Arsenal: top of the League until after Christmas

Christmas came early for Arsenal this year, with Santa delivering a massive bounty of presents to Gunners the world over: Man City losing to Brentford, Newcastle defeating Chelsea (thanks to a Joe Willock goal), Spurs barely winning in a 7 goal match at White Hart Lane, and Arsenal cruising to a 2-0 win over Wolverhampton in the Midlands.

Arsenal started the game slowly and given the results earlier in the day many Gooners were worried that we might not capitalize and extend our lead at the top. I wasn’t worried at all, not when Saliba made an inch perfect tackle which was reviewed by Mike Dean in the VAR, not when Martinelli foolishly turned the ball over and sparked a counter where they got off a clean shot, not when Saliba made a sloppy turnover and Guedes got another shot off, not when Adama clobbered Ramsdale in a counter, not when Podence got off a bicycle kick, and certainly not when Zinchenko was lazy/predictable with the ball and made a lazy tackle to let Podence have a shot on target. Why? Wolves have the worst attack in the League, they are the worst finishers in the league, and they have the very worst finisher I’ve ever seen play football starting up top as a “striker” in Adama Traore.

How bad are Wolves? -7.3 goals-xG from open play, the worst in the league. How bad is Adama? 9 goals in 8 seasons. 9 goals on 158 shots. 5% finishing! Fucking half of the whole world of football average. 12.2 expected goals in 8 seasons. If starting Greased Lightning as a striker was Lopetegui’s “big idea” after taking over Wolves, they are certain to be relegated this season. What Wolves need is to buy three forwards who can finish in January.

Wolves never once raised my blood pressure and Arsenal seemed to understand this, taking a bit of a casual approach in the first half. Part of the reason for the slow start might be down to illness. Arteta after the match revealed that several players were struggling with “tummy issues” and Granit Xhaka was so affected that he had to ask to be subbed off in the 2nd minute.

But despite our seemingly nauseous start, Jesus had a goal disallowed for offside in the 5th minute and another glancing header in the 23rd minute, hit the bar in the 35th minute, had a poor shot in the 39th minute, and even had one of his trademark dribble slaloms blocked in the box. Arsenal dominated possession and Jesus was the main target in the first half.

In the second half, Arteta did something a bit odd. Jesus started popping up in the wide areas more often. This stopped Wolves from doubling and tripling on Saka. It freed Vieira and Øde in midfield. And it was the reason why Øde scored both goals in the match.

The first goal was Vieira’s assist – and it was a beauty of an assist, clipped over the defender’s foot perfectly to Øde in the middle – but it was Jesus’ slide rule pass that made that goal. Jesus has the uncanny knack of making passes and dribbles a microsecond before the defender curries on to what’s happening. Watching the pass in slow mo, I was even surprised by the timing, and I knew what he was going to do!

The second came because Zinchenko got so wide open in the box that he had time to read Ivanhoe before picking out a pass. They defended that one ok, but the ball pinged around and Martinelli had a shot, followed by a shot for Øde, who is a clever finisher and scored easily.

Not enough column inches have been written about Øde’s finishing so here we go: he’s not a panicky power merchant, he’s a cerebral finisher. He waits, he finds the opening, and like any truly great midfield goalscorer*, he passes the ball into the net with supreme precision. Think Özil but with icewater in his veins. If there’s any player I want to have the ball in a goalmouth scramble it’s Martin Ødegaard. And the best part is that he’s going to get better. Smart players like him know their weaknesses and work on them. I bet you that one day – long after he’s won the League with Arsenal – he’s going to win the Capocannoniere for some Serie A side because the manager saw his potential as a second striker.

That was that. They had a few half chances but Arsenal’s defense is just too good at the moment and swallowed up any real chances or palmed them away. And so we go into the worst ever World Cup with a five point advantage over Man City.

What’s next here at 7? Well, I’m not entirely sure. I feel conflicted about watching the World Cup. On the one hand, it’s the World Cup. On the other hand it’s being hosted by Qatar, which is a brutal dictatorship that enslaves foreign workers and murders LGBTQ+ citizens. My son is trans, he wouldn’t be able to go to Qatar, no matter what they say in public about “everyone being welcome”. Yeah, you can go to the World Cup in Qatar. Just whatever you do, don’t be openly gay.

And let’s make no bones about what Qatar stands for. Until very recently they still had wild anti-semitic tropes in their school textbooks. So you can add that to the brew of homophobia, sexism, and religious intolerance.

Not only that but Qatar is wealthy and able to host the World Cup only because they extract oil and natural gas, two things which are literally killing the planet.

Honestly, it’s hard to even consider watching this World Cup.

And yet, it’s the World Cup. It’s the greatest football spectacle in the World. I would love to see Saka or Martinelli lift the World Cup. And imagine Gabriel Jesus as the hero of the World Cup, returning to Arsenal a winner in December. Winning begets winning. We haven’t had a World Cup winner at Arsenal since the Invincibles, have we? Imagine having multiple World Cup winners when Brazil lifts the trophy.

I need to think about it more. If you have advice, I’ll listen, because I honestly don’t know what to do here. Will boycotting the World Cup make things better for any gay folks or foreign workers in Doha? Is it just a foolish principle on my part to skip this one World Cup? And what do I tell Avie? Sorry, son, I’m watching a World Cup being hosted by a country where you would be illegal. A country where you would have to literally escape in order to be yourself. Is it enough to just write in protest here every day? To witness? I don’t know.


*If you think that Frank Lampenalty or Steven Penaltyard were good finishers, I have a crypto scam to sell you.


  1. Correct me if I am wrong but replays showed Saliba ran into guedes, tripping him up before he got the ball?
    Also ozil, mertesacker and podolski were world cup winners while at arsenal.

    1. At the same time, the pass to Guedes looked very much offside to me (and the photos I have seen easily prove that). Maybe that is why the VAR didn´t intervene. Unfortunately for us! Because if VAR did intervene and said it was offside, then the articles (on metro, skysports etc.) that VAR got it wrong in Arsenal favour would be ridiculous (=offside).

    2. I looked at this in detail because of some of the reactions. There was a marginal offside call in the buildup with the linesman on that side trailing play by a few yards. So when the collision between Guedes and Saliba happens, everyone looks up and sees the flag, and they jog back to center. There are no howls from the home fans, there are no appeals from the Wolves players (Incredible! You’d think they could vehemently protest and feel aggrieved by the appearance of a snowflake in winter), play just goes on. You just get the opposition coach griping about it and some pundits on Sky agreeing with him. I get where they’re coming from. It could have gone their way, but it didn’t, and that’s not because anyone did anything wrong.

      Even if you ignore the offside and look only at the incident between Guedes and Saliba, it’s not a clear foul. You can’t even call it a “challenge” by Saliba because all he does is run step for step with Guedes. It’s the Wolves man who initiates the contact unwittingly by trying to play the ball with the outside of his foot. As he does so, he collides with Saliba. It’s incidental contact. Could you have given a penalty and a red card? I suppose you could, but it’s not a clear and obvious error not to do so. That’s all the VAR is looking for. The fact that it was Mike Dean speaks for itself. If there is one man who has absolutely no pro-Arsenal bias, it’s him.

      In order to overturn that sequence of events, he’d have to go all the way back to the offside, determine that it was given in error, and then ask the referee to also consider a penalty and a red card in the action that followed. Would that have been more fair? I really don’t think so. Both the offside and the penalty box incident were marginal calls. It’s the referee’s province to decide incidents like that and outside of the remit of the VAR, or we would end up analyzing every single bit of contact on video. I do not think there was a clear and obvious error on either call, so the referees did exactly what they were supposed to do.

  2. The Saliba thing to me looked like it could have gone either way. The offside being thrown into the mix was fortunate for us.

    As for the WC, I’m pretty much about where you are…very conflicted. The West obviously has a pretty poor historical record on a lot of these things as well, so it can seem a little hypocritical for us to be complaining about mistreatment of anyone. And getting the Middle East countries diversified from petro is not a bad thing, for them or the planet. But it’s hard to look past the things you mention, and the fact that we did it in the past doesn’t make it OK for someone else to do it now.
    So afraid I probably don’t have much helpful advice on how to make a choice. I suspect I probably will watch at least a few of the more compelling matches, the England/Wales/US/Iran group is pretty interesting. England should go through…after that, seems a toss-up.

  3. It should be blindingly obvious by now that Arteta is a special coach.

    I wonder what Arsenal would do with improving the squad re title challenge.

    Are we going to wait for balogun, patino and BNC to get ready?

    Arsenal need a passing #8, #6, winger who can play both sides and a LCB to win the league

    Re WC, I personally am going to watch it.
    Me not watching is not going to help anyone.
    I will just watch the players I like.

    1. Wonder why Arsenal need to loan players out fo improvement compulsively ?
      Is there no one generational enough to teach tactics , appraise strengths and weaknesses and improve the academy players on the bench like the teams we loan our players to, do . Of , course there is slack in case of other leagues , but not even in Championship sides. Guess some tinkerers need either a cheque book or ready made solutions to work, specially now looks players appear to have freedom to express themselves, which was overdue.

      1. I think there’s some fair criticism in here of Arteta and the previous two years. We were a team that at one time bought Willian – and played him a lot and let him get away with stuff off field – instead of developing youngsters or giving youth a chance. Same with giving a big contract extension to Auba knowing full well that he was a bit of a head case. But with all things there is a learning curve and I think Arsenal, Arteta, Edu and everyone at the club had a lot of learning to do. Thankfully, it looks like they have done it and that we are a lot healthier for it. So, while I don’t think the 2019-2021 Arsenal should escape criticism I do think that 2022 Arsenal needs to be praised for learning from those earlier mistakes.

        1. Most of criticism was rubbish tbh.
          There were plenty of mistakes of course. But that is something every top coach also make.

          Of the 2 examples you gave, willian was an error but Auba wasn’t

          Arteta inherited a horribly imbalanced squad which had 1 reliable goal scorer and zero creativity.
          Every team needs 2 scorers/2 creators/2 outlets.

          We had one reliable goal scorer and martinelli had suffered a long term injury too.
          In that context, his contract made sense.
          But the way we used him was stupid.

          Broadly the main mistake in this era was wrong prioritisation of resources.
          Anyway that only delays success not prevents it.
          Hopefully we act properly in the last phase of this process

        2. Isn’t 2022 Arsenal just the culmination of the groundwork that was laid in 2019-2021? The decisions that have led to this squad and this manager and these results didn’t happen this season. They were a result of a unified plan that was put in place after the appointment of Arteta and carried out with unwavering focus. It was ugly for a while because it had to be, because you can’t just flip a switch and play high level juego de posicion anytime you want or with any group of players. To come from where we were when Unai was sacked to where we are now in just 3 seasons is nothing short of incredible and it was a true team effort from top to bottom, culminating in the expression of fantastic offensive and defensive football on the pitch. I’m so proud of our club for that. To me, going back and saying yea but Willian is like looking at a magnificent cathedral and moaning about the gargoyles.

          1. I think you are overstating the case by a huge margin.

            “Isn’t 2022 Arsenal just the culmination of the groundwork that was laid in 2019-2021?”

            A little bit, yes, but there were a ton of huge missteps in here with Saliba, Auba, Ozil, EWillian, Pablo Mari, etc.

            “The decisions that have led to this squad and this manager and these results didn’t happen this season. They were a result of a unified plan that was put in place after the appointment of Arteta and carried out with unwavering focus.”

            Sorry Doc but that doesn’t match with what I saw from 2019-2021 in terms of player recruitment and retention. You can’t convince me that them giving Auba a huge pay raise and then paying him to go away the next year was part of any plan. He literally took time away from the development of Martinelli, for example, who could have been one year further ahead in his development. We also hired EWillian, who at the time I had to really search my brain for why we were doing that and concluded that the only reason was that they wanted a player who created chances (because if you remember, we truly struggled with that). Then there was the Ceballos double-dip loan, loaning out AMN, bringing him back, loaning him out again, refusing to sell him. The intensely bizarre way we treated William Saliba. Hiring Pablo Mari.

            We literally looked like a team that didn’t have a plan for the vast majority of that time. And you can’t convince me that all of those missteps were part of the grand plan to get the team we have today. We didn’t give Auba a three year deal because we knew we were getting Gabriel Jesus this summer. We didn’t try to re-sign Lacazette because we knew we were getting Jesus. We didn’t buy Nuno Tavares because we knew we were getting Zinchenko the next summer.

            We made moves for the first two years of Arteta’s tenure in order to get back into the top four. That was our goal and Arteta played pragmatic football in order to do it. After failing to do that twice, at great expense, we did, finally, hit on the idea that we needed to buy youthful and rebuild the squad and did start buying the players to play a more obviously Pep-inspired type of football.

            “you can’t just flip a switch and play high level juego de posicion anytime you want or with any group of players”

            No one is saying that. What I’m saying is that we didn’t really evolve into what we are seeing today. For 18 months we played the worst football I’ve ever seen from Arsenal. It was only after that failed to get us to the promised land that we actually started seeing us try to even play decent football.

            I will happily join you in applauding what they have done in the last 12 months at Arsenal. There has been (from what I’ve seen) a real group effort to change the culture at the club (finally) and an understanding that we needed a full rebuild rather than just slotting in expensive parts. I will also applaud Arteta for finally starting to give his players a little more freedom on the pitch and allowing them to express themselves in attack, something we haven’t really seen from him because he is at heart a defensive coach first.

            But I can’t sit here and look at the “cathedral” and let you try to tell me that it was all part of the plan when we obviously built it up and tore it down three times before finally settling on this design.

      2. 1) Wonder why Arsenal need to loan players out fo improvement compulsively ?

        Because they are not ready and fans will not accept us tumbling down the table to watch them develop.
        They will get relentless abuse on SM.

        Playing regularly is important for their development
        They won’t get regular playtime here so best get it elsewhere.

        2)Is there no one generational enough to teach tactics etc etc

        Watch us more closely.
        Compare the players now to when they first got into the team.

        We are very well coached.
        Some of our players have developed far beyond natural progression.
        But for development, playing time is very necessary too.
        Hence the loan

        3) Players now have the same strictness/freedom as before.

        Just more versatile players have entered the team/some players have developed to be more versatile to utilize the freedom better.

  4. I posted an article earlier that reflects how feel about this world Cup. I won’t be watching or following at all, except perhaps the final, particularly of Argentina makes it (for Messi, why else?)

    My country qualified for the first time 36 years and Bayern’s Alphonso Davies and Lillie’s Jonathan David are genuine stars but I just can’t bring myself to watch. Doubtful we’ll get out of our group but this huge for the experience they’ll get.

    1. I’m predicting an Argentina vs England final. Argentina to win because Southgate doesn’t know what a midfield is and will play a 7-0-3. (A better coach would’ve won the Euros and not via penalties).

        1. If Argentina wins it settles the GOAT debate once and for all. If England wins we have Saka coming back and getting the respect (from the refs? Pft!) that he deserves as a young, world class player.

    2. My other prediction re: WCQ is a lot of social activism. Some large things perhaps; like people handcuffing themselves to goalposts protesting against oil. Or some smaller/more subtle things; like players wearing rainbow laces or armbands or brandless shirts (I seem to remember reading that some team sponsors have pulled out and/or using dulled kit colours in protest).

      I think I’ll end up doing what I did for the WCR (and for similar reasons); skip the group games and watch from the semis onward. Still get a small football fix but also contribute to lower TV ratings. 🤷🏼‍♂️

  5. I think using your platform to make clear the specific problems in Qatar is a good action. This article laid those out perfectly and your personal connection to their human rights abuses makes it a strong statement.

    What does a boycott do? And who is it for? Is there a “boycott the World Cup” movement that is trying to implement change? I personally try to participate in boycotts like BDS that are organized but still I am not sure how much buying the store-brand hummus instead of Sabra is making a difference. Plus there are lots of things I can’t effectively boycott – like oil or coal or health insurance companies.

    If you don’t watch the games, will the tv companies or advertisers pull out? Probably not. Framed like that, engaging with FIFA and the World Cup seems like a personal choice (which is a cop out answer). And yet all soccer organizers seem bad on a moral level (Europa league final in Baku/Moscow). Like the meme says, “society is bad and yet you participate in it.”

    Whatever you decide will involve some level of self-justification but being alive in general involves that. For you, might be worth talking with your son to see what he thinks. It doesn’t seem like there are any easy answers for people who care about gay people and workers and their rights.

    1. I make my own hummus! Zahav (Jewish cookbook by Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook) has a tremendous recipe.

      1. Steve’s my neighbor 2 houses down here in South Philly (yo!). He and Mike are part of the Hospitality industry “good guys” team. His hummus is somewhere between fuckin “excellent” and “incredible”. The tahini they use is called SOOM, and that shit is the truth. I would brush my teeth, groom my beard and fertilize my garden with it if my wife would let me.

        In response to whether boycotting WCQ is the answer. I suggest that boycotting and having a planned, active alternative that like minded folks to share would find some traction.

      2. There was an episode of the Netflix show The Good Place that was poignant for me. In it, the characters are trying to figure out why nobody has gotten into the good place (heaven) for so long. They conclude that its because of the world’s tremendous complexity. Buying your grandmother roses in 1710 was worth 50 points to the good. But the exact same action in 2019 was worth minus 25 points. Why? Because in 2019 the roses are grown with harmful pesticides, they might be cut by migrant workers who are abused and underpaid, shipped in gas guzzling trucks or planes, and stocked by greedy chain stores who only care for profit, and so on.

        I had no idea Sabra was shady, and its overwhelming to think about all the little misdeeds I might be committing by buying such and such product or going to such and such place or attending an event that might be sponsored by the wrong sorts. It seems like a full time job to keep up with and devise ways around them all. Are we all just scewed?

        That said, this WC is as obvious as it gets and I’m still going to watch because I’m a selfish bastard and I love the world cup. No good place for me, for sure.

    2. I think if Tim asks his son what his son thinks about the whole World Cup fiasco, not just the LGBTQ issues but the human right issues for the migrant workers, that puts pressure on his son, who presumably knows that Tim is a big football fan.

      I know that one person not watching makes no difference to the aforementioned issues, but it may make a difference to Tim’s son, and that is the most important bit.

      I apologize if the above comes across a bit too sanctimonious; that was not my intent, and as a parent to a pre-teen, I know it is too damn hard to get things right

  6. Excellent piece, sir. I do think that was a penalty against Saliba (and therefore a red card)…even though my rose tinted glasses led me to claim at the time that it was simply a coming together, Saliba took the man not the ball and that’s a pen (and red card), every day of the week. The lateral replays on Sky suggested there was no offfside in any stage of the build up. However, the VAR decision in our favour raises all sorts of questions. Did Mike Dean, on VAR duty, decide in our favour because a) he is incompetent (that’s a given); b) because he is expiating his guilt for all his terrible decisions against Arsenal over his career; c) because he is making up for the ludicrous pen and red card given against David Luiz on that very ground a couple of years ago or d) any combination of the above? Whatever, it wasn’t given, we won and it boils the piss of all the right people. Big win! The kind of game champions win by hook or by crook and also-rans draw or lose.

    I appreciate and share your conflicted thoughts on the world cup. The selection of Qatar was not only a huge mistake for all the reasons you elucidate but was also mired in corruption. After Putin’s Russia and despicable Qatar, should we look forward to tournaments in North Korea and Afghanistan or do they not have enough readies to lubricate the voting process? Personally, I will not watch any matches that do not involve an Arsenal player

    1. Hi BG.

      I understand why some folks think it’s a pen and I think last year it would have been, hands down. We have seen some incredibly soft pens this year still (de Bruyne???) and yet also I think the advice this season is to allow the call on the pitch stand (more often than not, though again, they chalked off Martinelli’s good goal against Spurs via VAR) and that the refs are supposed to allow more contact than before. I’ve seen quite a few things that I thought were fouls let go including a pen for United in today’s match which I thought was very clearly a foul.

      So, I think on the balance it was a good call considering how they are supposedly calling things this season.

  7. Bringing on Vieira was a mastertstroke by Mikhel. Lots of other options but he made the right choice and it paid off. Vieira is still inconsistent by there’s a player in there if he gets enough minutes to show it.

    I have similar conflicting feelings about the WC. Abhor the human rights abuses and policies, and I can understand you choosing to stay out, as Avie’s dad. You have my support whatever you choose, because I know how well-considered your decision will be.

    I have a friend who made the Olympic team in 1980, only to be denied the chance due to the US boycott that year. Years of training and sacrifice go down the drain, and it’s devastating. Similarly, these guys get one or maybe two chances to play in a WC, and I feel for them. They don’t choose where the games are held. I can’t imagine any of them passing it up.

    I think I’ll redouble my efforts to be visible in support of the LGTBQ+ community and decry Qatar’s policies a bit more vocally this year. And I’ll probably watch more than I should.

  8. I certainly won’t cut my nose to spite my face by not watching the WC, but don’t have my usual pre tournament excitement or anticipation and will be far more selective over which games I’ll watch.Qatar is only 3 hours ahead of UK so there shouldn’t be any issues there, but really it would never have happened without FIFA corruption.

  9. Another great football post, as always, and while I have no answers to the choices we all face re: WC, I too am also very conflicted. As I am with our current US political situation. On a note of some optimism, I have recently learned that a very red GOP friend of mine learned that his sole progeny (not sure exactly how to phrase that, having little knowledge or practice, so please forgive me my trespass) is trans and his worldview seems to be changing – it gives me hope that perhaps, eventually, we can achieve a more equal and just world, though it may yet take some time…

  10. “Will boycotting the World Cup make things better for any gay folks or foreign workers in Doha?”

    Really tough decision. I think the opposite. I think likely it might actually improve things if the LGBTQ+ crowd show up without the provocations because people in Qatar need to realize that LGBTQ+ are people just like everyone else.

    But would I risk my own kid in it? Nope. Better to tuck your kid him at home if you ask me.

  11. On Saliba: a clear penalty, even taking this possible trend into account of allowing more contact and more latitude to the on field referee. And no offside. But I don’t care because the best team won and would have won anyway. These wrong calls bother me more when they lead to an unfair result. But those wolves are so toothless!

    On Qatar… I will watch because, as Tim stated, it’s the World Cup. Also because I believe isolating such countries is conter-productive. Inclusion works better. Also because my main qualm is the attribution process. But we should have reacted to this 10 years ago, not now. Hopefully we will be better next time.
    I’m not a fan of how this country is run but, if that is the criteria, few countries would be eligible. Again inclusion works better.
    Maybe I’m rationalising my inability to not watch?!… By the way, my gay daughter will watch with me. She loves football too much!

    1. Russia had the WC in 2018, how did that inclusion work out? China has had both the winter and summer olympic games, has that in any way improved the situation there?
      This type of inclusion accomplishes nothing other than to give corrupt nation-states and their rulers the chance to be the center of the world’s attention.

    2. On Saliba; not sure if it’s a clear penalty this season. Saka and Benjamin White were both denied penalties for more or the same contact. I saw what I would have called a clear penalty denied in the Man U match this weekend. I dunno, looks to me like the League is trying to “be consistent” which is supposedly “all we want”.

    3. Inclusion worked SO well with Russia. That was Merkel’s alleged plan though some think she was a Soviet mole all the time. It also worked so well with apartheid South Africa! Exclusion was what worked there.

      There is no evidence whatsoever that authoritarian autocracies of any type that take advantage of western liberal democracies’ freedoms, delusions of superiority and belief in inevitable success respond to inclusion.

      1. Except South Africa were being punished for a flawed political system not dissimilar to the US’s Electoral College. The National Party (fashioned on the Nazi Party) never won the popular vote.

        What really forced South Africa into regime change was the fall of the USSR in 1989. Until that time the West was funding South Africa whilst it acted as their sheriff on the continent engaged in a 27 year civil war against Angolans (and a plethora of African resistance movements including the ANC), funded, trained and “advised” (on the ground) by Russia, East Germany, China, et al and assisted by Cuba.

        The first chance that one (white) man, one vote was allowed in South Africa (and not the aforementioned Apartheid version of the Electoral College) was a referendum where the overwhelming majority of white South Africans voted for the first multiracial democratic elections to be held. Leading to the release of Nelson Mandela and the unbanning of the ANC.

        If the Soviet Union was still funding and arming African countries, there would still be apartheid in South Africa supported by the West. The West propped up the authoritarian regime as an adversary to the spread of Communism on the continent and for access to South Africa’s mineral wealth.

        1. Actually I got the chronology wrong. South Africa exited the Angolan War in 1989. Namibia gained it’s independence in 1990. Mandela was released in 1990 and the referendum was in 1992. But the catalyst for regime change, the watershed event, was the collapse of the USSR in 1989.

  12. I am also conflicted about the WC – I want to watch the spectacle, but can’t ignore the corruption, human right’s abuses, migrant worker deaths etc etc
    I will do my damndest to not watch any of it.
    It won’t make any difference to folks in Qatar, but enough people not watching is going to affect the ratings and send a message to FIFA that they shouldn’t keep awarding the WC to the most corrupt autocracy paying the biggest bribes.
    Some people in the comments are saying “little old me not watching is not going to make any difference” – but I think that’s a falsehood and could be applied to basically anything in life to absolve you of responsibility. Yes, you are just one person out of 8 billion, but your choices matter. The worst thing you can do is nothing.

    1. Indeed. As well as only watching games in which an Arsenal player starts, accepting that I may miss some good games (though the humidity will reduce the number of those) I propose to boycott all the sponsors of this world cup (frankly, that’s quite easy):

      Nubank Banking Brazil
      Wanda Group Real estate China
      Vivo Consumer electronics China
      Hisense Consumer electronics China
      Mengniu Dairy and soy food China
      adidas Athletic Germany
      Byju’s Other education India
      Claro Mobile phone operators Mexico
      Qatar Airways Airlines Qatar
      QatarEnergy Energy and utilities Qatar
      The Look Company Advertising, PR and sponsorship agencies Qatar
      Ooredoo Telecommunications operators Qatar
      Qatar National Bank Banking Qatar
      Gulf Warehousing Company Delivery and shipping Qatar Cryptocurrency Singapore
      Hyundai; Kia Cars South Korea
      Hublot Watches Switzerland
      Visa Credit cards US
      Coca-Cola Soft drinks US
      McDonald’s Quick service restaurant and fast food US
      Budweiser Beer US
      Algorand Cryptocurrency US
      Frito-Lay Snacks US, Mexico

  13. Respect the views of others; but I’ll be tuning in for as much of the World Cup as I can… eyes wide open, and knowing of all of the repression, the xenophobia and negative national baggage that Qatar brings.

    But the operative word in the world cup is “world”. At some point, it was going to end up in a middle eastern country. Ideally it would have been a state with a full slate of personal freedoms, but with the greatest respect, there aren’t a lot of those in that region. On (skewed) balance, Im fine with it where it is.

    I like that FIFA is doing one thing right amidst all of its corruption — it is putting the world in the World Cup. Africa had a shot, and it was about time. We cant keep rotating it between Europe, Europe and elsewhere.

    Qatar can surprise us by hosting a good and enjoyable tournament. Theyve surprised me, an ex-newsman, by having a darned good global broadcasting news outfit, and pretty much not interfering editorially.

    Besides, I want to see how our Arsenal boys get on. Expecting Saka, Xhaka and Saliba to have big roles. And if Ben White is given a start, he’ll shine. I love the way he’s timing his run to peak form. He’d need someone else to get injured though, because he’s not displacing Trippier, Stones or Big Head.

    And remember… the world cup is where we first caught sight of Freddie, and we thought… “let’s have him, Arsene”.

    Gilberto too. Love the world cup too much to skip it. It’s every 4 years, and life is too short. But hey, to each his/her own.

    (my now once weekly intervention here 🙂 I’m absolutely swamped with work, which as a freelance, I couldn”t be happier about)

  14. Tim,

    Been reading your column for a while, you are a moral person, with a moral compass, who contextualizes people, events, sitautions, with insight, clarity, perspective and humility.

    You speak well for others who do not have a voice, afraid to have a voice or are powerless at the moment to have a voice.

    Do you even need to question the correct decision on this?

    The Buddhist idea of small actions leading and flowing outward, the connectedness of all in the universe, helps me personally when faced with difficult choices, no matter how trivial the are.

    I, for one, will not be watching or supporting this endeavor, no matter how inconsequential this event is, and if I do what do I truly stand for when no one is watching.

    And I have been cheering the team in Orange for decades, if that let’s you know how much I enjoy the cup now and then.

  15. Really brilliant article Tim. There are no black and white answers to this Qatar and FIFA mess. World Cup is a product that is controlled by characters that are a reflection of the world we live in. They range from inhumane to decent. Aim is to try to move it towards decency and not contribute in its inhumanity. I am planning on enjoying the world cup, national teams going against one another, with my friends and family. I am aware by so doing, I will be playing a role in laundering Qatar’s image.

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