Through streets broad and narrow
Chelsea wheel their wheelbarrow
After Roman ran off and took all his cash
In my mind’s eye – or should that be ear – the terrace choir sounded a lot better than the Dubliners who just performed it on TOTP. It’s a vivid mind’s eye.
Anyway, it’s the level of enthusiasm for tonight’s match I have. Yes, it’s Chelsea, but it’s a friendly. An over-priced one, at that. What will be the XI? Similar to that we saw in Singapore, I’d expect. Those who returned to training this week might get a runout as a second half substitute. However, it’s the Lazio match where the team closest to his first-choice XI will take the field at kick-off.
Although I’m sure the players take it seriously, I can’t get with the over-analysis which will inevitably follow the match. Unai Emery’s people will do that, but theirs is a targeted approach knowing the end result. Ours is guesswork. But remember it’s a friendly and we’ll get just an inkling of what the Spaniard is aiming for.
One who shone on the tour was Emile Smith-Rowe. His reward for a precocious talent is a long-term contract which staves off fraught negotiations for four or five years. Earmarked for a loan spell this season in some quarters, I’ll be surprised if that happens. His talent deserves the opportunities which exist for him – and Guendouzi – off the bench in the Premier League this season, as well as cup matches.
There’s a danger of ‘too much, too soon’ with talented youngsters and we’ve had false dawns before. Yet there’s a sense that it won’t be the case this time. Maybe it’s the enthusiasm for the new regime rubbing off on me that makes it seem that way? I genuinely don’t know.
Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy
His reaction to scoring against Atletico is best described as ‘joyous bewilderment’:
“I didn’t even know what to do when I scored. It was a bit of a shock. All the players running towards me, the fans screaming. I can’t explain to you the feeling I got inside my body to score for Arsenal. I still can’t believe it’s happened.”
The youngster goes up in my estimation for telling Barcelona and Tottenham to do one when they tried to poach him. Did that play a part in the decision to reward his efforts with a contract extension? Possibly but Unai made it clear on the tour that ESR’s work in the training sessions impressed him most.
ESR spoke of the training under the Spaniard.
“Unai is very involved on the training pitch and likes to stop the session a lot. He’s very tactical and I think it really helps us as a team and it’s really enjoyable to be involved and able to speak so much more. I think the manager is trying to bring his culture to the club and if it works it’s going to be really great.”
The hope is that his career follows the path of one of his idols Cesc, rather than the injury-ravaged one Jack Wilshere trod. It’s criminal the way Wilshere’s talent never flourished due to injury. Maybe he’ll enjoy better fortune at West Ham, with a wiser head on his shoulders and a different club outlook.
Elsewhere, Aaron Ramsey still hasn’t signed a contract renewal. He’s either playing his hand well or putting the club over a barrel, holding it to ransom. It largely depends on the side of the fence you sit as far as his value to the squad is concerned.
Suits You, Sir
The never-resolved issue is that if he is sold, would you sell to an English club? Strengthen Chelsea or bring a bit of joy to Jose?
His style doesn’t seem particularly suited to the Spanish league and while he will adapt, I’m sure, a bid seems unlikely. Barcelona or another club might take a punt if he’s available on a free transfer, but I don’t see it.
It’s bad contract management which let us reach this point. Starting talks last summer was surely the time to play ‘sign or sell’; now we’re in the realms of a January sale which reaps in the region of £15-20m. Better than nothing but a kick in the teeth for Unai Emery.
Finally, more stories surfacing about Ivan to Milan. I understand the concern that if he goes, the management structure will be shaken. However, he put the management structure together so if it does wobble and collapse, he’s not as good as you think anyway. Arsenal Football Club will be around long after he’s gone and you and I are propping up daisies. Worry about the on-the-pitch stuff instead of the head suit.
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.