On Cheats, Injuries and 2019-20 So Far: The Attack

The end is nigh! Millions of sandwichboard men and women wandering the streets declare the message. Not the end of the world, just the end of the international break.

The Premier League, warts and all, is nearly back. And there are a lot of warts. Take, for example, the current England captain or more accurately, the man who should be nowhere near the England captaincy.

Harry Kane sought to defend himself against charges of diving in the North London Derby. Handed a loaded gun, he shot at his foot and missed because he was already falling to the floor.

I said at the time that he didn’t dive; he cheated. He sought to con the referee. There was enough contact to make him go down but it required Kane to move a couple of feet into Sokratis to make it happen. He didn’t dive; he just cheated.

His answer, according to ESPN, was to declare, “[I have] Never [dived] and, hopefully, I don’t have to,”

What sort of answer is that? “I haven’t dived but I’m willing to do so. Reluctantly.” So, Harry, you’re admitting you’re willing to cheat to win. And I thought England was all about fair play?

Any murmur of criticism from Fleet Street? Of course not; he’s King Harry. Not the pseudo-Royal whose wife they despise for her colour or nationality. This is a coronation parade and they all want invites. Criticism sees their names scrubbed from those party invites.

The hypocrisy is dumbfounding. Had any non-English captain said the same, there would be campaigns in the back pages to eradicate cheating and questions in the House.

But this is the England captain. This is us showing ‘street smarts’; taking on those cheats at their own game. Bravo; Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!

2019-20: The Attack

Onto more pleasant matters or Arsenal, at the very least.

The final third of the season so far is the attack. After weeks of clamouring, we finally got our front three operating together. For an hour anyway, before Alexandre Lacazette’s body admitted defeat leaving just Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

So far, the attacking element of the side delivered three fewer goals so far. It’s cost us two points in bald statistical terms but who knows where else gains and losses will be made this season?

The pleasing element, for me at least, is the ease with which Nicolas Pepe has slotted into the XI. Sub appearances against Newcastle and Burnley offered promise; nutmegs here and there, devastating bursts of pace to fill the gaps in between.

At Anfield, we glimpsed the real potential with the curled effort past the post and the sprint from the halfway line which left defenders in his wake.

A lot of potential.

As with any big-signing, he could do with a goal to settle himself down. The key thing is that he does not seem overawed or burdened by the price tag. He’s playing his game and fitting into the side.

Is he being thought of as a long-term replacement for Aubameyang? An Henry-esque conversion from the wing to the central striker role? I’ve yet to see this ambition floated on his part but remember Theo Walcott saying the same. For every silver lining, there’s a cloud. Such transitions are not always successful.

Aubameyang is Aubameyang. His appetite for goals is undiminished, not that we expected it to be, and barring injury, he will be the club’s leading scorer this season. Starting on the left took some getting used to during preseason but concerns ended when he netted at Newcastle.


The glue holding the forward line together is Lacazette. Rightly voted Player of the Season last year, nothing changed this time. He is as tenacious in battle as he is clever with the ball. I can’t find fault with his performances and the impetus he gave us at Anfield underlined his importance to the team.

Where there are concerns is the lack of depth in the squad. Eddie Nketiah’s loan to Leeds means one of Lacazette, Aubameyang or Pepe must play in the domestic and European dead rubbers. Gabriel Martinelli and Reiss Nelson take two of those places; can Tyreece John-Jules play in such an inexperienced front three?

It’s unfair on the youngsters to place that burden on their shoulders, especially when Nelson is the only one with anything approaching the first-team experience we need.

Therein is our problem; I hope Raul kept some money back for January just in case we need it. Knowing our luck, we’ll suffer the season-defining injury in mid-February.

Overall, we’re not looking in bad shape up front; just a little light.

Depth Charges

Midfield depth may be a short-term issue if concerns about injuries are correct. The rumour mill has it that Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka picked up knocks on international duty. Whether that is true or how serious they were is not clear.

Nonetheless, against a team which is struggling and certain to take, shall we say, a physical approach to Sunday’s game, it is a concern.

It raises the prospect of quite a lightweight midfield from the defensive side of the game, not that we’re heavyweights in that sense. Guendouzi, Willock and Ceballos? It’s a tough job for them and were both Torreira and Xhaka absent, it would be no surprise to see Rob Holding return to the centre of a back-three.

Club football is nearly back, I said? It’s going to be something of a long week, I suspect.

19 thoughts on “On Cheats, Injuries and 2019-20 So Far: The Attack

  1. andy1886 says:

    Naw, Basil Brush was the original BOOM BOOM.

  2. andy1886 says:

    So Xhaka could be out against Watford then? Bummer…..

  3. C says:

    Tend to agree with all of that. Lacazette is what makes our front 3 really work and I personally think he should be Captain because he defines everything you want from a leader. Pepe just needs a goal or assist and he will be off and running. I also loved the fact that he pulled out of international duty to work on his fitness.

    I think its also quite clear that Emery rates Nketiah and I would imagine he is being lined up as the successor to Aubameyang.

  4. C says:

    Speaking of young attackers, it was brilliant to see for Arsenal academy players Gnabry and Malen being key figures and scoring goals for their national teams.

    Calm down Bill, just acknowledging the young talents that are fulfilling the talent we knew they had just couldn’t completely unlock.

  5. Dukey says:

    Congratulations Steve Smith on winning the Ashes!

  6. nicky says:


    Agreed but the guy is dead lucky to be playing at international level. 😎

  7. Blue Yonder says:

    Excellent article, particularly the part about Kane. It is cheating and you are right to call it so.”You, sir, are a cheat!” Doing everything for your team/country means doing everything you can, full-out effort, playing within the rules, to win.
    Anything outside the rules is cheating. Well said.
    Could you see Bobby Moore, Billy Wright, or any of those who have worn the armband with similar distinction, being the centre of such a debate?

  8. Bill says:

    Great post Yogi

    I am excited to see how the year works out with our attacking front 3. It could be really special if Pepe comes anywhere close to fulfilling expectations. I like Lacazette and the fans love him because of his work rate and toughness. His creativity in the final 1/3 is important to the team and I agree with C that Laca would make a good captain. However in terms of who is the teams players of the season, I think the default position should be the player the team can least afford to lose rather then the fan favorite. Auba won the golden boot and those goals carried us. Aubu has get the nod for our most influential individual player IMO.

  9. Bill says:


    I agree about Gnabry and I think we can safely say that letting him go was a mistake. He is probably the only outfield player in the last 12 years we can say that about. The batting for our academy players who have moved on is about 1/1000 which is certainly not worth celebrating.

    I don’t anything about Malen but looking at the stats he is scoring about 1 goal in every 3 1/2 games which is OK. Time will tell

  10. C says:


    There are others mate like Bennacer who was arguably the best player at the AFCON and has had a big money move to AC Milan and time will tell but Adelaide has blossomed back in France. Gnabry was the one who got away, luckily we got Pepe but Gnabry has certainly come good especially when you think he was Bayern’s Player of the Season.

    Malen was an academy product who got some matches but wanted more which his talent at the very least deserved. He is now at PSV and has started to show his talent but at the same time, for the Dutch he has started well and at only 20 years old, there is still plenty more to come.

  11. Ferkov says:

    Doh. Felt sure it would be Jack on the Stand in a few good men. Wrong. Arry can’t andle ve trufe.
    Good game .

  12. Bill says:


    I agree with you about Gnabry and I admit I was wrong. Making an occasional wrong call is part of the risk of having opinions. With regard to the others you mentioned we have heard similar things many times before and time will tell. Unfortunately we don’t have room on our clubs roster to keep all of the players you think are going to break out in a big way so its inevitable that a player like Gnabry will get away once every decade.

  13. C says:


    Absolutely from time to time a player like Gnabry gets away but it also shows 2 important things:

    1. Don’t judge a youngster’s 1st fully fit season after being injured and out for a full season same as you would with a senior player.

    2. Why people like me, enjoy the youth system and young players because clearly the talent is there but their are other factors outaide of talent that go into whether a player succeeds at the highest level or not.

  14. Mattack says:

    Morning all. Gnabry’s situation was undoubtedly mismanaged by the previous administration ( loan to Pubis and the Orcs etc.). However he was offered a contract but by then had had a good Olympic tournament and the move back to a german club with Bayern in the background was his decision and you can understand why.

  15. Pete the Thirst says:

    Spot on. I recall watching Gnabry when he broke into the first team. He was very raw, but had pace and power. Yes he gave the ball away a lot, but that is a trait of attacking players in their developing years. He got the crowd excited.

    Sending him to WBA on loan with Spewlis was unforgiveable. Another Wenger/Gazidis sh!t show to add to the rest. Was it £5m we got for him? He’d be worth 10x that now.

    Morning all. Gnabry’s situation was undoubtedly mismanaged by the previous administration ( loan to Pubis and the Orcs etc.). However he was offered a contract but by then had had a good Olympic tournament and the move back to a german club with Bayern in the background was his decision and you can understand why.

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