Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Quick: more molehills!

As I mentioned yesterday the presentation of Jose Mourinho’s somewhat inaccurate, but essentially harmless comments about Arsenal’s spending, were perfect for the press. Arsene Wenger was due to host a press conference of his own ahead of the Community Shield the very next day.

Present those quotes with a snappy headline about ‘having a pop’ or ‘taking aim’ and you then provide yourself with the perfect angle to seek a rebuttal from the Arsenal manager. Then you can take whatever he said, regardless of how he said it, and use it to stoke the fires even further. You get something like this:


All very aggressive language, isn’t it? Hits back, blasts – like from a shotgun! – and so on. And I’m well aware journalists don’t write headlines, but it shows how the pressure of having to create a story from almost nothing often dictates what ends up in the papers.

The idea of Wenger and Mourinho going head to head is hardly outrageous. The two clearly don’t like or really respect each other, to the extent that it got physical last season when Wenger took exception to Gary Cahill’s nasty foul on Alexis Sanchez. Pushing and shoving in the Chelsea technical area, that’s the good stuff because, you know, something actually happened.

This time around it all smacks of desperation, like Sky trying to tell us Aston Villa v Stoke is a ‘Super Sunday’ or something. Mourinho reckons the money we’ve spent means we should challenge for the title, while Arsene Wenger loves to bring through some young players but after years of restricted finances is now spending the money the club earns through new commercial and sponsorship deals on better players.

That’s the situation, why on earth is there any need to try and make out like it’s some confrontation for the ages? If we get through the next season without these two managers having a real pop at each other I’ll be hugely surprised. A result, an incident, some genuinely caustic words, it’s more likely to happen than not, but this is pure artifice and it’s boring.

Ahead of the game there were some updates including news that Mathieu Flamini could be in contention. Does this mean he’s fit or that Galatasaray have changed their minds? Or, perhaps, that Mesut Ozil has demanded the retention of his best mate, even if his role is now that of house boy, in order to keep himself happy?

Danny Welbeck, meanwhile, remains sidelined with the knee problem that kept him out of the end of last season. At this point you have to wonder quite how serious that is. If he’s not even training despite the best part of two months off then it’s probably something more than the routine ache or twang. There seems to be a reluctance to provide much detail though. Other than that it seems we have a full complement to choose from on Sunday – and we’ll have more on that game as the week and weekend progresses.

The boss also spoke about Calum Chambers, linked with a loan move back to Southampton, but that idea was thoroughly dismissed:

I will not consider it. I want to develop Chambers as a centre back and at the moment we have just the right number. He will get games here.

I think it might be an interesting season for the young man. He caught the eye in the early part of last season (including some Jefftacular pre-season performances), but lost his way a little as time went on. That’s not an unusual occurrence, but he was pretty much taken out of the firing line. Now, he goes into the new campaign as probably the 4th choice central defender, meaning he’ll have less pressure on him and the ability to learn from the more established players ahead him.

Despite the manager talking about him being a defensive midfielder at some point, centre-half seems the natural fit for him right now, and he adds the depth in that position that was missing this time last season. Should we be hit by injury, or loss of form, we now have the options that we didn’t previously, and than in itself makes us stronger and breeds a competitive environment. He looks like he’s bulked up a bit too. No longer the skinny kid from Southampton, and that’ll help as he comes to terms with his second season in the Premier League.

With regards to transfers there’s nothing new, other than the Internet going into meltdown because Karim Benzema posted a picture of himself on a plane on Instagram. That led people to suggest it was a private jet heading for London and OMG OMG OMG. See what you’ve started, Wojciech?!

It’s a fantastic example of how misinformation can spread and people believe what they so desperately want to believe. At this point I suspect you could announce that you’re going to post a picture that in no way suggests any transfer is going to take place, then post the picture with a caption that says a transfer is taking place, and the fact you already said it was bollocks would be completely ignored.

Anyway, it is what is. Finally for today, and apropos of nothing whatsoever, a big thanks to Mike P who who sent me this picture of Marco Reus with his agent Volker Struth and Dortmund CFO Hans Spritzer at Heathrow airport last night. I think we all know what that means:

Marco Reus spotted at Heathrow airport with his agent
Marco Reus spotted at Heathrow airport with his agent

Till tomorrow.

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