Monday, May 20, 2024

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Good morning from Brixton,

Arsenal are on day five of their tour of the United States and even from 3,500 miles away, you can feel the good vibes emanating from the camp.

To be fair, that probably shouldn’t come as a surprise. From the moment they took off from Stansted airport, every second of the trip has been caught on camera for posterity #content.

I have to say, I’ve been lapping it up, even if the time difference has made it difficult to watch the main events in real-time.

Here are a few personal highlights…

The Elneny Video

I’m not sure whose idea it was to give Mo the responsibility of vox-popping his teammates while they were on the plane to Washington, D.C. but it was a genuinely inspired decision. Move over Win, the chocolate labrador, the Egyptian is Arsenal’s real puppy.

As his tail wagged around the Boeing 777, he stuck his iPhone in the face of pretty much every teammate and we soon learnt Flo Balogun is reading a book called ‘Master Your Emotions’, Gabriel Jesus is an impeccable folder of clothes (good man!) and neither Mo nor Takehiro Tomiyasu, have ever heard of Elvis Presley. An incredulous Rob Holding tried to educate them but ended up singing Marc Kohn’s ‘Walking in Memphis’ rather than any of the King’s greatest hits.

Nobody covered themselves in glory at that moment but it was great fun to watch.

Inside Training

We all know that being an Arsenal player is 90% rondo training and 10% being slapped on the head by teammates when you make a mistake. It’s both funny and alarming in equal measure and always makes for a good montage. While training ground videos are watchable all year round, during pre-season there’s an added joy; a game of ‘spot the suit not in a suit’.

So far we’ve seen Josh Kroenke and his terrifying Ming the Merciless beard prowling around offering handshakes while CEO Vinai V and director of football operations Dicky G are also making good use of their club-issued polo shirts. I’m assuming Tim Lewis is there (more on him in a bit), however, I’ve not caught sight of Edu. Perhaps we’re not letting him leave the country until Cedric has been sold/barbecued?

Also, a quick observation on the coaching and support staff. I swear there are hundreds of them. Even one of Arteta’s kids has been spotted taking part! While I’m not one for nepotism, I definitely want to believe he’s Steve Round’s replacement.

The Havs and the Hav-nertz

When Kai Havertz was asked to take part in the MLS Skills Challenge, I doubt he gave much thought to the possibility of reputational damage. After all, the whole event is just a bit of jazzy, family-friendly fun. Right? Right?! Erm, no.

In retrospect, asking our brand-new £65 million attacker to take part in what might as well have been called the ‘hit a cow’s arse with a banjo’ challenge (aka the cross-and-volley challenge) wasn’t the wisest idea. With a few lame swings of his gangly legs, he became the first person in the short history of the event to fail to register a single point. Naturally, social media went wild labelling him a waste of money.

Like prime-time Michael Jordan, he clearly took it personally. We know this because 24 hours later, after burying a volley in the All-Star game, he took to Twitter, captioning an image of his perfect technique with “Hav that”, the dartboard emoji and a yawning face emoji.

If you want to win me over, you score points for puns and cutting sarcasm, so I was delighted. Fearful of looking snarky, he followed up with a vanilla clarification of his appreciation of the fans. The about-turn was tremendously “Lampardian”.

Ref-cam

Towards the end of Apple’s All-Star game broadcast, they revealed that the referee, Ted Unkel, had been wearing a body camera throughout the match. I don’t know how much of the footage has been made public but there was a tremendous clip of him trying to keep pace with a Bukayo Saka break before the ball broke to Gabriel Jesus to dink home from the edge of the box.

Viewing it at pace and from that angle just underlined what a spectacular finish it was. Aside from the whole thing being soundtracked by a middle-aged man panting, I think they could be onto something.

__

Elsewhere, The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson has secured a first interview with Tim Lewis, Arsenal’s new(ishly) appointed Executive Vice-Chair.

Lewis’ relationship with Stan Kroenke goes right back to the beginning of the American’s interest in our club and he was later parachuted onto the Board of Directors during the Covid pandemic to be KSE’s eyes and ears on the ground following the refinancing of our outstanding stadium debt.

Up to now, he’s remained in the shadows but with Arsenal on an even keel after a roller coaster few years, he obviously feels more comfortable championing the cause of his employer who, until he assumed full ownership of the club, came across completely aloof.

Lewis says: “Stan really taught me the value sometimes just to watch. In the right circumstances, it can be very powerful. He has incredible patience. He has a phenomenal memory and a clear idea about what he should be focused on.”

On his own position, he explains: “My role is not to give football advice but to be there to support and challenge. They [Arteta and Edu] need to be able to explain in order for me to understand and communicate for Stan and Josh to back the recommendation. The brain has to be lined up. Stan and Josh want great information. Then they can decide. Trust is a short word. If you’re a multi-billionaire, it’s a big word.”

When you consider what came before Lewis – the short-lived Sanllehi era – you can see how important it is to have a buffer between the guys trying to sign players and the man with the chequebook. As the article mentions, “a series of transfer rules and parameters were established, notably around the age profile of new signings.”

We’ve definitely seen that paying dividends in the last few years. When you spend money on players and the level of the team increases rather than stagnates, it makes it much easier to go cap in hand each time the window opens.

While things have calmed down considerably since Arsenal got the Timber and Rice deals over the line, there have been rumours that we might go shopping again. Ajax’s Mohamed Kudus has been linked – an exciting prospect for sure – and there have been connections with Villa’s Douglas Luiz (it feels like that ship has sailed), Gremio’s Bitello and a Croatian ‘wonderkid’ called Martin Baturina.

We’re not yet convinced by any of those stories which is why we’ve not touched them on Arseblog News. If anything of note does happen, we’ll get on it.

Right, that’s your lot from me today. I’ll be back again tomorrow.

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