SHOUT OUT FOR THE ARSENAL YEOMEN

December 29, 2022

We now have an undisputed hot first eleven – make that first sixteen, with the top players who can’t get into the starting line-up at the moment. I think it’s fair to say there’s not one player in that group who is not worth more than when he got into the squad. Some, if we had to move them on, would make the club massive spondulicks.

However, as the Gabriel Jesus situation has illustrated, when injuries happen, as they surely will, it’s who’s behind the superstars that make the difference to success chasing honours.

Arsenal supporters don’t seem over enthusiastic about some of our back-up players, but I would like to put in a good word for some of them.

One of my favourite players, since he joined us for diddly-squat from Bolton, while Man City were paying a sultan’s ransom for Stones, is Rob Holding. An integral part of the Mertesacker FA Cup win, he has always given everything to the cause. He’s not fast, he doesn’t read the game brilliantly in open play, his distribution can be iffy. But if you want backs-to-the-wall defending deep in your area and deep in the game, I certainly always feel comfortable when Arteta sends him on, and he holds up five fingers to indicate the strategy. Moreover, he seems totally happy with his role as back-up penalty box specialist. If he is required he’s always ready and reliable. From what one sees in training videos, he’s popular and influential.

On the same level, and all of the above, is Mo Elneny. He also lacks speed. He can be a bit lightweight in one-on-ones. But he rarely gives the ball away, has good control and reasonable vision, and also never seems to complain or sulk at his lack of minutes on the pitch.

I guess I should include Eddie Nketiah, simply because if everyone’s fit he’s unlikely to start. But really, I do believe he’s now first team quality. The way he took his goal against West Ham – well, actually, I think it was better than GJ himself might have done! The main reason for adding him is the patience and mentality he has shown, waiting for his chance – and the way he has seized it when required.

I also think Cedric Soares has been underrated, but only because of the huge drop-off from our magnificent Tomiyasu, White, Tierney and Zinchenko. Notwithstanding, he is utterly reliable, and another who is always ready to be patient and then do a job when called upon. It seems he might be leaving, which is a shame, but a couple of youngsters in the shape of Sousa and Walters are emerging to push him further down the pecking order.

Matt Turner showed in the World Cup, firstly why Arsenal were keen to buy him, and secondly, how exponentially he has improved since he joined us. He’s still a notch down from the charismatic Ramsdale, but not so much that I’d be fretting if he has to play. Another who bides his time patiently.

I only perceive one player in the entire squad who is letting the side down: Sambi Lokonga. If he survives the January window, I can see him being off-loaded in the summer. He has loads of skill and physical attributes, but his mentality has been lost. The result is that when he is given time in a game, he fails to fulfil his potential. It’s a shame, but he’s the epitome of attitude defeating talent. I believe there will be plenty of suitors on the continent, and he will flourish in the right environment.

I have no doubt that in the coming months we will need our yeoman back-ups, and I’m certainly content to see Elneny’s Nketia’s Turner’s and Holding’s name on the team sheet (and Cedric’s, should he still be at the club after January).

Maxwell

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CRUEL, CRUEL ARSENAL

December 27, 2022

Come on. We’re all at it now. “Of course, I know Arsenal has no chance of actually winning the League this season”, while thinking, “Ohmigod, I can’t help believing they’re going to do it!”

And it’s all Mikel Arteta’s fault – not to mention Bukayo Saka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel Martinelli, Eddie Nketia, Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Kieran Tierney, Oleg Zinchenko, Gabriel Magalaes, William Saliba, Benjamin White, Aaron Ramsdale. If I leave out ESR, Tomi, Jesus, it’s only that they’re not available at the moment.

Firstly, they’re winning. This is what every supporter desires of their team, but so few of us experience on a sustained basis.

But more. They are playing with such brio, such confidence, such pace, such touch, such control, one feels swept along on this tide of belief.

They go 0-1 down to a soft penalty. No longer do we feel doom and gloom. We are happy that they will solve the problem. And we are proved correct.

A couple of favourite moments from the West Ham encounter: foremost has to be when Saka bullied Declan Rice off the ball, then grabbed it from Odegaard’s toes to instigate the move that led to Martinelli’s goal; another involving Rice, when Martinelli forced a corner off Dawson, and the camera showed a desperate and exhausted Rice trudging back into his penalty area, looking round hopelessly at his inept teammates; everything that Ben White did – this guy is just so cool, so sublime, who one dreamed of being in the school playground, who exudes not giving a shit; everything that Martin Odegaard does, with his eye for a crucial pass and his twinkle toes and his non-stop effort; Gaby terrorising defenders; Eddie’s superb roll of Kehrer and unstoppable shot.

Wow. Torn between ecstasy and waiting for the dream to crash. Is it going to be like this till May? I’m over seventy now, and not sure my heart can keep up, but still I hope so.

Maxwell.


Jesus out until March…Nketiah’s time? Nah…we need to get a striker in the transfer window but are the options?

December 6, 2022

First thing first…I think England will win against France, unfortunately for me…but England has the better team and we have some outstanding players so…

So Jesus got injured on his only start in the WC…What bad luck! Anyways, we hope he can come back stronger and soon…

Now we need a hard working striker but who?

  • J. David or Buchanan from Canada?
  • Osimhen from Nigeria?
  • Michail Antonio?
  • Raphael Borre from Columbia?
  • Tammy Abraham from England?
  • Lucas Holer from Germany?
  • Ben Yedder or Neal Maupay from France?
  • Osihmen from Nigeria?

So the search is on but really, we are gonna miss G. Jesus