STONE COLD FRIDAY: Alternative Facts, Hunger and the Hill of Beans

Ask most men, and they’ll admit the four words they’re scared of the most are “We need to talk”. Especially when it’s the missus or girlfriend uttering them.

The mind wonders faster than the pistons driving a rumour mill. Talk about what? Are you paged again? Is it the “it’s me, not you” speech? Did you find the porn video in the loft? It wasn’t me; and honestly, I was joking when I said your mother is crazy.

At the back of your mind, you’re also preparing to hear about the cluster foxtrot you ended up in 7 years ago but was never mentioned by the missus. Is it time to be handed a new one?

Even so, it’s good to talk. I chuckle when I recall the Hale and Pace comedy sketch mocking the Bob Hoskins BT advert.

They were torturing some poor chap in an underground dungeon. “Ve have vays of making you talk”, sort of thing. And just as the victim caves in and starts spilling secrets, Hale’s fat smiling face crosses the screen as in the BT advert saying “It’s good to talk”.

You’d think at Arsenal, it would happen more; giving players an opportunity to call each other out, to vent and clear the air; to understand better the principle of collective responsibility.

‘Tis the Art of Making Lemonade Out of Dodgy Lemon

You do have to wonder, did you have to wait for things to get this bad before you lot talked? It’s great that you did it, but one sandwich maketh not a picnic.

All the players are paid handsomely for doing a job. If they need clear the air’ talks after every match, there’s something verywrong but that’s what you do. Don’t get me started on who at Arsenal should be talking about whether the manager is doing his job. The more important question now is whether the discussions add up to a hill of beans.

It’s more important to show, don’t tell. A 3 match winning streak is not enough by any measure of consistency for a club like Arsenal. Yet, we know the club knows we know they’re doing a dodgy job and the Gooniverse is not happy. That’s why their PR machine wheeled out players to talk to the media and on Arsenal Player in a charm offensive to try and squeeze out the remaining lemonade.

Thing is, the natives became restless a long time ago and the jury’s out on whether anyone is listening or buying the charm offensive.

What? Are We In Trump Territory?

That’s a question I would love to ask Petr Cech. According to the veteran keeper, a gap of 33 points is not a true reflection of the difference between Arsenal and Manchester City. Apparently, Arsenal has the same quality as City and can match them.

I don’t know about you, but that’s straight from Chapter 2, section 3 of the “Good Guide to Alternative Facts” by The Donald. It’s the doctrine of ‘Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics’. What is Cech on about? You can drive the AFC Victoria Crescit aircraft carrier through that 33 point gap.

I’m scared to ask if they are the issues the players spoke about. Sending out Shkodran Mustafi and Petr Cech to do the media rounds suggests it was.

You do also wonder if Wenger hadn’t lost his voice, what he would have actually said.

Steve Bould insists Wenger is still as hungry as ever. He might be, but perhaps Arsenal is not the restaurant for him to satisfy that hunger any more. How much kool-aid are the folks at Arsenal drinking?

It’s time to throw everything at it, kitchen sink and all

The business end of the season is with us. Not that we have any meaningful business we can achieve in the Premier League, but we have to focus. The Europa League has increasingly taken a higher level of significance, both from a business perspective and a footballing one.

I agree with YW on the Man United fixture. There’s nothing there to see, and the faster we move right along and focus on the two Europa semi-finals, the better. Let the fringe players have a run out with a sprinkle of one or two seniors. Of course, there is just the small matter of getting past CSKA.

Frankly speaking, if we don’t get past the Muscovites, it’s a wrap. We just need to fold our tents and start this Arsenal thing from scratch; manager, players and all. We need to be absolutely ruthless when we have the first tie at the Emirates; a performance that must leave no doubt about the intent to wrap up the tie in 90 minutes. We’ve got our good old friends from the Potteries for target practice on Sunday.

You know it though, it’s impossible to tell which Arsenal will turn up. For one, I want Alex Lacazette to correct the injustice of his disallowed goal at the BET 365 where only his toe nail was offside. A goal must do wonders for his confidence ahead of the Europa League quarter-finals.. The prospect of Lacazette, Ozil and Mkhitaryan driving our attack, assisted by a tenacious Welbeck on Sunday is exciting.

Meanwhile, I’m sure Ryan Shawcross and his bunch of merry men would love to welcome Aubameyang to England.

Have a great weekend good people.

39 thoughts on “STONE COLD FRIDAY: Alternative Facts, Hunger and the Hill of Beans

  1. Good morning folks, thank you for the post Darius. Mustafi and Cech seem strange choices to put up for public consumption considering Wenger tried to flog the former last summer and the latter is clearly heading for the exit and retirement.

  2. Yogi’s link to today’s post doesn’t work, either that or the blog has gone into Easter Holiday hibernation mode. 😴

  3. Good work Darius.

    Clear the air talks, good for them but shame it came a bit late. Do we have talent, absolutely but that talent needs direction and if according to Mustafi they spoke a out doing it themselves, I think that speaks volumes.

    I will disagree with you Darius…start Lacazette, Aubameyang, Ozil and Mhkitaryan from thr start and then pull off Lacazette and Ozil and save them for CSKA.

  4. Well, he’s looking to prolong his career, Orse.

    Of course, he could prolong his career by taking up defending but I suppose that is too bloody sensible.

  5. Is AFC about to become part owned by the UK Government?

    With the introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders, in January this year, Oligarchs and others resident in the UK will be required to reveal the source of their wealth and explain how they amassed it. If the explanation is not convincing the government has powers to seize and retain such assets.

    Might our own Alisher Usmanov be a possible target?

  6. YW,

    Yup, he’s going the same way as his former partner Thomas Vermaelen. A good defender who sunk into mediocrity due to poor coaching and fitness problems.

  7. C,

    I really don’t think Arsenal can afford to lose any more established first teamers other, that is, than those already approaching the exit. Cazorla, Ramsey, Wilshere and possibly one of our two senior ‘keepers.

    Perhaps Koscielny would benefit from a summer spent in an ashram.

  8. Orson Kaert,

    Selling Bellerin would be inexcusable anyways, why would you sell a 23 year old with loads of talent who just needs to be coached up? Again, we talk about Arsenal not having top talent yet Bellerin has been linked to Madrid, Barca, Juve and Citeh(under Pep)…I mean that should speaks volumes to his talent and potential. Yup, those look headed for thr door and honestly I wouldn’t be opposed to both senior GK’s heading out the door.

    Kos, well maybe we can frankstein him

  9. Orson Kaert:
    Is AFC about to become part owned by the UK Government?

    With the introduction of Unexplained Wealth Orders, in January this year, Oligarchs and others resident in the UK will be required to reveal the source of their wealth and explain how they amassed it.If the explanation is not convincing the government has powers to seize and retain such assets.

    Might our own Alisher Usmanov be a possible target?

    Hehe, nice thought…..I think however his wealth is fairly transparent (at least as far as any Russian wealth creation is transparent) as he is a shareholder in Mettaloinvest which is a massive business empire in Russia, amongst other things. He probably wouldn’t be a better owner than SKE, but you never know. The UK Government would quickly try and sell his assets to SKE anyway, but Usmanov’s high priced lawyers would I’m sure easily block the UK Governments’ cheaply-priced lawyers in any fight. Actually it would be interesting to see what changes he would make as Owner – Wenger I’m sure would be first on his list of changes.

  10. James,

    Actually Usmanov has long been a faithful admirer of Wenger.

    As to his shareholding in Metaloinvest, how did he obtain it?

  11. Thr other thing is, I would start Elneny on Sunday if Arsene is going to go with Jack and/or Ramsey against CSKA. Since both are just coming off injuries and Stoke are Stoke, I would give Elneny the nod and then bring on one of them should he or Xhaka need it or even for Ozil or Mkhitaryan in at Arsene’s customary 70′ sub.

  12. Great post Darius.

    I agree with your sentiments. I don’t think anyone could have competed with Man City this season. However the 33 point gap is clearly an indication of the depth of the talent gap and 6th place is also tells a story. The manager is clearly the first and most important step but we have a lot of squad rebuilding to do and that is going to be expensive.

  13. C

    The decision to sell Bellerin or not should come down to economics. Like it or not we are going to need money to finance rebuilding the squad. If we can really get $50M for him then he is hugely over rated. We could sell him and there are almost certainly other lesser known underrated LB’s such as a player like Nacho that we buy for about 1/2 of that amount. Assuming we could find a player like Nacho it would be an upgrade in our effectiveness at that position and we would have money left over to use for upgrades at other positions. No likes the idea of selling players we like but I agree with something Yogi said the other day. The smart move would be signing Jack to a new contract and then selling him. Selling Jack would be even more painful then selling Bellerin but we can’t let emotional attachments to players over rule common sense and selling Hector is really worth $50M makes a lot of sense.

  14. Hector is a decent player but this performances over the last 18 months argue that he is not anything close to a a great player. There have only been 2 full backs in football history who have sold for $50M. The idea that Hector only needs a different manager and he will suddenly change into a player worth $50M and one of the worlds best full backs is quite a stretch. Anything is possible but truly great players do not usually go thru 1 1/2 year spells of relatively poor form.

  15. Bill,

    If we are running a team based on economics then your mad mate. You do realize that the ONLY reason we got Nacho on the cheap is because Malaga were going bottoms up after overspending and then having to sell their best players just to stay afloat. Sorry mate but your COMPLETELY wrong, nowadays a decent RB isn’t going for 25m but your also not factoring in the wages and all which means we are then at about 35m spent leaving only 15m left over. The other thing is, you can’t say you want and Arsenal need quality players and then want to sell a young talented player that is wanted by 3 of the 5 or 6 best clubs in the world and then hope for thr best…you see how well that has worked out for us at GK huh.

    Jack and Bellerin are in two COMPLETELY different situations given that Bellerin just signed a new deal last year, is ultra reliable (think he has played the most matches and mins of any Arsenal player), basically mans our whole right flank by himself, is just now 23 years old and only needa proper coaching to become arguabpy the best RB in the PL. Jack is out of contract in the summer, unfortunately isn’t being helped by his body or style of play, and while clubs may want him they will probably only want him with a low wage and highly incentivized.

  16. Bill,

    Actually, selling Bellerin even for £50 million makes no sense whatsoever. There is not an available right back in the Premiership who would make a half decent replacement. To buy one from overseas would set us back for half a season while he acclimatises to Premiership football and would probably cost just as much as we could get for Bellerin. So where’s the profit in that?

  17. Sorry. You lost me with the Trump analogy.
    Comparing AFC’s issues– with a man who is destroying a country?

    I love this football club too. It’s my vehicle to escape those realities you parallel.
    Yours is a grandiose comparison, and less-humorous than you intend.


  18. Bouldie on Lacazette:

    “The Premier League is different to the French League where he came from, he’s found it physically tougher. It might be a blessing in disguise the fact that he’s had a month off.”

    Bould went on: “He’s actually a very, very, very good football player. I was quite surprised…I don’t mean this in a derogatory manner whatsoever.

    “He could play number ten. He’s a really good football player, he’s not just a goalscorer, he’s not an out-and-out striker, he can play.

    “I think the physical element has surprised him a bit and caught up with him, which it does with many players who come from abroad.

    “Like I said I think the last month may have helped him, I know he’s been working in the gym. We’re hoping he comes back sharp.

    “Lots of the great players go through these times, it’s not a worry.”

  19. YW,

    What of our friend Roman Abramovic. Until the Russian smash and grab that created an entire generation of millionaires and billionaires, he used to own a toy factory.

  20. If it was just Hectors defense that had gone downhill I could agree that some coaching might fix the problem. However, he has not been very good on either end of the pitch and his lack of effectiveness on the attacking end is not something you can fix with better teaching anymore then you can fix Danny Welbeck or Alex Iwobe or Ox or Yaya Sanogo. You can’t teach decision making and end product production. For the last 18 months Hector has been no better then a right footed Kieran Gibbs and you can buy Kieran Gibbs for a lot less then $50M

  21. Bill,

    If nobody at Arsenal in the last seven years has succeeded in teaching Bellerin to defend, who do you suppose could teach that art to Maitland-Niles between now and the start of next season.

  22. Orson Kaert,

    More to that if defenders have struggled since Keown left then thinking that Bellerin would do better under a coach given how superb he was prior to the inconsistencies(as with the whole team) of this season makes perfect sense. I mean Gabriel has been brilliant since he left and Gibbs has showm he is more than capablr of defending.

  23. With Mertesacker in virtual retirement and Koscielny ever more liable to injury, it must be galling to the younger central defenders, Chambers, Holding and Mavropanos to hear Wenger say that he is confident that Elneny, a midfielder, can play centre back when needed.

    I think that the confidence of the younger defenders has been damaged by their lack of playing time due to Wenger’s continued use of Monreal in the central defender role even when not quite fully fit.

  24. The other thing about the Europa League is that I think more than ever Lacazette will be motivated to not only how he can score goals but do so in important matches for Arsenal. I think his return is perfect timing given he will get a runout wih Aubameyang (hopefully)and in the Europa League, the Final is in Lyon, the stadium that he opened up as Captain of his boyhood club.

  25. YW:

    He’s as pure as the driven snow.

    Interestingly, there’s a veiled accusation of being involved with the KGB which would certainly explain a Putin connection.

    The FT sort of backs up some of the points.

    Ouch…just read your links……surely NOT a good owner of our great club. And if Orson is correct that he is a Wenger fan and supporter then, absolutely we don’t need him as a majority shareholder OR Board member. Incidentally, with a 30% stake in the club, it’s amazing he’s not on the Board – Stan must really hate him. I guess his true business dealings/style is known well inside the Board.

  26. But would he invest to take Arsenal to the top again? If so, why not be our Owner? Abramovich took Chelsea to heights previously unimagined. As long as he stays solvent, I guess who are we to question how he earns his cash…..but a supporter of Wenger is no longer a plus…hmm.

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