Worrying news earlier this week with the effects of global warming lain bare: beer taps will run dry because of a barley shortage. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves: it’s Quorn beer or home brewed dynamite, the stuff your dad and grandad spent hours brewing in sheds and airing cupboards. The stuff which was either vile or blew your brains out; frequently both.
Fortunately, the dystopian future is set to happen in 2099 so it’s the youngsters who face that prospect, not old gits such as myself. I’ll be propping up a barley field long before then.
By that time, a pint will need a second mortgage so nobody will miss it. At the same time there was a report which claimed one-third of youngsters today don’t drink. Which means there’s more beer around for us to drink. It was a win-win week for me.
If it’s a win-win week for me, Arsène Wenger feels the same. Julen Lopetegui is set to receive a brown envelope while Niko Kovač bought himself a stay of execution with a win at Wolfsburg. New job ahoy at one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
And credit for Alexandre Lacazette’s re-emergence this season. Which is not unwarranted but the key is the striker’s movement which as the stats show, is more vibrant in this year’s version of the team. Confidence has a lot to do with it. The re-energising of the squad with a new boss and winning against all-comers helps immeasurably.
The partnership with Aubameyang is paying dividends and going into a tough final 2½ months of 2018, their confidence will prove vital to staying in and around the top four. There are more pieces to that puzzle than just two strikers and their performances. When the defence is dysfunctional, however, theirs takes on greater importance.
He Comes From Uruguay…
Which is where the importance of Lucas Torreira comes to the fore. The Uruguayan’s importance to the side is hard to understate, adding the defensive steel in midfield which was desperately needed. The sort we’ve been needing for several years.
Flamini and Song were halfway houses; defensive capabilities but not strong enough at the back and unable to curb their attacking instincts. In the end, those proved their undoing. Other coaches weren’t as willing to accommodate their ill-discipline as Arsène.
The departure of Gilberto Silva proved a watershed moment. Every transfer window saw us linked with a purely defensive midfielder. Every transfer window saw them get away or not pursued. Wenger knew the problem existed with Frimpong, Eastwood and Coquelin all given varying degrees of chances to prove their worth.
Yet Arsène refused to invest in that defensive shield despite a host of poor purchases at the back and front of the squad. Or not spending the budget available.
To not address that fundamental weakness in the side was perverse, an act of arch-stubborness. Ultimately, it was an action which significantly contributed to the failure to build on rising from fourth through second.
The latter came about because other sides didn’t address their shortfalls. When they did, we arrogantly assumed the squad was stronger than it was. Pride before the fall.
We’ve moved on as a club, into a new era. There will be more pain – as Batman and Robin said it’s a rollercoaster of a season – before the gain. Or a new coach.
You get the feeling we’ve moved into the modern game with Sanllehi and to a lesser influence, Mislintat, used to working in an environment where coaches last 3 – 5 years before change is made unless there are exceptional circumstances.
Still, 24 hours to go before the next match and then there is a procession of fixtures until the next international break.