Granit Xhaka survives Twitter diagnoses + midfield thoughts and crap spiders

Yesterday morning, being out with the dogs in the early morning and in a kind of woods but only a small amount of woods and not a forest, I got bitten by something just below the knee. An insect of some kind I guess, and while yesterday it was just a bit itchy, this morning it’s all swollen and more itchy than Satan’s ringpiece, and knowing my luck I didn’t get chomped by a radioactive spider which would give me powers but a complete twat of a spider.

The kind of a spider that if they were human would do that thing when you’re in a hurry in a shop and they have a load of stuff at the checkout and only after everything’s been rung through the till do they think to take their money out and they spend ages rummaging through a bag to take out a wallet or a purse or whatever. Then try and pay in 2p and 5p coins.

We don’t have poisonous spiders here, although from time to time we get stories about how a deadly killer mega-tarantula made its way here in a shipment of exotic fruit. I suspect I would have seen a mega-tarantula though, this was probably just a little sneaky bastard, but if the itching doesn’t stop I may have to lop off my own leg. I could do without this on a Friday, to be quite honest.

There’s not a great deal happening from an Arsenal point of view, although Granit Xhaka did get injured last night in training for Switzerland. I was only paying a cursory amount of attention to my Twitter timeline but this is the way it seemed to go down:

“RIP XHAKA, You wiv da angels now”

“Xhaka’s ruined. We need to buy 8 midfielders”

“They have taken him to hospital, probably going to be paralysed from the nose down.”

“Out of the World Cup. Out of his mind on sweet delicious morphine to help ease the pain.”

“WHYYYYYYYY?!!”

“Oh, it’s just a bruised knee.”

If Twitter ever needs to rebrand it should consider calling itself ‘The Panic Box’ or something. I mean, there are loads of other names you could consider, most of them unsuitable for a family website like this, but it really can quickly spread the worst possible information regardless of its veracity.

I can understand people’s worry though. Central midfield has been a problem for us for some time, and it’s an area in which we need to make a considerable investment this summer. I don’t know exactly who we should buy, and I’m not even sure what kind of a player we ought to bring in, but if there is a marquee signing to be made this summer, I want it to be in this position.

I can live with a couple of veteran defenders because I can see the sense in those deals, both financially and footballistically – as an old friend might say. I’m on board with bringing in a young-ish goalkeeper who could develop into our number one for years to come. If we’re adding a young French midfielder who costs almost nothing and who has the potential to become a first team player quite quickly, then I’ve got no complaints about that.

But if there’s a chunk of money to be spent, an investment to be made into one player who can really signal some intent and ambition, I’d love it to be a central midfielder of some quality and, perhaps, repute. We’ve struggled to find the right balance in this part of the pitch for some time now, and I hope that Unai Emery, along with the rest of them, will have identified that and will move to address that particular issue.

Anyway, concern over Xhaka is understandable because we need to add to midfield, but we’re still a couple of months away from the start of the season and I suspect his bruise might well have gone away by then. There are other issues to finalise in the meantime – Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey’s contract situations demand different decisions, but clarity on both as quickly as possible would be welcome.

As for who might come in, this morning there are ‘exclusive’ stories doing the rounds saying we’re interested in Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso but that they won’t sell at any price. I mean, that’s nonsense. If we offered them eighty trillion dollards (typo, but this will be the new world currency at some point), and a load of gold and an lifetime supply of pretzel M&Ms (holy shitbox Batman, these things are gooood), they’d definitely sell, so people need to stop dealing in such absolutes.

We’re not gonna pay that though and the story should probably read ‘they won’t sell at any price that Arsenal would consider offering’, but people don’t wanna read about that stuff. Realism is a concept that is often depressing and mundane and there’s enough of that in the world already so let’s live a little through transfers which are never going to happen.

Anyway, I have every confidence that we’ll identify the perfect midfielder for us and that the IRS will bring him to the club in a timely and uncomplicated fashion, ensuring he gets a good pre-season under his belt and is raring and ready to go at the start of the season. Just a little comedy there for you.

Finally for this morning, if you’re an Arseblog Member on Patreon, there’s a brand new episode of My Arse in which I chat to rock god and drummer with Spandau Ballet, John Keeble. We go through his Arsenal scrapbook, chat about growing up a Gooner, playing music and playing football, his dream teams, favourite players, and lots more.

If you’re not a member you can sign up for just €5 per month (plus VAT if in the EU), and you get instant access to all the extra content we have there. Other My Arse interviews include Mark Strong, James Vincent McMorrow, Bernard Butler and Tim Wheeler, and if you like audio books there’s a free download of the audio version of Together: The Story of Arsenal’s Unbeaten Season – and loads more.

For some extra reading this morning, here’s Tim Stillman on Ivan Gazidis and how the chief executive has put himself front and centre in this new look Arsenal.

Right, that’s your lot. I’ll leave you with today’s brand new Arsecast, a phone-in show from last night. Happy listening.

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