Rob Holding

Rob Holding signs for Arsenal. Credit Arsenal.com
Rob Holding signs for Arsenal. Credit Arsenal.com

It’s way past my bedtime because I stayed up to watch the Arsenal pre-season friendly against the MLS all stars which ended in a 2 1 Arsenal victory. Joel Campbell with a goal from the penalty spot and Chuba Akpom with a tap in from a Monreal assist the winner with just 4 minutes to go.

It was an opportunity to check out the new boy Holding and I will say I was very pleased. I had a good feeling about his signing and he didn’t disappoint in  this friendly, he almost scored a header which would have been the icing on the cake of a very accomplished debut.  He played the whole 90 minutes where he was strong on the ball, composed in possession, a good reading of the game, a good header and showed good  ball playing skills with how he went about his business.  There is just something about him that fills me with confidence even though I know it was just a preseason friendly, but all I can say is the omens are good for this lad. At just 20 and straight from Bolton after his debut season there is perception that he is raw and might find this level a bit too much, but as long as he is not over played like Arsene did with Chambers in his first season I am a believer that Rob Holding will blossom into a very good central defender. If you are good enough you are old enough they say and I think Holding will fall into that category, I can feel myself getting too excited I should calm down.. I blame all the chocolate and sprite I had an hour ago.  I look forward to seeing more of him as the season progresses, In my mind I have this idea that Arsene is hoping that someday in the not too distant future Chambers and Holding will the first choice centre backs at Arsenal, time will tell.

Before I go to bed I will also mention Walcott’s uninspiring showing. I am not a Walcott basher and I know it’s only preseason but he needs to get the finger out and start engaging his football brain. His passing and decision making were all over the place and  I sense he knows within himself that he is on borrowed time and very replaceable. A section of Arsenal fans also seem to be fed up with him judging by the amount of interaction my post about Walcott during the game got on the Arsenal facebook page. For his sake and the club I really do hope things pick up for him, because a consistent and firing Walcott makes us more difficult to play against.

Granit Xhaka when he came on showed his good passing range with accuracy and let’s not forget that mean left foot, I hope his superpower of taking shots outside the penalty box is not curbed by playing for Arsenal.

It’s bedtime now, need to get some snooze before I am woken by the kids…

 

Arsenal title chances

Arsenal Squad

Going into last season I was confident Arsenal would win the title, I know I am a glutton for punishment for harboring such optimism with Arsenal at the centre and they definitely didn’t disappoint in the manner the punishment was meted out to fans like myself . I don’t even know what to make of Arsenal’s top 4 prospects this season considering how the other clubs are strengthening left, right, centre and upfront.

Regarding transfers, Granit Xhaka is an encouraging buy and brings the necessary aggression needed in the team with great passing abilities to add to his defensive qualities in the middle of the park. The Japanese striker is one for the future, probably would be loaned out and Rob Holding in my opinion will pleasantly surprise people, I like the buy.  Arsene though is yet to address the reason why Arsenal finished second to Leicester last season, the lack of a finisher upfront. I am not a Giroud Basher as the media and fans try to make him into what he is not. I could add all the exhaust pipes  and alloy wheels to a Peugeot I still couldn’t call it a Ferrari right… Giroud does alright for the class of striker that he is but needs help or a serious upgrade and I wouldn’t call Alvaro Morata an upgrade, he has scored less than Giroud in the Italian League in the last 2 seasons combined and Higuain is not worth that crazy release clause at 29, I also remember him missing clutch chances for Argentina at the world cup final in 2014 and the Copa America final in 2016, he wouldn’t be my go to guy for that price. There are not many available “world class ” strikers in the market but with the cash reserves Arsenal have they should for once go crazy and bid to buy players like Aubameyang or Greizman, if I was consulted they would be my targets.

If Arsene didn’t buy another midfielder I wouldn’t be too worried, but a player like Mahrez or Reus with goals in them and proper wide play will definitely improve the midfield in addition to creating more selection headaches for the manager.

The defence is sorted to a degree but I worry in the event that Bellerin is injured and Debuchy rumored to be heading out of the club who replaces Bellerin? Chambers and Holding  can play in that position but are primarily central defenders who are very different to Bellerin. Gabriel hasn’t filled me with confidence and with Per Mertesacker also rumoured to be out for 5 months after injuring his knee against Lens, Koscielny not back in the team till later in the season because of the Euro exertions  could cause problems in the opening weeks of the season.

The goalkeeping position happens to be most secure, a weird thing to say when Arsenal is concerned, Cech and Ospina are very capable hands.

Verdict

With this present squad and no further additions, the best predictable outcome is 5th but if Arsene went into the market and  bought a good striker to assist Giroud, a wide playing forward/midfielder in the Reus, Mahrez mould and a proper no-nonsense defender, Arsenal could actually go on and win the title. There I go again, I can’t seem to help myself it seems!!!

 

T – 19 days to the Premier League season

 

T-19 days to the new season
 T-19 days to the new season

Yes that’s right the new Premier League season is just 19 days away, It’s crazy how football time flies, didn’t Leicester just win the Premier League title? If you ask me I think these footballers don’t get enough rest regardless of how much they get paid, fingers crossed it’s not an injury plagued season for a number of them especially those that played the European Championships and the Copa America. To start the season I will be doing a preview of all the  20 clubs and their projected positions for the season.
After Leicester’s heroics last season I am inspired to venture into my gambling side,  will need to find a loose 100 pounds somewhere first and place 5 pounds on all 20 clubs! Yep anything worth doing at all is worth doing well my mum used to say.

One could say all the “super” managers are presently in the premier league and with the league awash with cash it’s going to be one interesting season! West Ham have been going all over Europe with their suitcase of money flashing the cash in their bid to sign a striker and are currently in negotiations to sign Carlos Bacca from Milan.  Then Manchester United have been put into a spot by the media who have helped Value Pogba at 100 million pounds! How is Pogba worth that much? The likes of Ronaldo and Bale when they went for world record fees could single handedly win games time and time again, I don’t see that with Pogba, Oh well I am not the one spending the money, it’s the cash money man Jose at the helm there and we all know how he likes to spend the cash. Jose’s boyfriend at Arsenal on the other hand is carrying his bag of change about Europe and the rest of the world trying to find a bargain. As an Arsenal fan it has taking me years to attain the Zen state when it comes to Arsenal transfers and I don’t plan to leave that state ever! My fellow Arsenal fans should consider this state too it helps with sanity at this time in the football season!

I will be previewing Arsenal tomorrow and their title hopes for the season, it’s sunny in my side of the world so it’s best to take advantage of it while it last, which is not very long in these parts, so off to the park I go.

“The Small One”

"The Small One"
“The Small One”

Unfortunately I got to listen Jose Mourinho in his first official press conference as Manchester United manager and it was full of the same old boring classless jibes nothing new. I have always said it takes a small man to to make others look small so he comes across as an accomplished individual and that’s Mourinho’s default setting .

It was very amusing when asked about his record of bringing through young player,s he went immediately on the defensive with a prepared 49 name list of young players he had promoted who have now become “stars”. I was very surprised at the gathered press who some of its members have been so quick to bully Raheem Sterling and make him a scapegoat for England’s exit at the Euros but too scared to ask Jose for one name on that list.

I think someone needs to define youth development to Jose. Promoting a young player to the bench or handing him a debut then discarding of him after a handful of games is not developing youth it’s called filling in the gap or resting the senior players for more important games. I will be very interested to see how the media dissects that list in the coming days if they get to see it.

Wherever he goes he spares no expense to be successful  and going by the already confirmed signings at Manchester United that is not going to change but these are different times. The Premier league is a different beast now and  with all the money going into it the gulf between the established order has narrowed , outspending your opponent is not a guarantee of success.

Having to eat humble pie in his bullying episode with Eva Carneiro or that his players practically got rid of him at Chelsea last season has taught him nothing. It’s the same old small minded Jose who hasn’t  learned to respect his colleagues or the fact that he is not always the most important variable in the equation.

Zlatan a hit or miss at Old Trafford?

 

 

 

 

Zlatan and Mourinho together again

I can’t help but mention what’s going at Westminster at the moment, feels like something from game of thrones or house of cards; backstabbing, all sorts of dishonesty and game playing even Spielberg couldn’t even have come up with this plot. So Boris caused all that chaos for nothing as in for nothing! Watching with baited breath as it all continues to unfold.

Back to football which is the reason why you have clicked  on this post, Zlatan has more or less confirmed his move to Old Trafford via his Instagram account.  With no Champions league on the cards this season at United I am guessing it’s the lure of Jose and a very big pay packet that have secured his signature, but at 34 is Zlatan really worth that gamble especially in the Premier League?PSG competing in Ligue 1 with the money they have is like a 10 year old playing in the under fives, the Premier League is a different ball game entirely. With all the money coming into the Premier League, all the clubs are more evenly matched than in the past where there was a very large gulf between the established top 4 and the rest, at the moment one can’t even point at an established top 4. Zlatan has also always struggled playing against English teams in Europe, now he gets to play against English opposition every week in England where referees allow more physicality and with defenders that will leave a foot in there now and again who will not be awed by him. How will Zlatan respond to that?
History has shown us that wherever Zlatan goes Zlatan wins a league title but that was the case for Louis Van Gaal till he rocked up at Old Trafford and left without winning a league title. Then what happens to the likes of Rashford and Martial? How much game time will they get? If both young men step up to the mark and are banging in goals week in week out? Will Jose leave Zlatan on the bench more often and if so how will Zlatan react? We all know Zlatan doesn’t take kindly to not being the main guy. He is a big personality and how will his new teammates respond to that personality and Jose’s personality in high and consistent doses? I also forgot to mention Wayne Rooney,how does that impact him and how will he respond? Player power is very big these days evident in how the London boys in blue ushered Jose out last year. Player factions are not a good thing for any team.

Time will tell if this going to be a marriage made in heaven, I for one foresee rocky relations in the course of this marriage that might end up in a bitter divorce or maybe it’s just the Arsenal man in me wishing it doesn’t work.