Morning folks and welcome to Monday. It’s a three day week in the UK because of the Queen’s jubilee, which means desk jockey’s like me get to enjoy an extended weekend, which is all kinds of groovy. What is also all kinds of groovy, was seeing that three referees at the top of our game are retiring now that the season is over. Mike Dean, Martin Atkinson and John Moss, with Moss the guy who demonstrated yesterday in the Forest v Huddersfield play-off final that he is no longer fit for purpose by not giving Huddersfield which looked to me like a clear penalty yesterday. Jon Moss is quite LITERTALLY not fit to referee, as his mobility is an issue as well as his general performances. I will not miss any of those referees, but Moss and Dean I’m particularly glad to see the back of.
What I’d love to see now is a little more diversity in terms of Premier League referees, both in terms of race and gender, but also in terms of where they are based too. You can’t convince me that there are no good referees that are anywhere in the South East of the country. We have one referee south of Oxfordshire in Simon Hooper, but that’s it. It’s a clear indication of the way in which the PGMOL is set up i.e. an old boys club where Mike Riley looks after his mates and they are accountable to nobody. My hope is that by these three from the old boys network leaving, it will give the opportunity to bring in some better blood than we’ve had. But whilst Mike Riley remains in charge we all know that the chance is fleeting that it will happen.
So we must ready ourselves once again for shoddy VAR decisions and referees ruining games with baffling decisions next season.
What we must also ready ourselves for is that we will be seeing Nottingham Forest in the Premier League and I for one am glad. I have no particular affinity to them, but as a formerly big club with European Cups to their name, it’ll make for a nice story to see them back in the Prem. I also have a hope that we can kick the hoodoo we’ve endured for the last two visits there in the FA Cup. We’ve lost twice there and this season they also knocked us out. We were shocking and Arteta rotated, but I was in the ground that day and it was a frustrating game that had me quite irked with the performance. So what I want to see for next season is for us to go there, hopefully win, then put the bad cup form to bed. If I can get tickets I might go to that game too, because it was a decent trip up there when I went in January with Dave.
So I’m 500 words in and I haven’t even really talked about The Arsenal. Slow news day, or what, eh?
I guess I could talk about how we’re all willing a Serge Gnabry transfer in to being, when the reality is probably quite different. He’s one of the most talented forward players in Europe, Bayern are willing to sell because he won’t sign a deal and apparently with one year left, they are looking for €40million. It’s a very affordable price and is absolutely a good move if Arsenal can make it happen, but it appears the only people who are trying their best to convince him from an Arsenal perspective are us fans on social media. At that price he’ll be wanted by most of Europe and whilst I’m in no doubt that he has a soft spot for the Arsenal having made his debut with us and played as an Arsenal youngster for five years from 2011 to 2016, the reality is that he will have clubs like Madrid, probably Liverpool if Mane goes (also with one year on his deal), as well as a host of others who would put their hat in the ring to sign him. So whilst it would be a lovely idea to sign him, I doubt Arsenal will be looking at it. Not least because his favoured position is that right hand side and we already have Saka. I know he can operate across the front line and with more games we’re going to need to rotate, but spunking a big part of our budget on a position in which we already have a few players who can fill it, feels a little like when we all wanted Cesc back when we already had Ozil. People will – with the benefit of hindsight – clearly point out that the move not to bring in Cesc was also a mistake, but at the time Ozil was at the peak of his powers and so we didn’t need a like-for-like player. Maybe if we offload Pepe this summer and we are looking at the two wide positions being occupied by Martinelli, Saka, Smith Rowe and Gnabry you could say that it’s possible, but I doubt we’d also be dropping £50 – £60million on a striker, then another £30million on a central midfielder, bring in a deputy right back too, would we? It just doesn’t feel like we’ll go for all of that and then also go for somebody like Gnabry in terms of where we are at right now. He feels like the sort of signing we’d make if we were already a step closer to our goals than we are right now. He feels like the cherry on the cake footballer that makes us even better than where we are, kind of like Liverpool have done with Diaz, or City have done with Haaland. But I’m just not convinced we’re able to go there just yet.
You never know though. Stranger things have happened.
And with that I think i’ll stop for today. You have a good one and enjoy your Monday, whatever you’re doing. Catch you all tomorrow.
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