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  • Eddie at the Crossroads

    Lots more phone calls required, Eddie
    Eddie Nketiah’s career has been stop start, for sure. He has always managed to score goals, that is indisputable, particularly for England where he has managed almost a goal a game, 37 in 38 starts. He has 27 in 112 for Arsenal which is not so good but in a huge number of those he came on as a sub, often near the end for a few minutes. His record in cups is good. 39 games and 16 goals and some of those were also as sub. It seems he has now got a chance to make it impossible for Arteta to drop him. If he displaces Jesus that would be amazing. Or could they play together? It doesn’t seem to be in Arteta’s mind and Saka and Martinelli surely won’t make way.

    Jesus can't make phone calls at the moment
    I really don’t see him starting both Eddie and Jesus short of an injury to either of our wide-men. Jesus could certainly fill a role on the wing but I really don’t see Eddie doing it. He has that poachers feel about him that Jesus doesn’t have. Jesus wants to do everything, be involved in all the action, a truly modern player, but he is not so prolific. Nketiah always seems to be there when the ball comes in the box. Every match he has chances. I suspect he will score more goals if he stays in that position to the end of the season than Jesus would had he not got injured. Impossible to truly say, of course, but Jesus’ goals tally of 339 club games and 128 goals, and 59 games to 19 goals for Brazil indicate that goal scoring is not his forte. What he does is terrorise teams, creating spaces, winning and receiving balls from everywhere, making him virtually impossible to mark.
    Arteta will buy him out?
    I suspect Arteta will buy a striker, if a suitable one becomes available. If he gets put in the team, then Nketiah won’t really get his chance. What then, for him? He must leave. I know he doesn’t want to, like Martinez before him. But Emi waited too long. He should have left well before for the sake of his career. Look at him now, a World Cup winner. Nketiah is in a similar boat, stick or twist. My opinion is that if Arteta buys, then Eddie goes back to the bench.

    Can he score for the senior squad?
    He may get 4 more matches to the end of January, Brighton, Newcastle, Spurs and Man Utd. He needs goals and to be dangerous throughout. But they are unlikely to be big scoring matches as they are 4 of the current top 7. Newcastle rarely concede goals. So, that is his task, score goals against the top sides, but also, crucially, Arsenal need to garner many points in these matches. A striker is judged on goals, yes, but also on his team winning. Scoring when losing is not the same as scoring when winning.
    An unlucky time to be our striker
    He has a tough task ahead of him. It is hard to see him knocking in too many. It is often said about even big players that they can only score against lesser teams, a charge levelled at our own Thierry Henry, but that is the reality. In the big games, not many goals are scored and even top strikers have run up their tallies with hattricks against small teams. Their record against the best are not so impressive. Assuming that to be so, then Nketiah probably won’t score many in these matches and we will surely drop points in January. Win those 4 and it will be amazing but maybe that’s a fantasy. His position will be shaky if we drop points. Towards the end of last season, he scored goals but the team lost. He is unlucky that it is such a challenging series of matches.

    Emi - the right decision made him World champion
    If we buy, I feel that he is sunk. He will never get his chance really as the new guy and the returning Jesus will be in front of him. Will he stay many years as second choice? This season is surely his defining one. Grab this opportunity now or leave for the sake of his career. He is young enough to get his profession back on track. If he stays on like Martinez, then it will be so much harder.
    I love this guy
    I like Eddie. He is pure Arsenal, a Hale Ender and one of our own. When he kisses the badge he has the right to do so. Yet he has the right to leave. It may even be the best thing for him. There are lots of top players who never quite made it at Arsenal and I reckon Nwankwo Kanu was probably the best of those. There are many others like Podolski, Pepe, Arshavin, Rosicky, Charlie Nicholas and maybe even my old favourite, Charlie George, who just didn’t nail down a starting position for any long period of time. Sometimes injuries were part of the reason but with Kanu it wasn’t that.

    Kanu - even as a sub he was voted our 13th best ever player
    Kanu was with us for six seasons. He played 198 times and scored 44 goals, often as a sub. The thing is, Arsenal were winning trophies and there was one big factor, Dennis Bergkamp didn’t want to fly. Kanu played in an astonishing 53 European matches out of that total and won African footballer of the year twice. He won 2 leagues and 2 FA cups with us. Even as sub, he would come on quite regularly with plenty of time to make an impact unlike what Arteta seems to do with Nketiah. If Wenger wanted a fresh approach then Kanu was brought in. He was, in my opinion, just a shade behind Bergkamp as he was superb. And of course, he played for the Invincibles season.
    Second choice Eddie?
    Will Nketiah do the same? Play on when he is second choice? Even if we win trophies? He would certainly strengthen the squad if he does so, as he could pop up with a late goal. But If I was him, I wouldn’t. If he doesn’t hammer down a starting position this year, he should leave. Martinez was right to leave but if I was him I would have done so earlier. In a struggling Villa he is one of their most reliable players. And in a dominant Argentina probably second MVP. He got them their shootouts and Messi must love him. Second string for Arsenal would not have got him first choice at Argentina. Eddie’s career will flounder also as second string.
    If he doesn’t get his big chance after this difficult period, if someone is bought and replaces him or Jesus is back and Eddie is cast aside, then he has only one choice, I feel. Go, and show that he does have the ability after all. He could well turn out to be the best player never to quite make it at Arsenal. He needs to take that step.

    Don't replace Harry Kane at Spurs and be better than him
    Hey, don’t get me wrong. There would be no one happier than me if he finally steps up, makes himself undroppable and becomes an Arsenal scoring legend surpassing Henry’s figures. He is young enough to do that. Maybe though, he might need to leave and become another team’s legend. Best of luck to you, Eddie, if that is what you desire, but please, not the Spuds. Pat Jennings and Sol Campbell came from them to win trophies, but don’t sicken us all by turning the Spuds into a winning team.

    Честита Коледа, артилеристи! Бъдете живи и здрави и не спирайте да подкрепяте любимият си клуб, каквото и да се случва! Измина известно време, откакто за последно имаше двубои от Висшата лига. Световното първенство в Катар приключи и сега всички погледи отново са приковани към най-доброто първенство в света и маратонът от мачове на Боксинг дей. В този 16-ти кръг Арсенал приема Уест Хям в лондонско дерби, а възпитаниците на Микел Артета са със 100-процентов актив от точки към този момент що се касае до мачовете като домакин (18 точки от 6 изиграни мача и голова разлика в тях 19:7). Освен всичко друго ''топчиите'' влязоха в Коледния маратон като лидер в класирането (37 точки) с преднина от 5 точки пред втория Манчестър Сити. Боксинг дей винаги е бил специална част от календара на Висшата лига, като се надяваме и този път нашите любимци да ни поднесат леко закъснял Коледен подарък. В следващите редове ще надникнем и върху новините преди предстоящата среща.

    Фото кредит: Арсенал

    Кога: Тази вечер от 22:00 часа българско време.

    Стадион: Емиратс Стейдиъм, Лондон.

    Телевизия: Диема Спорт 2.

    Рефер на двубоя: Майкъл Оливър.

    Новините в лагера на Арсенал: В групата за мача няма да попаднат имената на Габриел Жезус, Смит Роу и Рийс Нелсън. Олександър Зинченко и Уилям Салиба пък остават под въпрос до последно. Както знаете Габриел Жезус се контузи по време на Световното първенство в срещата на Бразилия срещу Камерун. Наскоро той претърпя операция на коляното и очакванията са да се завърне в игра в края на месец февруари, въпреки че това е непотвърдена информация. Смит Роу е пред завръщане, но той не е тренирал със своите съотборници в последните няколко дни. Периодът след успешно преминалата операция в областта на слабините върви по план, а това е чудесна новина. Остава само Смит Роу да си възвърне онзи ритъм, който наблюдавахме през миналата кампания. Самият Микел Артета потвърди, че съвсем скоро ще можем отново да видим младокът в игра. Рийс Нелсън получи контузия по време на приятелската среща на Арсенал срещу Ювентус на Емиратс Стейдиъм, която бе загубена с 0:2 на 17 декември. От медицинския щаб на ''артилеристите'' потвърдиха информацията, че острието ще пропусне няколко мача. Надеждите за неговото завръщане в отбора са свързани с края на месец януари. Пожелаваме бързо и успешно възстановяване на всички наши момчета, за да могат отново да ни радват с играта си!

    Фото кредит: Арсенал

    Пресконференция на Микел Артета преди мача: ''Очевидно бяхме свидетели на един необичаен период, в който освен всичко друго се проведе и Световно първенство. Целта пред нас беше да се възползваме по възможно най-добрият начин от тази пауза и да проведем няколко контролни срещи. Постарахме се и да тренираме някои специфични неща, както и да обърнем специално внимание на играчите, които не заминаха с националните си отбори за Катар. Сега е време да продължим към втората част от сезона. Има твърде много мачове за изиграване в крайна сметка. Също така трябва отново да наберем инерция в представянето си. Разбира се, това не е никак лесна задача. Но ние сме устремени към изпълняването й. Започваме с домакинство, а съм убеден, че атмосферата на стадиона отново ще е впечатляваща. Боксинг дей носи специален заряд и ние искаме да зарадваме нашите привърженици с победа. Уест Хям няма да бъдат никак лесен противник за преодоляване. Отлично знаем на какво са способни. Дейвид Мойс е страхотен човек и мениджър, това е вън от съмнение. Той успя да заведе ''чуковете'' до едно различно ниво и единственото нещо, което мога да направя, е да му отдам заслужен кредит за това. 
    До тук през кампанията бяхме последователни в действията си. Искаме да продължим да поддържаме този дух и дори да повишим нивото на представянето ни. Все още има неща, които искаме да подобрим в някои аспекти от играта. Гледаме напред и излизаме за победа! Предстои и януарски трансферен прозорец, в който при добра възможност ще променим някои неща.''

    Фото кредит: The Guardian

    Игра с прогнози във форума на ASCB: 
    Сбирките за мача по клоновете на Арсенал България са налице, а също така все още е отворен зимният трансферен прозорец за приемане на нови членове в организацията. Всеки желаещ да се присъедини към голямото семейство на ASCB може да го направи на: https://arsenal-bulgaria.com/ascb/become-a-member/, като единственото нужно нещо е да следва всяка стъпка от линка. Бъдете здрави и усмихнати! Пожелаваме си 3 точки, красива игра и липса на контузии! COYG! 


    Moyes Ghost
    I am Arsenal. All Arsenal from early days to now. I am walking to my normal entrance in the Emirates on Christmas eve. It is dark, it is cold, but I need to make sure that we are ready for West Ham on the 26th.  I can feel, all around me, a grim chill enveloping me. There are murky shadows everywhere. But I dismiss such foolishness from my head as I apply my key card to the door. Suddenly, it pours red blood down its white facade, and a head that seems familiar to me then forms from the blood and screams at me. It looks like David Moyes. The door opens and it all goes calm. I am shaken but I feel my imagination is running away from me. I go inside to my office but there is a distinct frost in the air. The heating mustn’t be working I say to myself. Anyway, I have work to do so I set about my tasks. I do have an electric heater that looks like a real fire so I put that on and pour myself a nice drop of rum. The world starts looking like a better place. It is Arsenal and I am home.

    Was it him???????
    I am not sure how long after that the real strangeness happened but I seemed to be asleep with the drowsiness  induced by the dark liquid. I heard loud knocking coming from all sides and the room started shaking. The door flung open and it was Harry Bradshaw, our first successful manager, but he looked like a zombie.
    “Harry, is it you?”

    Harry Bradshaw 1899 - 1904
    “Of course it’s me. I need you to understand what it is to be Arsenal. You must listen to me. Tonight, you will be visited by 3 spectres, the first at midnight, and then at one and then two. You must take strong note of what they show you, and finally, you must take action to bring us back to being Arsenal, the most feared team in the land.”
    The First of the 3 spectres
    Then he disappeared. I looked at the empty bottle of rum on the ground and laughed. Look at the damage you have caused me, giving me nightmares. 3 spectres, indeed. I retired to my bed up high near the boardroom to get the rest I need. Sleep came quick. Slumber was delicious until my grandfather clock tolled way louder than ever before, a noise like being inside a huge church bell.
    Herbert Chapman, smiling, came out of the FA cup of 1930. He looked like he used to, dapper, but with those intense eyes which commanded respect. I immediately embraced him for I always loved him. He made Arsenal great.
    “You have something to show me, Herbert? You are the spectre?”
    “Yes, I have many things to remind you of. Let us away.”

    Herbert Chapman 1925 - 1934
    He took me by the hand as we flew through the air. I recognised where we were going. Upton Park. It was surely in his time as all the crowd were wearing cloth caps and virtually everyone was standing. We sat down in the dugout. The match started. I was getting a dreadful sense of déjà vu. It was confirmed when James Ruffell scored for West Ham. I will never forget this game. And now it was played out horribly again in front of me. Goal after goal were fired in including a hattrick from Victor Watson and two own goals from us. 7-0, to West Ham, of all teams. 7th March 1927 will always be etched on my memory.

    A ghoulish day at this place
    “Why, Herbert, why are you showing me this?”
    And then a terrible fear caught hold.
    “Is this going to happen on the 26th? Oh sweet Jesus, not that.”
    The second of the 3 spectres
    I started shaking uncontrollably. My mind was spinning. Then the whole world started whirling. Suddenly, I was back in my bed. It was a dream. I must stop drinking rum. Sleep came with ease, though, as I settled down under the duvet. For how long? Not long as at one it sounded like I was inside the grandfather clock again. Clanging so hard I thought I would go crazy. Then it stopped. George Allison popped out of the 1936 FA Cup. Now, George was a great manager, totally underrated. 2 league triumphs and an FA Cup. But this time I was afraid. What could he show me?

    George Allison 1934 - 1947
    He took me across London again. I remember this day. It was the Fa Cup on the 5th January 1946. The cloth capped men on the terraces. The memory of the war still fresh in everyone’s minds. I inwardly screamed as all of West Ham’s six goals went in without reply. I can never forget that day.
    “West Ham! West Ham are the demons that are going to derail our title dream. Please tell me, George, tell me that’s not the case?”
    But he just smiled and turned away, as my mind was spinning again. I fell into a vortex, out of control, until I landed in my bed. Bad news on my doorstep again. I am being warned. 2 of our great managers got hammered by the Hammers. Arteta must be warned. This is a big match. But then I realised that there was still one more spectre to go. But surely I know the message? West Ham gave 2 of our worst defeats to 2 of our greatest managers. What more do I need to see? I couldn’t sleep, and was tossing and turning but somehow I dozed only to be thrown back inside the insidious bells of the grandfather clock. The noise was frightening, all encompassing, ethereal. Then it all stopped.
    The last of the 3 spectres

    A scary ride to Highbury
    Arsene Wenger climbed out of the 1998 FA Cup. I was never so glad to see anyone. Arsene knows. That’s all I can say. He made us into the modern day club we are. He was a mentor to Mikel Arteta. He will show me what to say to Mikel to stop this nonsense. I gladly took his hand as we flew. It wasn’t very far. To my beloved Highbury, in fact. It was West Ham again. I could remember this day, too, 1st Feb 2006. Nigel Reo-Coker and Bobby Zamora rifled in 2 goals before Thierry Henry got one back. Matthew Etherington made it 3-1 and then Robert Pires got another towards the end. 3-2. A horrendous day. Ok, I get it, West Ham can still be dangerous at home. We must prepare. But Wenger wasn’t done. He then brought me to Upton Park again. It was the next time we played the Hammers. Nov 5th. Another bad day as they scored a very late goal by Marlon Harewood and 1-0 it finished. But it still wasn’t over. He took me back across London to our shiny new Emirates stadium. It was our next match against the bubble blowing Irons on the 7th April 2007.

    Arsène Wenger 1996-2018
    Bobby Zamora scored on 45 to make it a miserable day for us. We couldn’t score. 3 times in a row Arsene Wenger was beaten by them. I had almost forgotten that, an indignity that even the best teams couldn’t manage. I was in despair. Surely this meant that it is all about to go wrong. I gladly threw myself into the vortex knowing that I would get back to my bed. West Ham are the harbingers of doom! My great dream of getting back to being Arsenal is over. No more sending teams home crying. Woe is me, I sobbed.
    The end of it
    Things were no better in the morning. Desperation was etched in my face as I looked at my mirror. What are we going to do? I could hear a noise coming from outside so I looked out my window. It was Mikel Arteta going towards the entrance. He was smiling, in huge contrast to my black tear stained eyes and the wretched look upon my face.
    “Hey, big boss Arsenal, what’s up? You look terrible.”
    “I have a bad feeling about this game. West Ham have done terrible things to our managers in the past.”
    Mikel looked serious for a second. But he had a confident look on his face.
    “I have done all the preparation. The players know what to expect. I know exactly how David Moyes brain works. I have worked out how to get the tactics right. We are ready. We will continue our fight towards the title. Don’t worry, Arsenal, this Christmas West Ham will be good to us. “

    After we Hammer the Hammers
    “And we will give you the money you need, Mikel. We may have have been stingy in the past but buy the best. We have loads of money.
    No words have ever made me happier. I hope to Dickens he is right. And God bless us one and all.

    Всички погледи тази неделя ще бъдат насочени към Меси и Мбапе, големите звезди на Аржентина и Франция. Кой ще стане голмайстор на първенството? Дали ще успеят наследниците на Жуст Фонтен да станат първия отбор след Бразилия отпреди 60 години, който да успее да дублира титлата си ? Меси ще вдигне ли така отдавна бленувания трофей, който ще го изстреля в орбитата на другата легендарна 10-ка на „албиселесте“ и ще сложи точка на  G.O.A.T. спора с CR7 ?
    В следващите редове ще ви предложим поглед към двама бивши футболисти на Арсенал, които ще бъдат съперници на терена, и всеки от тях има изключителна важна роля за националния си отбор – Емилиано Мартинез и Оливие Жиру- страхотно видео за кариерата на французина credit: https://www.facebook.com/futbolenmozak/
    Французинът пристигна в Арсенал през лятото на 2012 г., заедно със Санти Касорла и Лукас Подолски,  със статут на голмайстор на изненадващия френски шампион Монпелие в първия сезон на катарски собственици начело ПСЖ. Трудно е да кажем, че първият му сезон беше успешен, с изключение на това, че завърши на първо място по спечелени въздушни двубои във ВЛ. Но стана ясно, че ролята му в отбора няма да бъде толкова да вкарва голове, а по-скоро да играе с гръб към вратата и да отваря пространства за атакуващите полузащитници. Уолкът, Касорла, Уилшър, Росицки и Рамзи се възползваха по превъзходрен начин от доминиращото присъствие на французина. С идването на Йозил и Алексис нещата за Жиру ставаха все по-лесни, но головете отиваха основно на сметката на неуморния чилиец. В крайна сметка Жиру завърши кариерата си в Арсенал със 105 гола и 41 асистенции, 3 купи на FA, 3 Community Shield, наградата „Пушкаш“ за гола си с удара на скорпиона срещу Кристъл Палас. Въпреки тези никак не лоши показатели, Жиру остана силно недооценен от феновете на „Арсенал“ и всички някак си леко приеха трансфера му в Челси, за да може да Обаемянг да акостира на Емиратс.
    Оказа се, че от този трансфер Жиру спечели повече, отколкото Арсенал от пристигането на Габонеца. Лига Европа (голмайстор на турнира) след победа над Арсенал, Шампионска лига (голмайстор за Челси в турнира), още една купа на FA ( изключителен гол в полуфинала срещу Саутхемптън). На 34 години.
    Последва трансфер в Милан, където стана шампион на Италия и за 57 мача има отбелязани на 23 гола и 8 асистенции, като феновете на „росонерите“ завинаги ще помнят головете му в дербитата.
    През цялото това време Жиру беше неразделна част от френския национален отбор, но до световното в Русия беше по-скоро периферен играч и резерва на Бензема. Секс-скандалът  преди Евро 2016 спря повиквателните за актуалния носител на Златната топка за почти 4 години, а Жиру използва шанса си и започна да трупа голове в сметката си.
    Световното в Русия, която донесе втората световна титла на Франция, донесе и голямо признание за качествата на Жиру. Първият мач срещу Австралия Дешан започна с „атомното трио“ Дембеле, Гризман, Мбапе, но не се виждаше как французите ще отбележат гол. До влизането на Жиру, който събра вниманието на централните защитници върху себе си и отвори пространства за партньорите си в атака. След този мач Жиру започваше всеки мач, а французите играеха страхотен  футбол и спечелиха титлата. Много хора след това се подиграваха, че за първи път отбор става световен шампион без централният му нападател да има удар в очертанията на вратата. Но тези, които разбират играта, оцениха високо влиянието на Жиру върху френския успех. Дешан също.
    Безупречна трудова етика, скромност, жертвоготовност в името на успехите на отбора са качествата, които отличават Жиру. И това световно първенство е доказателство, че рано или късно цялата усърдна работа и отдаденост се отплащат. Франция с Жиру е на финал, а той се е разписал 4 пъти. На пук на всички критици.
    Един от най-драматичните моменти на това световно първенство бяха дузпите между Нидерландия и Арженитна. Лаутаро Мартинес вкарва решителния гол и всичките му съотборници се втурват да празнуват с него. Всички без един. Лео Меси спринтира към срещуположната страна на терена, където лежи другия Мартинес- Емилиано, вратарят, който спаси първите две дузпи и на практика собственоРъчно класира отбора си на полуфинал. Меси го прегърна, каза му нещо и после заедно се присъединиха към ликуващите аржентинци.
    Откакто изгря звездата на Лео Меси преди повече от 18 години липсата на спечелен трофей с националния отбор  беше петното върху легендарния му статут. 4 световни първенства с едва един загубен финал, 5 шампионата за Копа Америка с три загубени финала, 2 от които след изпълнение на дузпи. До 2021 г. Когато Аржентина спечели континенталния си турнир в катедралата на бразилския футбол, след като преди това Еми Мартинес спаси две дузпи на полуфинала с Колумбия, а на финала остана непробиваем за Неймар и компания. И съвсем логично спечели наградата за вратар на турнира.
    Освен спорните треньорски назначение, определено вратарският пост бе ахилесовата пета на „албиселесте“. Предшествениците на Мартинес- Абондансиери, Ромеро и Армани бяха токова далече от средоевропейската класа, колкото и Аржентина от трофеите. Но ако някой преди 3 години беше  казал, че Еми ще бъде избор № 1 на вратата на „гаучосите“, щеше да спечели класацията за „виц на годината“.
    Мартинес пристига в Арсенал на 01.07. 2010 г. от юношите на Идепендиенте за 1.5 млн евро. Следват безброй наеми в отбори като Оксфорд, Родъръм, Шефилд Уендздей, Рединг и Хетафе, но дори в тези отбори аржентинецът не успява да впечатли и като бумеранг всеки път се връща в Арсенал. Явно Арсен Венгер е виждал така добре скрития талант, за да държи човекa в клуба,  допуснал 5 гола срещу  Рединг за Купата на Лигата. Арсенал прави страхотен обрат след влизането на Жиру и след 0:4 на полувремето, ликува след продължения с култовото 7:5. Истината е, че Мартинес има сериозна вина само за едно от попаденията и като цяло играта в защита на Арсенал беше ужасна, но все пак.
    И както скандалите за Бензема промениха съдбата на Жиру в националния отбор на Франция, така и Еми Мартинес получи външна помощ, която преобърна живота. Едно безумно влизане на френския нападател на Брайтън Нийл Moпe извади от строя титулярния вратар на артилеристите Берндт Лено за няколко месеца, и Мартинес беше безалтернативен за титулярния пост на вратата на Арсенал. Шанс, който беше чакал почти 9 години.
    Феновете и анализатори бяха много скептични, но още с първите мачове се видя, че донякъде той е бил незаслужено пренебрегван за сметка на Лено. Командваше отлично защитата, много по-уверен при центриранията, с не по-лош рефлекс от немеца, но с доста по-голям обхват на ръцете, по-висок и с отлични реакции при изпълнения на дузпи. Единственият му недостатък, който и му изяде новият договор с Арсенал е недостатъчно добрата за Артета игра с крака.
    Мартинес беше в основата на подобрената игра в защита, на по-малкото допуснати голове и беше брилянтен в решителните мачове за спечелването на купата на FA. За 180 минути футбол в последните два мача от турнира Манчестър Сити и Челси общо успяха да вкарат на Арсенал 1 гол при положение, че Давид Луиз беше основен централен защитник за „артилеристите“.
    И изглеждаше, че Арсенал си е намерил вратар за дълго време напред, но при преговорите за новия си договор аржентинецът е настоявал да му бъде гарантирано титулярно място. В крайна сметка последва трансфер в Астън Вила за 20 млн., където той продължи да пази отлично и заслужено стигна до титулярния пост на вратата на аржентинския националнен отбор.  
    Жиру и Мартинес отдадоха общо 15 години от живота си на Арсенал, и донякъде недооценени в северен Лондон, те намериха признание за качествата си в националните отбори, където са ключови футболисти. Жиру вече е едноличен голмайстор във вечната ранглиста на френския национален отбор, а Мартинес се оказа липсващо парче в пъзела, в който Меси вдига трофей с националния отбор и е очакваният нов капитан на Аржентина след очакваното оттегляне на роденият в Росарио любим син на Аржентина.  
    Жиру и Мартинес са доказателството, че усърдната работа, упоритостта и вярата в собствените ти възможности и малко късмет могат да те изстрелят до световния връх.  
    Мястото там ще е само за един от тях.  Но който и да застане там, ще е абсолютно заслужено.

    Oh dear Jesus, we need you to save us
    And so we are nearly there. Most likely France vs Argentina and no Arsenal player gets to play this time in the final. Only one of our boys involved in all the four teams left in William Saliba and he doesn’t look likely to play any part in it. I think it is fair to say that it is not a great World Cup for Arsenal. Saka and Xhaka were probably their team’s best players. Turner did great for the States and has come out with his reputation enhanced, surely? Partey was good but Ghana were not so great.

    Our star star boy
    Jesus gave us a big setback and here in the Arsenal supporters club there was awful despondency with his exit. Martinelli showed glimpses of his talent but some Brazilians seemed reluctant to give him the ball, seemingly down to rivalry. Once I saw that I got a feeling Brazil would go out. I predicted to several friends that Croatia will give them a hard game and probably win to general scorn from them being convinced it would be a many goal victory for the Samba boys. You need a united team to win a World Cup and, I reckon that Tite felt he no longer had full control and that is why he exited sharply. A manager knows that all players must go through fire for each other despite any personal differences. Brazil, with the most talented squad in the competition, obviously allowed egos to dominate and Tite couldn’t stamp it out. No manager can perform miracles if the players refuse to listen. Brazil deserved to go out.
    Saka the great, Southgate not so
    Saka has made excellent strides into cementing his place among the elite players of his generation with most observers putting him at the top of England’s players. I have doubts about Bellingham despite the noise being created about him. He did it against weaker teams. Against France he was anonymous. Southgate is still lauded by England but I have reservations about him. Klopp, I feel is right. He lets the media pick his team. Everyone screamed Foden, he played him. The pundits were saying Bellingham was the greatest midfielder in the world, so he played him. Kalvin Philips played very well whenever picked and I think he was the better option against the French. Bellingham is playing in a Dortmund side that has lost six in fifteen in the Bundesliga, and that league is not as competitive as the Premier league. He may well fulfill his potential but he needs time.

    Gareth Southgate - does the media pick his beard?
    The thing is, Southgate, Ben White apart, seems to have the support of his team. He didn’t have to pander to the media. He could have played what he sees as his best team and would have been supported. Bring Bellingham on if he needed to freshen things up. And don’t take off your most effective player when you were still in with a chance of winning the World Cup. Southgate has been very lucky as a manager, mostly getting weaker teams at major championships and that conflates to a heightening of his reputation. I don’t accept him as a good manager. The Ben White situation is an example of why I feel Southgate is overrated. White has not attracted a reputation of being difficult at anywhere he has been, and a player being sent home, or going home voluntarily from a major championship is an extremely rare occurrence. That is down to Southgate, I feel.

    Jude Bellingham - not the finished product yet
    Egos are in charge
    The contrast with Tite, who is dealing with almighty egos in the Brazilian dressing room, is stark.  One example is that our own Unai Emery, when coach at PSG, famously said that Neymar is in charge. Players should never be and as Tite picked Martinelli, the players needed to work with him. Tite believed in him as he played him, but other players decided differently. Those players should never be allowed compete for Brazil again unless they accept the manager is in charge.

    Tite was given an impossible job
    And what does it all mean for Arsenal? Bring Balogun or Pepe back as backup for Jesus? Can Nketiah step up? Eddie has been training with Jesus and reports suggest that it has improved his game. England’s under 21 all time top scorer, if he reproduces that form, could make it difficult for Jesus to get back in. That is the most optimistic scenario. He does seem a more effective goalscorer than Jesus but Jesus brings an enhanced element of threat with his all round game which has translated into many wins for us. There are rumours of strikers being bought but there always is.
    Arsenal should be ready
    Turner and Karl Hein have shown they can truly challenge Ramsdale. That has to be good for our season. Ben White’s difficulty could mean he has a mental challenge to overcome but I feel the Arsenal family will rally around him. Saliba should be fresh unless he gets picked for the last (possible) 2 games but that is unlikely. Centrebacks rarely get subbed. Xhaka and Partey, so essential to our side, look fit and well. Martinelli will be raring to go as always. It could be worse.

    Olivier just keeps getting better
    I predicted France at the start in a previous blog and still feel happy. They have a strong defensive structure and that is essential. Their midfielders and forwards are top class and they surely will stop the Morocco dreadnought that has lit up this World Cup. Morocco have done it without kicking and cheating to anywhere near the extent of other teams ( I am looking at you Argentina) but France will probably be too gamewise to let it slip.
    A sporting World Cup?
    Argentina have always been thugs without any class and this World cup is no different. Football is a sport and, as such sporting attitudes should prevail. I hope they lose against Croatia.  I think that Croatia will more likely lose, though. Argentina will find a way to win. If Croatia does win, even though I have predicted France, I would love to see Morocco go through. I think that only France can stop an unsporting Argentinian team from winning the World Cup, however. Contrast several French players consoling the England ones and the Argentinians sneering at the Dutch. This has been a pretty sporting World Cup, Argentina aside.

    I still like Emi
    I will finish with a little tiny bit of praise for myself as a forecaster. So far, since I started predicting what we will do in tournaments, I have done pretty well, generally getting to within 3 points of our eventual tally. And I hope I have got this World Cup right. I will do my next prediction next week and as usual, give you all our scores in advance. That part is a bit of fun, but I do get a lot of results right, if not always the scores. Maybe I should start betting, this Arsenal team still look like a good bet to me.

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