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Any Arsenal superstars out there? Can we match these boys? Ramsdale, Turner Tierney, Tomiyasu, White, Saliba, Gabriel, Zinchenko Partey, Xhaka, Lokonga, Vieira, Odegaard, Saka, Jesus, Martinelli, Smith Rowe, Nketiah, Pepe, Balogun Arsenal are the greatest football team Can any of our players become world superstars of the calibre of great names such as Messi, Ronaldo, Cruyf, Beckenbauer, Pele or Maradona? Or eclipse our own great heroes such as Brady, Jennings, Bergkamp, Henry, Vieira, Campbell or Adams? Today I will take a look at the possible candidates (above) and see where we are, at the moment, in such aspirations. I am going to choose from the list above and I reckon there are some surprises there. I will list those you probably will jump on first, Turner, Pepe, Balogun, Nketiah, Lokonga, Vieira, and maybe even Jesus and Zinchenko. Our Best Chance? A world superstar is a player universally recognised as a supreme exponent in their position, someone, who, if any fan were compiling a list of the world’s best team at the moment, would definitely include them in their deliberations. They have to have built up a body of work to achieve that position, titles, international achievements, etc. None…Yet Now, I don’t want to rain on any Arsenal fans parades but none of our players are currently in that position. Some may be heading that way, though. One big change over the past two seasons has been that we can no longer easily say who our most important player is. Saka has been our best, for sure, over the past few seasons, but now? Is Jesus, Odegaard, Partey, Xhaka, Ramsdale, Saliba or Martinelli more crucial to our success? This is the great thing about this emerging team, I can talk seriously about the notion that some could move into the realm of the huge names mentioned above. Surely Saliba is Dynamite? Ok, let’s look at the players. Ramsdale and Turner in goal. Ramsdale needs to grab the England position and keep it for a long time to even dream of being a great in the line of Zoff, Banks or Buffon. He also needs to win titles and global awards. I am not sure where he is in Gareth Southgate’s mind but certainly not number one. This does not apply to Turner, who seems to have cemented his place as US keeper with 20 appearances, and he has got impressive awards such as goalkeeper of the tournament Concacaf 2021, winner of that cup as well, and MLS keeper of the year 2021 among others. This boy might surprise us, I believe he knew the risk coming to Arsenal and challenging Ramsdale, so do not write him off. Nor Ramsdale, if we become a major title winning team over the next few seasons and he grabs that England place. Beasts at the back? Kieran Tierney has all the talent in the world but seems injury prone. 34 games for Scotland and first choice if fit but it is at Arsenal or another top team that he will need to make the transition to world great as Scotland are not a world power. He would need to stay fit and improve. A maybe? Maybe. Super Tom kept Salah in his pocket Tomiyasu – again Japan are not a world power but this guy is good. He is first choice for Japan with 29 appearances and he is one who could do it. He put Mo Salah in his pocket recently. At only 23 this guy could make it. White – the argument against Ramsdale is the same, he needs to force his way into Southgate’s squad and win big trophies for Arsenal. Just about young enough at 25 to do it as some players careers blossom late but becoming a true world great doesn’t seem likely, I’m afraid. But he may still turn out to be top class and just below the level I am talking about and that would do me. Saliba – now here is a player who could do it. 7 appearances for France and I feel they will never let him go. He could be the rock on which both teams rely. Yes, this guy could do it. Gabriel – At 24 still young enough if he can get into Brazil’s team and eliminate his mistakes, sometimes partnerships make centrebacks and Saliba may propel him into the super league but at the moment the level I am talking about seems questionable. Zinchenko – 25 years old and 52 caps for Ukraine but unlikely to win a tournament with them. Let go by City when he should have been in his prime. Probably never to be a world great but very useful and top class. Monsters in midfield? Partey – at 29 is not going to make it into the pantheon. Prized by Ghana although surprisingly only 40 caps. Has won titles with Athletico Madrid and hopefully with us but below world class unless he suddenly turns out to be a true demon. Xhaka – at 30 almost the exact same applies to Xhaka but an astonishing 106 caps and counting for Switzerland. Maybe this attacking role could finally propel him into superstar mode but it is a maybe. Lokonga – too early in his career to say. Needs to force his way into the Belgian and Arsenal teams and stay there. Some of the things he does show possibilities. Vieira - same applies. Odegaard-On his way to the top? Odegaard – would be helped if Norway can play well in big tournaments. But this boy could do it if he wins big at Arsenal. One of our strongest possibilities for this prize. Animals in attack? Saka – our star boy really could do it. Huge competition at England but I believe he will nail down his place. Big chance. Jesus – Body of work for Brazil at 56 caps and 19 goals plus being let go by City in his prime seems to indicate that he is not the next Pele. Needs to become a beast. It’s possible. Maybe he could become the next Pele? Martinelli – Still only 21, he is starting to push his way into the Brazil side. This boy really could do it. I hope it is at Arsenal. Any ogres among the others? Pepe, Smith Rowe, Nketiah and Balogun are imponderables. Time is running out for Pepe but I believe he has tremendous ability. If he got in the right side that suited him he could yet blossom. The other three all have great ability. Goals will make them. They have all shown an eye for goals especially Smith Rowe in a Lampard role, if he could equal Lampard’s goal scoring record, then the sky’s the limit. To me he is the best of that bunch. And of course, young players such as Patino could come through as well. So, I would say our best possibilities are Saliba, Odegaard, Saka and Martinelli. If they go on to do it and stay with Arsenal, of course, I would say Man City and others would need to buy big to stay with us. 4 true world class players like the players named at the start, and the rest almost so, would make us the best team in the world, I feel. Am I right? I hope so but I would take them being the equal of Wenger’s best when we felt we had a great chance in every tournament we entered. C’mon the world class Arsenal.
Arsenal vs Watford No Cojones at all? We can't hear you, Troy Yes, it’s a derby. Yes, we are far ahead in terms of trophies. And so yes, we are far ahead in terms of wins? Well, not really, they have 12 wins to our 19 and we never seem to draw. Only 2. Lots of colour It is difficult for teams around the capital to register wins because there are so many derbies but Watford have shown that they have little reason to be fearful of us. And of course, they have that 2 famous wins in a row in 2017 which proved their undoing. Troy Deeney famously said we have No Cojones thinking they had found the magic formula to defeat Arsenal. Sorry, but no team has ever found that formula. He must have regretted that as we thought them a lesson ever since then with only one draw in 2019 to show. Don’t make fun of the Arse, Mr Deeney. We will bite you on the bum. We couldn’t find our balls But still, 12 wins, despite rarely being higher than us in the league is a good achievement. They spent a long time away from the top flight, you see, only managing their breakthrough in 1982, so the only way we could see them was in the cups, but they rarely got drawn against us. 3 FA cups was all that happened up to that point and all went our way. 3-0 in 1906, 3-0 in 1910 and 2-1 just when they were starting to come good under Graham Taylor and Elton John in 1980. So we taught them early lessons. Take those 3 away though and you can see a bit of a different picture, now, since they came up to the top it is 12 wins to our 16 and the 2 draws. They have been a tough competitor for us forcing us time and again to show that we actually do have Cojones. They are not a major heavyweight team like Arsenal but make us fight for our wins despite their status. Were we really as bad as this? The Hornets and the gay superstar I want to admit something at this point. There is something likable, for me, about Watford. I loved when they appeared on the scene under Elton John. No major star like him had owned a football club and football when I was young was extraordinarily macho. A gay man, with the maximum paraphernalia of such men, was in charge in the homophobic football world of England. And they were colourful, using to maximum impact their yellow, black and red colours. They played at Vicarage Road which seemed oddly appropriate for Elton John. They were flamboyant, and they were good. I love the tie, Elton And I didn’t really like that because they did the double over us in that first year. 4-2 and 2-1 on their way to being runners up and leaving us behind in a trail of dust. They nearly won the league despite there being 3 teams who had recently won the European Cup, Liverpool, who were on their incredible run of dominance, Notts Forest and Aston Villa. They appeared like a colourful rocket, blazing through the sky and making light of their tiny ground and humble origins. And they also sent us home crying to teach us a lesson that they had arrived, they were in London and ready to take us on. Maybe Troy Deeney was right, even though he wasn’t even born then. Beating Watford requires Cojones. And they showed us we hadn’t got them. Tactics Graham had his testes removed And we didn’t. They came up and kept teaching us lessons but we never seemed to learn. The old first division was their stomping ground and they just kept beating us like an old whipped dog. They played us 12 times – they won 9 times and drew once! OMG, who are these Hornets? We even played them in the FA cup in 1987 with the magical George Graham in charge. Made no difference. 3-1 to them at Highbury. I mean, we are the Arsenal, we have trophies, we have marble halls, we are the kings of London and you are telling us we have no Cojones? And worse, proving it? Watford almost removed his testes Even when they got relegated in 1988, they did the double over us. And we didn’t see them again until the Premier league was in full swing in 1999. We were fully Wengerball by then. We must have grown a set of balls or maybe they lost theirs because we did the double over them and sent them back down. We got them in the Fa Cup in 2002 at Vicarage Road and destroyed them 4-2. They came back up in 2006 and again we sent them back down with a double 3-0 and 2-1. Can Bull Serum help? And so 2015 and their current incarnation as a Premier league team. This time when they came up they had recovered some of their Cojones and sting. We squeezed their balls with 3-0 and 4-0 but they bit ours in the FA cup 2-1. We beat them 3-1 in the next season but then they had their little run which foolishly prompted Troy Deeney to declare we had No Cojones. They won the next 2-1 at the Emirates and then won again 2-1 in the next season. So, in around a year and a half, they beat us 2-1 three times. They thought they had rediscovered the magic formula of their first division years. Is it true we needed this? Eh no, we are Arsenal. We are the boys with the big balls. And so, Mr Deeney, all you have to show is one draw in 2019 since then. Go home crying and try to find your Cojones. I have heard rumours that Arteta, as a student of the game, has been feeding our players Taurine to improve the size of our balls based on what you did to us in the 80’s. He doesn’t want a repeat by any upstart team trying to break our balls. You need balls to score penalties like Arteta Watford have never managed a win against him – long may that continue! And yet I hope you stay up and beat our rivals. The Premier League is poorer without you, your colourful fans, your family orientated ground and your bigmouth strikers!
A Magical 61 points? So, will we have one more day of hope after Wednesday?. First, we must beat Palace and that has proved tricky in recent seasons. Then we must beat Brighton to get the magic 61 points. They have also been difficult for us as has Graeme Potter. We absolutely need 61 points to have a hope. Everton look the most vulnerable as they can win and draw and we finish above them. They are only one point above us. They have to win both matches if we do. They have Wolves which they must win, and, finally, Man City away. City will not want to lose on their last day at home. There is some chance we can finish 8th, even without winning our last 2. However, that will not get us Europe. What will? We need Spurs and West Ham to drop points. If they both win on Wednesday we are out. Let’s take the Spuds first. They are on 59 points but a far superior goal difference. They have Villa at home and Leicester away. Even 2 draws is enough for them as we would need to make up 11 goals in the 2 matches. We haven’t been scoring at that level for a long time. We need Spurs to only get one point from these 2 matches, so, and it is possible but unlikely. They are the Totteringham specialists, though, so you never know. Do the Arse a favour and only get a point from your last 2 matches, thank you very much, Mr Levy. C'mon, Dan, you can do it for us, you are an expert at it. And Magically into Europe? West Ham also have 59 points. They play West Brom away and Southampton at home. This time we can allow them 2 draws as our goal difference is much better. It is possible, I suppose. Certainly a defeat against Sam Allardyce could happen as he would want to teach his old club a lesson. And then Saints? You never know. West Ham are not firing fully right at the moment so they could drop points. If they both flounder we go 6th and straight into Europa League. If one does then we go 7th and Europa Conference. Of course, assuming Everton doesn’t get 6 points but I am pretty certain they won’t. Make us smile, Sam. So, can we do it? Beat Palace and Brighton? Yes, we can. However, like most fans, I don’t have that much confidence after the season we have had. Do it, and we will finish 8th minimum, and that is an upgrade on last year in points but not position. Arteta, and the Kroenkes (OUT) can claim improvement. If it gets us 6th, they can definitely claim improvement. Also 7th but for me, this conference doesn’t seem attractive. It might be better to have plenty of weekdays free to concentrate on the League than travelling to the backend of nowhere. Less matches might be better for the young kids. A Dead Man Walking Of course, if we get very little from these 2 matches we will finish worse than the 8th place of last year. What then? Certainly better ammunition for the Kroenke out movement. And Arteta? I doubt if he will be fired but he will totally need a flying start to next season or he is a dead man walking, like Bertie Mee all those years ago, and Terry Neill, also a long time ago. He won’t get anywhere near as long as either of those. Wins are his only currency from now on. For me, his biggest weakness, and that of Emery, is his reluctance to have a settled team, partnerships that work, players that know each other. Look at Smith Rowe and Saka. They find each other. They strengthen each other. Wenger believed in a settled team, so did George Graham. They didn’t do too badly, did they? And can I mention Leicester? Rodgers has a team that play for each other and we all pretty much know what he feels is his strongest team. Even Tuchel does the same, plays his preferred players in the big matches. They are showing us the way For me, it would be develop the kids. Keep a spine of experienced players, but give these lads a chance. Fans keep saying buy, buy, buy, and I say why? Are they better than Willock, Maitland Niles, Reiss Nelson, Saliba, Balogun, Nketiah, and others? Then why buy? Only if they improve the team should we buy. Otherwise we are just bringing in players, interrupting the flow of understanding, constantly saying they need time to adjust to the Premier League and, critically, not improving. The young players already there know all about English football and what is required. Top players like Pepe and Partey have struggled. All I am saying is “Give youth a chance”, and next year I might be writing at the same stage that we have a good chance of Champions League. Up the Arsenal and Kroenke out.