By Tony Attwood
We all like to be talked about and of course being talked about is what spectator sports thrive on. If people are not talking about football then the level of interest declines, and the number of people attending matches declines. So people talk less and round and around we go.
As a result of this reality clubs have a vested interest in all this chatter, chatter, chatter, but there are signs that even some of the clubs are getting a bit fed up with the way the media is manipulating the chatter.
The insanity of the transfer rumours of players coming to the club is one thing – we all know most won’t happen and many can’t happen because of the “25” and “Home Grown” regulations, but that’s ok it seems. The rumours can be made up and make players excited no matter the reality.
But talking up players who are leaving because they are fed up, or should leave because they are useless is less helpful to clubs, especially when, as with Arsenal, every single senior player is declared hopeless before the season begins, as happened to Arsenal during the summer.
All this has been bad enough for some time – but it was made worse (as I tried to point out the other day) by the way the newspapers such as the Telegraph encouraged Stoke fans to get ever more frenzied against Arsenal, mostly through claiming that the booing of Ramsey was ok, that Shawcross “wasn’t that kind of player” and that their manager was actually quite a decent bloke.
Of course not every paper will descend to the depths of the Telegraph, but there are clear signs that others are getting desperate in their attempt to find negative knocking stories. Take for example
from Jonathan Wilson in the Guardian. He wants, it seems, “fan fury”. And why is this? “A drip, drip of low-grade antagonistic mediocrity under José Mourinho is slowly eroding everything United have been.” Presumably meaning a club with a manager who could and indeed would bully referees.
I am not quite sure how to define “antagonistic mediocrity” but either way, when has “fan fury” ever helped make anything better?
The Telegraph has gone on a different journey today, saying that Arsenal’s failure yesterday (I thought we drew but it seems like it was a failure from the way they write) was caused by the fact that Xhaka was not playing. Immediately out come the graphics showing that he does more passes than anyone else in the PL which I think most of us knew, but many refused to believe.
Interestingly, one reason for this draw being called failure is because “Manchester United away does not fall into that category just now,” – that category being “‘Big Six’ away assignments.” Which surely raises the question, who is in the Big Six then?
Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hots, Chelsea, Arsenal and… Well looking at the league table that now seems to include Everton. I am sure Merseyside will be happy about that.
As for Arsenal, what we do have is a centre back problem with Holding now being out injured. The options we have are
Mavropanos: he’s been out for a long while, and we have only seen him briefly. Seems unlikely
Monreal: his return has been put back week after week, but if he is fit we know he can play in the centre of defence.
Maitland-Niles: he seems to be able to play anywhere
Elneny: we have seen him play at the centre of defence and I thought he did well in that position although it seems many commentators have a real downer on him.
Koscielny: played 85 minutes of the under 21 game in the Checkatrade Trophy, but may need another under 23 match before really being ready to return. Interestingly some bloggettas have been calling for him to released from the club as he is no good at all. Ah well.
Elsewhere on the pitch within a week of telling us how awful he is, Mkhitaryan is now apparently beloved of the five or six twitter users who the websites always quote to tell us what is going on vis a vis Arsenal players.
So Xhaka has been rehabilitated, and if he can be retrieved then apparently so can Mkhitaryan. Mind you, anything less than a wholesale win over Huddersfield will result in this being a fullblown Arsenal crisis.
It was ever thus.