The logic behind Pablo Marí

But of a late afternoon blog from its.

It’s cold, the FA Cup game is rubbish and England are cruising to victory in the cricket. It is one of them dull Sunday afternoons.

Pablo Marí is incoming. He was pictured with Edu in an airport in Brazil. His flight was tracked by Arsenal fans on twitter, and journalists drove out to an airport in London for the exclusive. Hope it was worth the airport parking.

Overnight everyone became an expert on the 26-year-old Brazilian defender. Only he isn’t Brazilian. He is Spanish. It just shows that the twitter experts are clueless.

The fact that no one uttered his name prior to that picture being leaked from Brazil shows no one really knows what is going on. Not a single journalist. Not even David Ornstein (What has happened to the PSG left back he said he were on the verge of signing?). Frauds. The lot of them.

The twitter experts have told us Marí is not Arsenal quality. That he lacks pace. This is despite never having seen him play. Literally basing it on his FIFA card.

Fact is for a defender, a lack of pace only becomes a problem if you suffer from positional ill-discipline and poor reading of the game.

Laurent Koscielny is the perfect example of someone who was not actually great at reading the game. He was always trying to play catch up. His pace got him back on the majority of occasions, but when it didn’t he went for a lunge which gave away a penalty.

Per Mertesacker meanwhile was a much better reader of a game. Despite his lack of pace he was caught out less then Koscielny. Made less mistakes. He was also an organiser. He made his defensive partner play better. Rarely did Koscielny improve his partner through leadership.

Think Tony Adams. Think John Terry. Vidic. Canavarro. Pique. Blanc. None were quick. All were World Class.

There is a justifiable concern that Marí is 26-years-old, spent 3 years at Manchester City being loaned throughout Europe and has spent most of his career in the 2nd division in Spain. But this does not make him a bad signing.

There is actually plenty of logic behind Marí joining Arsenal.

Calum Chambers is out long term. Rob Holding is still returning from his long term injury. Shokdran Mustafi is a busted flush (Marí surely means he is off?).

That leaves Arsenal with just David Luiz- Who is suspended – and Sokratis.

The lack of options at the back meant Arsenal had to move quickly for a defender.

I am sure the club would have wanted to go for a long term starter. Dayot Upamecano for example. But are these players available in a January? Probably not.

So Arsenal could go a level down. Spend £20-30m on someone. But then that takes money out of the pot in the summer. Money that we need to buy an Upamecano.

So we spend £9m on Marí. A 4-year-deal likely on low wages. We are not tying up too much in him. It leaves us plenty of powder dry for the summer.

With Sokratis likely to leave in the summer, David Luiz ageing, question marks over Rob Holding’s fitness and Calum Chambers being constantly linked away, there would easily be a place in the squad for Marí as 4th or 5th choice centre back moving into next year.

We need a defender now. Someone who will not take too much funds out of the summer budget. Marí is that man.


Marriage at Arsenal: Transformation of draws into wins

A great man once famously turned water into wine. An even greater man is charged with the harder task of turning draws into wins.

Arsenal have lost 6 games this season. Only table topping Liverpool, 2nd place Manchester City and Wolves have lost less. It is the same amount of defeats as Leicester City, and less than Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham.

But Arsenal have won just 6 games this season. Only bottom side Norwich City, 2nd bottom Watford have won less. Leicester City have won 15, Chelsea 12, Manchester United 9.

No team has drawn more games than Arsenal this season – 11.

Of our 11 draws in 2019/20, 5 times Arsenal led and failed to win the game.

We led 2-nil at Watford, only to draw 2-2. It was the same story at home to Crystal Palace. 2-0 up only to draw.

1-nil up at home to Wolves, 1-1. Leading 1-nil away to Crystal Palace, another draw. Finally at home to Sheffield United, leading 1-nil. You know the next bit. Draw.

That is 10 points Arsenal have lost from winning positions this season – and does not include leading against Chelsea before losing.

These are not tough games. They are not Liverpool or Man City away where you leave the ground content with a draw even if you were winning. These are games against mid-lower league teams. Sides who you would expect to beat. Especially after taking the lead. Especially at home.

The fact that 3 of the games were at home is even more infuriating.

It does not take much to turn these draws into wins.

Leading by 2 against Watford, we let our opponents back in with one of those silly goal kicks. Sokratis gave the ball away in the area and Watford scored. With 10 minutes to go David Luiz bought down a Watford player needlessly conceding a penalty.

Against Crystal Palace, leading 2-0, the South-London side won a debatable penalty which was originally given as a dive before being overturned by VAR. Arsenal were then denied a late win when VAR ruled out Sokratis’ “winner” late on. An apparent foul by Chambers in the lead up, it is a decision that no referee has been able to explain.

The draw to Wolves came when Arsenal were at their lowest under Unai Emery. A week later he was sacked.

Arsenal were never really on top of the game, despite taking the lead. Wolves had 25 shots on target. Emery had clearly lost the dressing room at this point.

Against Crystal Palace Arsenal went down to 10 men following a VAR decision. Nicolas Pepe nearly won it at the end.

Finally we have Sheffield United. Another game influenced by VAR.

1-nil up, Nicolas Pepe had a penalty appeal waved away that was very similar to the one that Wilfried Zaha won months before in the 2-2 draw with Palace. On one occasion VAR intervened awarding a penalty against Arsenal. On this occasion VAR decided not to award a penalty.

So 5 draws from winning positions. A handful of VAR decisions that went against us. An inability to get that 2nd goal in 3 of the games. A couple of silly penalties given away.

It would not take much to turn those 5 disappointing results into five positive ones. That 10 lost points would see Arsenal move level with Chelsea on 39 points.

Football is a game of fine margins. 5 times Arsenal have led against lower teams. 5 times we have failed to win.

If Arteta can turn draws into wins we will soon start climbing the league table once more.


Dial Square FC – Is it not an Arsenal phoenix club

So The Athletic ran an article this morning about how a fan has set up an “Arsenal phoenix club” with the aim of participating in next season’s Combined Counties Football League – the ninth tier of English football.

In the past we have discussed the possibility of an Arsenal phoenix team similar to that of  FC United of Manchester and AFC Wimbledon.

On the face of it, a phoenix club should be of interest to a few fans. But then you look deeper into the plans of Dial Square FC and you wonder just how it is associated with Arsenal bar the name.

Dial Square FC has been set up by Stuart Morgan.

Morgan told the Athletic  “The club has lost its identity in so many different ways. This Arsenal team, the club, the set-up, the stadium, is nothing like it was in its heyday.” It is a statement that we can all get behind.

He goes on “It’s so commercialised, I sit in club level. It’s soulless, it’s lifeless, it’s not Arsenal Football Club.”

And this is where it starts to fall apart.

He is complained that the club has changed too much, that is too commercialised, soulless, lifeless but then he talks about sitting in Club Level.

For those that don’t know, Club Level is the ring of seats above the bottom tier, and below the boxes. It was created by the club for commercial reasons – allowing richer fans to jump the season ticket waiting list if they were willing to pay double the season ticket cost.

So Morgan is moaning about the club not being what it was, without realising that every time he takes his seat in Club Level, he is part of the problem.

“The reason I wanted to do this project is to go back to beginning, to try and get back to that original Arsenal.”

There is not much green space in Islington. Not many football pitches. And to my knowledge there is no Kingsmeadow size ground (where AFC Wimbledon moved to). A phoenix club was always going to have to move out of the borough. Look at Haringey, Barnet or Camden. A move back down to Woolwich would also make sense.

But Morgan has not picked a borough near Islington, or Woolwich. He has not even decided to start start his phoenix club in London. He has decided to ground share with a side called Abbey Rangers who are based in Addlestone, Surrey.

So here is a Club Level season ticket holder moaning about how the club has lost it’s identity, and yet he is starting his phoenix club outside of London.

The intentions of Morgan need to be questioned.

Back in 2014, he set up Addlestone United FC. Their website shows them playing at the same Abbey Rangers ground that has been picked for Dial Square to play at.

Morgan claims that “we tried to find a suitable ground within our targeted location, but there was no option.” So the only suitable ground he could find was not in London, and one which he has previously hired for the previous club he set up?

Dial Square are not the first club which he has attempted to piggy back off Arsenal for. The Addlestone United crest contain a cannon and the motto “Victory Through Effort”. What has happened to this club? Is he still involved?

Morgan is also trying to raise £50,000 through a Go Fund Me page.

Why is he using Go Fund Me to raise funds? Surely if he is doing this for the love of Arsenal, he should be raising money through an equity release share scheme? Offer 200,000 shares for sale at £1 each, with all revenue raised going into the clubs funds? It would quadruple what he is after and give fans across the globe a share in this new “peoples club”.

When FCUM started, those driving it held public meetings to get fans agreements. The 3 founders of AFC Wimbledon involved the Wimbledon Independent Supporters’ Association before doing anything official. Where is AST, RedAction or ASIA’s involvement? Have they been asked? If so why are they not involved? At the moment it is just one man, using Arsenal’s demise, to raise £50,000 for his starter club.

This is not him going “back to the beginning”, this is an individual who has decided to start a football club near his home in Surrey and decided to piggy back on Arsenal’s problems for publicity.

Dial Square is not an Arsenal phoenix club. It is a team set up by an entitled man that sits in club level, moans about the club becoming too corporate, that it has lost its identity. A team set up outside of London.

Thanks Stuart. Good luck setting up your team. Your vanity project. But do not pretend it is an Arsenal phoenix club.

Just another attention seeker.