Arsenal Finally Wake Up and Start Acting Like a Big Club

Sir Alex Ferguson commands Lazarus to rise and get stuck in to the opposition’s nippy winger

One piece of news really lifted my spirits a couple of days ago.

“Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka Out of Albania and Poland Games” said the headline.

Normally news of an Arsenal player’s injury is reason for mourning, misery, soul-searching and complaining about the club’s fitness regime.

But when I read the details of that story I detected something interesting. The piece explained: “England have confirmed that Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka will miss the team’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Albania and Poland due to injury. 

Both players sat out on Thursday as the Three Lions began their qualification campaign with a 5-0 win over San Marino. 

And the FA have now confirmed the Manchester United and Arsenal stars will not feature against Albania on Sunday and Poland three days later. 

Saka had remained at Arsenal for further assessment on an ongoing issue with the hope of joining up with the Three Lions but will now not be available for the fixtures against Albania and Poland.

He “remained at Arsenal” and now we have told the national team that, oh dear, he’s just not going to be well enough to play in any of these international fixtures.

What does it remind you of?

It reminds me of all the times when, under the managership of the purple-conked Gorbalian Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United would inevitably announce at “internationals” time that their best players were all crocked, had no chance of pulling on the England shirt, in fact were close to death’s door and a priest had been sent for…

And then, when the Premier League started up again, those same players would make a miraculous recovery and be fit and raring to go.

Fit-again Lazarus scores hat trick for Manchester United after international lay-off,” the headlines would say, “the player pronounced dead just a week ago was in unstoppable form yesterday as the Red Devils went back to the top of the table with a resounding win over a Tottenham side whose three most influential players were all injured on England duty.”

Hate him or hate him, there was no doubting that the volcanic Scotsman knew how to play the system.

And now it looks like we might be doing it too.

Of course this is all going to look a bit silly if Saka ends up being out for three months, but I suspect the club are being ultra cautious with him. I’m sure he had (or has) some muscle tightness and the medical team have been able to use it to get the lad a decent two-week rest.

He has been our best player this season but he was starting to look jaded in his last few appearances.

Does this mark a sea change in Arsenal’s approach to being selfish and self-interested ? It’s too early to tell but I certainly hope so.

For too long our actions – both on and off the pitch – have been characterised by a sense of naivety: our players seldom make the little fouls in midfield that break up a dangerous move, or win a penalty by cheating (sorry, by “being clever”), or engage in rotational fouling of the opposition’s danger man.

At club level, an example would be our attempt to sign Luis Suarez by offering a pound over what we thought was his release fee. It just made us look childish and it infuriated Liverpool, who then did everything in their power to make sure we couldn’t get him. If we’d offered a million more we would probably have got Suarez who was then at the peak of his powers.

Peculiar transfer activity in recent years until high level changes were made did nothing to polish our reputation for being a well run club.

Perhaps you disapprove of my approval for greater cynicism. That’s fine – you can tell me why in the comments. But I’ll take Saka’s withdrawal from Team England this week as a sign of growing intent and maturity at Arsenal.



18 Responses to Arsenal Finally Wake Up and Start Acting Like a Big Club

  1. Uwot? says:

    All above v.true.About time our club had that attitude.Wenger used to send them to their international Fa like lambs to the slaughter even half fit.Used to infuriate me.Old red nose at Manure used to pull giggs out of Wales matches every chance he got.It’s estimated giggs would have a minimum of an extra 50 caps but for this.Fergie didn’t give a shit.

  2. Brad says:

    Arteta played Saka against West Ham when he clearly wasn’t over hamstring injury.
    Did the same with Partey injury.
    Very poor.

  3. RA says:

    A nice Sunday read, Rocky, and reminded me of how much the Manure boss used to irritate me, at the time, not because of the loss to England of good players for internationals, for spurious injury problems, but ……. well, because he was never held to account, on that, or pretty much anything else he chose to do, or not do because the FA or the Premier League ‘authorities’ did not have the backbone to stand up to him.

    Of course if Arteteteteta was to do something similar (I actually do not think so, as our coach seems very honest) — but if for the sake of argument he had shifted to the shifty side — I would think that would be OK.

    What? We have to move with the times! 😜

    [I have re-read the following for typos – and almost dropped off to sleep – so don’t read it unless you have nothing else to do – unlikely tho that would be! 😳]

    All of us bloggers have to rely on a variety of ‘he said, she said where contracts are involved, we can never be sure what the truth is, so too with the Luis Suarez transfer spat which intrigued me at the time.

    It seemed to be agreed that Luiz had a ‘buy out clause’ in his contract that allowed him to leave for £40m. And after all the huffing and puffing between Pool and Arsenal, he subsequently cost Barca a lot more than that, when he was transferred to them.

    Previously, after Arsenal made their bid, the then Pool owner came out in a rage accusing the Arsenal board of all sorts of nonsense, especially because of the supposed offer of £1 more than the buy out clause, (who believed that) and because the only people who definitely knew what the contract terms were – the Pool bosses/coaches, and Suarez himself and his agent – Arsenal just had to suck up the abuse.

    It seemed that if Luiz had stuck to his wish to leave, he would have had to enforce the £40m deal to go to Arsenal, because the contract was between him and Pool — and Arsenal could not enforce anything because they were not party to the contract.

    Perhaps Suarez had been tipped off by that time that Barca wanted him, and he naturally would have preferred to go there, so he left Arsenal blowing in the wind. Pool had played it well, and their mock bluster attracted competition from Barca, so the ‘buy out clause’ was just a negotiating starting point once there were two bidders.

    Outside of football, if someone was prepared to sell their house for say £250K, and a sole purchaser offered them that sum, a deal would be struck.

    If the sole purchaser knowing, thru Estate Agents, that the owners wanted £250K, it would be weird if they then offered £500K instead.

    If there was competition from other buyers, that would, of course, make more sense.

    So I never knew why some Arsenal fans turned on the club, when it was never about the extra £1, it was about Pool letting other clubs know that they would let Suarez go, but that the Arsenal bid was unacceptable.

  4. LBG says:

    Rarely disagree with you Rocky but got to and more, disapprove, of your suggestions, in one paragraph.
    More than happy to withdraw players who have slightly niggly injuries from International duty. (Too many Internationals anyway). He who pays the piper, plays the tune. Dont want any association directly or otherwise with the red-nosed reindeer who not only played HIS game but was allowed to do so by a SCARED “authorities”/media and papers/ referees.)
    But, as an ex- PE teacher who felt one of my main obligations to the youth of this Country was to teach fair play, sportsmanship, that HOW you win and react afterwards is as important as HOW you lose.
    It is for that reason, “cheating” of all kinds from opposition, angers me immensely with both players and Clubs who do it, referees who let it happen, and so called ex- entitled to comment-players who continually describe it as “professional”.
    Go out onto any village green or playing field today and watch youth team players, niggle, scream at referees, foul off the ball, dive and you will see what a responsibility professional players have to our sporting Society.
    Hope Saka’s quad injury, brought about perhaps by so much game time, clears and makes him a starter for Liverpool.

    Happy Sunday AAers and come on cricketers.

  5. RockyLives says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    I suspect you’re right about bringing back Saka and Partey too soon. But if Arteta knew he was taking a risk (which he must have done) what does it say about the strength of our squad (or lack of it) that he would rather rush back a crocked good ‘un than use the other options? A bit depressing really.

    I’d forgotten about Giggs. Wales actually had some decent players for a while but their main star was habitually rendered unavailable by old Purple Conk.

    I’m sure you’re spot on about Arsenal’s difficulty vis a vis the Suarez contract (ie that the contract was between the player and Liverpool and nothing to do with us). But I believe we messed up in two ways:

    1) We must have thought we had an agreement of some kind with Suarez (or his agent) that if we offered the buy-out amount he would trigger the clause in his contract and join us. Clearly whatever deal we thought we had turned out to be not worth whatever handshake it was written on ( :oops ). That’s a failure of management at our end.

    2) Having decided to trigger the minimum buyout we could have done it in a way that would not have put the backs up of the bosses at ‘Pool. If we had offered, say, £42m or £43m, it would have seemed respectful and we would probably have got our man without further trouble. Instead an infuriated Liverpool Board obviously leaned on Suarez to renege on any promises he had made to us and the rest is history.

  6. RockyLives says:

    I agree in principle and I would welcome the introduction to footy of the sort of respect shown to referees in rugby.

    But where I differ is that if the system is corrupt (and I don’t mean financially corrupt, I mean corrupted by the ubiquitous cheating, complaining and bad sportsmanship) it just does not pay to be the one saint in a league of sinners. It’s a recipe for failure.

    I would rather improve the system, but while the powers-that-be refuse to do so and are happy to approve of ‘sharp practices’ then we have to master the dark arts ourselves, however much it grates.

  7. LBG says:

    Prefer to fail, Rocky! Sorry.

  8. RA says:


    I could not argue with you re the Suarez contract machinations, [I lack the facts} altho we are in some agreement that Arsenal were in an impossibly difficult position, because we had sod all control over events, especially the legality of trying to make Pool agree to the supposed contract terms, especially as Suarez the Biter quite understandably really wanted to go to Barca all along.

    You also have a valid point about Arsenal cocking things up, not because of the £1, but anyone could see that we were simply a cat’s paw in the Suarez’ transfer. We should not have got involved.

  9. RockyLives says:

    It’s impossible not to respect that viewpoint LBG.

  10. Aaron says:

    LBG you are 100% correct, but…..
    Footy long ago sold out it’s soul…..

    Despise international futbol, waste of time for AFC’s players health and resources.

    Mikel should always come up with a reason to not allow players to play, how they do so in the middle of covid is beyond words…

  11. RockyLives says:


  12. Frank Boyo says:

    Biggest error of winger was not signing Luiz Square.The he went on to sign a very lazy Ozil that was already being sidelined in real Madrid.I found that very decision very upstart.It probably contributed to the fall of Arsenal.We are yet recover from that single decision.

  13. Frank Boyo says:

    Wenger’s decision to make a mockery of signing Luiz Suarez and signing Ozil is very unsmart.

  14. LBG says:

    The velvety genius at the time of Mesut Ozil versus the snidey arrogance of Luis Suarez. No brainer!
    Wenger’s error was ( almost) not signing all those superior goalscorers to go with Mesut – Ronaldo, Messi blah di blah di blah!

  15. RA says:

    Good Morning, All.

    I did not watch any of the International games – as in zero, nix, nowt, so I cannot help you. I’m sorry.

    I will try and help out with a short but hopefully apposite comment that might do for a Post — but I cannot say when that might be – again sorry.

  16. LBG says:

    Morning RA
    Any views on Nabir Fekir of Real Betis. Had some very positive comments from Scouser mates when the Pool were scratching around him.
    Only one week if Interlull to go!

  17. RockyLives says:

    New Post

  18. RA says:

    Hi LBG,

    We were linked with purchasing the contract of Nabir about 3 years ago when he was at Lyon, but having got our hopes up (he looks a classy player) — it was re-classified as just a ‘transfer rumour’.

    Pool are after him now, but the above link has resurfaced and we are linked with him again.

    [It won’t happen – It might happen – so everything is normal] 🙄


    I had pretty much given up yesterday, when England were throwing wickets away against India, and then Sam Curran let loose and got 95 runs — and we only lost by 8 runs. Pity – but exciting.

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