Can’t knock it, can you? The man raised the levels of the Premier League, he uplifted the fitness, he honed in on technique, he singlehandedly raided the French market for the best talents, and he shifted Arsenal from a boring club to the most exciting in the world.
Manchester City are applying the dark arts, even on international duty. Last week, Rodri tried to break the ankles of Odegaard in an unprovoked assault in the Spain game, today, Kieran Tierney had to go off after more of the same.
That’s what scared teams do.
Hopefully it’s nothing too serious for Kieran Tierney and he can shake it off for next week.
… but dearest Rodri, what becomes of you? You dare to challenge our faith in the principles of sport? You try to shatter the bones of our footballing disciples? The people will not stand for it… and the gods? Nay. They shall have their say. We the people shall pray that your sins are met with the strictest punishment and we will trust thy holiest of processes.
So the plot thickens with Manchester City. Haaland is out, now we find out that Phil Foden had minor surgery for an appendicitis operation. You can be moving pretty fast after an operation like that, but not sure you can be playing elite-level sport right away. Those are two pretty big players to be missing as you head into a disgusting crunch of games.
… like I said this week, there will be casualties from this run for City. Points and players. No doubt in my mind.
Happy Saturday my friends, the football is mostly international this week, so I mostly switch off, but there are a few interesting stories doing the rounds.
The big one: Folarin Balogun.
The guy is about as American as an English fry-up, but that hasn’t stopped him going on a whistle-stop tour around the states, making appearances at basketball and baseball games. The word on the street is he is going to pledge allegiance to the red, white, and blue of USMNT and become the tip of the spear for the biggest world cup of all time in 2026.
Did I call this way before this chatter started? Yes. Why? It makes so much sense.
It guarantees him a place in a World Cup squad. Could he maybe be an option for England? Possibly. Kane has to retire at some point, but would you trust Southgate to pick the best player? I wouldn’t, not after seeing what happened to Ben White.
USMNT team is pretty damn good, but it lacked a finisher at the last World Cup. There will be a group of very good young players coming into first teams over the next 2 years with high ceilings, but there’s no decent strikers. Balogun has very little threat to being number one.
Commerically it’s hard to imagine there’s a bigger job on the planet in 2026 than being the face of US men’s football at American/Canadian/Mexican World Cup. He’ll get a huge deal, he’ll be on all the posters, and he’ll make a fucking fortune.
Post Career, it’s quite hard to get jobs. But if you drop 2 7 out of 10 games in a World Cup, you’re made for life here. His profile will be monstrous if he does well in front of the home supporters.
Can you imagine the fun he’s going to have? The celebrity he’ll attain? The stories he’ll have to tell? America is on the rise when it comes to football and he could be a real tipping point for them with regards to quality. He could be one of the best strikers in Europe, a genuine star, and he’ll fast-track all the accouterments of success by making this move.
I’m excited for him. He’s de-risking a World Cup place. That is a sound move if ever I saw one.
Also, I’ll get to meet him when he comes to the MIGHTY St. Louis at some point and maybe we could be best friends?
Talking of American SOCCER BALL, there were some SPICY hot rumours that Apple is thinking about buying out the rights for Premier League. Now, this would be complicated because the deal is very big, and the fight for it represents an existential threat to Rupert Murdoch… but we’ve written about the smarts of the deal for a long time here.
In Silicon Valley, attention is the currency, and what better currency that Premier League eyeballs? The most popular league in the world with no sign the love is letting up.
You know what else makes sense? The product isn’t optimal. The fan experience is bottom of the pile when it comes to priorities for the clubs. It’s money, money, money. Apple have tried to change that in MLS, so here are things that you need to know about what they could bring to Premier League.
They took 68 different kick-off times under ESPN and condense all the games into basically two days. Saturday night is the main night for football, kick offs are between 530-730. Wednesday is the second night, same thing with the times. What this has done for American fans is make it clear that Saturday night is MLS night. It makes planning your life around football so much easier.
You get all the games. There are no black outs (that is basically the name for English fans not getting 3pm kick offs). It’s all in one place. MLS season pass is light Apple TV for games. Every game is on the app, they upload the final cut after the game, and they highlights ready to go very fast. Right now, for Premier League I need some form of cable for NBC, then I need the Peacock app, and sometimes you need a local channel. It’s complicated, it’s a mess, it’s not about the fans.
Club rooms are the go to points for information. What is that? It’s a club controlled space on Apple TV that gets updated every week with the goings on at the clubs. You can put First Team reports on there, give updates on Academy teams, you can do pretty much what you like as long as it’s not sponsored. This gives clubs an immense amount of control when it comes to narrative… and all the eyeballs are tuned into the work.
Apple integrates the MLS Season pass into the phone in a way only Apple can. The notch at the top of the phone acts as a live scoreboard. Your lock screen runs play-by-play via text if you’re in a meeting. You can customise your notifications to give you whatever information you need in realtime. It’s a beautiful clean experience.
Continuous improvement is at the core of the product. The product isn’t static like it is in Premier League. Apple treats it like one of their phones models. They are constantly prodding/tweaking at how it looks, works, and delivers joy to the fans. None of this ‘it is what it is’ type stuff fans deal with at the moment. MLS has a proper partner and I tell you this… the fans love it. It’s prestige stuff.
I’m game for it; you should be too.
Ok, Haaland. There’s a lot of conspiracy theories that we’re being MUGGED off by the dark arts. He’s out with a groin injury, he’s going to a local hospital that has City investment, this injury is a JOKE.
But… I don’t think so.
If City wanted to preserve Haaland, they’d have faked an injury BEFORE he left. Flying him to Spain for a camp ain’t the way to preserve legs. You also don’t tend to have international coaches in cahoots with clubs like this. He was exited from camp by the Norway doctors. They probably ran an abductor squeeze test before losing him. Can he shake off a groin issue in 2 weeks? Doubtful. Especially if he can’t train.
Bigger picture here? There will be casualties for City. They have 6 extra games at a minimum. That will take its toll. They haven’t been that invincible when they’ve had to play 3 games in a week. We’re all concerned that our squad can’t handle the remaining games, but don’t take your eye off them.
The biggest outstanding issue we have to deal with is Bill Saliba. This back injury hasn’t had a public resolution, which one would assume means it’s not as simple as a back spasm. It’s time to embrace the idea that Arteta is going to have to get his pencil out and start thinking about how we can cope without a player who feels indispensable.
My gut? Rob Holding is the guy.
Arteta would prefer to play a centre-back as a centre-back than fuck around with things that are already working. Zinchenko at right back? Why would we do that to ourselves? Partey moving into defence? Why?
We also forget that he had a lot of good games last season. Spurs is seared in the memory because it felt like a ground zero moment that he starred in. But I think if we’re honest here, he was probably asked to play like hard pressing monster by Arteta, because his style in the opening 30 wasn’t him at all. I am VERY doubtful he’ll be asked to play that way again.
What we all forget is Rob Holding coming in from the cold and dropping winning 90s against Chelsea, West Ham, and Leeds. He is more than capable of doing a job, I just hope it’s a short one.
Out of the remaining 10 games, the only two games you fear for him is Liverpool and Manchester City. But again, let’s be fair here; it’s not like our two main centre-backs have been any better against those two teams.
This is part of the process. You have to lean into your squad. Backups have to be a part of the story. Let’s see what he can do… but also, please pray for Bill Saliba.
Before I go, Arsenal announced that they will be coming to America this summer, to play the MLS All-Star game.
This will be great for the Arsenal brand. It’s great for MLS. Maybe, just maybe, there will be a player from our team there, but even if there’s not… did you notice the St. Louis CITY sc stadium in the top right in the main video?
Damn, I’m blushing out here. Thank you, Arsenal.
Right, that’s me done. If you want a RAP from Johnny Cochrane, get on the Patreon right now.
Eddie Nketiah, nursing a bad ankle, had time to climb the stairs to present Kimmy K with an Arsenal shirt.
Are you mad, son?
You think we don’t know what you were up there doing?
That is a mother of 2!
What would Kanye say?
Then I see Bukayo on the Facetime having a crack at cementing himself in the next TV series?
Get some focus.
Honestly, not good enough.
Tomi is out for the season. The poor guy has had surgery. It caps an awful year personally for him. Here’s to wishing him a speedy recovery!
It feels like we’ve been waiting on Saliba news for about 987 days. No news is usually not good news. If it was a back spasm, we’d have been told the back was ok by now.
Am I catastrophizing?
Do I fear for his career?
IS THIS THE WORST THING TO HAPPEN TO ARSENAL IN 100 YEARS?
Who knows. But if Arsenal don’t fill the silence, the silence will be filled by others. So here we are. Filling silence with panic speculation.
There’s a funny story doing the rounds that Arsenal have sent someone from their Performance team to watch over Thomas Partey when he’s away with Ghana. Is that to protect his beautiful bones? Or is it to make sure he’s not out with the boys Parteying after hours? Who knows… I’m just filling the void.
Mesut Ozil has exited football for good. The playmaker has retired after a pretty rank 5 years in football. I don’t really feel anything. The player gave me joy in a grim era. He was supposed to be a catalyst for a better Arsenal, he kind of was, but his flaws were also Wenger flaws.
Beauty without guile.
Raw talent without tactical refinement.
The impression of greatness without ever delivering it.
Comfort in a big salary.
Mesut Ozil’s short career at Arsenal reflected Wenger’s in a way. A giant of sport aged out by the progress of the game. He arrived a devastating playmaker and left a shadow of who he once was. The shame of it is he was part responsible for downing Wenger, he was very much in the mixer for taking down Unai Emery who he hated, and he totally failed to take down Arteta with his ‘trust the process’ tweets and pathetic commentary on where we were. He is one of the most disruptive players to ever wear an Arsenal shirt, namely, because he didn’t care.
Well, who had the last laugh? Don Mikel.
Arsenal is heading to DC for the MLS All Star game this July.
Did I make it happen?
It was me.
Ok, it wasn’t.
But it’s serendipitous that St. Louis City sc went live this season, we’re top of the league after breaking a record for the strongest start for an expansion team EVER, playing some great football… and someone from our team might play against Arsenal in an All Star game. Right? Very right.
I’ll be heading down there with Matt Kandela for SURE.
More USA propaganda?
Folarin Balogun is in Orlando, near the USMNT training camp for an undisclosed reason!
Is it because I’ve been campaigning for him to sign for TEAM USA? Absolutely not. But come on, why wouldn’t he pledge allegiance to the star-spangled banner?
He’d be the best striker in America
He’d definitely go to a World Cup. Not guaranteed with England or Nigeria
America would LOVE him
He’d make loads of money as the face of 2026
The most commercially righteous decision a young man with 17 Ligue 1 goals could make.
ENGLAND VS ITALY TODAY. Pray that Saka stays fit. Also, can we have a word about all these clubs faking injuries of their players this week to avoid England duty?
Arsenal smashed up Crystal Palace to avenge the job death of dearest Patrick Vieira. The legendary Arsenal man’s name echoed around The Ems as Arsenal fans reminded Steve Parish of the horrors he had committed on the Palace manager.
The players took note, they dished out a handy pummelling of Crystal Palace in an exceptionally professional afternoon that we exited with no drama.