Sunday, December 10, 2023

Theo Walcott’s whale adventures, team names and Sunderland goalkeeper linked

I had a very dreamy morning. Firstly, I dreamt I was hired by Arsenal to be a teacher for the first team squad. I don’t know exactly what subject but it had something to do with music technology because I was setting up recording equipment.

I was told to pay particular attention to Theo Walcott who was, apparently, a ‘slow learner’. My solution to this was to take him out to sea on a pedal boat and throw wads of cash into the ocean.  Theo leaped off the boat to pick up the soaking wet money and was promptly eaten by a gigantic whale who loomed upwards from the depths. Arsenal then tried to sue me for what happened.

I think there’s a lot to unpack from that one actually. After waking up from that one, I went back to sleep and dreamt I had actually got up and written today’s blog, so to wake up and found I hadn’t was profoundly disappointing, let me tell you.

We don’t have any football this weekend of course, due to our Monday night encounter with Crystal Palace. I know Crystal Palace is an actual place, in that it was named after a building, but this is the only Premier League game between two teams that aren’t named after locations? Maybe Everton too?

Arsenal, of course, were named because we had lots of guns and that at the Royal Arsenal, but football team names are boringly location based most of the time. Barcelona, Liverpool, Real Oviedo, Hull City, they don’t leave you in much doubt as to where they’re from.

I think if I was in charge at the time of inventing the league, I’d have insisted team names should be separate from place, so they’d become almost like band names. That way we could have Arsenal v Atomic Fishsmashers and the Merseyside derby would be Everton v Def Shepherd or something.

I suppose Celtic and Rangers don’t really fall into this, and in Ireland we have classics like Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians, Finn Harps, and Bray Wanderers – named because their founder would tour the country with his merry band of donkey impressionists – but for the most part we have place-name team names.

I don’t know where I’m going with this really. If I had to guess it’s an attempt not to have to write anything about the future of the manager who, once more, gave nothing away at his press conference yesterday. I think my Arseblog News colleague Andrew Allen summed it up best in the opening stages of this article, so I’m not sure there’s any need for me to go over it again.

So, let’s ignore the pressing issue that the club is facing right now, and talk about a less pressing one – who is going to be in goal next season? I don’t have a crystal palace ball or anything, but it does seem as if this is an area that could use some improvement.

Petr Cech is not getting any younger or less prone to injury; David Ospina will want to leave for first team football this summer, tired of the goalkeeping time-share with Cech – something I think says a lot about our current situation by the way; and after that do we welcome back Wojciech Szczesny and extend his contract after two seasons at Roma, or go all in on Emi Martinez?

I simply don’t know, but I’m not surprised to see links to Sunderland’s Jordan Pickford either. He’s one of the up-and-coming talents and earlier this year there were stories about how we were going to buy him in January and let him stay on loan at Sunderland for the rest of the season. He picked up an injury and that didn’t happen, but there have been renewed links with him, and stories that we’ve been scouting him pretty much all the time.

It would be fair to say that he’s been a busy lad, what with Sunderland losing pretty much all the time, and on the cusp of relegation. You’d definitely get a decent overview of his qualities when he’s being bombarded for 90 minutes every week, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to me if this was a deal we went for this summer.

In fact, suspicious as I am of this supposed rift between Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis – like the board have finally found some balls having displayed none at all for months or years – I wouldn’t be surprised if part of the ‘catalyst for change’ is making a couple of early signings. Both because we need to improve certain areas, but also because there’s nothing quite like a signing to take the heat off.

Earlier this week BILD ran a story about how we had our eye on Schalke midfielder Leon Goretzka, and that tallies with some stories from a few weeks ago linking us with him. He’s definitely a player on our list for this summer, so could it be a case that we try, like we did with Podolski for example, and like other clubs seem to manage all the time, to secure his services well ahead of the transfer window opening?

I’m not claiming any inside info here, just speculating as to things that might happen to take the sting out of other things that might happen. Equally, we could let this whole thing run and run to the point where our summer is completely banjaxed and we end up signing Salomon Kalou and Sebastian Frey at last.

Right, not a lot else happening worth talking about. Still time to check out this week’s Arsecast, in which we discuss the win over West Ham and speculate whether or not we’re all dead. No spoilers, but the results of that are inconclusive at best. Listen below, more from me tomorrow.


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