Hey, Mo! and Other Tales plus When is a Weakened Team Acceptable?

Football is all about signals and signs. From the one or two arms raised moments before another corner fades to obscurity through to transfer rumours and contract renewals. It’s all signals and signs. Arsenal are no different.

The biggest giveaway that the club is going to offer a player a new deal? The summer before when they tried to offload him. Arsène told Jack he could do one, now he’s been offered a new contract. Arsenal tried to offload Mo Elneny last year but now he’s here until 2022.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing either. You need squad players and honestly, he does the job he’s asked to do. A ‘Water Carrier’, he just gets on with it, knowing he can play the game of his life but he’s back on the bench for the next game.

Gareth Southgate did the club no favours admitting that Jack is “managing” tendonitis in his knee. No wonder he won’t sign a pay-as-you-play contract. Arsenal know he has a medical issue but still play him now, aggravating the condition. You don’t run something like that off.

Let’s not forget that the club, like every other, is bound by the shackles of short-termism and if a player can walk for the next 90 minutes he’s needed, he’s playing. Wenger admitted some years ago that he overplayed Wilshere when the player was a teenager. The needle was firmly entrenched in the fabled red zone and Arsène didn’t rest his midfield tyro. Now the problems of that decision haunt us.

The Wilshere situation is just bizarre. Wenger, no doubt aware of the criticism about the situation, flip-flopped and now puts his “weight” behind Jack staying. Given Arsène looks gaunt these days, it’s less weight than he previously had. It must be a blessed relief to get on the training ground to forget his woes for 90 minutes or so.

God knows what the player makes of it. He’s expected to give his all every week for a club which acts as if they don’t care whether he stays and a manager who doesn’t know if he’s coming or going.

It used to be the Windsors who were the benchmark for dysfunctionality; Arsenal gives them a good run for their money.

Psychotic…But Absolutely Right

Tomas Rosicky must be thinking ‘thank god I got out there when I did’ while goodness knows what Santi Cazorla is thinking. More about walking and running again than about a contract, I guess. What will the new ruthless Arsenal do with the Spaniard?

Anyway, these are distractions from the real business of what happens on the pitch. The squad is patched up and back on the training ground. Aaron Ramsey and ‘Big Al’ Lacazette joined PEA  after a few days off. A change is as good as a rest, etc.

Looking at the photos, there aren’t many players ‘missing’ with their countries. Let’s put it this way, we could field a strong XI in a cup-tie if we needed to.

Are managers experimenting this international window? Southgate certainly is with England but others seem to be fielding strong sides which underlines how few world-class players we genuinely have. Löw once again ensured his prized asset is not knackered for the World Cup finals by sending Mesut Özil home for a rest.

Which is all good for us. We need a strong line-up this weekend to make sure that we play our part in sealing Stoke City’s fall into obscurity. The Championship is welcome to the Orcs and with a bit of luck with boot them into League One in double-quick time.

This Situation Absolutely Requires a Really Futile and Stupid Gesture

It’s a big seven days when the club action returns. Three home games, two against relegation-threatened sides and the first leg against CSKA which we must win. A sign of relative success will be playing two games a week (more or less) until the end of the season.

Looking at the league table, we can rotate our XI for the Premier League and still expect a good points return from the remaining fixtures. The danger is complacency, however. Burnley could be a six-pointer while United is a benchmark fixture. It’s sandwiched between the two legs of the Europa League semi-final; do we sacrifice the game?

Finishing sixth or seventh makes no difference as far as next season is concerned. Both drop the respective teams into the third qualifying round of the Europa League. That’s the footballing perspective; financially it’s worth £2-3m in prize money.

Would you accept a weakened side at Old Trafford if it meant a strong XI for both legs of the semi-final? I would.

What are they going to do that they haven’t already done to us? Thinking it couldn’t be worse than the 6 – 1 proved foolish, but surely we cannot capitulate more than 8 – 2? Surely?

Before you answer that, remember this is Mourinho’s United and when it gets to 2 – 0, they park the bus. At 4 – 0, the team don hard hats, get out the string and spirit levels as they build a depot for a fleet of buses to park in.

No, I’d live with a weakened team.

Just the minor matter of reaching the last four then.

’til Tomorrow.

44 thoughts on “Hey, Mo! and Other Tales plus When is a Weakened Team Acceptable?

  1. Good morning Yogi and others, three big games in two weeks against CSKA and Mourinho’s stuttering United, why would we need to rest players for any of those three games? Most of the squad have just had the best part of a fortnight off. Let them earn their corn for once.

    I commented earlier, on yesterdays post, about the Wilshere situation, is this a cronic injury? Is he another Koscielny and needs to be nursed and cosseted to avoid another breakdown? I suppose what I’m asking is whether Jack is worth another contract even at a lower wage?

  2. Morning mates and top stuff Yogi.

    Serious question, is Xhaka/Ramsey pivot weaker than Elneny/Jack(naturally with rest partially close to being fit)? I would have no problem playing a weakend side but really it would be swapping Aubameyang for Lacazette and the pair mentioned earlier.

    The focus needs to be on lifting the Europa crown.

  3. I’m with Orsen, let the pampered millionaires do what they are paid to do, play football.

    Hard work? Tough.

  4. Great post yogi.

    I agree with your sentiment about Elneny. We need a few players on the squad who are versatile, do their job when asked and don’t complain about not playing. You don’t want a player who is happy to take his pay check and sit on the bench but you didn’t not want the squad players complaining and whining and drawing attention to themselves and Elneny seems like he has the proper temperament. We mentioned Lucas Perez in the comments yesterday and its best if the squad players don’t raise a fuss in public. Keep any complaining behind closed doors.

  5. Yogi.

    I disagree about jack. Arsene did not use jack that much more then most big team managers use their any of their important players. Very few players develop stress fractures and the reason it happened to Jack in 2011 is because his protoplasm is just not built to take the constant stress of being a professional athlete. Some players are injury prone and nothing can change that. Jack has not been overused since 2011 and despite hardly playing regularly in this decade his pattern of recurring short term and long term injuries is undeniable. He certainly has not been overplayed this season.

  6. The other thing with Elneny is that he is still only 25 years old so development and progressing will continue to happen.

  7. Bill,

    Not true unfortunately, Arsene called on him 49 times in 2010/11 when he was just 19 years old, at the end of that season he suffered the ankle injury that has plagued him ever since. Even Arsene, who rarely admits to errors, said he’d seriously overplayed him when they knew that he was an injury waiting to happen. Young players are particularly vulnerable to over-use injuries stepping up to a faster and more physical game with the first team.

    Needless to say in January, when AW could have brought in cover, the only signings were Ryo Miyaichi and Wellington Silva neither of whom were players that were going to appear in the first team.

  8. I see UEFA has done away with the rule about new signings not being able to play if you played fot your old team in a UEFA competition.

  9. Andy

    Jack has certainly not been overused since 2011 and he still gets injured regularly and that has nothing to do with that first stress fracture. His injuries over the years have been in both legs and different parts of his body and his recurring problems have been a lot more then just a single injury that has constantly plagued him. You don’t turn an otherwise healthy player into an injury prone player and most players who struggle as much he has with injuries don’t outgrow their problem.

  10. C:
    The other thing with Elneny is that he is still only 25 years old so development and progressing will continue to happen.

    Perhaps Elneny will be different but 13 years of history has certainly proved that players don’t inevitably get better as they mature into their late 20’s. By age 25 I suspect that Elneny has come very close to reaching his ceiling.

  11. Bill,

    Sorry mate but your wrong, players generally are still growing and entering their prime around 26-27 and with that they are still developing and growing as a player injuries not withstanding. Most of the players that have pleauted under Arsene do so at a young age.

  12. Bill,

    If you are talking about thirteen years of Arsenal’s history, then that’s down to Wenger’s coaching, or lack thereof. It certainly doesn’t apply to the myriads of players who have improved with age and experience under better coaches than ours.

  13. xx

    Mohamed Elneny
    of all his skills, and there are many
    the one that stands out
    he’ll sign a new contract, no fuss, no f’ing about.

  14. C:
    I see UEFA has done away with the rule about new signings not being able to play if you played fot your old team in a UEFA competition.

  15. Bill

    If you look at Jack’s injuries, the last three or four have been broken or fractured bones. That’s through contact and is the type of player he is. Incidentally, those have arisen while on international duty or loan; not at Arsenal. This latest one is the first pinned on the club for years.

    However, Andy is right. Wenger admitted he ignored the medical advice and overplayed Jack. When the manager is responsible for a great deal of the problems, the club, in my view, has a moral responsibility to pick up the tab.

    FWIW, most clubs would have sacked a manager who was as derelict in his duties as Wenger was.

  16. YW,

    Funny thing is, Jack isn’t the only player Arsene has neglected. Remember Ozil a year or 2 ago telling Arsene at half-time he heard something in his knee and Arsene put him out in the 2nd half and he was then out for a couple months. Didn’t it also happen with Santi and even this season with Bellerin recently coming out and saying he was injured and the club knew about it but told him to push on and he has played every min in the PL.

    Arsene has a track record of doing it and apparently he will never learn.

  17. Me and a coworker were just talking and with Southampton looking on the verge of relegation and with Max Meyer free…how would you thought feel if we sold Ramsey, waited on Jack and then bought Lemina and Max Meyer in and with the funds generated by Ramsey we look at a CB its added to that for a new GK unless we hand over the reigns to Macey(ultra talented English GK) or Martinez

  18. Job in the recruitment department for you, C.

    I’d suggest a proper look at Maguire for CB.

    Ramsey, I’d keep. As I said the other day, tying Jack down to a contract and then selling for a fee was the way to go but Wenger decided to tell him to do one last year. This position of ‘I want him to stay’ doesn’t wash with me. It’s more a ‘I want him to stay because I don’t have enough funds to replace him and fix the squad’.

    Wenger wasted money in the past and frankly, is not going to be remembered as one of football’s great managers. One of Arsenal’s, certainly but not one of football’s.

  19. YW,

    That is interesting, YW.

    If an Arsenal great but not a football great then it begs the question asto whether we have produced truly great managers.

    Herbert Chapman stands alone there for us, then.

  20. YW,

    Maybe the new men will want a young American, put in a good word for 😉

    I don’t mind keeping Ramsey but we also can’t be put into another Ozil, Sanchez situation and that is what looks to be happening (replace Ozil and Sanchez with Ramsey and Welbeck, at least in terms of name) so for me it depends on how much Ramsey wants. I agree, if we can sign and then sell Jack that would be ideal but then you have that English premium that clubs may or may not want to pay. Arsene, well, very little he says fills me with confidence but your spot on and I would add they feel more comfortable giving him players than letting him pick them.

    He has wasted quite a bit and its why I wonder what is really going on with Jack and Ramsey because honestly, the new men seem to be more than willing to give them a contract but only on Arsenal’s terms and quite a bit seems to be based on injury and availability which doesn’t bode well for either. Agreed on Arsene, but I think even that will take time given recency effect.

  21. Actually today’s post makes for depressing reading.How long can this man be left to manage our club. Yogi you forgot Mustafi was also up for sale last Summer and Debuchy initially couldn’t be given away on a free.
    We don’t need an M.O.T. but a complete overhaul and that will take years.
    Re Elneny you can believe it or not that his agent wasn’t happy with his initial contact and they called in an accountant who represents various sports people. Elneny has now built into his contract that if he starts a match and plays 70 minutes he gets a 20K bonus.Of course others wanted a piece of that action and they got it. Funny we see so many subs in the sixty something minute.
    Wenger’s admission about Wishere is interesting but understandable.Iwobi is going the same way and probably Holding and Chambers.
    When Fabregas was introduced into the first team he had practically a whole team of mentors, we don’t have that now.A huge difference.
    Wenger knows the pressure is on but it appear for quite a while he just can’t think straight anymore (or for some time) but will hang in there regardless.

  22. Yogi and Andy.

    You are right. 49 is a lot of games. I am not sure what the medical people told Arsene but no matter how you slice it he over used jack in 2011. However what happened in 2011 is not the reason jack is injury prone and has struggled for his entire career. All of his other injuries are not related to being overused that season and they are not just a run of bad luck.

  23. I wouldn’t argue with that at all, Bob.

    Which Arsenal managers would you put up there with the game’s greats? George won all the domestic trophies at least once, as well as a European trophy but one of football’s greats? It’s stretching it.

    Herbert, for me, would be the only great manager we’ve had in a broader footballing sense.

  24. Well, I was talking about great managers so playing careers doesn’t enter it. But it’s a fair inclusion for that list.

    Bertie, as with George and Arsene, will be a great Arsenal manager but not one of football’s great managers.

    For me, to be one of football’s great managers, as a minimum, two Champions Cups (or equivalent) and domestic titles won playing football, not parking a bus. Tactical innovation is also something to throw into the mix as well.

    Which basically excludes Jose Mourinho from ever being on that list. In any case, just winning major trophies twice isn’t enough. There has to be more to it than that.

  25. YW,

    Tend to agree with you on the list and what makes a great futboling manager but as much as I don’t want to, I have to disagree with you about Jose “The {enter what you want here} One”. I think what he did at Porto, then Inter, Madrid and Chelsea puts him in the great futboling managers. Sure the Manure years and the absolute shitty way he treats players,opposing managers and supporters makes you despise him but when it comes to tacticians, he is right up there.

    I will say, the one thing that I also have never been prone to is simply saying he parks the bus all the time; sure now he does and after the title was one at Chelsea he did but he was really good at teaching counter-attacking futbol and people forget that his Porto, Madrid, and the first half of the Chelsea year(remember Cesc, Hazard, Willian, and Costa were playing some sublime futbol) they scored goals for fun. The other thing you also have to say is that he has helped some of the best #10s at the time flourish when you think of Ozil at Madrid, Sneijder at Inter, Deco at Porto.

    Please forgive me for defending Jose, I am off to my corner to was my mouth out and get my 13 lashes.

  26. Orson,

    > Can’t argue with any of that…..but he’s such a miserable, moaning bastard!

    Ahem, I am here you know.

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