Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Friday thoughts: Defenders, Vieira, and London Calling

Morning all, some quick Friday thoughts as I’m packing my bags for London.

There is a Mikel Arteta press conference later today as we prepare for Sunday’s game. I’m interested to know who might play at centre-half given that Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ben White and Gabriel all had issues of varying degrees of seriousness on Monday night. Two of them were taken off, and the other stayed on as our lone defender as we tried to no avail to find goals against Newcastle.

Rob Holding will be back from suspension, of course, so he can put in a reducer on Dominic Calvert Lewin and mess up our summer transfer plans, and if none of the others make it, then you’d imagine Granit Xhaka would drop back in to play at the back.

Everton’s win last night makes them safe, but I don’t know if that’s a good thing for us or not. They’ll have been on tenterhooks for weeks now, and with the pressure off they could just go out and enjoy themselves. We saw on Monday night how a team with nothing really to play for can be liberated, and the one for whom the stakes are high can find that pressure too much to deal with (among other things).

Sometimes I wonder if I overthink these things. All the various aspects of the game, tactics, psychology, fitness and so on, and on the day it’s 11 lads kicking a ball around and sometimes you’re maybe good and sometimes maybe shit. The thing is though, we have go into the final day ready for the potential that the football gods play a massive prank on Sp*rs and do us a solid at the same time. It’s very, very unlikely, everyone knows that, but not impossible.

While we’re on the subject of Everton, while I think we all understand their fans being happy they stayed up, there’s a line between jubilation and something much less savoury.

Coming in the week in which we saw a Nottingham Forest fan headbutt Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp (and rightfully get convicted and banned from football), I think you have to look at Patrick Vieira trying to walk of the pitch without incident and wonder what made him react that way. He is doing his best to ignore the goading from the Everton fans, but all of a sudden something changes. I can’t say for sure what it is, but in the heat of the moment did that fan say something he knew would provoke a reaction?

I suppose Vieira will end up facing some kind of charge for this, and we’ll hear he shouldn’t have risen to the bait – which may or may not be true depending on what was said – but ultimately Everton should be responsible for the management of their own crowd and fans. Regardless of how happy they were, that stuff is not on and if there are Everton fans out there this morning taking exception to Vieira, they should think again.

Football fans love to dish it out and most of the time it’s great, we’ve all been that soldier to some extent or another. It’s part of the atmosphere, it rouses rivalries and adds to the experience, but if they get a bit back from an unexpected source there’s too much sensitivity. Was it Leeds fans (I think) who sang song after song at David Beckham about his wife’s sexual preferences and when, at the end, he responded with a single finger gesture they were outraged? Bring forth the fainting couches for these delicate souls, and the authorities who punish the retaliation more than the provocation.

I’m team Vieira on this one, he should have hit him harder, and football needs to wake up the fact there’s a minority element out there now that thinks it can take Twitter ‘bantz’ into real life without any consequences. They need to taught otherwise.

Right, that’s just about that for morning, other than to say I’m really looking forward to this weekend. Despite the fact the last couple of results have been so frustrating, I can’t wait to go see my team again for the first time since Covid hit. Like everyone else I’m sure, the acute disappointment of the last week has been unpleasant, but without wanting to sound like a walking cliche, there’s more to football than just that … for me at least.

I realise results are the main thing, but this weekend I’ll get to meet friends I haven’t seen for a long time, drink some beers, hopefully hug a few strangers when our goals go in and when Norwich’s late winner filters around the stadium from the man with the transistor radio, and experience the buzz of a match day again.

On top of that, we have our live podcast event at Union Chapel on Saturday night which is a way of connecting with the wider Arseblog community which I’m so proud to be part of – as well as connecting with the Arsenal Vision lads and their listeners too (I know there’s a lot of crossover).

So, as we head towards the final game of a season which has flown by, let’s hope for all the good stuff to happen to us this weekend, and I hope to catch up with as many of you as possible over the coming days.

I will leave you with a brand new Arsecast, chatting to Andrew Allen and Lewis Ambrose about the last week, the results, what it means for the summer, and lots more. Enjoy!

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