Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Hands up if you watched Arsenal beat Bayern

It’s 6:45 am, I’m sitting in a cafe in Clerkenwell. They won’t serve me coffee for another 15 minutes as they’re technically not open. On the plus side, they don’t seem to have a problem with me using their wifi, so I’ll crack on. This being London, there are four other bearded, bespectacled men crouched over Macbooks doing much the same thing. I definitely need to get a new look. 

Things are looking up on the Arsenal side of things. About an hour ago, Eddie Nketiah scored an 88th-minute winner as Arsenal beat Bayern Munich 2-1 in Los Angeles and on the transfer front, we seem to be making progress. I’ll get to our summer business in a bit. For the moment, let’s look at what happened Stateside. And in my case, it’s a first look. 

Update. I have coffee. 

I didn’t watch the match. I had a thing I had to be at last night. There was drinking. It ended late. This morning I have a work meeting. And I knew I had to write this. Something had to give, so I plumped for a few hours of sleep instead of a pre-season friendly. I didn’t think I’d feel guilty about this, but I do. If it was an important Premier League game, I’d have made the effort but doing it on an ongoing basis…that’s got to be difficult. I have a newfound appreciation for the commitment it takes to follow the Gunners when the matches are in the early hours of the morning. 

My brother lives in Melbourne and he’s always getting up at 4am. Quite often he’ll message as I’m leaving the Emirates. While I’ll have the prospect of a post-match drink or sleep to get me over a bad game, he’ll be grumpy as fuck and on his way to work. I’m trying to imagine what my mood would be like if I’d just watched Mustafi needlessly give away a penalty and then had to face a client. I doubt the meeting would go well. 

There must be surgeons and alike, people with important jobs, who live in timezones far away who support Arsenal through thick and thin and then have to cut people open. Scary thought. If you’re one of those people. Get in touch. I’d love to chat about how you do it. 

The match. The match. I should talk about the match. Here’s Blogs’ report. He was there. I think he’s enjoying himself in Los Angeles. Have you noticed the regularity with which he’s posting heart-attack-inducing food on his Instagram stories? Lucky git. 

He even got to see Unai Emery’s new teeth in the flesh. Can you see teeth in the flesh? That doesn’t sound like it makes sense, but we’ll go with it. In yesterday’s press conference he quizzed the Spaniard on how he plans to blood the youngsters this season. I wonder if he got a ‘Good ebening’ in person. I’d love a ‘Good ebening’ from Unai. 

I’m warming to the Spaniard. There’s something exaggeratedly dad-like about him, isn’t there? He’s superbly uncool. There he is on the training ground with his clipboard, whistle hanging from his neck, training shirt neatly tucked into his shorts, wraparound shades and dodgy cap. Hector would make this combo look very Shoreditch, but Unai, not so much

I have more coffee. 

While I was waiting for it, I watched the goals on my phone. Amazing how you can do that so easily these days. I’ve just had a flashback to portable TVs that were brick-like and never seemed to get reception. I know adidas have gone big on the retro-90s vibe for the new kit launches, but when you think about it, the technology back then was absolute garbage. My hand luggage for a trip to Australia in 1998 was a bag full of Green Day cassettes and a Walkman the size of a ham. That’s literally all I had room for. 

True story, two-days before getting on the plane to Oz I bleached my hair like Mesut has just done. Well not like Mesut, I didn’t lose a bet, I just wanted to look like the Romania team at World Cup ‘98. I was 15, I thought it would be cool. Anyway, my parents were already in Australia and I was flying on my own to meet them. When I arrived at Brisbane airport, 24 hours of Dookie in my ears, my mum didn’t recognise me coming through customs. When she did, she went bat shit crazy. I’ve rarely seen her so angry. I landed at 8 am and within two hours I was in a hair salon having my hair dyed back to brown. She recently admitted that her reaction may have been over the top. I wonder what Mesut’s mum makes of his hair. I quite like it. 

Right, back to the match. We took the lead courtesy of a Bayern own goal. Auba, Mesut, Micki and Laca were all involved and then Louis Poznanski, who I’ve never heard of, sliced the ball past his own keeper. All a bit scrappy. The bit that really caught my eye was the weird flare-firework that goes off after the goal. Nifty. I bet if David Dein was still at the club, he’d be making a call to get them installed at the Emirates.

Bayern came back into things with 19 minutes remaining; the Polish Drogba equalising with a header. Nothing is certain in this world but death, taxes and Lewandowski being left unmarked by Arsenal at the back post. 

Judging by the reaction on Twitter, Joe Willock, partnering Granit Xhaka in midfield, had a decent game and Arsenal Academy graduates also played a part in our winner. Unai Emery sent on Eddie Nketiah for the final nine minutes and the 20-year-old underlined his goal-poaching credentials with a close-range finish after a tidy assist by Tyreece John-Jules. Lovely stuff. If I’m not mistaken that’s the second summer in a row we’ve beaten Bayern; we’re definitely laying the groundwork for a long-standing hex on them. 

How’s that for top-level analysis? If anyone from The Athletic is reading, drop me a DM. 

As I was saying two coffees ago, there’s also been progress on the transfer front. Late yesterday, David Ornstein corroborated reports coming out of France and Spain that we’re primed to sign William Saliba and Dani Ceballos

A deal for the former is happening despite interest from Sp*rs. It even sounds as though the €30 million fee we had previously agreed is going to stand. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it Daniel Levy! While we could do with defensive recruits right now, we’ve agreed to the 18-year-old staying at Saint-Etienne next season to gain further experience. He looks like an interesting prospect, which I guess, he should be when you’re dropping massive cash like this. 

In Madrid, they reckon Unai Emery has successfully persuaded Dani Ceballos that Arsenal will be a decent place to spend a year. I watched him for about 45 minutes as he strut his stuff for Spain’s under-21 side at the European Championships. At the time, I had this to say. Now I’m not suggesting that the people at Arsenal have taken instruction from me, but I do feel like Florentino Perez should be cutting me in on the deal. 

If there are any updates on either of those deals today, we’ll cover it all on Arseblog News.

Right, that’s your lot, I’ll see you tomorrow. 

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