How has 2023 been so far for you?
I went for a couple of New Years’ Day pints and caught the end of the Aston Villa win over that lot. Fair play to Unai Emery. Always rated him.
In this incredible world we live in there are sounds that just feed your soul. Rolling thunder. Songbirds in the jungle. The majestic roar of a big cat. The ocean crashing on the shore. And Sp*rs fans booing their own team in a stadium that’s just way too big for them. Glorious.
Then I watched Chelsea play Nottingham Forest, and without wanting to come across as hyperbolic in any way, they were absolutely shite. Like 11 turds (plus subs) in human form who were brought to life by a mad scientist who only had 30 seconds to explain to them the concept of the game of football before they were sent out to play. Their goal was lucky, and no doubt they’ll now spend another fortune in the transfer market before the end of the month.
Chelsea set to sign MASSIVE TURD and his brother COMPLETE TURD. Here we go. 🚨
From an Arsenal perspective this season has been very good, and I am determined to enjoy it as it’s happening. I know we all have an eye on the long game, on how it all turns out in the end, but I’m taking time to ensure that the fun times that go on during the campaign itself don’t pass me by. Most of that is wrapped up in what we do, how we play, and our results, but I don’t think we should forget how much enjoyment comes from the trials and tribulations of others. At some point a game won’t go our way, and that will be frustrating of course, but until then, let’s all laugh at [Insert team/player/manager name here].
In The Athletic (£) this morning, there’s a big piece about Joao Felix and Arsenal’s interest in signing him. The reasons we might be after him are fairly self-explanatory. In the absence of Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah is our only recognised centre-forward, and until Emile Smith Rowe is back and fully fit, there’s a high dependency on Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli in the wide positions. Felix can play across the front line and would provide cover/depth/competition for all those positions.
The stumbling block is the price though. The article states: Atletico are believed to be seeking a €21million (£18.6m; $22.5m) package, comprising a €15m loan fee plus €6m gross salary.
Which, to be frank, is a ridiculous amount of money for 5 months of service. I can understand Atletico wanting to recoup as much as possible for a player they spent €126m on in 2019, but that is surely too steep. When you consider what you could do with €21m to help fund the services of a player on a permanent basis, it’s way too much. And yet, Arsenal need depth. We need at least one player during this window who can bring something to the team and ease the burden on a front three who we can’t rotate at any point.
Even against Brighton the other night, you could see Eddie Nketiah flag towards the end of the game. Which isn’t a criticism, he put in a big shift, but having fresh legs in the final stages of games is very useful. Not just to hang on, but to give you more threat, a different threat, and something else for the opposition to worry about. So, the club need to find the balance between the needs of the squad and the financial demands that exist in the marketplace – especially in January when it is just more complicated to get deals done.
Joao Felix fits the bill. It’s just that the bill for Joao Felix is too great. Will Atletico Madrid accept less? They seem open to his departure, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to bend over backwards to facilitate it. I guess we’ll see, and I would like to think that Arsenal have some other irons in the fire too. We play Newcastle tomorrow night, but there’s then a 12 day gap to our next Premier League game – the North London derby. That’s plenty of time to get something done. Fingers crossed.
Right, let’s leave it there for now. James and I are recording the Arsecast Extra for you later on this morning. Keep an eye out for the call for questions on Twitter @gunnerblog and @arseblog on Twitter with the hashtag #arsecastextra – or if you’re on Arseblog Member on Patreon, leave your question in the #arsecast-extra-questions channel on our Discord server.
Enjoy the game later, and we should have the podcast for you around lunchtime. Until then.