You were the
Years is a
Pretty low bar.
Which is what
We will remember
Than being one
Of the custodians
Who sold out
26th May 1989
Never in doubt.
HT to EJ Thribb.
Peter Hill-Wood’s passing really is the end of an era. The family connection with Arsenal is severed completely but in reality, it ended when he stepped down as chairman. He seemed almost sad some years back when the subject his children joining the ‘family firm’. Arsenal, he said, was not their passion.
Succeeding his late father, Denis Hill-Wood, in the family seat at the head of the Arsenal table, PHW oversaw a relatively smooth transition to the club we are now. Compared to others, it provided a solid foundation upon which success was built.
Hill-Wood saw pretty much everything. Power swinging from clubs to players, managers taking bungs; titles, cups, heartbreak. It was a football life.
His initial reaction to both Kroenke – “We are all being seduced that the Americans will ride into town with pots of cash for new players. It simply isn’t the case. They only see an opportunity to make money” – and Usmanov – “I wouldn’t want him to be the owner of the club” – proved right. Yet it was they who PHW and others left us with.
If he were to choose his ‘moment’ to pass, I’m sure it would be after a title win. Failing that, an away match at Anfield ticks every nostalgic box going and then some. 26th May 1989; when 5.2m fitted into Anfield; there would have been one more but PHW’s cigar was so big it needed its’ own chair.
Rest in peace.
We’ve Got Ozil…Oh, No We Haven’t!
It’s pantomime season so his absence is today’s star billing. It’s ‘knee injury’, showing acute awareness that nobody believed the back-knack story anymore.
Of course he isn’t playing; it’s an away game; a big away game. To be honest, no matter much I admire his skill and technique, it’s obvious he doesn’t fit into Unai Emery’s plans so a parting of the ways seems inevitable. The sale which funds the rebuilding of the squad?
On a more positive note, Shkodran Mustafi returned to training yesterday having worked on his fitness on his own for a while. Is it too soon for a return to the XI? This isn’t a match in which we need to be taking chances.
Then again, we seem to be doing an awful lot of that recently.
It’s a busy time with central defenders returning like London buses; one comes along and then they all do. Dino Mavropanos is surely some weeks away from the first team having failed to complete his pre-season.
Nonetheless, I’m readying the “Dino saw danger, wrecks attack” puns for the future.
Yesterday saw the media pushing the ‘Arsenal land Villa cast-off Cahill’ routine. It’s a story which irked some but is a signing which makes sense. It’s going to be expensive to prise a top-notch centre-back from his club in January; we don’t have that money and certainly not the £35m to bid on Christian Pulisic as is being claimed.
Cahill has experience and is nowhere near as disastrous a defender as Silvestre. At 32, he has experience and can cajole the younger defenders in training. It’s obvious Rob Holding earned Unai Emery’s trust before injury struck so why would he push for a permanent signing now, particularly if the players he wants aren’t available?
So Now, I’ll Mention Liverpool
This is a match which will end one of two ways. We’ll either stun everyone with an outstanding performance and grab a point or three. Or, and I fear this is more likely, we’re in for a three or four-goal pasting.
Liverpool are Premier League leaders for good reason and well ahead of us in a squad sense. Three years to put a timescale on it. We aren’t going to catch them this season or next, assuming they hold on to win their first title since 1990. That’s not a certainty, by the way; not yet.
To avoid a chastening evening, we’ll need to put in maximum effort for 90 minutes. None of the slack-jawed slow starts we’re accustomed to nor any of lackadaisical defending which costs us points left, right and centre.
In Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, we have a dynamic strike partnership which is capable of unsettling the self-proclaimed best defender in the world, Dejan Lovren but if we’re talking about investing in centre-backs, Virgil Van Dijk is the benchmark.
The XI I expect to see this evening:
Leno; Mustafi, Sokratis, Koscielny; LichtsteIner, Torreira, Guendouzi, Xhaka, Kolasinac; Lacazette, Aubameyang
It’s a straightforward 3-5-2 on paper or as I expect us to be pinned back for long spells, 5-3-2. Yet, these matches where we’re not expected to well are the ones where we surprise people. Can tonight be one of those occasions?
Enjoy the match wherever you are watching it.