While there are still three matches for us to somehow find a way past the financial juggernaut that is Man City, there is even better news on the near horizon: it looks all but certain that the talismanic Bukayo Saka and the irrepressible Aaron Ramsdale both look ready to put pen to paper to sign da ting. The devil’s in the details, of course.Continue reading
Tag Archives: Bukayo Saka
Man City full of big talk after besting Arsenal, but…
Well, it’s a sign of the times when you’re the talk of the town, and tongues have been wagging about the Arsenal since about mid-October when it started to become clear that we might just be more than a flash in a pan. Indeed, we’ve topped the table for all but three matchdays. Even though we’ve stumbled and staggered these last few weeks, we still peer down precariously if not imperiously upon those below us. However, a surer sign of our strength might come from the big talk emanating out of the Eithad. One might think a more-confident, more-secure side might bite its tongue. Not so, this City side…Continue reading
Support this club or get out of the way of those who do.
I tried to warn us. Southampton may be bottom of the league, but they’re a bogey team at the worst of times. When we went down 0-2 and again 1-3, too many of us gave in, threw in the towel, resorted to the old loser mentality of the last decade or so when fourth place and an occasional FA Cup were enough to sustain us. Thin gruel, that, and it’s understandable to a degree that such a mentality is hard to shake. Old habits die hard, but this is one that we have to put to the sword and fast. Too many of us left the stadium early. Too many of us started tweeting out absolute bollocks. Too many of us don’t get what it means to support this club.Continue reading
Which Gunner will pip Haaland as Player of the Year?
Having scored 28 Prem goals with ten matches to play, including four Prem hat tricks one another in the FA Cup, it’s hard to imagine that anyone has any chance of snatching this prize away from the 22 year old. He’s scorched opponents left and right…and yet, there’s something just a bit off about Haaland. For as devastating as he’s been, one can make a case that a significant part of his success is the excellence of his supporting cast, the sheer dominance of Man City over just about everyone else in the league.Continue reading
Pressing questions after Arsenal SWEEP the Football London Awards…
The fact that Arsenal dominated the Football London Awards is on one hand a cause for pride. It’s not for nothing after all that we saw this club win four different awards—Player Of The Year, Young Player Of The Year, Goalkeeper Of The Year, and Manager Of The Year—we are top of the league (saywearetopoftheleague). On other hand, it does raise certain philosophical questions, questions of an epistemological orientation: what does it mean for a club to win so many individual player awards while also winning the managerial award? Does not one cancel out the other? How can a manager of the year steward so many players of the year? Should we not see a superb manager of inferior player win, or, vice versa, superb players succeed despite an inferior manager?
I’ll admit to a certain ulterior motive here. I’m skeptical of the Guardiolas and Mourinhos and Contes of the world whose tactics depend on having established, world-class (or close to it) players at just about every position. It’s with that bias admitted up-front that I relish the fact that it’s not just our players receiving accolades. It’s Arteta as well. We’ll circle back to that in a few minutes, depending on your reading speed.
Certain managers depend on finished products for their tactics to work. They demand massive financial investments in order to win now. This does require certain skills that are in short supply: it’s not easy to convince the massive egos that come with such talent to commit themselves to the team ethic. Witness PSG: they’ve become a caricature of what massive investment can buy without achieving anything of significance. Yes, winning domestic silverware is all well and good when just about every other side you face consists of players with actual jobs during the working week, but when the chips are down against actual competition, well…the results speak for themselves.
PSG are an outlier of sorts. A closer analogy or two can be found closer to home if we look at Arteta, Guardiola, and Ten Hag. Guardiola, of course, insists on the finished product and will suffer no compromises in the quest for the best. The results largely speak for themselves. At an opposite pole is Ten Hag, who has been given various finished products, a few projects, and unlimited funding. His results are, shall we say, mixed at best.
That brings us to Arteta, Saka, Ramsdale, and Ødegaard. It’s rare that you see a novice manager bring out so much of the best from so many diamonds in the rough. While it’s true that great things were expected from Ødegaard from none other than Guardiola. fewer predicted the same from Saka and even fewer from the twice-relegated Ramsdale. What does it tell you when a manager wins this kind of award while also seeing three of his players win this award? In many cases, it would tell you that an experienced manager has splurged on world-class players. In this particular case, it’s a novice manager who’s splurged all of about £47m on all three (well, two not counting Hale End product Saka). Not only did Arteta bring in Ødegaard and Ramsdale, he’s created a situation that has brought out their best as well as that of Saka as well.
Can you really say the same of Guardiola, Mourinho, or Conte? Who among them has plucked a player out of obscurity and turned him into a world-beater? Even if you could, that player would be an outlier. Speaking of outliers, I’ll go out on a limb on this wager: give Arteta and any of these other managers a fixed transfer & wage budget tp build a squad from scratch—and I’d bet my house an Arteta every single time.
It’s not just those three, either. I’ll rattle off a few names, and you ask yourself how well they’ve done under Arteta: White. Saliba. Martinelli. Magalhães. Xhaka. Zinchenko. Trossard. Nketiah. Really, the only name we might exclude would be Partey. Each of these others has exceeded expectations. We’ve spent most of the season not only top of the league but top of the league with the youngest XI. That speaks volumes about the quality in the squad, but it speaks volumes more about the man at the top who’s brought these players in and instilled a winning mentality from top to bottom.
In most other years, eyebrows are raised askance when a manager and many of his players take home these kinds of honours. It’s tricky at best to believe that the best manager would also have the best players as well, after all. This year, though, it feels fitting to take home all these trophies.
Let’s hope it also feels like a foreshadowing.