By Jonathan Blaustein
First thing’s first. Let’s set the record straight. I write for 7am kickoff, and Tim writes for Arseblog. But there is no transitive property here.
I don’t know those guys.
So when I give shout outs or compliments, please know that I’m being honest. The Arseblog crew are not my mates.
That said, did you read Tim Stillman’s column this week about Arsene Wenger being his surrogate dad? Holy shit! That is as thoughtful, honest, and slightly tragic a piece of Arsenal blogging as you are going to see.
I nearly teared up, myself, but it also made me feel less awkward about my Arsene-Wenger-man-crush. Now listen, I’m not trying to make this sexual, nor oedipal. (It’s more swooning admiration than any curiosity about what’s under the puffy coat.)
I think a lot of us value that we root for such an erudite, Renaissance-man sports hero. Is he not the model for many of us in the hipster-fan contingent? A polyglot, an economist, and he seems to represent a type of integrity that makes us feel good about ourselves.
If you haven’t seen the new HBO franchise “Westworld” yet, please do, as there’s a great scene in Episode 2 in which a man is forced to choose between the white hat, or the black hat, and his decision clues us in to his character.
Arsene Wenger is a classic, white-hat good-guy, and assholes like Jose Mourinho make the perfect foil. I honestly have no idea whether Wenger will slay his demons this year and win a major title. (Bill Belichick went 10 years without a Superbowl victory, and people still hail him as a genius.)
Will Arsene have his redemption? We’ll certainly find out over the next 7 months. And to carry you through on a Sunday, here are a few other questions I have, now that we’ve had a proper chance to see the squad. (But before Saturday’s Swansea game, fyi.)
- How good is Aaron Ramsey? Those of us who watched the 2013–14 season were gifted with scenes of such splendor. Volleyed goals, headed assists. Welsh Jesus played like that for how many months? How can you be that good, and then forget how to play that way?
Is it just that his legs are made of styrofoam? Did you know that styrofoam is made from oil?
Just how good is Aaron Ramsey? He made the team of the tournament at the Euros, ahead of some pretty excellent footballers. Can he be a super-star? Does he need to ply his trade elsewhere to make that happen? Is he Cazorla’s replacement next year? Has Wenger ever made a better purchase than little Santi?
- Is Monreal, Koscielny, Mustafi and Bellerin the best backline in the Premier League? If not, who’s better? We all know that Eric Bailly looks like he’s going to be a nuisance for years, but he’s just one guy.
Tottenham? No, because Kyle Walker is fast, but so is a racing dog, and they’re not too bright either. Chelsea? Please. Man City? Bacary Sagna still plays for them. And Vincent Kompany is 72 years old.
So if Arsenal does have the best back four, how long can they stay healthy?
- Will Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ever come good? Are we not tired of asking? Everybody sees that he’s quick, fast, strong, technical, and he’s got a powerful shot. So what’s holding him back? Furthermore, does it even matter if he stagnates, now that Alex Iwobi is so badass, and we have other talented youngsters in the wings?
- Will Arsene Wenger’s gambit on tough-minded players pay off? Look back a few years. He bought Alexis and Ozil, and each has since won 2 Copa Americas and a World Cup. That’s major winning.
This year, he bought an Egyptian who grew up playing street ball in sweltering Cairo, and 2 ethnic Albanians who were raised as immigrants in Switzerland and Germany. Weren’t we always jealous of the Ivanovich-types? The Kolorovs? The ugly sons-of-bitches who got away with murder?
Lucas Perez matured late, so he had to work out his game in the hinterlands. He had to believe in himself. You know he’s going to shake this Arsenal opportunity in his teeth like a chihuahua hopped up on crystal meth.
Rob Holding’s from the North of England. Enough said. Gabriel, who sucks, unfortunately, played in the favelas of Sao Paulo.
The pattern is blatantly obvious. Arsene Wenger imported a junkyard dog spine into his team, and if it works, Arsenal might finally compete for a Premier League or Champions League title.
Do I think that will happen? Probably not. But we can’t know that for sure, can we? So let’s see these questions get answered between now and May, and you guys can debate as you like down below.