Ivan Gazidis’ Sunglasses Hut

Good morning to all of you new and old. We have ourselves a game today! You’re a Guy versus Friends. Torriera starts in the midfield for You’re a Guy and he will have his hands full as France start Griezmann, Pogba, and Mbappe. He will also play across the field from the player I have most compared him to: N’Golo Kante.

I wanted to give you an update on tomorrow’s predictions: the system has picked England easily over Sweden and Croatia easily over Russia. I also want to admit that “the system” is only picking obvious teams so, I’m already bored with it. I do expect Sweden to give England much more of a game than the system predicts. Simply because England are poorly structured and play a turgid attacking system. I don’t know how Sweden is going to score but wouldn’t it just be funny if England has like 30 shots to 3 and Sweden goes on to win on penalties?

I honestly think that will be a close approximation of the shot difference. Of if you want, something like 3.2 xG v. 0.7xG. It’s all down to Big Chances – I don’t know how England will create them if they don’t win a penalty.

On the Arsenal news front, I see a lot of people are reading a lot of things into a video put out by Arsenal Media with behind the scenes footage of the players in training with Emery. There’s an opening scene with Gazidis greeting Ramsey and the two of them have a moment. I love the people saying “I’m not a body language expert BUT…”

But.. Gazidis is a dork. In the Introducing Unai video he shows Emery into the bowels of the Emirates stadium, points at a wall and says “this is..” then makes a hand motion like a tunnel, “a tunnel”. In this video, he’s wearing dorky wraparound sunglasses and looks like some middle-aged guy trying to be cool with the kids, inviting them out on his yacht.

Everyone looks uncomfortable in this video because it’s obvious that the GM is inserting himself into the public eye.  It looks like Gazidis taps Ramsey’s arm and says “captain’s armband”. We don’t know what Ramsey says in return. What we do know is that Ivan Gazidis wants to make sure everyone knows that he’s working hard, especially working hard to re-sign Ramsey.

Good. If he gets Ramsey and Torriera to sign for Arsenal, I’ll buy him another pair of dorky sunglasses.

The Gazidis/Ramsey interaction overshadowed the good content in that video: Unai Emery is teaching the players defensive fundamentals. There’s one where he has the players run up to press the guy with the ball, and then follow them as they run past. These are the kind of defensive fundamentals that players like Granit Xhaka desperately need and I love watching him teach this stuff.

In transfer news, the Mirror is reporting that Juventus want Mustafi and Arsenal fans believe the Mirror because they really want to be rid of this player. So far, this looks like a nonsense transfer story. Why on earth would a top club like Juventus want Mustafi? You might as well say that Real Madrid want Chambers.

Right, that’s your scraps for the day. France are winning 1-0. You’re a Guy doesn’t have Cavani. The system would give a big advantage to France without Cavani.



  1. I just reread my comment from the last thread about “it’s coming home”, and realize I sound like a complete scrooge (even more than usual).

    So, on second thought: let em have their fun! I can dislike it and root against them, but I don’t have to complain about it.

  2. Can someone help me welcome the terrier(mad dog) to arsenal.. I thought he had a nice game.. I cant wait for tomorrow!

  3. clinical domination of france over uruguay. yesterday, i said the only way uruguay stood a chance was to score first. while they were game initially, they failed to score and, in the end, got thrown a beating.

    the main thing i wanted to see was torreira against top bpl center mids, namely pogba and kante. first, people comparing lucas to kante, just stop it. kante is world class; that n’golo bar is way too high for lucas, pun intended. at his very best, he’ll be 60% of kante. likewise, he was a full step behind pogba all game while griezmann put on a masterclass. france did what they wanted in midfield and there was little to nothing that torreira could do about it. i think the stats will even show that.

    all of this is not to say that i don’t like him but let’s adjust our expectations accordingly. i hope the scouts know something about him that we don’t that will justify the significant transfer fee. we’d be foolish to expect such a tall order as torreira to be the next kante, pun intended. we’ll see.

    1. Come on stop pretending youre neutral about Torreira. Youve been against him from the off, before you even saw him play.

      Youre right that he’s not at Kante’s level yet, but no one said that he was. Comparisons were made on the basis of stature and style of play.

      He IS better than Kante at one thing. Dead ball prowess, and might have had an assist but for a piece of excellence from Hugo Lloris.

      1. Uruguay’s midfielders clearly deferred to him when a difficult forward pass is required. His core strength and balance just jump off the pitch. I really like his touch with either foot as well.

        A random collection of thoughts but that’s what I’ve got.

        1. Kante , 27, was not the player he is today when he was Torreira’s age, 22. It’s way too early to be too declarative. What we can say on the basis of what we’ve seen, 26m makes Torreira a superb buy. I see a 50m player in two years.

          1. I like him a lot as well, that’s what I was trying to say with those observations.

          2. Also (in defense of LT): most of his teammates are several notches below Kante’s in quality. Without Cavani up front combining with Suarez (and especially given that, having fallen behind to a set piece goal, they had to chase the game at some point rather than just sit deep and defend) Uruguay were always going to be pretty toothless and no match for France.
            But this was hardly a humiliation. France were comfortable, but not really dominant, and to the degree that they were on top, it wasn’t primarily because Kante and Pogba were outshining Torreira. It was because France are a much better team overall than Uruguay, period. So it’s extra silly to draw conclusions about Torreira’s quality from this game (on top of the fact that he’s just 22).

          3. And this, I think, is the telling point. France are a better team overall. Not because Kante outplayed Torreira.

          4. Kante is excellent and a huge part of the reason France are where they are. Platform and all that. It would be silly to say one outdueled the other in this game though, they were both up agains strikers not each other. You could compare their stats but those will be informed by the flow of the game and the tactics employed.

    2. Torreira was excellent, and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say he was Uruguay’s best player today. Arguable, perhaps, but I like what I see, and his dead ball skills are a plus as well.

  4. Neymar’s twattery doesn’t give me sufficient reason to bet against Brazil or root for Belgium. I think that Brazil has too much class, all across the pitch. GK, CB, AM, DM, forwards. They should start Firminho instead of Jesus, who has been a bit of a disappointment.

    1. Neymar dive watch reaches peak moment at 44:50:

      Runs, jostling defender, until both reach the corner of the penalty box. Then, just as the white line is crossed, artistic triple pirouette and plaintive raise of both arms.

      1. 52:10, a spectacular belly flop while attempting to find contact by flicking out his right foot towards anyone close enough to possibly come into contact with it.

  5. Brazil-Belgium could be one of the best matches of this already excellent world cup. I’m betting on the Brazilians to take a narrow, closely fought result 3-2 after extra time.

    1. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of this game is the fro-off between Brazil and Belgium, currently deadlocked at 2-2 between Witsel & Fellaini and Willian & Marcelo. Whose hair will rise highest?

  6. Fernandinho on that Lukaku dribble to set up the KdB goal… You had one job, etc.

  7. You can drive a bus through that Brazil midfield. Tite need an urgent fix there at halftime. Paulinho and Fernandino are not working.

    Also, Firminho > Jesus.

  8. De Bruyne.

    What. A. Player.

    It’s the summer of 2018 and you’ve just been made the manager of a club whose riches scare PSG and City. Your job is to build an all-conquering team from scratch, asap. Who’s your first transfer target, the player to build your team around?

    Off the top of my head (I haven’t given this any real thought), I’m going with KdB.

    1. no way. he’s been solid, for him. but his ability on the ball is markedly worse than Belgium’s other midfielders/attackers, and as a consequence, he ended up losing the ball too much (directly, or indirectly, i.e. his bad touch/choice puts a teammate under pressure). Belgium got away with it in that second half. I get that 2-0 is a difficult scoreline to defend, as you don’t know whether to keep playing your game or get cautious, but they invited too much pressure and Martinez erred in not freshening up his midfield earlier with legs/quality. Is Dembele injured or something? Why do no Belgium managers ever seem to rate him??

      1. He has not been required to show baller skills. Lock the door, break it up, give it Eden or Kevin. And of course, be defensively sound in the air. And he did all of that extremely well. It’s possible to disagree on these things but I thought that he was terriffc… except for the last 10 minutes of regular time when Belgium looked ragged. i guess that the stats will decide this.

      2. And to think of the conflagration when I tried to argue that he would not be completely useless

        1. Can we agree that he plays for an awful, clueless coach at his club? And that he isn’t a bad player? 🙂

          Thing about Fellaini is that, the way Mourinho’s used him (game chasing battering ram), I cant say what his position in the midfield is.

          1. Witsel had a better afro. Count me unimpressed as well. Dont know how he gets into that team.

      3. Will say that, at the very least, Fellaini was better than Witsel. Seriously, Witsel is garbage. How does he get picked for this Belgium side? He was highly rated a few years ago, but the move to China has clearly dulled his talents.

  9. To Doc’s point about building a team around Mbappe… I looked at France today, and suddenly Giroud looks so anachronistic. I think he’s a man whose time has come, I think that France will refresh after the World Cup, and I dont see a place for him.

    When you have quicksliver wing like Mbappe, you need fast CFs to keep up. Two or three times Giroud was in another postcode when Mbappe broke and looked up in vain for someone in support. He can hold the ball up, bring others into play, etc etc. But today, he didnt look sucha good fit for a nimble, mobile athletic France of Mbappe, Pogba, Griezmann, Pavard, Tolisso and Dembele

    1. I didn’t see much of this game but overall I think France benefits from Ollie’s hard work occupying the center backs. That is what buys the space for Griezmann and Mbappe to operate. He is also under-rated as a passer and creator around the box. Having said that, I agree with your point that it would be great if he could do all that and still have the pace to keep up with the counterattack. That was a major limitation of him at Arsenal as well.

      1. I love Ollie, but it’s a world of difference between what he does for France and what Lukaku is doing for Belgium. Lukaku is holding up play, but also turning on speed when needed. Did you see him with that dribble down the sideline in the 2nd half to beat his man? He’s been creating scoring for teammates without taking shots in many cases. I’m still amazed watching his intelligent run and exquisite dummy vs. Japan for the winner. And he still wins the ball in the air.

        1. Lukaku was outstanding. So, so quick, too, which I guess I haven’t appreciated before today.

          1. I’m a bit suspicious of where that speed has come fromTBH. I’m sure I never saw this in the PL.
            Kevin De Bruyne must be the most valuable player in the world right now.

  10. I thought everybody would cheer for the last minutes of TV5. Belgium was above in the first half and kept the score in the second half. Yet, with a so so goalkeeper and a 6 that is always 1’’ from a red card, France is given favorite for the next round. .. Hope you’re keeping on giving England as favorite for the final! No one is beating Belgium, except a Ref in the anti-Arsenal style. You heard it from me.

    1. Hey, it’s always been my hope for a Belgium v England final (with England losing), but my reasons have nothing to do with actual assessment of squad quality and everything to do with how it impacts the start of Arsenal’s season. But yeah, on today’s evidence, you wouldn’t put it past Belgium to beat France (a team I predicted to win the whole thing). England, on the other hand…I think they’ll beat Sweden, but if they face Croatia in the SF, I think they’ll lose the midfield and thus the game.

  11. It’s France’s World Cup to lose now. Too deep, too talented and peaking at the right time. They have in Thomas Lemar, a walk-on starter for most European clubs. On the bench. And MBAppe is only 19?
    Holy Merde!

  12. Well, despite stats show me the opposite, I don’t think so . I hate saying the World Cup is for Belgium now , but; who’s got the best keeper, center half; 6, 10 and center forward ? I know this is a Tim blog and stats are law. We’ll see.

    1. I wish you genuine good luck. It wouldn’t quite be Leicester, Belgium’s “Golden Generation” are too talented for that comparison but it would be unprecedented for a relatively small country to win sport’s biggest trophy. Maybe this is the moment?

  13. ha! what’s with all of the fake narratives concerning torreira? my stance has always been this and only this: i don’t think he makes arsenal a better team, let alone a title contender. that’s my point, full stop. every other narrative is nonsense. i don’t dislike the kid but he simply doesn’t appear to be a premier league center mid let alone a center mid for a bpl championship contender. i see him getting absolutely destroyed by more talented bpl center mids. i’m simply not excited.

    is he clearly better than xhaka, ramsey, elneny, ozil, mkhi, niles, or iwobi? is he better than coquelin, cazorla, wilshere, or chamberlain who’ve just left? what quality does he bring that the club don’t currently have? there is absolutely nothing special about this kid. arsenals are rumored to have a very tight budget and spending £26 million on a guy who’s likely to struggle to even get in the team seems silly. lastly, i never compared him to kante, i dismissed the idea that some people had about the two of them being comparable. it’s not even close.

    today’s game is exactly what i wanted to see; a game where uruguay were behind and he couldn’t be insulated by a sound strategic defensive approach. i wanted to see how dynamic he was. he lost more midfield battles than he won. even griezmann took the ball from him on several occasions. not to mention, it was lucas who lost the ball when france scored their second goal? i don’t need him to be perfect but i’m just struggling to see what everyone else is so excited about. i only see him playing in the europa league. we’ll see.

    1. It was Vecino who lost the ball, not Torreira.

      Your take on Torreira is bad, by the way. It’s not that he’ll solve all our problems, but it’s clear you just don’t understand what he offers, don’t apprehend what he did for Uruguay, and are unwilling to appreciate his qualities. Fair enough. I look forward to him proving you wrong. In my opinion, you’re blinkered. We’ll see who’s right.

    2. I really dont understand your dislike for this guy.. for the record, different players make up a team.. I believe you saw that in that Argentine team.. Lucas isn’t there at the top yet but from what I’ve seen, you’ll be fed with your own pie soon.. you might wanna fix your eyes closer to the screen today to have a detailed view..
      Btw, why don’t you take a look at his stats from the world cup before you crucify him with all the pessimism!

    3. once again, i don’t dislike this kid. i’m simply struggling to see how he helps make arsenal a title contender. I’m struggling to appreciate blowing half of arsenal’s proposed transfer budget on a player i don’t believe is good enough to even get into the arsenal side. you’re right, bun, I don’t understand what he offers. likewise, i don’t give a hoot about what he does for Uruguay. i care about arsenal winning the league and I don’t see torreira making a significant contribution to that end.

      if elneny went for 5 million, this kid is about 9 million; 12 million, max. 26 million is absurd as only özil and xhaka are the only arsenal center mids that have cost arsenal more. maybe I’m dead wrong. I hope I am. we’ll see.

      1. Maybe this will help:


        Torreira is toe to toe with N’Golo Kante, PL champion x2 and widely acknowledged holding midfield savant of a similar build, in virtually every statistical category at the age of 22. The comparison still holds even if we look at Kante’s title winning 16/17 campaign.

        I think we can all safely assume none of us is an avid Sampdoria watcher, so we are forming opinions watching the same Uruguay games. What really struck me was not even his defensive effort, which was very much part of a rote team tactic and thus difficult to evaluate on individual merit, but that when they did have the ball, his team mates seemed to defer to him to make the difficult forward passes. That, for a 22 year old kid in a veteran side, who didn’t even start the first game, speaks volumes about how he played himself into that role and how his team mates view him. That plus the stats profile above makes me pretty bullish on Torreira.

        1. That’s actually a very good link. Many caveats of course, and different leagues, but his numbers defensively are identical to Kante’s — while offering FAR more offensively, and with the dead ball.

          And he’s 5 years younger. A comparison is not off-base at all. In fact, it makes him look even better than I thought he was.

  14. Is it me, or are offside calls being made really, really late in this World Cup? Sometimes the flag doesn’t get raised until the play is finished, or, if it is raised immediately, the ref doesn’t blow the whistle until the play is finished. It’s annoying.

    England are strolling through this match, and should be up by more at half time.

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