Good morning, it’s cold in Dublin today. I’m not enjoying the cold.
I saw a big piece with the Shakhtar dude about the Mudryk transfer to Chelsea, and to be honest, this is where I currently am with all of his stuff.
Isn’t the whole thing kinda weird? Arsenal made contact with the player which, by the letter of the ‘law’ isn’t how you do it, but that’s basically how every club does it. All the time. Even Chelsea, who are painted in this piece as super polite and ‘law’ abiding. The flag stuff, officials parading at Stamford Bridge, the donation, the friendly game that’s been organised … all of it seems a bit manufactured. There’s something off about the whole lot of it. Anyway, it’s not our problem anymore, but at a time when everyone is looking for any kind of excuse to stick a knife in us, this bloke can get stuffed.
I was asked to answer a few questions for a French newspaper yesterday, and one of them was who the favourite players at Arsenal are at the moment. It gave me some pause for thought, because usually it’s pretty simple. There are one or two guys who, for various reasons, tend to be top picks when fans are asked that question. The one who scores all the goals in an otherwise average team, for example. Or the genius playmaker who might break our hearts by going back to the club of his childhood, but whose talent is off the charts.
Now though, that’s a much more difficult question.
Oh, it’s Martin Odegaard. The man who came from Real Madrid after a good, if not sensational loan spell, and who is our leading scorer this season who also has 5 assists and is the manager’s tactical eyes and ears on the pitch. Not to mention he has become captain of the club and is representing us brilliantly.
No, hang on. It’s Bukayo Saka. The Academy graduate who has developed into the best, most consistent right-sided attacker in the Premier League. He roasts defenders for fun. And he’s just such a nice lad on top of that.
WAIT! It’s Oleksandr Zinchenko, the literal Queen of the Arsenal team (in chess terms!). One minute he’s a full back, one minute he’s a DM, one minute he’s an inside-right. Whats not to love?
Oh no, how could I forget Ben White? Remember when he signed and had a difficult debut against Brentford and Gary Neville roasted him live on TV when he should really have known better? Now, that £50m we paid to Brighton looks a snip. He’s about the best right-back in the Premier League on current form, a superb defender who helps facilitate the way we play, as well as being a deadpan comedy genius.
Speaking of comedy, Aaron Ramsdale is never far away when there’s a bit of that going around. Not only did he keep the old enemy at bay this season, he drove their players and fans demented, to the point one of them is about to end up court for kicking him. He’s second only to Nick Pope in terms of clean sheets this season, and like Ben White he’s shown that a transfer fee that looked excessive when his move to Arsenal was being floated, is anything but.
Maybe it’s remiss of me not to mention Granit Xhaka, a man who divided opinion for so long, whose Arsenal career was pockmarked with incident and difficulty, to the point where it looked like a move elsewhere was the only way forward for all concerned. Now, he’s a real leader in this team, a hugely important figure in a very young squad whose experience is going to be vital.
Damn. It’s Gabriel Martinelli. A Brazilian winger. Argh. It’s not him. It’s William Saliba, the impressive 21 year old who has helped take our defence to another level. You idiot, it’s Gabriel. 53 consecutive starts in the Premier League, and at 24 years of age he’s still very young in the life of a centre-half and can only get better.
My head is spinning. Takehiro Tomiyasu, what a defender. How can you not love Kieran Tierney’s character, the potential of Emile Smith Rowe, the classy midfield control of Thomas Partey, the way Eddie Nketiah has stepped up in the absence of Gabriel Jesus?!
Jesus! I didn’t mention Jesus yet. How is that possible after everything he’s brought to the team since he joined in the summer?!
See, it’s not easy this, is it? It’s like being a parent and being asked to pick your favourite child. For me that’s easy, I only have one so I haven’t quite made my mind up yet, but pick your Arsenal favourite. Who is it?
When you think about it some more, who is it now? We can do this all day. Except I have things to do and all the rest. For those on Patreon, we have a new episode of our Premier League round-up podcast, The 30 to keep you going.
More here tomorrow.