HIGH CHANCE EDDIE WILL BANG… HERE’S WHY

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Gabi J has been surgery-ied for his knee. The prognosis is 8-12 weeks. The injury isn’t going to break his speed or ability to come back at a high level. Big Mo had a similar injury and he was back in 8 weeks. Best case, he’ll be back for the Manchester City game (7 missed EPL games). No reason to think that target is too aggressive: he’s fit, he’s young, and the footballing gods are Arsenal fans.

So what solutions do we have?

There’s talk about bringing Folarin Balogun back from loan, do-able, but… is it the best thing for his career if he’ll be going back to #3 after 7 games? I’m not so sure.

There’s talk of a new striker, but again, that is only amongst panic-stricken fans who seem to forget that injuries are part of the experience at a football club. Buying can’t be the answer every time. We can’t keep living in the world of ‘WE’LL NEVER HAVE A BETTER CHANCE.’ I’ve heard that in the past 3 seasons. Each season, that sort of commentary looks more and more ridiculous.

Here are the facts: The last 4 Premier League winning teams have had an average age of 28 or older.

Arsenal’s average age is slightly lower than 24.

That means there are 4 more years worth of experience to get into the system before we should start worrying about winning the league title.

It might feel painful to be honest with yourself, but Arsenal are not supposed to be winning the title this season, and it has always been highly unlikely. The target is getting into the top 4.

The team is on a sharp learning curve right now, every major disappointment builds the muscles, one of the muscles we need to build is leaning into new ideas when a current one has a problem.

Gabriel Jesus has dropped out of the team. Eddie has to step up. There couldn’t be a better moment in the season for this to happen because Arteta has Eddie at a training camp for the next 20 days. Now everything can be focused around how the starting 11 gets the best out of our main striker now.

So what does Eddie have?

He’s the most natural finisher at the club without question, he hits the target more often than not, and he’s a great poacher.

He’s faster than Gabi J over 100m, so beating defenders by hanging off the last man is more of an options

What does Eddie lack?

He doesn’t occupy defenders in the same way Gabi J does, he’s not a constant problem for a whole game, you don’t always feel him.

He doesn’t press with the same tenacity for the whole game. He does it, no doubt. But it doesn’t always feel as snappy.

Those are coachable elements and I don’t think it’s wild to say that we’ve seen a bit of that from him already this season. I thought the biggest advancement in Eddie’s game last season was his ability to drop deep and do Lacazette things (with the ability to join the attack)… that was new… he was clearly paying attention to the Frenchman. Why wouldn’t he be watching Gabi J looking to replicate some of the great things he does?

This is also a good time to gauge the intelligence of the team and the tactical nous of MIkel Arteta. Because there’s time to coach and 3 games for Eddie to warm-up in, we can go into the new season without the need for 3 games of ‘he’s just getting started.’ The team won’t need to relearn how to play with Eddie because they’ll know.

Everything will be focused around his strengths… and guess what… I think he’ll surprise you.

Eddie is a player that needs rhythm, he has to feel out his surroundings, and he has to get proper minutes to really thrive. He did it in a short space last season; now it’s time to do it again, and prove the doubters wrong.

I’m genuinely excited to see what the entire club can do to make sure we don’t have a massive fall without our £45m powerhouse forward.

There’s some work to be done in January, my gut says it’s going to be a winger, and if our transfer strategy is anything to go buy my guess is it’ll be Mudryk we chase down. He’s the exceptional talent on the market, he has pace for days, and he’s talking WAY too much for this not to happen. Also note that he’s putting up his transfer market value on Instagram. My guess is Shaktar are asking too much and he wants them to lower their price target. This sort of behavior really works in our favor.

Then the question becomes: Do we go hard for a #6 this window? Danilo presents a future option that could be nice, but we’ve just seen Declan Rice throw his summer transfer request in during an England press conference. He could be our blowout summer and I really wouldn’t be upset about that. He’s 23 years old, has mountains of Premier League experience, and he’d be perfect to replace Thomas Partey eventually. Both options have their advantages, but one has more certainty for what it’ll do for our squad levels, but that would have to wait until June.

I think it’s a given at this point that we’ll be looking at Tielemans and I can’t imagine that Evan Ndicka over at Frankfurt isn’t on the radar as look to bolster the centre-back position.

These ideas mean NOTHING if we don’t secure Champions League football this season… but my word, if we do the business in H2 of the season, we’ll have a squad ready to challenge for the league… and… say it quietly… we’ll be competing to win the Champions League.

You remember last season when people were calling this sort of blog post carry-on ‘toxic positivity’… WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

Ok, short one today. Get on the Eddie hype-train, because he’s going to be excellent.


EDDIE SLANDER MUST STOP

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Soooo… the ‘Gabriel has blown his knee, but he’s just gonna chill with the Brazil team until the end of the World Cup’ story died a fast death. Brazilian journalists say he’s out for 3 months and he’s on a private jet back to London.

Now, I don’t have a track here, but I do know you really need a proper scan with London experts before you can start dishing out how long someone is going to be out. Hamstrings come with grades, knee injuries will have a multitude of ways in on how good/bad they are, all of these issues are super complicated…  and you rarely have the right people on international duty capable of giving a clear answer.

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EDDIE AT THE READY

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Bad news coming out of Brazil, arguably our player of the season – GABI JESUS – is out of the World Cup. The story as it stands is he’ll stay with the team until the end, then join up with Arsenal after… I can’t quite compute this. If a knee injury is bad enough to wipe you out for 15 days guaranteed… why are you not back in London checking in?

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WORLD CUP ROUND UP

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Benjamin White has exited the England squad for personal reasons. I don’t really have much to add to this bar the hope that whatever he’s flying back for is less serious by the time he lands. Life does not respect the time of year, regardless of how festive it is, so everyone from Le Grove make sure you send some of that telepathic love his way right now.

England dropped our boy Bukayo and made a whole bunch of changes to kickstart their World Cup campaign after those damn pesky Americans took two points from us. The answer was Foden, who he played out of position, and Marcus Rashford, and when you look at the productivity in the game, it’s hard to argue with what happened.

So, we exit top of the group, top 5 for goals, top 5 for defence, but England fans all have the #GarethOut saved in their drafts. In fact, I think it’s fair to say most international fans are probably feeling a little unsatisfied with what’s been put on offer this World Cup so far.

My hot take? We’re spoilt at club level these days. We purrrrrr over coaches that take 18 months to get their teams playing a highly technical game of football that is choreographed like a New York Christmas ballet. Mikel Arteta, the best young coach in the world right now, has everyone so drilled it’s nearly a subconscious act to play in his system.

You think Gareth Southgate or Didier Deschamps is going to achieve that level of sophistication with a 2 week BootCamp in the middle of a season? No chance.

The good thing about this is it lowers the overall standards of the game. The lower teams get a little closer to the better teams, which gives chance for upsets like we just saw today when Tunisia beat France. If those two are club teams, it’s 7-0 to France, but at the international level, it’s anyone’s game because neither team is particularly drilled in anything, so it can become a slugfest.

Here’s the other tough thing to swallow with Gareth Southgate… he gets it done. How can we all be out here saying we know better when he’s delivered a WC semi and a European Championship final? Everyone always has the right answer, it’s ‘whoever is not on the pitch’, but let’s be real here, it’s super hard to be good at international football, we’ve had plenty of talented teams, but it’s only Gareth who has delivered anything in the last 30 years.

There are reports that Liverpool might be a point of interest for Sven Mislintat. The German, who has been exited at Stuttgart, is keen to link up with Jurgen Klopp. I like this sort of move because it’d basically be Klopp building out a power structure where he’s king. I like Sven, he’s done great things in his career, but he’s gone off the boil a touch since joining Arsenal, so we’ll see. He had this to say about his departure.

“In our talks, we didn’t find a common denominator for continuing my work at VfB. I very much regret that because VfB has become a matter close to my heart in recent years and I would have liked to have continued to contribute to the positive development of this great club,”

You have to imagine this comes down to leadership, because this exit reads a little like he wanted the next level, and he wasn’t given it. ‘Diamond eyes’ might be good at one very specific thing, but not very good at leading teams. Who knows, but getting him to Liverpool works for the agenda.

There are some reports doing the rounds that Arsenal will be part of an elite crew of teams that will have a 3rd kit next season with no sponsor… the brand is called lifestyles. Now, this sounds… weird. I can’t for the life of me understand how Adidas will be allowed to sell shirts with no sponsors on them, because that would cause absolute SCENES for sponsors and sponsorship teams around the world. This would be some wildly massive loophole that is getting exposed if true. Why would you spend all that money to be on the front of the kit if it became an optional extra moving forward?

I guess there will be more to come there.

Ok, that’s me done. Get the latest AOP in your veins RIGHT NOW.


SUNDAY ROUND-UP

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Well, the World Cup is good, I cannot deny it. The football has been fun and the results are throwing out some shocks. Morroco taking down high-ranking Belgium is yet another to add to the pile. I don’t know why I enjoyed it so much, maybe it’s the golden generation tag? Maybe it’s persisting with a bland manager? Roberto Martinez will keep cropping up in conversations at the top clubs, despite not really delivering very much. How he has been allowed to deliver so little for a properly golden generation is beyond me… but to get linked to the Barcelona job as well? Beggars belief.

Anyway, good on yah Morocco.

This World Cup has also thrown up a lot of grey into the ecosystem of the game. There’s been a lot of indignation content from people taking money from places they shouldn’t be. There has also been a lot of painful virtue signaling from people with no real investment in what they are chirping about. John Barnes is the perfect case in point, a player who was at the forefront of grim racial abuse in the 80s, telling people to respect the culture of a country that has discriminatory policies, whilst pocketing money the Premier Inn middle east branches from the World Cup.

Then you have Bryan Swanson, who came out as gay on stage, next to Infantino, insisting that FIFA loves gay people and the criticism has been really harsh because he’s seen firsthand how much everyone just loves everyone.

When is it ok to respect cultural norms and when is it ok to fight them?

Is your opinion be valid if you’re pocketing BIG cash from major brands or organisations?

When is it ok to just focus on sport?

Is there too much sport in politics?

Can the British really wag their fingers at anyone after taking money from all sorts of grim places whilst turning a blind eye to their abuses because they spent cash on fancy players and raised the level of our game?

I had a big conversation before the podcast with man like Matt Kandela. He had made me making u-turns on some of my views. His point is that a lot of this is simply anti-Arab rhetoric because people didn’t want a World Cup going outside the usual places. His point was more focused on the idea that all of these issues are complex, they all live in the grey, but humans struggle to process much beyond good/bad.

I agree.

So I guess if you don’t have anything profound to contribute, you should just watch the game and enjoy the tournament, which has been excellent so far.

Some other little bits to round off on some Arsenal subjects:

Our players are a little too young to be getting the big game time. Only Saka looks like he’ll be playing in the latter rounds of the World Cup. Ramsdale, Ben White, Martinelli, and Gabi J are all benched. Thomas Partey will likely be exiting at the group stages.

Selfishly, this works for us. There are a few senior players at our competitors that already look in bad shape, particularly Harry Kane, who looks very tired. Even Son looked a bit leggy for South Korea.

Arsenal will look to make moves in the January window. Danilo is looking like the #6, with Mudryk seemingly the choice as a winger if we decide to move. Are those two going to be enough for us this season? Doubtful. But they do both seem like the sort of long-term sharp moves we need to be making. You also have to remember that we’ll have ESR and Big Mo fit for the run-in. We also can’t ignore some of the kids ripping it up in the academy or on loan. We have options, there are futures that could be realised with Arsenal, we can’t blow up careers for short hits of dopamine that we’ll regret longterm.

Or, enjoy our latest Patreon podcast. We cover off a wide range of topics including: Liverpool backroom strife, toppling City, the new winger we’ve been linked with, and the aging out of legends this World Cup.


LUCKY BORE DRAW FOR ENGLAND

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Well, England vs USA wasn’t exactly one of the great games of the 21st century. A cagey affair both teams didn’t want to lose, but one England looked the more likely to give up the three points. If there was a hot take, it’s that the worries we’ve all had about Gareth Southgate getting it wrong this tournament might be right. Again, that 90 was no disaster, but when you consider the talent we have on offer, the winnertivity coursing through the squad, it was a pretty insipid performance.

I watched the event a street party. The Americans were pretty down on their chances, it was like Jake Paul boxing match for them, everyone kind of felt the outcome was agreed prior. I was the only Englishman in my area, I had to listen to the locals talk up their last big Victory July 4th 900 years ago, they booed the national anthem, and they were saying unsavory things about Harry Kane dribbling when he talks. All very mean imo.

The game didn’t give me a platform to go back at them. The game looked how Americans think we cook.  It was like an Instagram feed of sad Sunday roasts. It was bland on toast. The right ingredients were there for a feast, but we didn’t use them properly.

As the match wore on, the locals grew in confidence, so did the team. Junus Musah had a very good game, Pulisic was pretty decent and could have had a goal or two, and Tyler Adams did really well. Team USA has similar issues to England, a coach that they don’t believe in, not doing the things you know are possible with pretty decent players.

England’s main issue for me is not having the form players doing their thing. Harry McG shouldn’t be in the starting 11 based on any conceivable metric, I don’t get why Kieran Trippier gets the nod, even Sterling is a touch odd considering his poor Chelsea form. If you have that many gaps in the starting 11, it’s no surprise the football isn’t vintage.

Still, it’s easy to get really down on a result and catastrophize. This squad of players has made the semi-finals and a final in the last two BIG tournaments. So plenty can happen. If we can dispatch of Wales, we’re into the next round, topping the group table.

The worry then is how good will everyone else be? Brazil, Spain, France all look like serious outfits. Better than us based on last night.

Another team that didn’t do very well… Ghana. So sorry for all the Ghanaians that read the site. But as I said months ago. I swift exit for them is a BIG bonus for Arsenal fans. Get Thomas Partey back to Dubai right away and wrap that man in cotton wool.

Ok, short post today, I’m watching the excellent Saudi give Poland a run for their money.

See you in the comments!


ENGLAND VS USA – BUKAYO WATCH STARTS NOW

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It’s the BIG game today. I am on enemy territory but that is NOT going to stop me from engaging in the activity of BIG drinking in a local USA bar.

America is a bit weird with away fans, they kind of don’t fuss over them too much. I’ve sat at games next to away fans in a home section, and they sing. In the UK, you’d get a slap, here, they shrug. In fact, at a basketball game, I once asked why no one was going after the away fan in the home end.

‘Sir, this is a civilized country, we don’t do things like that here’

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