I have been a good boy this year. I have been helping my mother get settled into a new routine and helping to raise a wonderful little girl to be an independent, thoughtful, creative, and loving human. Just today I saw a note that my daughter wrote which said “I’m thankful for___” and she put “death”. I had to ask why she put death and she responded “because without death, the world would be overpopulated.” Come on, Santi, you have to admit that’s pretty great. She also thinks death is important because it stops people from doing dangerous things and makes people take care of themselves. I have to agree with her on all counts. She was also thankful for cats, her friend Ireland, and kittens. A pretty solid list I have to say.
I know I haven’t been perfect and I’m sorry for hurting people’s feelings and not living up to their expectations. Frustration always stems from failed expectations. I know because I fail to live up to my own expectations of myself: for example, my daily practice of writing, Spanish, making my bed, doing my pushups and situps, and going for walks to observe the specificity of the universe. One of these days I might get a tattoo that reads “Lower Your Expectations”. I think it will just be a potato with like sacred heart rays coming out of it. As Devo said “I’m a spud man, I’ve got eyes all around.”
What I’m writing you for is to ask for a few things for Christmas.
The first is that I hope you have a speedy recovery from your surgery. I think I speak for many Gooners when I say that you’re just a joy to watch when you’re in top form. Remember that little dance you did when you delivered the set piece to Giroud for the second goal against Man City? Or how you figuratively dance with the ball in midfield as hulking super mutants try to kick you up and down the pitch? We all love that Santi and want him back in the team as soon as possible.
I also speak for all Gooners when I say that we wish Alexis Sanchez would sign a new deal to stay at Arsenal for the rest of his career. Özil is also up for a new deal! Let’s get both of them a new contract for Christmas. Think of these players as Arsenal’s “two front teeth”.
And Arsene Wenger… the poor guy has been written off and has come back from the dead more times than Jon Snow. You know what I really want for Arsene Wenger? Obviously, I’d like to see Wenger lift the League trophy but it won’t matter whether he wins the League this year, people who hate him will still hate him — they will just complain that we didn’t win last year, so what I want for Wenger is to have Jose Mourinho stop talking about him.
I realize this means that Jose Mourinho will have to be incapacitated or have some kind of magical transformation into a human being but all things are possible, right? Maybe you could just deliver a little self-love to Jose. I think that’s his real problem, when he talks about Arsene Wenger he’s projecting. All of that talk about “failure” and “fourth place” and look at his last two teams? Utter failures. Not even fourth place. Maybe if he could learn to accept himself as the flawed human that he is, he could stop being such a bitter, lonely, old man. Send him the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and show him what his path leads to.
I’d love to get Theo Walcott a 20 goal season. Wouldn’t that be the best? He hasn’t scored 20 goals since before his knee surgery but he’s almost half way there with 9 already this season. That’s as many as he scored last season in 42 games.
And how about Jack Wilshere? I just want to get him an entire season of first team football. With you (Santi) getting a little older now, Jack could eventually take your place. Not right away of course!
Can you also bring a consistent starting berth for Granit Xhaka? On second thought, this is probably the toughest gift to give and probably something that Xhaka will need to win on his own. Arsenal’s midfield is pretty crowded. Wenger could start Ramsey, Coquelin, Elneny, Xhaka, and even Ox can play in the middle of the park. So, to “give” away such a precious commodity is probably not fair.
I know that Arsenal are probably going to finish second in their Champions League group but can I wish that Arsenal be given a little luck in the next round draw, for once? I’ve had fun going to Bayern and I’m sure it would be a blast to see Arsenal in Spain but can we just for once get someone like Napoli or Benfica? I’d love it if we could see clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich get kicked out of the competition before the final. It’s so boringly predictable, six of the last eleven Champions League winners have been either Real Madrid or Barcelona. Five of the last six teams in the final were Spanish. I love Spain, but man, can’t we get some diversity? Haven’t we had enough of these teams just buying up all the talent and steamrolling their way to a trophy? If not Arsenal, please consider Leicester? Imagine them winning the Champions League while in the middle of a relegation scrap! That would be epic, Santi.
And finally, I only wish for one thing for myself. If (and when) Arsene Wenger retires I’d like it if Arsenal find a peaceful transition to a new manager and don’t find themselves in the position that Manchester United are currently in. Look at how much money they have thrown down the toilet and nothing seems to be working. They have played managerial roulette and have shot themselves in the face three times. This last time was a shotgun blast. I mean, who hires bitter old Mourinho? Especially six months after what he did to Chelsea and their players. He in effect robbed those players of a year of their short careers. What he did there was criminal. Arsenal cannot afford such a transition and we need to be planning for a smooth changeover now. I’m not asking for Wenger to retire. I love that old man, just look at how he keeps refreshing his outlook on the game, it’s almost like Arsenal have had four different managers during his time at Arsenal. Like I said, it’s just a wish. You can bring me wishes right?
I did not get 4..I could only get 3…pre-2006 post-2006 post-2013
In 1998 he played a very different style of football to the Invincibles. So I have 1998-2001, 2001-2005, 2006-2012, 2013-present.
It’s not much talked about but Wenger played a 3-5-2 when he had Tony Adams in the team.
I could be misremembering (I was a teenager at the time) but I think Arsene only played 3-5-2 consistently in his first season at Arsenal, 96-97, the post-Euro 96 year when practically every team in England bar Fergie’s Man United (even they did it a few times in that period, mostly in Europe and to little effect) started playing 3-5-2. Ever a decade or two behind the rest of the world, English teams treated the formation like it was this exotic new thing, when in fact in the rest of Europe that period was the last great hurrah of the 3-5-2. It was basically extinct in four years (of course it’s now suddenly back, with slight modifications).
For the double winning 97-98 team, the first season Arsene really stamped his authority on the squad, he sold Paul Merson, who had enjoyed a very good year as the attacking midfielder in the middle ‘3’ the year before, brought in Overmars (he had been brilliant as a youngster at Ajax but everyone thought he was done due to injury) and Petit, and went straight 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1), and the rest is history. I remember at the time thinking it was strange that they would get rid of Merson and turn to such a flat, ridged system (in reality Parlour tucked in and DB dropped deep, so it was less ridged than on first inspection), but what did I know?
Tony Adams claims in his book that Arsenal played 3-5-2, but you’ve made a convincing argument.
I went back and looked at the 1998 FA Cup final and you’re right, that’s a 442.
I thought 4 was right. Hazy on the exact years but ..
1. During Invincibles (4-4-2 or 4-4-1-1).
2. With Cesc in the Bergkamp role in a modified 4-3-3.
3. Post Cesc, pre-Ozil in a more traditional 4-3-3 then reverting back to Ozil in the Bergkamp role in a modified 4-3-3 for 3 years.
4. Post Sanchez as ”false 9” and Ozil the “false 10” with the destroyer playing further up-field in an even more nontraditional 4-3-3
Hmm.. I guess going by your comment above Tim, I would say we’ve had more than 4 different “Wengers”. Pretty sure he has tinkered with his formation and style quite a few times.
I would add to this wishlist:
1. No more injuries for Bellerin. It’s obvious we are missing something without him even though we did just put 5 past the Hammers.
2. A return to form for Ramsey. Not the hollywood, Look-at-my-flicks Ramsey, but the 2013 Ramsey who simplified his game and played for team scoring 10 goals in the process
3. A hot hire at the workplace for all Gooners. This has nothing to do with Arsenal but isn’t it nice to have some eye candy at work?
ha ha, amen to 3!
I love the comment about death by your daughter. Very insightful no matter the age. But, especially for an 8-year old (I have an 8-year old). The rest was just football 🙂
I wish we could look invincible again……13 and counting.
I wish for Sandra Bullock and world peace. Actually I do wish the world was a bit better place so that football and Arsenal do not have to be such important and necessary distractions.
I love this blog. I read it every morning & depending on the timezone I am in, either I am early to the comments or, a little bit within the thick of it.
We have the regulars and its like a big family. We are so happy when Arsenal win, I started following them back in 2010 when I needed an escapade to my newly started regime i.e. office.
I am thankful to Arsenal and all of you for the days of joys like last Saturday. Also, I am thankful to Santi who I love and cherish and hope I get to meet someday.
& lastly thank you Tim 🙂
Champions League would be a great sending off for Arsene.
And Özil. And Sanchez.
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