Tag Archives: Jorginho

Declan Rice has "agreed terms with Arsenal ahead of summer switch"

They’ll learn to get along, right?

If you’re the credulous sort, you may not know what the word credulous means, in which case, mail your wallet to me (best to overnight it) after making sure your credit card is there and you’ve recently visited an ATM. The normally creditable site FourFourTwo is out with a report that states that Rice has agreed a five-year deal at £200,000 per week, more than triple his current £60,000 per week salary. If true—and that’s a bigger if than I know how to display with any keyboard shortcut I have availableit would make for massive news and a validation of our decision to sign Jorghino (who’s been somewhat of a revelation thus far) at a mere £12m.

With rumours swirling around an impending sacking of David Moyes, whose obdurate refusal to admit that West Ham’s swirling of the drain makes players available at somewhat less than his inflated estimations, a summer-move for Rice looks all the more likely. What’s more, the one-time Irishman has a contract that expires in June 2024, which forces the club to stare directly into the face of losing Rice on a free transfer. Whether or not they get relegated, selling Rice in the summer might just be what’s best for the club. Cashing out at, say £70m would allow the Hammers to sign two or three players (should they stay up) or a half-dozen (should they drop down).

As for the 24 year old, he’s clearly thirsty for a chance at Champions League football, something he’s only ever caught a glimpse of after West Ham made it to the Europa Leage semifinal last year. With West Ham far more likely to get relegated than to qualify for even the Europa Conference League, he must be eyeing up Arsenal’s current campaign, which, if I may be so bold, looks likely to get us a Champions League spot next year. 

Furthermore, Rice has to be looking at our current squad. Neither Party nor Xhaka nor Jorginho is a spring chicken. He’s already recognised as world-class or close to it at his position and could make a convincing argument for walking into our XI should he sign. He seems versatile enough to play as a 6 or an 8, meaning he could offer cover and competition to both Xhaka and Partey (and Jorginho). Along the way, he’d offer enviable tactical flexibility to a manager who obsesses over that. Think of it: in that centre-mid, Arteta could have the kind of selection headache that most managers, even Pep, can only dream about. Between Xhaka, Partey, Jorginho, and Rice, he could keep any opposing manager off-balance. Add Zinchenko to the mix, and you’ve got the kind of cocktail that’ll put anyone on the floor. 

At any rate, between now and late August, prepare yourself to come across any number of incredulous headlines asserting that Rice has finalised a move to the correct end of London. Just keep in mind that none of those other sources know any more about this situation than your correspondent (which is to say, only what I read from those other sources). If Rice is to end up at the Arsenal, we’ll have to wait until it’s announced at the club website. 

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Partey? Who needs Partey when we have Jorginho?

Those of you still disappointed that we didn’t sign Declan Rice or Moises Caicedo may have to check your credentials at the door, for you are about to get bounced. Jorginho is not just another literal pensioner in the mold of Čech or Luiz or Willian, looking for a decent paycheck without the pressure of performing to the highest levels. I’m not here to say that Jorginho is the answer to our dependence on Partey, but I will suggest that he’s more than adequate to meeting our needs. He’s earned two consecutive MOTMs in our post-match polls, for one. He may not be able to do all the things that Partey does, but he’s shown in his three short stints since joining that he’s more than up to the task of deputizing for the oft-injured Ghanaian.

For one, Jorginho ain’t winning any footraces. That’s one glaring area where he comes up short in comparison to Partey. Like Xhaka, he makes up for his lack of pace with an unrelenting engine. He actually covers more ground per match than Partey has done (11.1km to 10.4km). As he’s aged, it seems as if Jorginho has learned the more-subtle arts of energy conservation and positioning, similar to how Mertesacker did. What he lacks in Parteysian pace (?), he more than makes up for with savvy positioning. 

It’s not just that, though. At least three times, he played a ball through into space for Saka, such as the one you see to the right. This was just one of numerous line-breaking passes to our starboy, Jorginho also sluiced balls in behind for Tomiyasu and White to run onto. In addition, Partey has a tendency to stay central, which can limit his ability to pick out a pass to Saka or Martinelli operating from wider areas. Jorginho’s willingness to move laterally—despite his lack of pace—gives our attack dimensions we don’t have when Partey is playing as the #6.

In fact, Jorginho completed 15 progressive passes, the kind of passes that gets into the box or moves the ball at least ten yards closer to goal, excluding those that originate in our own half. That’s the highest number for any of our players all season—and Jorginho is still bedding in.

None of this is to suggest that Jorginho is a long-term successor to Partey. He is, after all, 31. However, he’s already shown himself to be a valuable short-term stopgap. Signed on a meagre £12m fee, he’s looking to be more and more the signing of the January window. By contrast, Mykhalo Mudryk, signed for a £62m fee or whatever chicanery Chelsea were able to pull off, has yet to make any real impact. Caicedo is still finding his way, and Rice soldiers on bravely but without much to show for his efforts. We could have splurged on one or both, spending £100m or more on one, but its hard to argue against the value we’ve gotten so far from what we spent to get Jorginho. With Saka getting support from an overlapping White or Tomiyasu, defenders have a harder time doubling up on Saka, and Jorginho has two targets to play through.

It’s not just the electric moments, such as when he decides to score by banging the ball off the crossbar and onto Emi Martinez’s head. Top bantz, that is, but it only scratches the surface. Before he could score that banger after all, we had to equalize. In one of those minor moments that only gets picked up by those who are not ball-watching, Jorginho gestured to Zinchenko to swap positions. The left-footed Zinchenko may have been better-suited to take advantage of half-clearances—and that is indeed what happened. The ball fell to Zinchenko just outside the 18, and he duly lashed it home. Jorginho contributed, in essence, by removing himself from the equation.
Is Jorginho good enough to lead us to the top of the Prem? Perhaps. Is he good enough to paper over our reliance on Partey until Partey is fit again? That is feeling more and more like a given. With news that Partey hasn’t been in training ahead of our trip to face Leicester on Saturday, it’s good to know that we have someone in Jorginho who can not only put in a shift but actually dictate play. He’s not a one-for-one swap for Partey, but he offers more than enough to compensate until Partey is fit. What’s more, he can also offer cover for Xhaka, allowing Arteta to rest two vital players as we continue to defend our position atop the table and prepare to progress deeper into Europa League play.
That’s a decent bit of business at £12m.

Villa 2-4 Arsenal: Results of Ratings & MOTM Poll

Jorginho claims his second-straight MOTM, at least accorindg to the 492 Gooners who weighted in. I gotta say that you’ve been a bit harsh on Nketiah. No, he didn’t score, but he again put in a decent shift, fought hard to win balls and drag the defense out of shape, came close to scoring from a tricky header, and should have had an assist for for the winning goal but for Ødegaard’s fluffing. Speaking of the Norwegian, it’s too bad that we don’t offer a first half/second half option because he was absolutely unplayable in the second half. On the other hand, we’re being a bit generous giving Zinchenko a 6.96. Aside from scoring, he put in only an average-ish shift and was culpable for Villa’s first goal. Still, these polls are not offered in the spirit of scientific, objective reasoning. They capture a mood and are therefore a bit prone to excess for good and for bad. I feel like I’m supposed to use the word “vibing” but also suspect that I’m too long in the tooth to do so. Anyway, enjoy the nifty l’il graphic…

Let's all laugh at Emi (and other reactions to the Villa win).

I don’t know if you could have scripted a better scenario than the one we witnessed on Saturday. Twice going down a goal, twice pegging our hosts back, and then…madness. Absolute madness, courtesy of none other than Emi Martinez. By the time Simon Hooper finally booked him in the 84th minute for time-wasting, he had seemingly wasted a similar amount of time, and so it was all too fitting for us to find not one but two goals in stoppage time—both of them also attributable to Martineze’s own numbskullery. The lyrics to a certain 2 Live Crew song bubble up from the memory, but we’ll leave that alone for the moment.

Let’s quickly revisit Martinez’s words upon leaving for Aston Villa. He claimed that he “always said it was a step up” to leave Arsenal to go to Villa, adding “when I decided to come to Villa it was because I trusted the manager and the club’s ambitions”. The manager at the time, Dean Smith, would last barely a year past Martinez’s arrival. As for ambition, they’re rooted quite comfortably mid-table. So it goes.
Back to the match. Caught flat-footed for Saka’s equaliser and then beaten by a soft shot from Zinchenko, Martinez suffered the humiliation of watching Jorginho’s shot strike the crossbar and then go in off of his face in the third minute of the stoppage time he helped to create. Still not satisfied with all of the attention this onanist had drawn to himself, he decided to go rogue for a late Villa corner, charging up the pitch to see if he could score. Instead, Vieira picked up the ball and played it through to Martinelli, whose lung-busting run gave him little else to do but take a touch or two before tapping home into Martinez’s empty net. Aces. 
Emery said after the match that he was “very, very disappointed. I am embarrassed about the last goal. I have never told my keeper to go forward….today he decided it was his decision. He knows now.” Well, I don’t know about that last bit. The Argentinian has never struck me as the meditative, reflective type. I wouldn’t be surprised if Emery gives him some time on the bench to ponder.
As for us, this was the almost-perfect tonic to what’s ailed us of late. Villa, to their credit, were spirited and deserved both goals that they scored—but we showed signs of the almost-familiar fightback, the growing defiance in the face of conceding, that has been a hallmakr of this season. Although doubts had to grow as the clock wound down, neither goal came as much of a surprise, and that feeling of inevitability, while still new and not entirely reliable, is back in fashion. 
Jorginho looks to have been the steal of the January window, and not just for his game-winning goal. His all-around performance and his leadership have been stellar (it was he, for example, who told Zinchenko to take up a position outside the box on the corner, putting him in position to score his first-ever Prem goal). He may not do everything as well as Partey does, but it’s getting harder to write him off as just another pensioner picking up a paycheck at Arsenal after leaving Chelsea.
Looking farther afield, Man City stumbled to a draw at the City Ground, all but cancelling out their midweek win. We’ve restored a still-tenuous two-point lead over the holders but do still have that game in hand. Those who had written off our chances at winning the Prem just a few days ago will have to go back and delete a few tweets here and there. We’re going into a series of fixtures that, on paper, are quite winnable. Of course, as Nottingham Forest have just shown, there are no guarantees. Still, there’s a decent chance that we could arrive at the Etihad on 26 April still nursing that same two-point lead or, perhaps, sometihng more closely resembling an actual gap.
Between now and then, of course, we’ll have Partey back, and Smith-Rowe (who made the bench on Saturday) is hot on his heels. Waiting not far behind them is Gabriel Jesus. It would be too much of a fairytale to have him available for that clash at the Etihad, but who knows? It might be a heart-warming fairytale. 
We’ve suffered our first real wobble of the season, and things are now considerably tighter than they were at the end of January. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the resolve, hunger, and determination on display against Villa seems to to be drawn from ample reserves. We’ll need those qualities and more, but this day showed that the well is deep. Previous squads would have folded after going behind just three days after losing. This one stared adversity in the face and swatted it aside. This side doesn’t quit. Rocky Balboa, the king of dramatic comebacks, has nothing on us.
One last thing: I’m excited to announce “March Merch”, a little competition of sorts in which the top commenters will be entered into a raffle to win some Arsenal merchandise. If you haven’t already, set up a Disqus account (which you can do with a new Disqus account or through a Twitter, Facebook, or Google account) and start commenting. I’m eager to build an online community and am not above offering enticements to attract new members. I look forward to hearig from you!

Aston Villa 2-4 Arsenal: Vote for Player Ratings & MOTM!

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I reached a point at which I wanted us to score a third not so much to beat Aston Villa or take all three points or get back to the top of the table but to humiliate Emi Martinez, and, boy, did Jorginho deliver with a cracking shot from distance in the stoppage-time Martinez created with all of his time-wasting. The fact that it hit the woodwork and then went in off of Martinez himself made it all the more delicious. What can I say? I’m a spiteful, petty man. For Martinelli to then net a fourth with Martinez having come forward to try to score from a late Villa corner added some sumptuous schadenfreude.

Click here to get to the poll. The infographic will be available tomorrow, but real-time results can be seen here.