Arsenal Supporters’ Trust and Kickaround Magazine support Islington schools

The Arsenal Supporters Trust (AST) has launched an initiative alongside Kickaround Magazine which will see every primary school in Islington receive free football magazines aimed at children.

A donation of a six-issue  subscription of Kickaround Magazine has been made to all 47 primary schools in the Borough of Islington by The AST.

The aim of the donation is to support all school children in the local community to Arsenal Football Club.

It gives every primary school in Islington and its pupils access to the magazine which has been prized for its quality writing and diverse content. It is hoped the donation will assist schools who are constantly experiencing tighter budgets, whilst encouraging reading for pleasure and a continued love of the beautiful game.

Kickaround, which launched in 2018, is the children’s football magazine from the team behind cult publication When Saturday Comes, and puts literacy and learning through football at its heart.

The AST is the official supporters’ trust of Arsenal Football Club. A volunteer organisation, funded by member subscriptions. Its sole focus is related to matters Arsenal it is totally independent of the Arsenal Football Club.

Nigel Phillips, the AST Treasurer says: “We are delighted to be able to bring this brilliant magazine to so many young readers in the immediate vicinity of Arsenal Football Club. We really hope that the children are inspired to read more about the great game of football through the physical magazine rather than relying on devices – and hopefully it will encourage them to turn off their screens and go out and play as well.”

Tom Hocking, Editor of Kickaround, says: “It’s an incredible gesture from Arsenal Supporters’ Trust, who have shown how football can be a force for good in their local community. We launched Kickaround with the aim of using football to inspire young people of all abilities to read about and get involved in the game we all love. We’ve had amazing feedback from parents, teachers and, most importantly, the young readers themselves about our fresh approach to creative a children’s football magazine. It doesn’t matter who you support or play for, football has the power to bring us all together and improve lives. This partnership with the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust certainly does that, and I hope our magazine can make a real difference to the teachers and pupils across Islington.”

The first issue that the children will receive, which features an article on Arsenal Women’s Super League title race and a pull-out poster of Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, will arrive at the chosen schools this week along with an illustrated Giant World Football Map to display in classrooms or libraries.

The AST will also be supporting a football writing initiative for older readers in the Islington Borough in the coming weeks.



Barcelona centreback wanted by Arsenal

Samuel Umtiti is a fabulous player.

He would tick almost every box when it comes to what Arsenal need in a new central defender.

Left footed, left sided, he would provide the cover inside of Saed Kolasinac to allow the Bosnian left back to bomb forward.

At just 25-years-old, he has both the experience and youth to come in between Sokratis & Rob Holding / Kostadinos Mavropanos. An instant improvement to our defence, he would be a short term partner for Sokratis whilst being a long fixture in the heart of Arsenal’s defence.

He is everything you need in a modern defender.

In 2018, ESPN FC journalist Sam Marsden was effusive in praising Umtiti, opining that, “As well as reading the game as if it was a children’s book, timing his challenges to the millisecond and putting his body on the line in the name of a block, [Umtiti] is a daring defender…He takes risks, feeding the ball between the lines, and rarely picks the wrong option.”

I talk about Umtiti because speculation is building that Arsenal are targeting the French defender this summer.

The source of the speculation is questionable.

It comes from Darren Arsenal on Twitter.

Darren is one of the few people on Twitter that I follow, and he is not one of those ITK attention seekers who regularly come out with transfer speculation to gain followers. He does have some insider information, although he called Mikel Arteta wrong in the summer.

I have no reason to doubt the validity of his comment, however whenever speculation starts with an individual from Twitter, it has to be taken with a huge pinch of salt.

When I saw the comment at the weekend, my first thought was “brilliant, he would be ideal”. But in writing this article, there is a big concern – his injury history.

If Arsenal signed Umtiti, he would have to get his play acting out of the system from day one.

He has an embarrassing tendency to take a dive in defence, to roll about on the floor feigning injury. Whilst this might work in La Liga and the Champions League, referees in England are a little bit less sympathetic. They will see through his play acting and wave play on, telling him to get up.

His knee problems are a huge concern.

Umtiti has started just 8 league games for Barcelona this year. The two previous years he started 24 games out of 38.

Each year at Barcelona he has suffered numerous injuries ruling him out of games. It is his latest 3 injuries that our most concerning, however.

His last 3 injuries have all been knee problems – seeing him miss over 30 games for Barcelona. The knee problems in 7 months. It is clearly a reoccurring problem, and one that would make him a big risk to sign.

I have long been of the opinion that Arsenal should cash in on Shkodran Mustafi and Calum Chambers this summer, with the £40-50m in combined transfer fees paying for a single top class defender. That sort of money would secure you Umtiti.

But with his injury problems, can Umtiti be relied upon to be first choice for 38 games a year? And if not should we really be investing big in a player with his injury history?

Were we to go into next season with Sokratis, Umtiti, Laurent Koscielny and Holding, you would be very concerned that three of the 4 have recently had long term lay offs

Koscielny has his long term Achilles injury. He perhaps only has 1 or 2 years left in him. Whilst he can not be relied upon for a season, he is a good, experienced option to have as 4th choice.

You then have Rob Holding who is out long term with a knee ligament injury.

Who knows when he will return? How he will return? And if he develops a long term reoccurring issue?

To then add Umtiti into the mix would be a risk. There would be a high chance that all 3 could be injured at one time; leaving Arsenal with just one senior central defender (I exclude Mavropanos, he is not a senior squad member and has also faced his own problems).

It will then be up to Arsenal to assess the risk, decide if he is worthwhile pursuing.

There is no doubt that, when fit, Umtiti is one of the best defenders in world football. That he would be ideally suited to play on the left hand side of Arsenal’s central defence. That he is a quality player that we could then build the next 5-8 years around.

But there is doubt over his injury record.


Gardening, Gigs and Boxing

We go into this weekend without any football. There is also no mid-week football and no football next weekend.

It is 17 days until our next game – Newcastle at home on a Monday night. So there really will not be too much to talk about over the next 2 weeks. Therefore some of you might be delighted to know that I will take a short break from blogging.

I will only come out of hibernation if something worth writing about happens, but I have always thought there is no point blogging for the sake of it. These people that write about them opening a box with an Arsenal shirt in it. It is content for contents sake. Just after a few more pennies.

Firstly we have an FA Cup weekend and that is followed by an international break.

So what are my plans for the next three weekends?

Plenty of gardening.

My grass needs a cut (have not yet cut it this year), hanging baskets need creating, a fence needs repairing, a fox killing and the decking needs a hose down and sweep. Hopefully the weather brightens ups and over the next 2 weekends I can get the garden in order for the summer.

I am also off to the Copper Box to watch the Charlie Edwards fight and will see Gerry Cinnamon at the Forum in Kentish Town.

The break probably comes at a bit of a bad time for Arsenal.

Unbeaten in the last 5 league games – with 5 wins and a draw – Arsenal have turned a 10 point deficit against Tottenham into a 1 point deficit. It would have been a 2 point lead if Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had not missed that last minute penalty. But let’s not dwell on the past.

It is not just Arsenal’s good form but also Tottenham’s poor form that makes this mid-season break frustrating.

Tottenham are now 4 games without a win – losing 3 and drawing 1. The wheels have well and truly come off.

For part of the break, Arsenal are off to Dubai for a bit of warm weather training.

We are due to play a friendly whilst we are out there. Some have claimed this is money grabbing, that we should not be playing a game. However with a 2 and a half week break we need to play a couple of games to stay sharp.

Whether these are full 90 minutes behind closed doors amongst the squad, or using local sides. We would have played a game out in Dubai regardless, we have just decided to monetise it instead of having it behind closed doors.

The advantage of a 3 week break is it allows the likes of Laurent Koscielny to rest his weary bones before the run in.

Koscielny has been immense recently. Putting his body on the line for the cause of the AFC. At the age of 33 he is clearly on his way out, so the break will give him the energy for the last push in the Europa League and Premier League.

A few wrote him off earlier in the season. I would keep the old dog about.

Next season I would not want him as first choice central defender. I want us to go into the market and buy a top class left sided centre back. I also want us to cash in on Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi.

That would leave Koscileny as 4th choice centre back behind Sokratis, a new signing and Rob Holding. There is life in Koscielny and next season it would be useful to have him in the League Cup team alongside Zech Medley or Dan Ballard.

Yesterday we had the Europa League draw. Arsenal face Napoli. Probably the worst away day we could have asked for bar Chelsea.

Enjoy the next couple of weeks.


Gardening, Gigs and Boxing