Saturday, August 13, 2022

Gunners on tour, moving targets and a spoonful of Wrighty helps the Sugar go down

Hello and good morning from London. It’s Tim with you today via, quite possibly, the worst night’s sleep I have ever had- maybe the worst night sleep anyone has ever had in recorded history. Now I don’t mind telling you that I have struggled with sleep disorders of varying severities over the years, so I am used to my forty winks being cut down to size.

However, last night was just so oppressively hot that the bedroom felt like a sauna, even with the windows flung open and the fan buzzing away at full capacity. At about 0130, my daughter could no longer take it and, much like Stamford Bridge in the 1990s, we only have one fan in the house, so she needed to join my wife and I in our room to huddle around its plastic propellers like dogs sticking our heads out of a small crack in the car window.

So I am functioning on, I would estimate, around 2.5 hours sleep today- think I might be into “I will need a nap later” territory. Aaaaaaanywaaaaaay, back to life back to the Arsenal and I have had to unhinge my neck and get back into the Arsenal game. I have been busy with the women’s Euros since it kicked off a week ago. I was at Brighton on Monday evening for the England Lionesses 8-0 win over Norway and last night, took in Germany’s victory over Spain at Brentford Community Stadium.

The distraction of an international tournament has been a welcome one because we are into the part of the summer I really dislike. In transfer market terms, we’re into ‘this is becoming a saga’ territory. Today the team fly to the US on tour where they will face Everton in Baltimore on Saturday evening, followed by games against Orlando City and Chelsea in Orlando.

I mean, I really could care less about the games themselves and won’t be coughing up any cash to watch any of them but they are valuable for the coach and the players of course. Most, if not all, Premier League teams are jetting off somewhere about now and the “x didn’t travel” headlines are in full flow as players and agents look to force moves.

Arsenal have had their fair share of ‘grumpy wantaway player nurses completely fabricated ‘injury’ and ducks tour so he can inch closer to a move away’ melodramas over the years. I am not anticipating anything of that ilk this time around but you never know. Maybe Gabriel Jesus will kick up a stink because Edu borrowed his barbecue tongs and returned them in a less than favourable condition and flounce out of the tour.

Transfer wise, it is looking very much like Lisandro Martinez will join up with his old boss Erik Ten Hag at United as they plug along with “mission just reassemble Ten Hag’s Ajax team.” Meanwhile, Barcelona seem to have once again seem to have reached down the back of the sofa cushions and found another wedge of cash for Raphinha, another of Arsenal’s targets.

Oh well, at least he isn’t going to Chelsea. It does mean that Arsenal are going to have to move down the list now, it’s clear that Martinez and Raphinha were serious offers and both look as though they will be fruitless. So what, or who, now? There are some vague whispers about Lucas Paquetá (stress is on the final syllable, people!) who seems to want to leave Lyon.

First and foremost, he is Brazilian which means the links automatically have some credence as Edu seeks more barbecue chums. I have heard that Paquetá has a mouth watering farofa recipe. I very much like the player but question whether he would fit into the same team as Martin Odegaard, to whom he is reasonably similar. Having also recruited Fabio Vieira this summer I am not sure whether Paquetá is a little too similar to both, though he could operate in the now semi-mythical “left eight” position.

Having taken some low hanging fruit, as well as Gabriel Jesus, already in the market this summer, we are now into the knotty, complicated part of the window. Arsenal will be trying to work as quietly as possible, a la Fabio Vieira. Their interest in Martinez and Raphinha was leaked early on, both resulted in bidding wars and both seem to have got away from us. Where the reported interest in Tielemans is at is anybody’s guess at this juncture.

Elsewhere, there is some suggestion that Fulham and Arsenal are nearing an agreement for Bernd Leno to move to West London but Fulham are, reportedly, still haggling over some small details, which is their right of course. It’s frustrating for us because Leno looked like one of our most attractive sales this summer, a 30-year-old German international goalkeeper.

However, it looks like Fulham offered the only serious interest. Their intention was reported early in the summer and it went quiet for a few weeks, which tells me that Leno’s camp maybe had a little fish around for other offers and came up wanting. If Fulham know they are the only show in town, they will probably try to barter us to death. Arsenal have already bought their Leno replacement in Matt Turner, so their hands are pretty much tied, they have to sell.

Them’s the breaks, as a fallen from grace public figure uttered recently. Before I love you and leave you, I will point you towards Lewis’ excellent tactics column which looks at the prospect of Arteta fielding two strikers when chasing games next season. I have to say this is something I have been thinking about too, while I don’t expect Jesus and Nketiah to start together often, I do think “Nketiah on and Jesus moving to the right / left” is something we will see if a goal is really required in the final third of a game. It can’t be Europa League group stage games alone that persuaded Nketiah to sign a new deal.

In closing, I think it is only right to relive and celebrate Ian Wright’s wonderful shutdown of that irritating Tottenham ballbag Alan Sugar and his utterly idiotic whining about the presence of women pundits and commentators (imagine!) on the BBC at the Euros. “Where’s the people around you to hug you, bro?” is truly, a line for the ages. “Lord” Sugar will need to rename himself “Lord Salt” after his latest whinge.

As Arsenal fans of a certain vintage have been telling everyone for a few decades now, when Wrighty takes aim, he doesn’t miss. Have a good one, I am back later this week.

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