By Bulldog Drummond
In my youth, on hearing that “the season starts today” (as it does for the championship etc, and of course Scottish football) old timers would say “it gets earlier every year”.
To my utter dismay, on realising that the we were now only one week away from the Manchester City match I found myself uttering those words. I have immediately applied for my pension.
But irrespective of my growing ancientness Arsenal and Lazio do play each other tonight at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden with a 7pm kick off (UK time) The match is live on Arsenal.com – all you have to do is register – which I think is free. At least they haven’t charged me.
The big news is Kolasinac is injured and will be for a couple of months if not more. It seems Ramsey is ok, although obviously he might not be risked for this match.
Oh yes and Liverpool have graciously indicated that they are not interested in signing Ramsey despite reports. How kind of them. Perhaps we can say we don’t want the Ox back either.
But how odd that journalists could get something like Ramsey to Liverpool that wrong. Like 100% wrong.
However on the real news front Catalin Carjan has confirmed he has joined Arsenal.
Meanwhile Croatia defender Domagoj Vida is allegedly now on Arsenal’s shopping list – although Foot Lond’s comment that “the Gunners must sell Shkodran Mustafi and Danny Welbeck before they can make a move for the centre-back,” is complete nonsense. 40 posts a day and they don’t know that the window for sales continues until the end of the month.
And simply blaming the Sun as the source (as they do) doesn’t really cut it. Nor does using the phrase “the pony-tailed stopper.” I mean really. For goodness sake. Is there no depth to which these guys will not sink in their mutilation of the language?
Lucas Torreira will play tonight, either from the start or as a sub, as will Stephan Lichtsteiner. Granit Xhaka and Nacho Monreal. Although whether Nacho will play from the start, given that he is the only first team left back left standing, is another matter. If he does I am sure he won’t play the whole game, and I’d suspect he’ll play just part of the match.
As for the keeper, whether it is Petr Cech or Bernd Leno gives us a clue as to who is going to be the new number 1.
Here is what Lazio against Arsenal has looked like in the past. The 1970 game in Italy was the scene of the famous restaurant fight. Radford scored both in that 2-2 draw and after the match the two teams were to have a meal together but a fight broke out, into which most of the players joined. In 2016 at an AISA AGM Bob Wilson said much of the problem came from the fact that the Lazio team were given a banquet and the Arsenal players simply had scraps. Arsenal won the return leg 2-0.
The match is also historically important because after the game JL Manning in the Standard wrote an article “The Thugs Route to Europe,” which was part of a constant campaign attacking the club and its players throughout the media.
In approach that seems impossible today, Arsenal’s programme then published a letter from a fan which read
“I am writing with reference to J. L. Manning’s article in the Wednesday edition of the Evening Standard. Mr Manning’s articles have always left me cold but this latest one gives me little alternative but to express what I am sure are the view of the majority of those present at the match. I have to wonder in fact whether Mr Manning ever saw the game.
“The game was hard, fast and exciting, with thrills and spills in both goal mouths. There was good football, excitement and 100 per cent effort from both teams. Admittedly there was an odd late tackle, but to say it was violent and that it was played in front of a frenzied crowd is nonsense.
“Remember the Misrepresentation Act, Mr Manning! Your article strayed so far from the truth it is almost unbelievable, and all it does is anger those who were present to see what really happened and mislead those who were not.
“Please remember Mr Manning, that it is articles such as this that bring the game into disrepute in the eyes of the public, and not the way the game is played in the eyes of those who saw it.”
There is quite a bit more on the affair on the Arsenal History Society website’s article on the match and the reporting of it, but the thing that really stands out is the way that in those days the club would back supporters in protesting seriously to the media about its utterly make-believe approach to reporting, and its constant knocking of a Arsenal in a way that Tottenham and Liverpool, in particular, were never attacked.
Here’s the full list of Lazio matches...
|16 Sep 1970||Lazio v Arsenal||D||2-2||Fairs Cup|
|23 Sep 1970||Arsenal v Lazio||W||2-0||Fairs Cup|
|27 Sep 2000||Arsenal v Lazio||W||2-0||UEFA Champions League|
|17 Oct 2000||Lazio v Arsenal||D||1-1||UEFA Champions League|
Recent results for Lazio run like this
|6 May||Lazio v Atalanta||D||1-1||League|
|13 May||Crotone v Lazio||D||2-2||League|
|20 May||Lazio v Inter Milan||L||2-3||League|
|25 July||Lazio v Triestina||W||3-0||Friendly|
|28 July||Lazio v SPAL||W||3-0||Friendly|
Triestina are a third division team from Trieste while SPAL came 17th in Serie A last season. Lazio came 5th in the Italian League with an away form that was better than its home form, in terms of results.
As a result of this Lazio are one of 17 teams along with Arsenal and Chelsea that have qualified for the group stages of the Europa League. The other Italian team is AC Milan.
Others are Villarreal, Real Betis, Bayer Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Marseille, Rennes, Krasnodar (Russia), and Sporting (Portugal).
After today’s game they have two more friendlies and then start their league campaign.
We have been told that the likes of Mesut Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Metto Guendouzi, and Sokratis will all play.
The Arsenal statement on Ramsey is that he “Continues to be assessed; aiming to train next week.” As for Kolasinac, “he will be out for 8-10 weeks.”
So who plays at left back in the opening games? Does Monreal after just a week in training or do we use Maitland-Niles who appears to have the ability to play anywhere (he’s probably a backup goal keeper as well).
As we are tending to play four at the back, I would suspect one of the central defenders will be drafted in at left back in this game. But this could be the chance for one of the under 23s such as Cohen Bramall, Tolaji Bola or Dominic Thompson…
Bramall spent last season at Birmingham but in their chaotic way of doing things he only got five games although he did play last summer against Sydney.
Tolaji Bola made 13 starts in PL2 last season and has played for England under 18s. Dominic Thompson has just turned 18 and just signed his first professional contract.
We shall see. After tonight, it’s a case of checking where we are all meeting up prior to next weekend’s game. The regular pub I suspect. Assuming it is still there.
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