Happy Thursday Gooners – we holding up ok?
I say that because, let’s face it, this is just about the worst time in an international break; we’re now a solid four days from the brilliant late United winner, the content that we have been gorging ourselves on is starting to run out, with the upcoming football in front of us being pointless internationals that we can’t even say we’re through the back of. Bleugh.
On the up side, we have ourselves some more nice news to speak of, because two of our lads have been nominated for the Ballon d’Or which will be announced in late October. Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka have made the list of the top 30 footballers in World football and that is a testament to the fantastic football they delivered for us last season. We have two of the world’s best footballers currently playing in our squad and I’d argue, if Saliba had stayed fit, he’d make that list too, because he was definitely on course to be the best centre half in the Premier League. He made the PL team of the season along with Ramsdale, Odegaard and Saka and he’s started this season off again looking in imperious form, so I’m pretty sure we can expect to see him in there for next season – providing he stays fit.
But for the two Arsenal players that have made the list, it’s kudos to them and totally deserved. I suspect they won’t get near the top two or three because Haaland had that monstrous season in front of goal and there will no doubt be shouts for Messi to win it because of the World Cup, but it is just nice to see us having players placed in that list. I can’t actually remember the last time a player was nominated, other than Thierry Henry about 20 years ago, but that was a joke that he came second to Pavel Nedved in 2003. But the fact that we have some names on that list is really positive and just further underlines the progress that has been made last season by Arteta’s young team of charismatic footballers.
So, what else is new? It seems the Pepe noises are rumbling on and whilst I talked about Besiktas yesterday, it seems we have another Turkish suitor that is entering the mix in the shape of Trabzonspor, who there was reported interest on yesterday:
Trabzonspor are trying and advancing in signing Nicolas Pépé. 🇨🇮
— Eduardo Hagn (@EduardoHagn) September 6, 2023
I read something about a one year deal that is on the table, which seems a little weird to me, because that’s how long he has left on his contract. So are we assuming this is an attempt from Arsenal to get somebody to just pay his wages in lieu of any transfer fee? I guess that would save a few million off the balance sheet and would mean Arsenal don’t have to cough up any money for the wages we’d have to pay him off with. I still maintain it isn’t really great that we can’t offload a player like Pepe and when you look at his goals and assists stats, it seems weird that other clubs can offload their deadwood for actual cash when we still struggle. But hey, let’s not labour that point too much; ultimately the saga will draw to a close and we move on with life without another player from the old era.
There’s not really a lot else going on at the moment as you’d probably expect, but I will pick up on a conversation I heard on the Arsenal Opinion pod when I went for my run this morning. Pete and Matt were talking about the negativity brought about in the aftermath of the Fulham game and how it had opened up some pretty radicalised views on Arteta being under pressure, etc. I found it an interesting discussion, not least because it reminded me that I am actually part of two different Arsenal communities: the online one and the one in the real world. I am fortunate enough to have a season ticket and go to the home games and a smattering of away games and when I am there or in the pub chatting with Arsenal mates, you realise that the spectrum of views and discourse are a lot more centred than the online discourse I come across. In the real world and in the game you get fans in the stadium that are still fully energised by Arteta and Arsenal; we sing, we chant and even when we went behind against Fulham and went behind against United, there is still a roar that goes up in the stadium to cheer the boys on after conceding. Five to six years ago those roars were groans, there was a palpable atmosphere inside the ground that was not exactly the most enjoyable of environments. The home fans are usually the last to turn, but they don’t turn in an angry way (well, sometimes they, but by and large) but in a way that is more akin to apathy. People just stop showing up. They vote with their feet. That’s because most of the people I have around me in Block Five are people that would rather never go historical inside the stadium, but instead would rather just show their disappointment by adopting the ‘if you can’t say anything nice then don’t say anything at all’ mentality.
The online discourse quickly turns to furious rage and Pete also talked about a ‘race to the bottom’ which I think he is absolutely right on. There is an online clamour to ‘be the first’ with a hot take, like wanting the manager gone, or a player gone/dropped, etc. That’s part of the world we live in today, everyone has so much airtime so to be heard among all of the online chatter, you have to say something over and above/more extreme than others. But ultimately does it really help? Where does it get you? Maybe you get a few more followers online, but does that really matter? Not for me. I do this blog because I’ve always just liked writing. It’s what I enjoy doing in my day-to-day job. Sure, it’s nice to know that other people other than a few mates in my WhatsApp read the blog and my thoughts, but ultimately it is just a vehicle to voice my opinion. Sometimes (rarely) I am extreme, sometimes I am wide of the mark, sometimes I’m even factually incorrect, but I don’t pretend to be any kind of expert with some kind of immense knowledge. I just like talking about The Arsenal. And I like going to The Arsenal. It is always an enjoyable experience, even if the football sometimes isn’t, but I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it and didn’t want to focus on the good stuff.
So There will always be this online anger and rage, but the older I get, the easier I find it to just ignore it, but instead focus on the real life and what I’m seeing in real life is better support than it’s been during the whole of the Emirates era. And that’s something to be proud of.
Catch you all tomorrow.