahead of an increase in intake numbers five years from now.
On the Arsenal front, nada today. I was going to turn over a new leaf and be more positive about everything surrounding the club; kind of a ‘new year, new you’ way of thinking. Then I read the only writer of fortune cookies in the country suffered writer’s block. Such was his despair, he chucked his ticket in. If he can’t find any hope, what is left for the rest of us? The new way of thinking was short-lived.
The players are on a four-day rest before the trips to Palace and West Brom. I am sure Arsène despairs at facing two matches in three days and he has my sympathy. It’s this new-fangled fixture list which is taking some getting used to. Since they introduced it over 100 years ago, nobody has got to grips with it yet.
These were nightmare fixtures last season, underlining just how broken the club was and remains. Selhurst Park was the nadir, but West Brom wasn’t far behind it. Losing to either this time around isn’t unthinkable and that is a disturbing prospect.
Arsène is in tinker mode. Palace are the form team of the two with Roy Hodgson masterminding a nine-match unbeaten run, in spite of being Roy Hodgson. Our away form is worse than Watford’s; no surprise I am a little edgy about Thursday night’s game. I hope Arsène remembers it’s a Premier League match, not the Europa League.
We must improve on our travels otherwise the next six games will be harsh lessons. Five are away, including Forest and Chelsea in the cups. Indeed, an unfavourable draw in the fourth round of the FA Cup will make it seven in the next ten away from home. Learn the lessons quickly, mes Amis.
Elsewhere, the club must face up to questions over Alexis’ future in the next four weeks. Until the drubbings by Bayern Munich last season, he’d agreed to a new deal. Then he changed his mind, unsurprisingly.
Now, the board waits for Manchester City’s offer to come in. Every time Ivan’s email notifications ping, he glances down quickly to see if this is the moment when the decision must be made.
We’re repeatedly told of a war chest, to the point where Ornstein from the BBC staked his reputation on it. And then lost it when the club exposed the flanker it pulled. The war chest is never as big as we’re told it is which begs the question, can Arsenal afford to turn down £20m, if that is City’s offer? Any higher and I don’t think Arsène has a say in the matter.
If we had £30m to sign Lemar last summer without selling Alexis, we’re in no position to turn it down. Even less so if Mesut Özil leaves – I think he will – so we don’t have the cash to invest in replacements for both at current market prices. However, Julian Draxler has a price tag of £40m, but I’m sure PSG’s desperation to sell is such that he could cheaper. Reports claim Arsène thinks Leon Bailey is a good investment at £15m although Leverkusen are asking for double.
January has the makings of a long month, on and off the pitch.